|Volume 63 No. 5||May 2017|
Oops. I made a big error in last month’s issue — instead of using the article provided by our March Featured Speaker John Wright, I used an abbreviated version of one of his articles that he was partially using for background. John’s article about his presentation to the club on March 8 appears later in this issue. I missed that meeting because I was in Orlando for the ANA’s NMS, so I did not realize that last month’s article did not match John’s presentation.
A number of our members live in Colorado, and some more might be visiting there for the ANA’s Denver convention in early August. If you are thinking about entering a Collector Exhibit, this is a reminder that the exhibit application must be received at ANA headquarters by June 9. The theme of the convention is “Rush to the Rockies” — as in past years, there is a separate exhibiting class just for exhibits that reflect the convention theme, however you wish to interpret it.
Paul Hybert, editor
Session I of the 1180th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was held Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at the Chicago Bar Association Building, 321 S. Plymouth Court, Downtown Chicago. President Richard Lipman called the meeting to order at 6:45 PM with 23 members attending.
The Minutes of the March 8 meeting as published in the Chatter were amended and approved to read “Robert Leonard ‘would’ donate 20-pocket pages.” In the absence of the Treasurer, the Secretary reported March revenue of $755.00, expenses $194.54, and total assets $26,605.71. A motion was passed approving the report.
Secretary’s Report and Announcements:
First VP Marc Stackler introduced the featured speaker, Mark Wieclaw, with a presentation Aes Graves: Cast Bronze Coinage of Ancient Rome. Following questions and answers, Mark was presented with an ANA Educational Certificate and an engraved Club medal suspended on a neck ribbon.
Second VP John Riley introduced the eleven exhibitors. MARK WIECLAW - double struck and brockage of silver argenteus of Constantius I, 4th century AD; ROBERT LEONARD - examples of 19th century small change in Spain, including a 1775 coin of Charles III, British military uniform buttons, and a Roman copper coin issued 378-383 AD; DEVEN KANE – coin of Antiochus IV (175-164 AD), two Roman coins showing women, and two coins from Castulo, Spain; JEFF AMELSE – an Aes Graves and 1 lead imitation of a fishbone Aes Signatum; Richard Lipman – two US Mint medals, and an Irish medal commemorating the Easter Uprising of 1916; DAVID GUMM – merchant tokens from Palatine, IL; RICHARD HAMILTON – two Civil War tokens, and three crowns showing images of cats; STEVE AMBOS – 2017 U.S. quarter featuring Effigy Mounds, and an 1869 bank check from Savannah, GA; JEFF ROSINIA – memorabilia from ANA National Money Show in Florida, and his First Place Award for his exhibit on US coinage during WWII; ROBERT FEILER – two enameled shillings from Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, Columbian Exposition change holder, a box medal from Lyon France with 17 drawings, and two pieces of currency converted into advertising pieces; and STEVE HUBER – a 1795 US Flowing Hair Dollar, and 3 German talers.
The meeting was recessed at 8:48 PM and will resume at 1PM, Saturday, April 29, in Schaumburg, IL at the Central States Numismatic Society Convention.
Session II of the 1180th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was held April 29, 2017 in conjunction with the Central States Numismatic Society Convention, Schaumburg, IL. At registration, everyone received a copy of the 178-page book The Collector’s Handbook: Tax Planning, Strategy and Estate Advise for Collectors and their Heirs compliments of Heritage Auction.
President Richard Lipman re-convened the meeting at 1:00 PM with 62 members and guests present. A motion was passed to adopt an abbreviated agenda.
Mark Borckardt, Heritage Auctions, and Steve Bieda, CSNS General Counsel, gave the featured program How and When to Sell Your Collection. Following many questions from the audience, each speaker was presented with an ANA Educational Certificate and an engraved speaker’s medal suspended on a neck ribbon.
Member Mark Wieclaw announced another excellent book on this subject titled Cash in Your Coins, by Beth Deisher.
Member Thomas Uram from Pennsylvania was introduced. Tom is running for the American Numismatic Association Board of Governors, and attendees were encouraged to speak to him after the meeting about issues important to the hobby.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:02 PM, and Steven Bieda stayed a bit longer to answer more questions from the audience.
Carl F. Wolf, Secretary
a presentation by Mark Wieclaw,
to our April 12, 2017 meeting.
An Aes Grave, which is Latin for “heavy bronze,” is a cast bronze coin issued by the Roman Republic about 289-213 BC. On the Italian peninsula during this time and earlier, copper was plentiful, silver was rare, and gold was non-existant. Aside from its roughness due to being cast, these round coins look a lot like modern coins. Two earlier versions of copper-based money had been used in this area, and Mark briefly discussed them.
