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Volume 52 No. 3 March 2006

Minutes of the 1046th Meeting

President Robert Feiler called the 1046th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club to order at 7:00 PM with 13 members and 3 guests present. Guests were Mike Rubin, Boyd Harris and Leonard Augsburger. A motion was made and passed to accept the Minutes as published in the Chatter. Treasurer Steve Zitowsky reported January revenue of $519.00, expenses of $213.75 with $9,288.37 in assets. Membership applications of Eugene Freeman and Robert Graves received second reading. Separate motions were made and passed that they be accepted into membership.

Under correspondence Steve Zitowsky reported flyers received promoting the Will County Coin Show, Sunday, March 12, Holiday Inn Express, Joliet, IL and the Quad City Coin Show, Sunday, April 2, Milan Community Center, Milan, IL.

First V.P. Jeff Rosinia introduced the evening’s featured speaker, Robert D. Leonard, Jr. with the presentation Coin Collector Gone Bad: The Numismatic Frauds of Mark Hoffmann, The Mormon Murderer. Afterwards, Jeff presented Bob with an ANA Educational Certificate and an engraved Club medal. Jeff also presented the same recognition items to Andy Plioplys the Club’s January featured speaker on Silver Currency Ingots of Northern Europe.

Second V.P. Lyle Daly introduced the eight exhibitors for the evening. Andy Plioplys: checks from the Riggs National Bank, Washington, DC on the Lithuanian Legation account, dated 1938 and signed by the Lithuanian Minister; and a number of Lithuanian promissory notes from the 1930s, authorized by the Lithuanian Finance Ministry and several endorsed by Jewish banks. Lyle Daly: $50.00 star note from 1977; Columbian Exposition medal showing the discovery of America/landing of the Pilgrims; Woodsmen of the World tokens; new Thomas Jefferson nickel; and a U.S. $10.00 silver certificate issued in 1934 for North Africa. Winston Zack: three 1957 U.S. proof sets received from his grandfather’s collection with an odd chalky substance on the quarters. Robert Leonard: gold dinars of the first six Ayyubid Sultans, 1169-1240 AD. Donald Dool: two 1/12 R. from Paraguay, one issued at the Heaton Mint and the other at the Asuncion Mint, a medal commemorating Paraguay’s first coinage showing a 1/12 R. on a medal; two Mexican bonds, from San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas; two French feudal double tournois — a 1636 Bois Belle & Henrichemont and a 1623 Dombes; Mark Wieclaw: silver stater city of Aegina, 510-490 BC; a gold aurus of Caracalla, 198-217 AD; a silver stater struck at the Antioch Mint of Constantine the Great, 307-337 AD; a heavy miliarense of Constantine II, 337-361 AD; and the outer rim of an encased coin from Mishawaka, Indiana. Steve Zitowsky: France S. Franc pattern from 1848; from German East Africa an 1890 silver proof rupie struck in Berlin, an 1908J silver rupie proof struck in Hamburg and three 1916 20-heller coins struck at the Taveta Mint and made from a salvaged ship and empty British shell casings. Jeff Rosinia: 2006 U.S. Proof sets; a group of different stock certificates from Marshall Fields; two books Art of the Market — Two Centuries of American Business as seen through it’s stock certificates; stock certificates of First National Bank of Chicago and First Chicago Corp.

Under old business, Lyle Daly reported on the nearly completed tri-fold brochure promoting the Club. Overall the feedback was good with several suggested improvements. Lyle also reported some interest in reestablishing a Club group to discuss numismatic related topics. During a previous meeting fur was discussed as a possible primitive money souvenir for the 2007 Chicago International Coin Fair. Donald Dool checked with a fur supplier who speculated 100-150 1-inch squares of beaver fur would cost about $400.00. This lead to a discussion with no decision made. The Secretary reported the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington is still renovating their main meeting room. They expect to finish within the next 60 days and have the Club on their list as a possible renter.

Under new business the Secretary reported that Gene Hessler of Cincinnati would be the Club’s featured speaker on Saturday, March 9 at the Chicago Paper Money Exposition (CPMX) on the subject World Bank Note Engravers. He also reported that Mike Gasvoda will be the featured speaker on ancient Roman coins on Saturday, April 1 at the Chicago International Coin Fair. President Robert Feiler called for a meeting of the Board of Directors on Wednesday, March 15. Jeff Rosinia and Lyle Daly reported discussions but no decisions on a chosen banknote for the CPMX souvenir sheet. Soliciting paid advertising for the Chatter was discussed with no decision.

