Chatter


Archive available at http://www.ChicagoCoinClub.org/
Volume 52 No. 4 April 2006


Minutes of the 1047th Meeting

Session I of the 1047th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was called to order at 7:10 PM by President Robert Feiler with 14 members and one guest present, Jason Freeman, son of member Eugene Freeman.

The February Minutes as published in the Chatter were approved. Lyle Daly offered a correction on his list of items for the Show and Tell portion in the newsletter. Instead of saying “overprinted,” it should have said “yellow seals.” The treasurer’s report by Steven Zitowsky showed February revenue of $120.00, expenses $102.40 showing a net income of $17.60 and $9,305.97 in the treasury.

First V.P. Jeff Rosinia introduced the evening speaker John Riley who spoke on “U.S. Military Decorations.” Afterwards Jeff presented John with an engraved speaker’s medal and an ANA educational certificate.

Second V.P. Lyle Daly introduced the evening’s exhibitors: Robert Leonard - five different promissory notes from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries; Steve Zitowsky 3 Ethiopian service medals, 5 Italian service medals, a modern Ethiopian service badge and patch; Eugene Freeman a check from First National Bank, Albia, Iowa issued in 1875 with reverse imprint, a warrant from the Texian Navy from the Republic of Texas and a 1900 series $10,000 U.S. gold note; Mark Wieclaw a silver denarius Julius Caesar (100-44 BC), silver denarius Sextus Pompei (44-35 BC) and three Einstein medals from the Harry Flower collection; Lyle Daly a book by Roger Burdette The Renaissance of American Coinage, 1916-1921, three Standing Liberty U.S. quarters 1917 Type I, 1920 Type II and 1927 Type IIA.

Under old business Robert Leonard reported good progress on the primitive money souvenir card for the upcoming Chicago International Coin Fair. The cacao beans are on order and the article is very advanced. Lyle Daly reported the completion of the tri-fold brochure promoting the Club and passed one out to everyone in attendance. His work received a full round of applause. President Feiler brought up the results complied from a survey taken of the membership in 2005 and mentioned he didn’t want to see it die. Robert Leonard spoke briefly of the benefits received from the helpfulness of the members and thought it would be a good idea for members to exchange “want lists.” Jeff Rosinia reported on the near completion of the souvenir card for the upcoming Chicago Paper Money Expo. This year the subject is the Union National Bank of Chicago.

Under new business it was announced that the Chatter can be e-mailed to interested members. Editor Paul Hybert explained that technically it won’t arrive in member’s inbox. Instead it would be a notice that the Chatter could be found on the Club’s web site ChicagoCoinClub.org. Carl Wolf announced the sale of four full-pages of advertising for $250.00 each for 12 months. He also announced that the collection of William Pettit, a past-president, was in the inventory stage and it appears his collection of Chicago Coin Club material will be on the Club’s November auction. A brief discussion was held concerning the controversy at the ANA involving the ejection of a governor.

The meeting was recessed at 9 PM to be re-adjourned at 1 PM on Saturday, March 11th at the 12th Annual Chicago Paper Money Expo, Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel, 5440 N. River Road, Rosemont, IL. The featured speaker will be Gene Hessler who will speak on “World Bank Note Engravers.”

Session II of the 1047th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was called to order at 1 PM on Saturday, March 11, 2006 by President Robert Feiler with 34 members and 19 guests present. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Chicago Paper Money Expo, Crowne Plaza O’Hare Hotel, 5440 N. River Road, Rosemont, IL.

President Feiler delivered a welcoming address and gave first reading to the applications of Joe Boling from Federal Way, WA, and Wendell Wolka of Greenwood, IN.

Second Vice President Lyle Daly introduced noted currency expert Gene Hessler who delivered a talk “World Bank Note Engravers,” based on his recently published book The International Engravers Line. Hessler accentuated the talk with a selection of computer projected images and related his personal correspondence with a number of international engravers. Many of the images showed the beautiful detailed work of master engravers who so often go unrecognized. During a question and answer period, Hessler said there are about 900 engravers listed in his recently published book. Following a round of applause, Daly presented Hessler with an ANA educational certificate and an engraved speaker’s medal.

Carl Wolf spoke of the Club’s souvenir card project. The subject of the 2006 issue was the Union National Bank of Chicago. Member Jeff Rosinia, who was unable to attend, was credited for authoring the last four souvenir CPMX cards. Rosinia was given a warm round of applause in appreciation of his work. Following tradition, serial no. 3 was presented to speaker Gene Hessler.

