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Volume 58 No. 12 December 2012

2013 CCC Dues are Due

Check the outside of your printed Chatter. A slip of yellow paper stapled outside the cover indicates that, according to our records, you have not paid your dues for 2013. Please mail them to the address on that slip, or bring them to our next meeting.

Minutes of the 1127th Meeting

The 1127th meeting (Session I) of the Chicago Coin Club was held November 10, 2012 in conjunction with the PCDA National Coin and Currency Convention, Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel, 5440 N. River Road, Rosemont, IL. President Jeffrey Rosinia called the meeting to order at 1 PM with an attendance of 22 members and 6 guests: Patricia Foley, Louise Boling, Gene Mitchell, Larry Schuffman and, representing Coin World, Becky Kistner and Michelle Orzano.

A motion was passed to adopt an abbreviated agenda. Mark Wieclaw, Host Chairman of the 2013 ANA Convention, reminded everyone of August 13-17 dates, the availability of flyers with hotel information, general volunteer sign-up, and speaker proposals. Mark also showed everyone an engraved Lincoln medal presented to all Numismatic Theatre speakers at the 2011 ANA Convention and informed everyone that a similar medal is planned for 2013.

First V.P. Elliott Krieter introduced the featured speaker, Fred Holabird who gave a presentation The Casa Grande Improvement Co. and the Arizona Land Fraud. Following a question and answer period, Fred was presented with an ANA Educational Certificate and an engraved Standing Lincoln Club medal.

The meeting was recessed at 1:43 pm. Session II will be re-adjourned November 14, 2012, 6:45 pm, Chicago Bar Association Building, 3rd Floor, 321 S. Plymouth Court, Downtown Chicago.

. . . . . .

The 1127th meeting (Session II) of the Chicago Coin Club was held November 14, 2012 in the Chicago Bar Association Building, 321 S. Plymouth Court, Downtown Chicago. President Jeffrey Rosinia reconvened the meeting at 6:45 PM with an attendance of 24 members.

A motion was passed to accept the October Minutes as published in the Chatter. Treasurer Steve Zitowsky gave a detailed report showing October revenue of $950.00, expenses of $374.42 and total assets of $20,851.37 held in Life Membership $1,670.00 and member equity $19,181.37.

A motion was passed to accept the changes to the Club Constitution as published in the Chatter. Members were reminded to pay their 2013 dues ($20) and make banquet reservations ($40). The December 12th event will be at Marcello’s Restaurant, 645 W. North Ave., Chicago, IL 60610. In addition to the election of officers, the featured program A Coin-Collecting American Boy in Rome will be given by member Bob Wallace.

Jeff announced that Bill Burd recently became a Fellow of the American Numismatic Society, joining other Club members who hold this honor: Robert Leonard, Clifford Mishler, Harlan Berk, Robert Wallace, Joseph Boling, Jay Galst, Margo Russell, and Kerry Wetterstrom. Jeff also announced that Numismatic News honored their 60th year with the October 26th issue and published a selection of articles written by collectors who shared their early collecting memories and member Scott McGowan was the recipient of the second place award. It was announced that member Dave Gumm had recent knee replacement surgery.

The Chairman of the Nominations Committee, Robert Feiler, announced the committee’s choice of candidates to serve 2013-15. They are: Elliott Krieter, President; Rich Lipman, 1st V.P.; Marc Stackler, 2nd V.P.; Carl Wolf, Secretary; Steve Zitowsky, Treasurer; William Burd, Archivist; Jeffrey Rosinia, Immediate Past President; and Directors: Mark Wieclaw, Dale Lukanich, Steve Ambos, and Robert Feiler.

Mark Wieclaw, Host Chairman of the 2013 ANA Chicago Convention, announced the arrival of full color flyers promoting the event with hotel info on the back, exhibit rule sheets, Money Talk proposal forms, and volunteer forms. The next Committee Meeting will be December 5, 2012, 6 PM, Offices of Harlan J. Berk, 77 W. Washington, Suite 1320, Downtown Chicago.

The evening’s program was the annual auction with President Rosinia serving as the auctioneer of 66 lots. The highlight was a 1910 Chicago Numismatic Society Aviation Medal, consigned by a German collector, which sold for $425.00.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:24 pm

Respectfully Submitted,
Carl Wolf, Secretary

Speaker’s Wor[l]d
The Casa Grande Improvement Co. and the Arizona Land Fraud

a presentation by Fred N. Holabird,
to our November 10, 2012 meeting

In the late nineteenth century, James Reavis claimed a good piece of Arizona and New Mexico territories; before his fraud was exposed, he had used various devices to acquire about $5 million (these are nineteenth century dollars). For all that, his sentence was two years in prison — and he did not have to pay restitution! This interesting story is almost lost to history. A student of mining history and Western Americana, Fred started his presentation by showing a certificate for 50 shares of the Casa Grande Improvement Company (Limited); dated 17 OCT 1889, R.G Ingersoll signed it as President. Robert G. Ingersoll, a politician and noted orator of the last half of the nineteenth century, was not the only person who believed the great con perpetrated by James Reavis. Much of what we know about Reavis comes from a series of newspaper articles following his release from prison.

Born in 1843 in Missouri, he joined the Confederate Army when he was 18, and soon realized that he could avoid combat by forging passes to visit home. When fellow soldiers saw what he did, he forged passes for them; when officers saw what he did and prepared to charge him, he surrendered to the Union Army. He held a range of jobs in St. Louis after the war, ending up in real estate. Title chains have to be complete in order to be accepted; Reavis became known as the go-to guy to fix title problems, finding the missing documents after others who had searched had failed. As long as all parties were happy, who was motivated to detect a well-executed fraud?

