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Volume 58 No. 2 February 2012

Minutes of the 1117th Meeting

The 1117th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was held January 11, 2012 in the Chicago Bar Association Building, 321 S. Plymouth Court, Downtown Chicago. Vice President Elliott Krieter called the meeting to order at 6:45 PM with an attendance of 21 members and 1 guest, Gloria Iglesias.

A motion was passed to accept the December Minutes as published in the Chatter. Treasurer Steve Zitowsky reported with detail December income of $4,001.00, expenses of $1,998.81 and total assets of $18,351.18 held in Life Membership $1,910.00 and member equity $16,441.18. The Treasurer also gave the 2011 year-end report showing total 2011 revenue of $18,209.35, expenses of $16,134.98 and a net income of $2,074.37. A motion was passed to approve both reports.

Elliott Krieter presented engraved 2011 Cabeen Award Medals to the following recipients who did not attend the Annual Banquet in December. They included: William Burd and Steve Zitowsky, Honorable Mention, and Mark Wieclaw, First Place.

Upcoming programs were announced including the February presentation by Robert Leonard, Banker’s Marks Throughout History From Antiquity to the 20th Century. It was announced 15 members and 6 guests attended the January 7th monthly meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt, Chicago Chapter, at the Oriental Institute to hear Money Changes Everything: The Evolution of Money & Coins in Ancient Egypt. Members were informed of the special exhibit Genghis Khan (February 17 through April 22, 2012) at The Field Museum with publicity promising “coins.”

The evening’s featured speaker, Eugene Freeman, delivered a program The Little Half Sisters: U.S. Half Cents 1793-1857 which was followed by a question and answer period.

The eleven exhibitors were: DAVID GUMM – 2011 Disney dollar, 2011 $20 Canadian Commemorative coin, and a U.S. Large Cent book; EUGENE FREEMAN – U.S. 1880-S silver dollar, and reales from Bolivia and Argentina struck at the same mint; CHUCK KNOX – 2012 Canadian $100 banknote; JEFF AMELSE: collection of U.S. Half Cent coins and several books on the subject; STEVE AMBOS: 1675 Charles II farthing, 1791 one French sol, and a De Beers mine 6 pence token; ROBERT LEONARD – Sicilian half-tari and tari coins (1140 – 1189 AD) of Roger II, William I, William II and books; WILLIAM BURD - set of CCC 500th Meeting Medals in gold-, silver- and bronze-anodized aluminum, and 1782 deed to property purchased by David Rittenhouse, first director of U.S. Mint; MARK WIECLAW – 2012 ¼ oz. gold Chinese panda, and ancient Roman solidus of Maurice Tiberius and Phocas; ROBERT FEILER – 1897 British half penny, a gold nugget, 1934 Century of Progress box dollar with Fair scenes, and a 1960 car ad offering new car for $50 bag of 1960-P Small Date Lincoln Cents; RICHARD LIPMAN – U.S. $2 radar note, a $2 star note and a $5 U.S. note with excess paper; ROBERT WEINSTEIN – silver drachms (120 BC–10 AD) of Indo-Greek and Indo-Scythian kings.

Under old business the Board of Directors were reminded of an upcoming meeting Wednesday, January 18th at Connie’s Pizza. The Secretary announced that member Joel Falater had not received the Chatter in 2011 following a mix-up after he was reinstated when he submitted back and current dues (April 2011); the Chatter editor had not been informed of this reinstatement, so a motion was passed to consider Joel Falater’s dues paid through 2012.

Under new business, Mark Wieclaw announced an upcoming meeting of the 2013 Chicago ANA Convention Committee at a March date yet to be determined.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:49 PM.

Respectfully Submitted,
Carl Wolf, Secretary

Speaker’s Wor[l]d
The Little Half Sisters: U.S. Half Cents 1793-1857

by Eugene Freeman
presented to our January 11, 2012 meeting

The half cent was the lowest denomination of coin ever issued by the U.S. Mint, and it was minted in five major types from 1793 to 1857 (although coins were not minted in all of those years).

Who Needs a Half Cent?

