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Volume 55 No. 10 October 2009

Minutes of the 1089th Meeting

The 1089th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was held September 9, 2009 in the Chicago Bar Association Building, 321 S. Plymouth Court, Downtown Chicago. President Jeffrey Rosinia called the meeting to order at 6:45 PM with 15 members and 1 guest, Curtis Clay, in attendance.

The August Minutes printed in the Chatter were approved as published. Treasurer Steve Zitowsky reported August receipts $14.16, expenses $331.04 and total income -$316.88, leaving total assets of $15,638.70 which is in Life Memberships $2,390.00 and Members’ Equity $13,248.70. He announced $250 in the expense column was a reservation deposit for the December 9th Holiday Banquet at Marcello’s Restaurant, 645 W. North Ave., Chicago, IL.

Following the second reading of Ivan Thompson’s application for junior membership a motion was passed accepting him into membership.

Second V.P. Elliot Krieter introduced the featured speaker Curtis Clay, who delivered a presentation The Sun God Elagabalus on Roman Coins of the Emperor Elagabalus.

Elliot Krieter introduced the evening’s 6 exhibitors. CARL WOLF: framed Hebron trade beads; EUGENE FREEMAN: 5, 25 & 50 cent tokens from Mt. Carmel Center, Waco, TX; ROBERT FEILER: 1871 $1 & $2 certificates of indebtedness from Little Rock, AR, 1901 Kaiser Wilhelm II medal, 1925 Norse American medals and 1956 San Francisco silver bar; RICHARD LIPMAN: 1862/1 U.S. silver 3-cent piece, 1881 U.S. nickel 3-cent piece and a Chelm medal dedicated to Jewish folk tales; MARC RICARD: early & recent coin auction catalogs; and ROBERT LEONARD: books purchased while attending the recent International Numismatic Conference in Scotland and an ANS Magazine of book reviews.

Under old business President Rosinia led a general discussion on starting the meeting 15 minutes earlier than usual. Carl Wolf showed an epoxy proof of the Club’s new speaker and award medal modeled after the Standing Lincoln medal issued for the 90th Anniversary. After several questions a motion was passed authorizing the mint to proceed with production. Robert Leonard, General Chairman of the 2011 ANA Convention, reported he will begin meeting with members soon. He also announced the sale of 3 Club souvenir cards for a total of $15 while attending the ANA convention in Los Angeles. A question was asked concerning the length of exhibits and a discussion followed.

Under new business it was announced that member Kevin Foley is no longer the coordinator of the Chicago Paper Money Exposition (CPMX), Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF) and the MidAmerica Coin Expo. Carl Wolf announced officials at Krause Publications, Iola, WI assured the Club they intend to honor the long-standing tradition of providing a complimentary information table on the bourse floor and meeting room. This led to a number of questions and comments on the history of these shows and how they changed over the years.

Adjournment was at 8:50 PM with the next meeting to be held at 6:45 PM on Wednesday October 14th.

Respectfully Submitted,
Carl Wolf, Secretary

Speaker’s Wor[l]d
The Sun God Elagabalus on the Roman Coins of the Emperor Elagabalus

presented by Curtis Clay
to our September 9, 2009 meeting

The 4-year reign of Elagabalus as Roman emperor provides a range of information to analyze. In his presentation, Curtis showed the information that he used in chronologically arranging the undated coins among the dated coins of this emperor. He started by distributing a 4-page handout that detailed hoard makeup, quoted from some ancient histories, and included images of some of the mentioned coins. With texts from the ancient world so few and fragmented that all of them would fit into a small room, all sources of information should be used — coins do not just illustrate history, they also document history.

Curtis explained that the three main histories covering Elagabalus are not equally reliable. Dio Cassius provides good reporting — he was a Senator and tells what happened. Unfortunately, the original did not survive an 11th century editing job (if we can even call it that) that consisted mainly of keeping one paragraph and dropping the next few. Herodian was a later Greek who was not interested in facts — he liked to dramatize events and make a story. The Life of Elagabalus is part of the later Historia Augusta which also invented stuff. What seems clear is that Emperor Macrinus was not popular with the army, and that some group in 218 put forward a 14-year-old priest of the local sun god Elagabalus, claiming he was the son of an earlier emperor, Caracalla. And it worked!

