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Volume 56 No. 8 August 2010

12 Months until ANA in Chicago

Maybe a quarter of the members attending our July meeting will miss our August meeting — we will be at Boston for the ANA convention! The production of the September Chatter would be greatly aided if every exhibitor would please email the editor with a few sentences about each piece that is exhibited; and a sentence or two on the theme, if there is one.

We hope to have some local organizing committee member always at the ANA Future Conventions table located as part of the ANA Message Center in the convention center lobby, outside of the bourse at Boston. Stop by to say hi, but if no one is there, feel free to volunteer! is the main page for our organizing committee. The numismatic press mentioned some possible changes to the local committee structure — the matter will be clarified at the Boston convention, so follow links from the above page after August 20 to find the latest information from the local organizing group.

Minutes of the 1099th Meeting

The 1099th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was held July 14, 2010 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 an attendance of 25 members and three guests, Theresa Thompson, Nicolas Thompson and George Dowd.

A motion was passed to approve the June Minutes as published in the Chatter. Treasurer Steve Zitowsky reported June income of $127.24, expenses $399.81 and total assets of $14,843.90 which is in Life Membership $2,150.00 and member equity $12,693.90. A motion was passed to approve the report.

The Secretary reported receipt of a letter from the American Numismatic Association accepting the Club’s recommendation of appointing CCC Past President Charles J. Ricard as Honorary Chairman of the ANA World’s Fair of Money 2011. More outstanding dues arrived and with regret the Club accepted the resignation of Casey Fadze.

First V.P. Lyle Daly introduced featured speaker Robert D. Leonard, Jr. who delivered a program titled French Billon Coinage in the Americas. A brief question and answer period followed. Lyle also announced several prospective programs and asked members to contact him with program ideas.

Second V.P. Elliot Krieter introduced the ten exhibitors for the evening. ZOUJUN DAI –New Zealand 2-cent coin muled with die intended for Bahama Islands. EUGENE FREEMAN – French satirical medal, 1793 French 12-deniers with die break, error Panamanian 1975 5-Balboas and ancient Greek hemiobol and diobol coins. CARL WOLF – framed Togo Stone Money. ROBERT D. LEONARD, JR. – separate books on Serbian and Romanian coinage. MARC STACKLER – Revolutionary Mexican coins 1914 & 1915 2-pesos from Guerrero and 1915 1-centavo from Oaxaca. STEVE ZITOWSKY – 8 different oyster, tomato and sweet potato packing tokens from Maryland and coin of Papal States Giulio-Julius II, 1503-1513. ROBERT WEINSTEIN – 4 bronze tetradrachms and a silver drachm of Indo-Parthian Kings. DALE LUKANICH – Roman Ases of Philip I (298 AD), Philip II (248 AD) and Otacilia Severa (248 AD). ROBERT FEILER – Bolivian 1630 2-reales from Potosi Mint and Canal Bank Notes from New Orleans. MARK WIECLAW: 2 ancient Roman tridrachms, a tetradrachm, jewelry made from silver coins and a British gold sovereign paper coin tube.

2011 ANA Chicago Convention General Chairman Robert D. Leonard, Jr. announced a meeting of the local committee at the upcoming Boston Convention with ANA Executive Director Larry Shepherd. With time and location still open, members attending the show were asked to pass on their cell phone number to Bob.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:52 PM.

Respectfully Submitted,
Carl Wolf, Secretary

Speaker’s Wor[l]d
French Billon Coinage in the Americas

presented by Robert D. Leonard Jr.
to our July 14, 2010 meeting

Billon is a low-grade alloy of copper and silver that turns black in circulation. It is found in ancient coins as well as in French coins from the Middle Ages on. Prior to 1641, French billon coins contained 24% silver; the amount was later reduced to 19.95% — even less silver was used, illegally, at some provincial mints. At very low silver percentages, the silver content is hard to see — giving opportunity for counterfeits (sometimes tinned) with no silver content.

The first major work on this area was by Breen in 1976, and expanded in his Encyclopedia in 1988; he was a maximalist, providing details on many pieces, even those not considered “American” by other numismatists. Breton, Haxby and Willey, Yeoman (in the Redbook starting with the 25th edition), and Vlack in 2004 are minimalists. The best auction catalog of the U.S. series is one of the John J. Ford, Jr. auctions.

The first coin Bob showed was an example of the first French billon in the Americas — the old billon douzains (or sols of 12 deniers), were recalled and countermarked in 1640 with a fleur-de-lis in a beaded oval, revaluing them to 15 deniers for use in New France and the West Indies. They later were called sols marqué because of the countermark, and by 1642, were current in Canada for 20 deniers each. In the English colonies, they were called “Black Doggs,” and an effort was made in 1721 to make them legal tender in Connecticut. One was excavated in Illinois (ca. 1992, and exhibited at Dickson Mounds Museum) and another near Medford, Massachusetts (mentioned by Kleeberg in 1977). Breen included the rare quinzain of 1641 as an American piece in his Encyclopedia, but Vlack says there is no evidence for that, and none have been found in the US.