Why was a half cent needed for commerce? Prices in the 1700s were MUCH lower than what we see today. One study estimated that a worker in England earned about 10 shillings per week in the 1700s. If you compare the copper weight of a half cent of 1793, to a British half penny of King George III, you would find that those weekly wages were approximately $2.40 (or about 40 cents per day, based on a six day work week). If the work week was 60 hours, then the worker earned about 4 cents per hour.

Stated another way, in the 1700s, working class people ate meat only about twice per week; bread was the primary diet. A loaf of bread that weighed about 2 pounds cost about 2 pence or 4 cents.

Another source indicated that American rum cost about 1 shilling 8 pence around 1700. This would be 20 pence or about 40 cents. (Rum was an important drink — you could not trust the water supply!)

Viewed in these terms, a half cent had significant buying power for the common man. In the United States, it was also helpful in making change, since the Spanish colonial 1 real was equivalent to 12½ cents in American dollars.

The Beginnings through 1793

The first American half cents were actually issued by Massachusetts, under the Articles of Confederation, in 1787 and 1788. Massachusetts lost the right to coin its own money when it ratified the U.S. Constitution.

Fugio Coppers were the first coins minted under the authority of the United States, but these were minted by an independent party under a contract. Half dismes were minted in 1792, but this was before the completion of the Mint in Philadelphia.

The first coins minted in the Philadelphia Mint were the half cents of 1793. Only cents and half cents were minted in 1793, and the half cents were begun four months before the cents. The half cent of 1793 is the only Liberty with cap on pole design that faces left, so it is a one-year type. The total mintage was 35,334 from two obverse dies and three reverse dies (four die pairs are identified by Cohen and Breen). In his Encyclopedia, Breen estimates only 500-550 survivors of this type; in his half cent book, he rates each of the four die pairs as Rarity 3 (201–500 known), so he has raised his overall survival estimate above 800 pieces.

The planchets for the 1793 half cents were cut from sheets from a variety of sheet and scrap copper, and these are the smallest and thickest of all the half cents. The first planchets were 7/8 inch in diameter; this was increased to 15/16 inch.

Liberty Cap Facing Right 1794-97

Add the background of the fledgling mint of a fledgling country, and you become surprised that any half cents were ever minted after 1793! Die steel was in short supply, and had to be acquired from England (imagine trying to deal with the country with which you have been at war!) Lobbyists were at work, trying to close the Mint and revert to the old method of the (profitable to them) contract minting of coinage for the nation. The rolling equipment of the early mint was of limited capability, so it was primarily reserved for rolling sheets for silver and gold coins.

Also, Philadelphia had an annual problem of yellow fever epidemics — many people fled the city during the summer. At least six key Mint employees fell to the yellow fever by 1800, including the man who created many of the punches for the 1793 half cents.

The new dies for 1794-97 turned Liberty’s head to the right, and are modified from the 1793 design. Due to difficulties to get quality die steel, dies were used far beyond their expected lives; and due to the problems with the rolling equipment, alternatives had to be used to obtain coin planchets. About 1,100 pounds of tokens (enough to strike about 52,000 coins) were acquired from Talbot, Allum and Lee in late 1795; most of these were cut down to half cent diameters (without being rolled to the proper thickness) and struck in early 1796 with 1795-dated dies.

Spoiled cents serve as the source of many half cents, and these are often not rolled to the proper thickness. Many retain dates or details of the host cent, and this adds to their values.

Another 1,900 pounds of tokens acquired from Talbot in December 1796 were used to strike about 90,000 1797-dated coins (which were apparently rolled to the proper thickness), during 1797-1800.

Breen basically identified 9 die pairs for 1794; 6 for 1795; 2 for 1796 and 3 for 1797; but the variations in planchets and edge types (plain, lettered, or gripped), leads to a myriad of varieties, some of which are extremely rare.

Because of the use of 1795-dated dies in early 1796, and the apparent early failure of one of the two 1796 dies used, the 1796-dated coins are a major rarity in the series, with only about 1,390 minted.

Flowing Hair or Draped Bust 1800-1808

In 1800, the half cent design was changed to conform to the cent design that had been in use since 1796, but this was only used on a small quantity of planchets cut down from spoiled cents during the first half of the year. 1797-dated dies were used to strike the remaining Talbot planchets that were on hand.