Andy Plioplys inquired into the publication of member’s telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. The Secretary spoke on a long-standing Club policy of not sharing addresses or membership lists for security reasons. However, members are encouraged to exchange and share addresses among themselves and any officer, but primarily the Secretary, Treasurer or Chatter editor, is in a position to pass on messages from one member to another and as a necessity the telephone numbers or e-mail address of the sender must be included.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:25 PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Carl Wolf, Secretary

Speaker’s Wor[l]d
Coin Collector Gone Bad: The Numismatic Frauds of Mark Hofmann, the Morman Murderer

A presentation by Robert D. Leonard Jr. to our February 8, 2006 meeting.

Mark Hoffman was a well-respected member of the autograph community right up his arrest for two fatal 1985 bombings when some of his frauds were about to be exposed. Although he had made some metallic items, he concentrated in documents and other paper items including such numismatic items as scrip, certificates, and notes.

As with most criminals, sources are confused on some details. He was a professional liar for such a long time, that even parts of his confession are doubted. Some details changed over time as he told different things to different people, so it is very hard now to separate the truth from his boasts and his claims.

Bob started his presentation by showing all eight Hofmann-related books and then some selected journals and magazines. The most recent book, from 2004, was written by Charles M. Larson who had guarded Hofmann in prison; Hofmann supposedly told Larson how to counterfeit.

One of his first altered coins was a 1916 US dime with an added D mintmark. The D was added using electroplating, by selectively adding silver in the mintmark area while the surrounding area was masked; pronounced genuine by the Treasury Department. Some doubters question how thoroughly Treasury checked the mintmark, while others who have tried that procedure have not produced good results.

Later, in the 1977-1979 time frame, Mark produced a fake 1900 token for the Lagoon Amusement Park. That well known park is still locally owned, and the piece was sold to the owner. Is it a counterfeit or a fantasy piece? No real piece is known, so maybe it is a fantasy. But if such tokens had been created and used, then this piece is a counterfeit. This shows a recurring aspect of many of Hofmann's products: they are an example of something known (in general) to have existed, but no other pieces are available for comparison.

Hofmann joined the Token and Medal Society (TAMS) in 1979, and had an article on an 1844 presidential token published in a 1980 TAMS Journal; only to have John J. Ford denounce him as a seller of “fairly modern fantasy production” in a 1981 TAMS Journal.

Another area involves fakes of mint errors. According to Bob Campbell, there are still mint error fakes floating around the Salt Lake City area. Maybe the most famous item claimed by Hofmann is a US 1959-D Wheat Ear Reverse Cent, supposedly found in circulation in 1986. Two times autheticated by the Secret Service, but denied by all grading services. There are a number of reasons to doubt its validity: according to engraver Frank Gasparro, the mint was very concerned about producing such a mule, and therefore was extremely careful during striking; and no such mules showed up in circulation in 1960 during the hunt for small date cents. This piece sold for $48,300 in 2003, and Bob considers it Hofmann's greatest error forgery.

Hofmann's paper money forgeries were produced in a number of methods. He took remainders and forged names and numbers to make them more valuable — these are the most commonly encountered of Hofmann's forgeries. Other forgeries were made using rubber stamps on modern paper; it sounds impossible that such items could fool anyone, but remember that the originals usually were lithographed, and these were very obscure pieces, almost unique.

Hofmann is remembered mostly for forged and fantasy Mormon documents which fooled leaders of the Mormon Church for a number of years. Yes he used paper from the correct time (obtained by removing blank pages from library books), but then he would use modern ink. A few months after an item was put on a want list, Hoffman produced the item. One of the old lessons that must be relearned every few years is: If something is too good to be true, it is!

Bob distributed a handout of Hofmann's numismatic forgeries, a bibliography, and concluded with some “Lessons and Advice.”

Show and Tell

Items shown at our February 8, 2006 meeting.