When the meeting adjourned at 2 PM, a number of attendees gathered around Hessler to buy a signed copy of his book.

Respectfully submitted,
Carl Wolf, Secretary


New Chatter Delivery Option

The print version of the Chatter is simply a printout of the Chatter web page, with a little cutting and pasting to fill out each print page. The web page is available before the Chatter is mailed. To save the club money and ensure timely delivery, we are giving club members the option of receiving an email whenever a new Chatter is on the club’s website; the mail will include a link to the latest issue.

If you would like to receive an email alert instead of a mailed print copy send an email to chatter_editor@yahoo.com. You can resume receiving a mailed print copy at any time, just by sending another email.


Speaker’s Wor[l]d
U.S. Military Decorations

A presentation by John Riley to our March 8, 2006 meeting.

John is an “accidental” collector with a strong leaning towards the Navy and Marine Corps series. He was in the Navy, as was his older brother David who wrote Uncommon Valor on the medallic issues of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. In his presentation, John showed how the nature of U.S. medals changed from the earliest efforts during the Revolutionary War to the most recent medals.

In the earliest days of the American revolution, symbols of achievement were the lowest on a long list of priorities: the men often had no shoes, uniforms were homespun at best, and their weaponry was their own hunting irons brought from home. There was also a natural reluctance to follow any British-style pomp and display in uniform; our first soldiers and sailors were, by and large, simple farmers, frontiersmen, or recent immigrants with little inclination towards pagentry. General George Washington did personally oversee one simple award for especially meritorious service; the original Purple Heart was a simple heart-shaped patch sewn onto the sleeve.

As the Revolution progressed with France as a valued ally, Washington’s officers became entitled to a French decoration, The Order of Cincinnatus. After the war, a fraternal veteran’s group for former and serving officers was formed in Philadelphia; known as the Society of the Cincinnati, the society still exists today for descendants of Revolutionary War officers.

Although private issuances were done, virtually nothing changed on a national scale until the Civil War when a loosely regulated Medal of Honor was created. Flag bearers had a particularly dangerous job and were common recipients of this award, but favored local sons and even nurses were awarded the honor over greatly differing circumstances and for deeds of various levels of difficulty. John showed a later Grand Army of the Republic reunion badge which was patterned after the original award. In addition, many units issued their own commemorative awards, both ribboned and as pocket pieces. Stack’s of New York occasionally will have these in their auctions.

The Navy saw a need by the 1880s to recognize good order and discipline in the enlisted men and created the first “Good Conduct” medal in 1884. John showed a modern copy but faithful to the design, size, and ribbon. The other services followed with similar awards by the World War I period.

In the 1890s, the U.S. War Department adopted the British idea of campaign medals; the first of these were for actions against the Spanish in Cuba and the Philippines. The Sampson medal is the Navy’s award to all participants in the sea battles around Cuba. The bust of Admiral William Sampson was executed by the long-time Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint, George Morgan. Daniel Chester French, whose greatest fame was as a Lincoln sculptor most noted for the Lincoln Memorial, designed the Dewey medal. Largely a tribute to Admiral George Dewey, the hero of the Philippines naval campaign and his casualty-free conquest of the Spanish Fleet at Manila Bay, the reverse shows a sailor on a cannon. Admiral Dewey wore his personal medal with the reverse side displayed!

In 1908, retroactive service medals for the Civil War and Indian Wars were produced. Service protecting American interests in China’s Boxer Rebellion, Haiti and Mexico all had their own service medals . James Earle Fraser, designer of the 1913 Buffalo nickel, designed the U.S. Victory Medal of World War I; it is a rugged and simple design in high relief. The hurried coordination of a unified Allied Service Medal, to show a depiction of a radiant winged angel symbolizing victory over oppression and a listing of the Allied participants, resulted in a total of fourteen variations representing the 16 major Allies. John showed many of these rainbow-ribboned decorations and pointed out their differences: the Japanese had no translation for an “angel,” so a samurai figure was used, Greece used a ghost or spirit, and there are many different styles of angels. John showed a similarly designed piece, new to him and recently acquired on eBay; from the Philippines (a U.S. Territory) for service in Europe, it is in terrible condition — used as a pocket piece.