This effort changed after a shipment of half cent planchets of Welsh copper was received from Boulton Mint in July 1800. The Mint delayed striking half cents until it had met a huge demand for cents, but still completed striking the Boulton planchets by the end of the year.

Although shipments of cent planchets were received from Boulton in 1801 and 1802, no half cent planchets were received until November 1803. This explains why there was no half cent coinage in 1801, and limited coinage dated 1802.

All of the 1802 coinage was struck on planchets cut down from spoiled cents. One obverse die was used — a leftover 1800 die was overdated to 1802 — and two reverse dies were used. The 1800 reverse die, which was in its final state, did not last long, and created a major rarity. Only about 16-18 of this die pair are known.

Die steel continued to be a problem, which caused dies to be used as long as possible. 1803-dated dies were used as late as 1805. 1804 dies were used as late as 1806. A bolt struck one of the dies and damaged it; this caused the “Spiked Chin” variety of the 1804 half cent. An 1807 die was overdated in 1808, causing another rarity in the series.

With the receipt of half cent planchet shipments from Boulton, the Mint was able to issue significant mintages of half cents for several years. At the end of 1808, the Treasurer had 356,930 half cents on hand and was reporting that demand was very low for them.

Die pairs: 1803 (4), 1804 (12), 1805 (4), 1806 (4), 1807 (1), 1808 (3).

Classic Head 1809-1836

In 1809, new dies were prepared to conform to the design used for the cents in 1808. Coins delivered to the Treasurer in June 1809 exhausted the planchet delivery of November 1804.

Slowed demand for the half cents, and the fact that only about 74,000 planchets remained from the October 1807 shipment, caused the 1810 mintage to be reduced.

An increased demand in 1811 caused the Mint to coin the remainder of the planchets by July 9 of that year, and all the half cents had been issued by the end of September. The 1811s show signs of being rushed, and have two major varieties, which Breen rated as Rarity 4 (76-200 known) and Rarity 3 (201-500 known), respectively.

The Mint Director reported that there was little demand for the half cents, so no new planchets were ordered for over a decade. The Mint obtained a quotation for ten tons of planchets in 1824 (about 1.86 million planchets) from Boulton’s Soho Mint in England, and in 1825 the Mint received a large order for half cents from a Baltimore firm. Mintage of half cents resumed in 1825 and the Mint expected increased demand, so was determined to maintain a full supply of coins on hand.

One of the 1828 obverse dies has only 12 stars. Although not rare, it is a popular variety.

By the end of 1829, the Treasurer had over 848,000 half cents on hand — all of the 1829 mintage and over half of the 1828 mintage. Coinage was suspended, and not supposed to continue until the stock had been exhausted. There were still 141,000 on hand in June 1833.

In 1831, the new Mint Director updated the punches for the half cents, and apparently 2,200 half cents were struck, despite there still being thousands on hand. This is an outstanding rarity in the series, although many of the 1831s known are restrikes made using an 1836 reverse die.

In May 1832, a New York City firm ordered 400,000 half cents, which were issued from the stock on hand, so the Mint struck half cents for 1832-1835, in sufficient quantities to have exhausted the rest of the planchet order from Boulton in 1825. At the end of June 1835, there were 539,000 half cents on hand, so mintage was halted.

Demand was low for the coins, and there were still over 70,000 of the coins still on hand at the end of September 1848. For this reason, only Proof coins were struck from 1836 to 1849. (The Director had determined that a half cent should be included in the Proof sets used for presentation to foreign dignitaries.)

Die pairs (including restrikes): 1809 (6), 1810 (1), 1811 (2), 1825 (2), 1826 (2), 1828 (3), 1829 (1), 1831 (3), 1832 (3), 1834 (1), 1835 (2), 1836 (2).

Braided Hair 1840-1857

The new Mint Engraver, Christian Gobrecht, was instructed to develop new designs for American coinage, so he did so for the half cent, even though it was not being minted for circulation at that time.

With the Soho Mint closed, the Mint turned to Crocker Bros. & Co. of Massachusetts for half cent planchets; a shipment of about 127,000 planchets was received in November 1849. This coin has a large date, using the date punch of the half eagle.