  1. Andy Plioplys showed some Lithuanian-related items:
  2. Lyle Daly started with two items acquired at Kane County, then a range of items:
  3. Winston Zack showed a few 1957 US proof sets, from his grandfather. Most are still in the original, unopened envelopes, but the two from opened paper envelopes show white powdery toning on the silver coins. Some comments were ventured, but no concensus was reached.
  4. Bob Leonard showed gold dinars of the first 6 sultans of the Ayyubid dynasty (1169-1240) which ruled in Egypt and Palestine. Laid out together in issued order, some characteristics are obvious: circular inscriptions on the first three and linear inscriptions on the last three, Although all are about the same size, the weights of these 6 pieces varied from less than 6 grams to more than 9 grams; but that is not unusual for pieces that passed by weight. These coins were struck from brass dies which can still be used after breaking (iron dies would shatter); that is why cracks are not rare on these coins.
  5. Don Dool has expanded his scripophily collection to include all of Latin America, so he started with some additions to it.
  6. Mark Wieclaw showed mostly ancient coins. Some very nice coins.
  7. Steve Zitowsky rought much material about German East Africa, but he started with a French pattern.
  8. Jeff Rosinia showed a range of items:

A Question from the Club President

I would like to know if any of the members would prefer to have their issue of the newsletter sent via E-mail rather than by snail mail. If enough people would like the newsletter sent electronically it could help to reduce our postage and production costs. My email address is

Bob Feiler

Our 1047th Meeting

Date:March 8, 2006, First 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:John Riley - U.S. Military Decorations

John’s interest comes from his older brother, David, who, in addition to writing Uncommon Valor on the medallic issues of the U.S. Navy & Marine Corps, was the longtime webmaster for the Orders & Medal Society of America. As a Navy officer 1985-89, John found it an asset to be able to identify the more obscure awards and insignia that service members were entitled to wear.

Most coin collectors are familiar with A.A. Weinman’s “Mercury” dime and Walking Liberty half; we have known James Earle Fraser’s buffalo nickel since we were kids. Those two and the U.S. mint were central figures in the design of several classic U.S. military medals.

Examples of medals done by most of them and good reference material will be presented, along with some background perspective from George Washington’s clumsy cloth “Purple Heart” in 1782 to the service medal issued for the War on Terrorism.

Date:March 11, 2006 Second session
Time:1:00 PM
Location:At the Chicago Paper Money Expo (CPMX), which is held at the Crown Plaza Chicago O’Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL. No admission charge for our meeting.
Featured speaker:Gene Hessler - World Bank Note Engravers

Hessler’s topic reflects his newly published book The International Engraver’s Line that received a rave review in the February, 2006 issue of Bank Note Reporter (page 73). The 392-page book spotlights the lives and achievements of international master engravers and the world bank notes they designed. When reviewing the book, collectors will recognize familiar portraits, buildings and animal vignettes. Now the vignettes can be tied to the specific engravers who created them. The book is a lasting tribute to a dying profession and the talented men and women who excelled at it from the 18th century through today. This book follows Hessler’s The Engraver’s Line, a 400+ page encyclopedia highlighting the masters of engraving work done in the United States and published in 1993.

Gene Hessler is a recognized researcher, author of 350+ articles, editor and lecturer in the field of numismatics. He has served as curator of The Chase Manhattan Bank Money Museum in New York City, and the Mercantile Bank Money Museum in St. Louis. His other books include Comprehensive Catalog of U.S. Paper Money, U.S. Essay, Proof and Specimen Notes and An Illustrated History of U.S. Loans, 1775-1898. The search engine Google has 137,000 resulting references under Gene Hessler.

Important Dates

March 8 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - John Riley on U.S. Military Decorations
March 10-12 12th Annual Chicago Paper Money Expo (CPMX) 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.
March 11 CCC Meeting - 1pm at the Chicago Paper Money Exposition, 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 - Gene Hessler on World Bank Note Engravers.
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 to be announced
April 12 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced

Birthday and Year Joined

April 1 Charles J. Ryant, Jr.
April 12 Mark Wieclaw 1991
April 15 Robert D. Leonard, Jr. 1983
April 15 Charles Menard 1995
April 27 Don Valenziano 1982

Chatter Matter

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

P.O. Box 2301

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Contacting Your Editor

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