John’s favorite design, for its rugged simple lines, is another classic Fraser work, The Navy Cross, the second highest award for personal valor. The 1920s and 30s were the heyday of U.S. Mint artists involved in War Department projects. Adolf Weinman, another Lincoln sculptor and of Winged Head Liberty Dime fame as well as the Walking Liberty half, designed a number of military medals. The Navy Expeditionary Medal is an example that is still in use today. This is a good illustration of an early, high relief strike, thick planchet, ringed suspension example and readily identifiable over later commercial copies.

John Sinnock, a staff engraver with the Mint and designer of the Roosevelt dime, was involved throughout his career with military work. In addition to a few campaign medals, he modeled the Purple Heart medal when enemy-inflicted wound recognition went from a certificate to an actual medal in 1932. In John’s opinion, the Yangtze Service Medal is Sinnock’s finest work. This medal is stunning in its original high relief form and the flat casting of the shown piece is a dead giveaway of a modern commercial piece.

Medals fall into a strange category: there are no “fakes,” per se. The value is in originality and whether or not it was, or could have been, awarded to an eligible recipient. Edge-numbered or -lettered pieces, especially with original boxes and documents, are the most sought. You can still request from the Department of Defense your great, great, great grandfather’s Civil War Service Medal — the medal itself may have been struck in the past year, but it would nonetheless be a genuine Civil War Service Medal. Production has been contracted out off-and-on from the earliest days and isn’t the consideration of authenticity that we demand in the coin world. Now there are replacement medal vendors that can get you pretty much anything you want.

There is one and only one medal that is held above marketing and that is the (Congressional) Medal of Honor. You won’t be finding one on eBay, and the FBI enforces its status. John showed one which had been part of a medal display set given by the Navy to a new ROTC unit at the University of Missouri shortly after World War II. John’s brother David was working on the early stages of his book when in college there in the early 70s and the set was given to him because of his interest and caretaking — the university couldn’t sell the medals at the time, particularly this one, and it was a storage and accountability problem to them.

By the final days of World War II, the War Department had been phased out in favor of the concept of a Department of Defense. Awards added during this period include those for achievement and merit. Award designs came under the jurisdiction of the Department of Heraldry; staff artists were used with an eye toward efficiencies and costs, production was contracted out to the lowest bidder, and no longer were outside artists solicited. Design credit to any one individual seems to end after 1943. Broader, generic medal designs that didn’t favor one branch of service over another were the norm. The changeover occurred to an “Armed Forces” Expeditionary Medal or an “Armed Forces” Meritorious Service Medal, a standard that carries over to the present day. John showed a War on Terrorism Service Medal; its design style lacks any artistry (or so thought our members).

The best source for more information is the Orders & Medals Society of America — they can be found easily on the web at www.omsa.org. Most libraries have good references and there are many other internet references — the Navy History Center has much information on the web.


Speaker’s Wor[l]d
World Bank Note Engravers

A presentation by Gene Hessler to our March 11, 2006 meeting.

Gene’s latest book, The International Engraver’s Line, was a fun book to write because of the engravers he met, both in person and through correspondence. It was originally planned as an extended article, but it grew as many of the engravers provided names of their colleagues. He estimated 6,000 hours of his time to make this book; there are 900 engravers among the book’s 1,000 entries (some are banknote companies). During the presentation, Gene told stories about gathering the information as well as about the displayed close-ups of printed engraved items.

After obtaining a new name, Gene typically wrote a letter asking each engraver for a biography and a sample of work. Gene’s U.S. book, The Engraver’s Line, was used to show what he hoped to achieve. He also wrote to the appropriate government office, but with varied results: some never replied, some replied that the names of their engravers could not be divulged, and others provided the information. Some countries treat the engravers’ identities as a state secret, while Hungary places the names of designers and engravers on the notes. A number of engravers offered such assistance as, “The person you really have to get in contact with is ...”

Many engravers were very generous in sending old works to Gene. Much of what he has are considered proofs, because the engraving was never used on an issued item. He also has multiple examples of the same subject, such as the two engravings of a New Zealand bird; he and the audience really got into at as we alternated the displayed slide, trying to identify the subtle differences such as how far the tail feathers extend beyond a branch. Unfortunately, many engravers could not not provide a list of all works because they had never kept such a record.