Planchets from the 1849 shipment, and a second shipment in 1851, were used to mint the 1851 half cents. These were not fully issued until February 1853, so no business strikes were minted for 1852. Mintage resumed at modest levels from 1853 to 1857, when the series (and the denomination) ended. The highest mintage of 1849-1857 was the 1851 (147,672 pieces) and the lowest mintage was the 1857 (35,180 pieces). Total mintage for 1849-1857 was 547,510 pieces — compared to the mintage of 484,000 pieces for the 1909-S VDB Lincoln.

There are two die pairs each for business strikes for 1854 and 1856 (a rust pit on the I in United is the rarer die pair); the other six dates have only one die pair each for business strikes.

Of the eight years of business strikes, Breen rates 1849, 1850 and 1857 as Rarity 2 (501 to 1,250 known). As a numismatic challenge, assemble an eight-coin date set of business strikes!

The entire 1857 mintage of 35,180 pieces was issued to the Treasurer on January 14, 1857. Almost all were retained at the Mint and melted when the Act of February 21, 1857 authorized the substitution of a nickel coin for the copper cent.


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Show and Tell

Items shown at our January 11, 2012 meeting.

  1. David Gumm showed a range of items:
  2. Eugene Freeman started with coins minted in the same building, but with catalog listings under two different countries, and ended with a very recent acquisition.
  3. Chuck Knox showed a new $100 polymer note from Canada. Parts of the note are transparent, and it is estimated to last 2.5 times longer than the paper note. Polymer note versions of the other circulating denominations will be introduced one at a time, during the next two years.
  4. Complementing the evening’s featured speaker, Jeff Amelse showed some Little Sister items:
  5. While back in Columbus, Ohio, Steve Ambos acquired a range of items:
  6. While touring Sicily in late 2011, Robert Leonard added some numismatic sites to the usual tourist ones.
  7. William Burd showed a range of items.
  8. Mark Wieclaw showed some gold coins:
  9. Bob Feiler showed a range of items:
  10. Rich Lipman showed three US notes:
  11. After showing us a page from the recent Triton auction that listed his collection of early dated coins among the consignors, Robert Weinstein showed early silver coins from India:

Minutes of the Chicago Coin Club Board of Directors

January 18, 2012

The January 18, 2012 meeting of the Chicago Coin Club Board of Directors was held at Connie’s Pizza, 2372 S. Archer, Chicago, IL. President Jeffrey Rosinia called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM with the following in attendance: Elliott Krieter, Marc Stackler, Robert Feiler, William Burd, Eugene Freeman, Steve Zitowsky, Mark Wieclaw and Carl Wolf.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:52 PM with the next Board Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 28, 2012.

Sincerely Submitted,
Carl Wolf, Secretary

CCC Email List, and Trip Report

Due to a short notice, Chicago Coin Club members on our email list were the only members who were able to attend the recent event at the Oriental Institute. If you are not on the email list, please contact All emails are sent “blind copy” and no one will see your address. This will curb unsolicited emails from others. The only exception is when you specifically ask the membership for help; then your email address must be listed. Also, the Board of Directors does not want member inboxes cluttered with advertisements, so they stipulated that only Club business, and/or numismatic related emails, be sent to members.


On January 7, 2012, twenty-one Chicago Coin Club members and their guests attended the monthly meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt, Chicago Chapter, held at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. Over 60 attendees came to hear Money Changes Everything: The Evolution of Money and Coins in Ancient Egypt by Brittany Hayden, a PhD candidate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Ms. Hayden delivered an excellent presentation showing step by step how ancient Egyptian commerce evolved from barter, to a means of exchange, and finally coinage.

Ms. Hayden stated that money was one of the most important human inventions, like pottery and the wheel. She then offered her definition of money as means of exchange, means of payment, standard of value, unit of account, and store of wealth. She did not consider real estate as money.