The earliest version at a standard money is known as Aes Rude, which is Latin for “rough bronze.” Pieces weighing tens of pounds are known, and they have no specific shape other than a blob – pour a pot of molten bronze into a shallow spot in the ground, let it cool, and then knock the dirt off. The pictures we saw showed no identifiable designs. Using the as denomination, valuations of some items in 450 BC are declared in the Roman law of “Twelve Tables.” One sheep was worth 10 asses (the plural form of as), and one ox was worth 1,000 asses. Mark mentioned that about one pound of bronze was worth ten asses.
The next version at a standard money is known as Aes Signatum, which is Latin for “stamped bronze.” These were rectangular bars with a simple design on each side, and they are dated to the 290-240 BC years. We saw pictures of pieces with a range of animals, including an elephant. One of the shown pieces weighs 1.7 kilograms (about 3.5 pounds) – with no writing on them, and apparently following no weight standard, these pieces must have traded by weight.
The Aes Signatum and Aes Grave pieces were in circulation at the same time. The Aes Grave pieces sort of followed a weight standard, with multiple denominations being produced. (The above use of “sort of” is needed because the weight of each denomination became lighter as years went on, while the relative valuations of the denominations remained constant.) As a sample of the names of the common denominations, the three-as coin is a tressis, the two-as coin is a dupondius, the one-as coin is an as, the half-as coin is a semis, the third-as coin is a triens, the fourth-as coin is a quadrans, and the sixth-as coin is a sextans.
The Janus-Mercury series of Aes Grave coins has been dated to 289-245 BC, and gets its name from the figures on the two sides of the as coin which had an average weight of 322 grams when first issued in 289 BC. The other denominations in this series included four, from the semis to the sextans as mentioned above, as well as the 27-gram uncia (which weighed about half of a 55-gram sextans) and the 17-gram semuncia. The as coin has no obvious denomination marking, while the semis has the letter S, and pellets appear on the triens to the uncia (four pellets on the triens, down to one pellet on the uncia). Each denomination has different motifs.
The Apollo series dates from about 280-245 BC, and gets its name from the figure on the two sides of the as coin (facing left on one side, and facing right on the other). At the start of this series, the weights of the denomiations were about the same as at the start of the Janus-Mercury series, and these weights also decreased over the years. Six denomination, from as to uncia, were used in this series – each denomination has its own motif that is used on both sides of the coin, usually with the figure reversed from one side to the other.
The Roma series dates from about 269-240 BC, and gets its name from the figure on the 860-gram tressis, 575-gram dupondius, and 268-gram as. The other side shows a wheel with the denomination mark of III, II, or I between two spokes. This series has five other denominations, from the semis to the uncia. The denomination weights remain constant during this series.
The Minerva series dates from about 264-240 BC, and gets its name from the facing figure of Minerva on the 268-gram as. Minerva is wearing a triple-crested item atop her head on one side, while a bull standing over the word ROMA appears on the other side.
The Bearded Janus series dates from about 240-225 BC, and gets its name from the laureate head of a bearded Janus on one side of the 268-gram as, while the other side has the prow of a galley. The prow of a galley appears on one side of all six denominations in this series, from as down to uncia, with the head of different figure appearing on the other side of each denomination. The small denominations still use from four pellets down to one to indicate the denomination. The weights of the coins in this series decreased after 240 BC.
The Bearded Janus series (semi-libral weight standard) dates from about 225-216 BC, and gets its name from the laureate head of a bearded Janus on one side of the 132-gram as (only half the weight from before!), while the other side still uses the prow of a galley. The prow of a galley appears on one side of all four denominations in this series, from as down to quadrans, with the head of different figure appearing on the other side of each denomination (each denomination has the same figure as in the prior Bearded Janus series. The weights of the coins in this series decreased after 225 BC.
The last of the seven series of Roman cast coins is known as the Head of Roma series (post semi-libral weight standard). It dates from about 217-213 BC, and gets its name from the head of Roma on one side of a new denomination, the decussis. The value marking, an X for ten, appears on both sides of the 1,106-gram decussis, the largest cast coin – at the start – but its weight fell to 652 grams in only four years. All seven denominations in this series show a great weight loss, with the 133-gram as falling to 41 grams. The invasion of Hannibal (218-201 BC) certainly stressed Rome’s currency system. A complete restructuring of Rome’s currency system soon followed.
Mark quickly showed pictures of cast coins from other parts of the Italian peninsula (from six to ten other areas issued cast coins), and then gave us some thoughts on the Greece-to-Rome and Rome-to-Greece influences. From the start of coinage in the 7th century BC, Greek coinage was struck, not cast, with much coinage in silver. Maybe the Ptolemaic bronze coins (of 3rd century BC Egypt) were intended to compete with the cast coins of Rome. Mark mentioned that Rome did strike silver (and a few gold) coins in the 3rd century BC, the most common of which were didrachms (quadrigatus) and drachms (half quadrigatus). The silver denarius, initially equal in value to ten asses, was introduced in 211BC, and was struck for over 400 years.