Travelling with his army, he took the sacred stone of Elagabalus with him from Emesa to Rome, and some of his early coins have a reverse showing the stone being transported in a chariot. Other legends imply his arrival in Rome. The indication of such events is one aid in determining when a coin was issued. Another aid is the length of the legend — the legends on the dated coins became more heavily abbreviated over time. When an emperor was new, the tendency was to be more explicit with the legend, but abbreviations were mor used as everyone knew what is was supposed to say. The early PONTIF MAX TR P legend became P M TR P COS P P during his first year, changing to P M TR P II COS II P P during his second year &mdash note that the Romans showed a 2 by II. Those coins, along with later coins showing years III, IIII, and V, provide a dated framework upon which Curtis tries to place the undated coins. About one fifth of this emperor’s coins are dated. Although year one of a reign started when he became emperor, year two and successive years started with the begining of the next calendar year.

A star, representing the sun god Elagabalus, first appeared on the reverse of coins in 220. On those coins, the emperor appears on the reverse, at an alter, making a sacrifice to his god. Since the star represents the sun god, it must be in front of the emperor. A few dies from each of the following years have the star behind the emperor, and some dies have theat misplaced star eradicated and entered in the correct position; Curtis mentioned these could be the first dies from a new batch, after the engravers had forgotten the significance and correct position of the star.

Although the Romans generally accepted foreign gods into their pantheon, the placement of Elagabalus above even Jupiter offended Romans. Legends such as SVMMVS SACERDOS AVG (The Augustus, Highest Priest) and SACERD DEI SOLIS ELAGAB (Priest of the Sun God Elagabalus) reinforced the message. The emperor appeared in Syrian priestly robes on the reverse of some coins, and some obverses show him wearing a wreath on his head; there was a protuberance extending forward from the front of the wreath. A horn? A gem? The significance is still debated.

The emperor appeared as a priest of the sun god during all of 221. He married the chief prietess of Rome (one of the vestal virgins); he regretted adopting his cousin and naming him Caesar, so he tried to have him killed. Maybe the removal of the star and the wreath’s protuberance was an attempt at being less excessive, but it did not work — the emperor and his mother were killed in 222.

Curtis’ handout shows a medal of the emperor; the reverse has four priests in a temple on Palatine Hill. The handout also shows a line drawing of a coin from his cousin, issued four years later; it appears that Jupiter the avenger is alone in that same temple. A hoard discovered in 1929 resulted in 80,000 coins from Nero to the year 240 being distributed to various museums. While some catalogs have alphabetic listings of the legends on the undated coins, Curtis has tried to determine the chronological order of the legends. In addition to the methods described above, the numbers of occurrences of each type within that hoard have helped Curtis in forming his conclusions.

One final note to anyone ready to go out and start collecting coins in the name of the Emperor Elagabalus. There are none — he did not use that name. He adopted the fine old name of Antoninus Pius, and that is the name used on his coins. Modern historians refer to this emperor as Elagabalus.

Current Advertisers

Bowers and Merena Auctions Chicago Coin Company
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Show and Tell

Items shown at our September 9, 2009 meeting.

  1. Carl Wolf showed his framed exhibit of Hebron beads which are still used in Sudan. The fracturing of these glass beads can be traced to their manufacture using water from the Dead Sea. Made hundreds of years ago, they were originally round; their current oval shape resulted from their being polished while in Nigeria. Their use in Sudan started in the 1950s. They can be yellow, green, or blue.
  2. Eugene Freeman is originally from Texas — Corsicana, which is about 50 miles east of Waco. He showed the 5¢, 25¢, and 50¢ pieces from the 1938 set of round cardboard tokens from the Mt. Carmel Center (near Waco), which had been founded in 1935 by the Branch Davidian off-shoot group from the Seventh Day Adventists. A further off-shoot from the Branch Davidians was led by David Koresh, and they established their own 70-acre compound on the other side of Waco; that newer compound was the site of the fatal 1993 standoff with US officers.
  3. Bob Feiler showed a range of items:
  4. Richard Lipman showed some recent acquisitions:
  5. Marc Ricard showed old and recent auction catalogs:
  6. Robert Leonard mostly showed books acquired while at the recent International Numismatic Congress held in Glasgow:

Call for Club Auction Lots
November 11, 2009

The club auction is scheduled for 7PM, at the start of the regular November club meeting. We already have a large consignment of numismatic literature from the Chet Poderski estate. In the past few years, club related material (and Chicago area numismatic items) have had the best results. Some printed material also has shown good results. Please consider using the club auction to dispose of the numismatic items you no longer need.