Ms. Hayden showed a letter from Dynasty 12 (1991-1803 BC) landowner Heqanakht where he paid staff in bags of grain of fixed measure. When renting lands, Heqanakht preferred payment of cloth because it was not perishable although he would accept wheat or barley. Later documents show units of account comingled “grain” and “metal weights.” By the 4th Century BC, Greek mercenaries demanded payment in coins and introduced this new method of commerce to Egyptians. Soon after, Egyptians began the slow conversion and started to issue coinage modeled after the Greeks, but with hieroglyphic lettering on Pharonic coins. When Persia conquered Egypt in 343 BC, coinage inscriptions appeared in the Demotic script.

With the invasion of Alexander the Great (332 BC), then rule by Ptolemy, coinage was brought into every aspect of Egyptian life. Ms. Hayden showed translated documents and receipts showing transactions in coins, but called by wheat-payment-units. Soldiers were paid with coins and the government demanded taxes be paid with coins. Marriage contracts listed a woman’s belongings, and stated a value in money if the union dissolved. A husband’s obligation of support was given in “hedges” with 1 “hedge” equal to 5 staters.

According to Ms. Hayden, coinage in the multi-cultural and multi-linguistic Egyptian society brought signs of uniformity and trust.

The Oriental Institute, part of the University of Chicago, is a world-renowned center for research with focus on the study of the ancient Middle East. The Museum houses a major collection from the regions of ancient Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Nubia, Syria, and Turkey, mainly dating from 10,000 BC through 650 AD. These lands were called the “Orient” at the turn of the last century when University of Chicago archaeologists began unearthing many of the artifacts now on view in the museum. The Oriental Institute is located at 1155 East 58th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. Go to for more information.

Carl Wolf, Secretary

Our 1118th Meeting

Date:February 8, 2012
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. Nearby parking: South Loop Self Parking Ramp at Van Buren & Federal Streets; that is two short blocks west of our meeting site. Note: Their typical rate of $29 is reduced to $6 if you eat at the Plymouth Restaurant, 327 S. Plymouth Court (next to our meeting site at the CBA), show them your parking ticket, and ask the restaurant for a parking voucher. The restaurant offers standard sandwiches, burgers, and salads for members who want to meet for dinner.
Featured speaker:Robert Leonard - Banker’s Marks Throughout History — Five Episodes From Antiquity to the 20th Century

From ancient times, bankers and merchants have examined the authenticity and value of the money they handle. At times, test marks have been made on coins, and at others, coins have been marked to confirm their worth. Examples will be shown from five episodes, including a portrait denarius of Julius Caesar, a rupee of Shah Jahan (builder of the Taj Mahal), and a U.S. Trade Dollar.

  • Ancient silver cons from India to Rome are often found with small marks in the form of symbols or monograms.
  • Byzantine coins of Anastasius that were accepted at half their face value, after the weight of the copper coins was doubled.
  • Ducats of western Anatolia of the mid-15th century occasionally occur with a variety of small test marks, all unpublished.
  • Indian Shroff marks on silver and occasionally gold coins, from circa 1300 A.D. to the mid-19th Century.
  • Chinese and other chop marks on silver dollars and other silver coins, from the late 18th Century to 1935.

Important Dates

Feb 8 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Robert Leonard on Banker’s Marks Throughout History — Five Episodes From Antiquity to the 20th Century
March 9-11 17th Annual Chicago Paper Money Expo (CPMX) at the Crown Plaza Chicago O’Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL. Admission is $5 for Friday and Saturday; free on Sunday.
March 10 CCC Meeting - 1pm at the Chicago Paper Money Expo, which is held at the Crown Plaza Chicago O’Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL. No admission charge for our meeting.
Featured Speaker - to be announced
March 14 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Clifford Mishler on Irradiated U.S. Dimes from the 1950s & 1960s
April 11 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced
April 19-21 73rd Anniversary Convention of the Central States Numismatic Society at the Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center, 1551 North Thoreau Drive, Schaumburg, IL. For details, refer to their website,
April 21 CCC Meeting - 1pm at the CSNS Convention, which is held at the Schaumburg Convention Center. No admission charge for our meeting, in Room 42.
Featured Speaker - to be announced
April 27-29 36th annual Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF) at the Crown Plaza Chicago O’Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL. Admission is $5 for Friday and Saturday; free on Sunday.
April 28 CCC Meeting - 1pm 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 - to be announced
May 9 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
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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