In 1658 a new issue of douzains was made, also confusingly called a sol marqué because this piece included the fleur-de-lis in the original design. In Canada, it was tariffed at 24 deniers at first. A sixtain was also struck, and one of those was excavated at the site of a Kaskaskia Indian village in Illinois. In 1692 Louis XIV ordered a reform of the coinage, specifying that all earlier billon coins be overstruck with new designs. Bob showed a typical example of this type: a 1577 douzain of Henri III, with a fleur-de-lys countermark of 1640, then overstruck by dies dated 1693! It circulated for at least 116 years, with both dates clear. Some of these pieces were struck on new billon planchets.

In 1709 an issue of 30 and 15 denier pieces was struck specifically for use in France and New France. These are the first billon pieces to be listed in the Red Book and Canadian Catalogs, though none is known to have been found in the US; the nearest finds are in Canada. Also called sols marqué, they were nicknamed mousquetaires — musketeers — either because their cross design resembled the emblem worn by the Royal Musketeers or possibly because they were intended for Canadian Habitants who carried muskets to shoot game.

But the main French billon coins of the Americas were the sou marqueé and its half, introduced in 1738. Struck at dozens of mints, they were current in Canada, Louisiana, and the West Indies until 1763, but pieces dated 1764 were sent to the Caribbean. Many pieces known are counterfeits of the period. Examples have been found in Michigan and Vermont. The half (demi) sou marqué was mainly struck in 1740 and is rare.

In 1765 these withdrawn coins were counterstamped with a crowned “C” for use in the French Colonies in general. The supply of old sous marqué ran out after a few years, so in 1779 the crowned “C” was struck on new billon flans. In English, these coins were nicknamed stampees. They were heavily counterfeited at the time, in copper, often tinned. In Martinique in 1797 these counterfeits were prohibited; however, according to Wood, “But on account of the trouble to distinguish the good from the bad, and on account of the small number of good pieces on the island, six months later another decree was issued admitting provisionally the false marqués at ten deniers each...”

From 1780-1789, 2 sous pieces were struck for Cayenne Colony, French Guiana. These circulated widely in the West Indies and were also heavily counterfeited. The final billon pieces struck for circulation in the Americas were similar issues dated 1818 and 1846, now denominated 10 centimes. Stampees and Cayenne 2 sous were counterstamped for circulation in a number of Caribbean islands. Modern collectors accept only attributions supported by actual legislation or multiple known finds. Many attributions found in old catalogs — and Vlack, who is curiously not discriminating — are wrong. Two auction catalogs that cover this area are Hans Shulman’s 1966 auction of the Howard Gibbs collection, and Jess Peters’ 1977 auction of the Ray Byrne collection. Bob’s handout listed nine islands for which counterstamps are generally accepted; some islands had multiple counterstamps at different times.

Many fakes were made of these counterstamps, both at the time (on counterfeit coins) and recently (for sale to collectors). Vlack, strangely, includes fake counterstamps along with genuine in his catalog, unlike Pridmore. Of the six West Indies counterstamps that Bob has, the Nevis and St. Eustatius counterstamps are from the Howard Gibbs collection and the Tobago piece is from the Ray Byrne collection. Though both collections had many fakes, Bob believes these to be genuine. The St. Maarten and Tortola pieces are original, though the Tortola coin might be a circulating counterfeit. The St. Kitts piece is a counterfeit, probably old.

Genuine West Indies counterstamped coins are scarce. They come up in British auctions from time to time. The best opportunity upcoming is the auction of the Edward Roehrs collection, coming up in a few months.

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Show and Tell

Items shown at our July 14, 2010 meeting.

  1. Zoujun Dai showed two examples of numismatic mules, both involving New Zealand:
  2. Eugene Freeman started with some items with unusual markings, and concluded with some pieces from his small ancient coin collection:
  3. Carl Wolf showed a piece of Stone Money from Togoland (modern Ghana). They were used as money from the 1600s to the the mid 1800s even though they were originally created sometime between 500 BC and 500 AD. Their original purpose is unknown (possibly religious), and they were found on eroded land after a thunderstorm. The hole was formed in ancient times, by drilling from both sides and meeting perfectly.
  4. Bob Leonard missed our June meeting because he was on a Danube cruise. He showed us some books he acquired on that trip:
  5. Marc Stackler continued his Mexican revolution Era theme:
  6. Steve Zitowsky showed a range of pieces:
  7. Bob Weinstein showed mostly Indo-Parthian coins:
  8. Dale Lukanich showed Roman coins issued in 248 AD for the secular games honoring the thousandth anniversary of Rome.
  9. Bob Feiler showed two items:
  10. Mark Wieclaw showed a range of items:

Our 1100th Meeting

Date:August 11, 2010
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:Jeff Amelse — Byzantine Bronzes: Basics and a Bit Beyond, Including Barbaric, Brockages, and Bashed (Errors)

The number of bronze varieties is pretty vast, so this will stick to a few basics such as denominations, set of the Anonymous Folles Varieties with a depiction of Christ, comparison of some barbaric issues to official issues, and a few brockages and error coins.

Important Dates

Aug 10-14 ANA Annual Convention - Boston. Are you going? Remember to submit a trip report!
August 11 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Jeff Amelse on Byzantine Bronzes: Basics and a Bit Beyond, Including Barbaric, Brockages, and Bashed (Errors)
September 8 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced
September 9-11 ILNA convention at the Tinley Park Convention Center, 18501 S. Harlem Ave., Tinley Park, IL 60477. Details at
October 13 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced

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.