This article skipped many of the details of Mark’s presentation. But all is not lost if you did not join us. In addition to on-line resources of various levels of reliability, there are some good older books out there. Mark concluded the presentation by referring us to two reference books. First was a 1979 combined work, Italian Cast Coinage: Italian Aes Grave by Bradbury K. Thurlow, with Italian Aes Rude, Signatum and the Aes Grave of Sicily by Italo G. Vecchi. Next was the 1974 reprint of the 1928 auction catalog, by R. Ratto, of Edward A. Sydenham’ collection of cast coins (in Italian, with wonderful plates).
by John Wright, NLG,
presented to our March 8, 2017 meeting,
The US coinage of 1857 consists of fifteen totally different coins, including the ten different denominations authorized in 1792 (half cent and cent in copper, half dime through dollar in silver, and quarter eagle through eagle in gold) plus the gold dollar introduced in 1849, the double eagle introduced in 1850, the trime introduced in 1851, the $3 gold introduced in 1854, and finally the small cent introduced in 1857.
In 1857 the five US mints produce 51 million coins: 368,726 in copper (large cents and half cents), 17.5 million in copper-nickel (new cents), 30.4 million in silver (3¢ through $1), and 2.9 million in gold ($1 through $20). There are several rarities of this year, but no great or legendary rarities. The most noteworthy of these are the gold dollar and quarter eagle of Dahlonega (fewer than 6,000 mintage combined), and the eagle of New Orleans (fewer than 5,600 mintage). The shortest-issue DENOMINATIONS of 1857 are the eagle (48K), the half cent (35K), and the $3 (21K), though when I tried to assemble a type set of 1857 I found the silver dollar (94K) to be the most elusive piece. When I finally found a circulated example, I was willing to pay double Guidebook for it & and did so.
The half cent of 1857, though a low-mintage issue, was evidently hoarded as an inexpensive talisman of a series that was “gone with the wind” even before the war. These are easy to find today at $50 to $400, which is decidedly cheap for so small a mintage.
This was the year that all US mints got totally out of any coinage in copper, beginning a seven-year hiatus for all US copper. The Coinage Act of 1857 discontinued copper cents and half cents, replaced the cent with a small white (copper-nickel) cent, gave “legal tender” status to base-metal coins struck by the US, and declared ONLY US-struck coins to be legal money here. Until then foreign coins, mostly Mexican or British silver, had circulated freely in the US. The designs on the new cent borrowed the reverse of the 1836 silver dollar for its obverse and the reverse of the 1854 (type 2) gold dollar for its reverse. This design will be used for only two years.
On May 25 two booths are set up in the courtyard of the US mint in Philadelphia with signs proclaiming “CENTS FOR SILVER” and “CENTS FOR CENTS” to redeem foreign silver coins (by weight) or the old copper US cents and half cents for the newly-minted flying eagle cents. For some unknown reason there are no complaints that the new cents look like silver and are about the same size as dimes. Lines of eager customers extend for blocks to obtain the new coins as the era of the large cent and the half cent finally draws to a close.
Two of the recently-new US coins, the 3¢ silver and the $3 gold, are what I would call “postal coins.” In 1851 the US Post Office reduced postal rates from a base of 5¢ to 3¢ due to business-loss to private cartage companies who were offering the same service for 3¢. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, mandated the mintage of a 3¢ coin to buy postage stamps. In 1854 the US Post Office first sold postage stamps in 100-stamp sheets — so Congress mandated a $3 coin to buy SHEETS of stamps. The 3¢ base rate for US postage held, with occasional dips to 2¢, for over a hundred years — until 1958.
The other two recently-new US coins, the gold dollar and the double eagle, resulted from the massive quantities of gold coming from California. The gold dollar (first type, 1849-1854) is the smallest diameter coin ever produced from any US federal mint. It was made larger and thinner (same weight) in mid-1854.
At this time mail and government shipments were carried on civilian paddlewheel steamboats manned by US Navy officers. The route between San Francisco and New York involved two legs by ship, and a railroad crossing of the Panama isthmus between them. On September 8, the mail packet SS Central America departed Havana for New York under command of Captain James Herndon, US Navy. Though rated for 200 passengers, she carried almost 600 passengers, 38,000 letters, and 21 tons of California gold. On September 12 in stormy seas she was leaking and a bailing-bucket brigade was initiated to augment the deck pumps. Despite being intercepted by the schooner El Dorado, only 153 passengers, mostly women and children, were transferred before the Central America sank with all remaining souls. Her exact location will remain unknown for over 130 years. Captain Herndon went down with his ship. Today at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis MD, a 21-foot granite obelisk honors Captain Herndon.