You can place a reserve on each lot, and there is no commission charged to either the buyer or seller. Auction lot viewing will be held before the meeting starts, and again briefly before the auction starts.

The November Chatter will contain a list of all auction lots that are known to us by Tuesday, October 27. You can either e-mail your list to Paul Hybert by Tuesday, October 27 if you plan to bring your lots with you to the November meeting; or you can ship your items to Bill Burd by Tuesday, October 27.

Bill Burd
CCC-A Dept.
Chicago Coin Company
6455 W. Archer Ave.
Chicago, IL 60638
Paul Hybert
312-791-9001, evenings

If you have questions, Bill can be reached at 773-586-7666.

Our 1090th Meeting

Date:October 14, 2009
Time:6:45 PM
Location:Downtown Chicago
At the Chicago Bar Association, 321 S. Plymouth Court, 3rd floor meeting room. Please remember the security measures at our meeting building: everyone must show their photo-ID and register at the guard’s desk. A few blocks west of the CBA building is the Ceres Restaurant (enter the Board of Trade building from Jackson at LaSalle, then enter the restaurant from the lobby) with standard sandwiches, burgers, and salads for members who want to meet for dinner.
Featured speaker:Robert Kool, Senior Curator, Coin Department, Israel Antiquities Authority — Coins Recently Excavated at Crusader Castle Vadum Iacob

The Crusader castle of Vadum Iacob (Jacob’s Ford) was built by the Knights Templar and destroyed within eleven months (Oct 1178 AD Aug 1179 AD). The final attack, under the command of Saladin himself, left 800 crusaders dead and 700 taken prisoner. According to Muslim and Latin chronicles the castle was leveled and permanently abandoned within days. Over eight hundred years later archeologists excavated the site. Due to the castle’s history, every item found can be accurately dated. Among the material uncovered are coins which Robert Kool has examined. Although his findings are yet unpublished, he identified coins previously thought minted after 1179 AD. Be sure to attend this meeting. Come hear the fascinating story of the Vadum Iacob, its destruction, excavation and the numismatic history it is slowly revealing. For more information, go to and read about this research project, view photographs and computer reconstructions of the castle and its last days.

Important Dates

October 14 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Robert Kool, Senior Curator, Coin Department, Israel Antiquities Authority, on Coins Recently Excavated at Crusader Castle Vadum Iacob
November 11 CCC Meeting - Club Auction - no featured speaker
December 9 CCC Meeting - Annual Banquet - Featured Speaker - Dr. Jennifer Tobin on The Coinage of Mithrapata of Lycia: Evidence of Dynastic Struggles in the Fourth Century B.C.
January 13 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Paul Johnson on Canadian Colonial Tokens

Birthday and Year Joined

November 2 Alexander Basok 1998
November 3 John Riley 2004
November 5 Phyllis Johnson 1987
November 8 Brian A. Heil 1981
November 9 Eric Schmidt 2007
November 17 Dale Lukanich 2009
November 24 Jeffrey F. Bernberg 1975
November 27 Robert Feiler 1994
November 28 Katherine Lawrence 2009

Chatter Matter

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

P.O. Box 2301

Club Officers

Jeffrey Rosinia- President
Lyle Daly- First Vice President
Elliot Krieter- Second Vice President
William Burd- Archivist
Directors:Robert Feiler
Eugene Freeman
Marc Stackler
Carl Wolf
Other positions held are:
Carl Wolf- Secretary
Steve Zitowsky- Treasurer
Paul Hybert- Chatter Editor

Contacting Your Editor / 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.
If you would like to receive an email link to the latest issue instead of a mailed print copy send an email to You can resume receiving a mailed print copy at any time, just by sending another email.