In late 1864, in a remote mining camp in the Arizona Territory, a George Willing paid $20,000 in gold and items to a Miguel Peralta for a Spanish land grant; the deed was written on a dirty sheet of camp paper, singed by the parties and some witnesses. Willing tried to record the deed in Prescott in 1867, but left town when the locals became unfriendly; in 1871 he was in St. Louis, where he met Reavis. This was Reavis’ introduction to the intricacies of Spanish land grants. They formed a partnership to work the grant, and, in 1874, planned to travel separately to Arizona. Willing arrived in March, filed his claim with the county, was found dead the next day, but no official investigation into the cause of death was performed. Reavis was in California when he was informed of the death — he taught school for a few years, travelled in South America for a period, and then travelled to Arizona in 1880 to pick up Willing’s papers. While Willing had the points of a story, much more was needed.

In 1881, Reavis visited the archives in Mexico. First he would plant one of his forgeries, then he would request an official, certified copy of his forgery. Armed with dozens of supporting documents for a large claim that included, among many other places, Phoenix and the Silver King mine, he returned to California and started working this “Peralta” land grant. He hit up railroads, and key business heads bought rights to avoid embarassment; in this way, he raised $350,000 before any public announcements or claims were made. Real land grants were well known — a Peralta grant for part of the bay east of San Francisco had been recently resolved — so a claim in Arizona by the Peralta family’s “other” branch might not have seemed suspicious to Californians. But Reavis must have deemed the weak paper trail in Arizona as enough of an issue to warrant the creation of a living heir, whom Reavis promptly married in 1882.

Reavis filed the claim in Arizona in 1883, presenting a large amount of supporting documents. The public was stunned by the sheer magnitude of the claim, and the resulting outcry was considerable. While the government investigated the documents, some court cases went against Reavis; He spent time in New York finding new backers, and spent much of 1886 in Spain where Doña Sophia was accepted by local families as a long-lost relation. Reavis spent time in the Seville archives, where suspicious officials numbered archive pages before granting further access to Reavis. Fred showed images of renumbered forged pages, and told how the new discoveries were on pages glued to existing pages, while the practice was to sew all the documents together. Later examinations of the documents would discover wrong phrases, wrong spellings, and the use of a steel-tipped pen instead of a quill. An index volume had not always been used by the recorders, so cross referencing a specific document was not always possible. After strengthening his support in New York, and his supporters and backers included influential people of the day, Reavis returned to Arizona in 1887 with the additional documents and filed another claim. The Casa Grande Improvement Company raised money to construct dams that would provide irrigation for the land, but nothing was ever built.

After the government’s investigation turned up many problems, the government brought charges in the 1890s; Reavis countersued and claimed damages of $11 million. The government’s case was overwhelming, and Reavis was found guilty in 1896 and sentenced to two years in prison. After prison, Reavis still tried promoting various dam construction projects to bring irrigation to large areas of Arizona, but without friends or backers, nothing came of these schemes. He died penniless in 1914.

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Auction Results
November 14, 2012

These are the realized prices for the lots listed in the November Chatter.

1  $7.00
14  22.00
26  50.00
39  5.00

Our December Banquet (1128th Meeting)

Date:December 12, 2012 (This is on a Wednesday!)
Time:6PM to 7PM Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres
7PM to 9 PM+ Dinner and Meeting
Location:Marcello’s Restaurant, 645 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 312-654-2560. Ample free parking is available in their parking lot. If public transportation is taken, it’s just east of the North Avenue subway stop on the CTA Red Line.

Dinner will start with a Caesar Salad tossed with Crispy Croutons served with Caesar Dressing, and continue with: Oven Roasted Rosemary Chicken, Cheese Stuffed Mushroom Ravioli smothered with Marcello’s Signature Marinara Sauce, Crispy Broasted Potato Wedges, Grilled Asparagus Spears brushed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Fresh Herbs. Dessert will be assorted Mini Pastries including Chocolate Mousse, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Carrot & Lemon Chiffon.

The cost is $40.00 per person and reservations are required. Make your check payable to Chicago Coin Club, P.O. Box 2301, Chicago, IL 60690. If time is short, e-mail your reservation to, or call 773-878-8979 during workdays and make arrangements to pay at the door.

Please make reservations as early as you can so we can plan for an appropriate room size.


Robert Wallace on A Coin-Collecting American Boy in Rome
Robert Wallace’s father worked for the Baltimore Sun newspaper and in 1962 accepted a transfer to Rome. Bob was 12-years-old, already a coin collector, and Rome became his playground to explore. The open marketplaces, especially, held many wonders including pails of ancient coins unearthed by local farmers. Today, Bob is a Professor of Classics at Northwestern University and a visiting professor at several Italian universities. We are fortunate he will be in Chicago this December, as he divides living arrangements between Chicago and the south of France. Make your reservation early, guests are welcome, and be ready for a program that will take everyone back 50 years!

Agenda: Election of Club Officers
Award Presentations

Important Dates

December 12 CCC Meeting - Annual Banquet - Featured Speaker - Robert Wallace on A Coin-Collecting American Boy in Rome
January 9 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Eugene Freeman on Mint Marks of the Spanish-Colonial Mints
February 13 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Marc Stackler on Numismatic Issues of the Independent State of Oaxaca, 1915-16

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
Elliott Krieter- First Vice President
Richard Lipman- 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
Robert Feiler- ANA Club Representative

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