The fascinating tale of the demise, search, discovery, and salvaging of the SS Central America treasure is best told in Gary Kinder’s Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea. This is a VERY captivating read which I HIGHLY recommend. Its only drawback is a paucity of pictures — a deficiency that is abundantly satisfied with Tommy Thompson’s coffee-table book America’s Lost Treasure, published seven months later. Both of these books are available on Half.com at bargain prices.
In the last six years US railroad trackage has grown from 9,000 to 30,000 miles. In 40 years overland transportation costs have fallen by a factor of sixteen. Railroads are big business, but this year the financial bubble bursts. The cause for the bust is over speculation in railroad shares and land, with the panic triggered by the one-two punch of the failure of the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company and the loss of 21 tons of gold on the SS Central America. Almost 5,000 business firms will fail in the “Panic of 1857”. Within the next two years another 8,000 businesses will fail. The New York Tribune fires all but two of its foreign correspondents in an economy move.One of the two retained correspondents is Karl Marx.
But California, being separated by two thousand miles of Indian territory from the rest of the US, has its own need for circulating money. Local assayers fill this need from 1848 until the startup of the US mint in San Francisco in 1854 with privately-coined gold coins ranging from a tiny 25¢ piece called a “pinch” to gigantic 2.5 ounce coins called “slugs” or “quintuple eagles.” An octagonal version of the latter is even coined at the US assay office for gold in Mount Ophir, California, the predecessor of the San Francisco Mint.
More major changes in US coinage will be made in 1864-1866. In 1864 the copper-nickel cents will be replaced with bronze cents, and bronze 2¢ coins will be introduced at about the same size and weight as the recently retired half cents. In 1865 the copper-nickel composition will be expanded to 3¢ pieces (the exact same size as a dime), and in 1866 to 5¢ pieces (distinct from silver half-dimes, which will continue to be made for another seven years). So the 1866-1872 period will boast TWO totally different 3¢ pieces, TWO totally different 5¢ pieces, and TWO totally different dollars. With thirteen denominations, that makes SIXTEEN wholly different coins for each of these years.
Interesting enough, each new nickel-composition coin introduced — 1¢ in 1857, 3¢ in 1865, and 5¢ in 1866 — is called a “nickel” by the public. Today, only the 5¢ nickel remains.
James Buchanan will be able to postpone for his tenure the bloody years to come, but the next administration will reap the whirlwind that has been brewing for several decades. Though each year beyond 1857 continues to have a rich collection of nuggets of fascination both trivial and momentous, this year marks the end of the era of “Early American Coppers”.
|CSNS Convention||Chicago Coin Company|
|PCDA Convention||Harlan J. Berk, Ltd.|
Items shown at our April 12, 2017 meeting,
|Date:||May 10, 2017,|
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 Park, 318 South Federal Street; that is two short blocks west of our meeting site. Note: Their typical rate of $33 is reduced to $9 if you eat at the Plymouth Restaurant, 327 S. Plymouth Court (next to our meeting site at the CBA) — show the restaurant your parking ticket, and ask for a parking voucher. The restaurant offers standard sandwiches, burgers, and salads for members who want to meet for dinner. Members start arriving at 5pm.
|Featured Program:||Jeffrey Amelse
— Medals of the French Patroness Marianne
Marianne is a national symbol of the French Republic, and a portrayal of the Goddess of Liberty. Her image is displayed in many places in France, including town halls and law courts. Her image was used on many commemorative medals produced by prominent French artists to commemorate wars, sporting events, and other contests. Numerous examples will be provided in this presentation.
Unless stated otherwise, our regular monthly CCC Meeting is in downtown Chicago on the second Wednesday of the month; the starting time is 6:45PM.
|May||10||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Jeffrey Amelse on Medals of the French Patroness Marianne|
|June||14||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced|
|July||12||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced|
|August||1-5||ANA in Denver, Colorado this year, so we can relax and play tourist — for details, see http://www.worldsfairofmoney.com.|
|August||9||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced|
All correspondence pertaining to Club matters
should be addressed to the Secretary and mailed to:
CHICAGO COIN CLUB
P.O. Box 2301
CHICAGO, IL 60690
|Elected positions (two-year terms):|
|Richard Lipman||- President|
|Marc Stackler||- First Vice President|
|John Riley||- Second Vice President|
|William Burd||- Archivist|
|Elliott Krieter||- Immediate Past President|
|Carl Wolf||- Secretary|
|Steve Zitowsky||- Treasurer|
|Paul Hybert||- Chatter Editor, webmaster|
|Jeffrey Rosinia||- ANA Club Representative|
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