The first set of displayed images had been provided by Czech engravers. The first design for a World War II note of occupied Bohemia was rejected because the figure of a woman with a cap was emblematic of Liberty. The issued design showed the same woman but without the cap. After the war, the issued design showed the same woman but with the liberty cap.

Close-ups of some designs showed that some intials do make it into the final product, contrary to the security companies’ official policy of not allowing such marks. It takes 10 years of work to be a portrait engraver — to acquire the skill needed to turn cross hatching into shading and texture. The roll on a lapel still takes a human touch, but Gene sees a bleak future for engravers working on steel plates. The young engravers at most firms are being trained with the latest in computer equipment; the older engravers are being either retired or kept around for touch-ups when the computer generated work is not satisfactory.

The age of hand engraving upon a steel plate, and then using a transfer roller to produce the printing plate, seems to be drawing to a close. The next series of plates will be computer generated, but human artistic input still will be needed. Engraving is no longer the primary defense against counterfeiting; color shifting inks and other technologies now have a part. In response to a question, Gene pointed out that the beautiful scroll work on late nineteenth U.S. paper money was engraved by machine, not by hand. The use of computers is only a change, not the end of engraving.


Show and Tell

Items shown at our March 8, 2006 meeting.

  1. As a followup to Andy's Lithuanian promissory notes from last month, Robert Leonard showed a few domestic promissory notes from his collection of 40 years:
  2. To complement the evening’s featured talk on U.S. military decorations, Steve Zitowsky showed Ethiopian-related medals and badges:
  3. Eugene Freeman showed some unusual pieces of paper money:
  4. Mark Wieclaw showed three Einstein medals (ex-collection of late club member Harry Flower) and then some ancient Roman coins.
  5. Lyle Daly showed items related to early twentieth century U.S. coinage:

Our 1048th Meeting

Date:April 1, 2006 First session
Time:1:00 PM
Location:At the Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF), which is held at the Crown Plaza Chicago O’Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL. No admission charge for our meeting.
Featured speaker:Mike Gasvoda - Roman Imperatorial Coinage, Julius Caesar to the Naming of Augustus — 49-27 BC

This presentation covers the early part of Mike’s collecting specialty, the coinage of the twelve Caesars. Some members might know Mike for his articles in the Celator magazine.

Date:April 12, 2006, Second session
Time:7:00 PM
Location:Downtown Chicago
At Dearborn Center, 131 S. Dearborn, 6th Floor, Conference Room 6A (right off the elevator lobby). Please remember the security measures at our meeting building: give a club officer the names of all your guests prior to the meeting day; and everyone must show their photo-ID and register at the guard’s desk.
Featured speaker:Steve Zarlenga - The Lost Science of Money
In his recently published book, The Lost Science of Money, Steve tells the story of how money was discovered, lost and rediscovered through history. It is a pattern that keeps repeating itself even today.


Important Dates

Mar 31 - Apr 2 30th Annual Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF) at the Crown Plaza Chicago O’Hare, formerly the Holiday Inn O’Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL. Admission is $5 for Friday and Saturday; free on Sunday.
April 1 CCC Meeting - 1pm at the Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF), which is held at the Crown Plaza Chicago O’Hare, formerly the Holiday Inn O’Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL. No admission charge for our meeting.
Featured Speaker - Mike Gasvoda on Roman Imperatorial Coinage, Julius Caesar to the Naming of Augustus — 49-27 BC
April 12 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Steve Zarlenga on The Lost Science of Money
May 10 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced

Birthday and Year Joined

May 2 Donn Pearlmann 1979
May 8 Sharon Blocker 2000
May 10 Marty Vink 1952
May 11 William A. Burd 1993
May 11 Jeffrey Rosinia 1995
May 15 Jay M. Galst 1991
May 17 Paul R. Hybert 1994
May 23 Robert J. Weinstein 1991

Chatter Matter

All correspondence pertaining to Club matters should be addressed to the Secretary and mailed to:

CHICAGO COIN CLUB
P.O. Box 2301
CHICAGO, IL 60690

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Club Officers

Robert Feiler- President
Jeff Rosinia- First Vice President
Lyle Daly- Second Vice President
Directors:Phil Carrigan
Carl Wolf
Steve Zitowsky
Mark Wieclaw
Other positions held are:
Bill Burd/Carl Wolf- Secretary
Steve Zitowsky- Treasurer
Paul Hybert- Chatter Editor
William Burd- Archivist