|Volume 67 No. 1||January 2021|
We seem to be adjusting to our online meetings. We sometimes have audio problems, but they might be fixed if more members used a headphone set with an attached microphone; that would break feedback loops, cut down the background noise, and help the speaker’s stay constant.
The cancellation of the FUN convention was mentioned during our December meeting, and the ANA’s Phoenix convention was cancelled a week later. The CSNS convention is still scheduled for late April in Schaumburg, but who knows if we will be near normal by then. The ANA’s Summer Seminar apparently will not be held in Colorado Springs in 2021 – alternate locations appear to be under discussion. The ANA’s Worlds Fair of Money is still on for August, at least our local hosting committee is working as if it will be held.
See you sometime in 2021!
Paul Hybert, editor
The 1223rd meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was called to order by President Richard Lipman at 6:45 PM CST, Wednesday, December 9, 2020. Due to the pandemic shutdown, the meeting was online with 35 members, but rose to 43 before 7 PM.
The November minutes were approved without objection. The Treasurer reported December revenue of $1,620 and expenses of $11.99, which was approved without objection.
Old Business: none discussed.
New Business: Announced - The 2021 Florida United Numismatist January Show was cancelled.
This was the last meeting President Richard Lipman would preside over, and he took the opportunity to thank: contributors, dues-paying members, regular meeting attendees, all committees, the vice-presidents, and the board of directors. Rich specifically named:
First V.P. Lyle Daly introduced the evening’s speaker, Carl Wolf, who spoke on Chicago Coin Club’s Impact on Early ANA Conventions. Following a question and answer period, Lyle announced Carl would receive an ANA Educational Award and engraved Club medal.
Second V.P. John Riley presented the annual Cabeen Awards for best exhibits through 2020:
Mark Wieclaw, Chairman of the Medal of Merit Committee, announced the 2020 recipient, Lyle Daly. The engraved and attractive 2.5-inch bronze medal was on everyone’s computer screen, and Mark spoke on the work and many positions Lyle performed since he joined in 1999.
Lyle Daly, Chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee, announced that the 13th inductee would be Alden Scott Boyer, the Club’s second President (1919-27). Deven Kane, member of the committee, read a summary of the many contributions Mr. Boyer made.
Lyle reported the committee decided to add a living member to the Hall of Fame, and announced that Carl Wolf would be the 14th inductee. Lyle read a summary of Carl’s work and achievements. Although the announcement was online, Carl’s wife, Jennie Sochon, was part of the surprise announcement and she walked into Carl’s office with the Hall of Fame certificate and biography.
Mark Wieclaw, representing the nominating committee that included William Burd, Melissa Gumm, and Steve Zitowsky, gave the proposed slate of officers for 2021-2022. A motion to accept their recommendation unanimously passed by acclamation. They are:
The meeting was adjourned at 8:00 PM CST. Jeff Rosinia delivered a trumpet serenade of the holiday tune Jingle Bells.
Carl F. Wolf, Secretary
presented by Michael Kodysz,
to our November 11, 2020 meeting.
This talk presented a selection of ancient Roman coins that seem to form a visual record of the appearance of Halley’s Comet in 218 CE. The comet was visible in Rome and its Eastern provinces from early May to mid-June. Its appearance coincided with the rise of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (218-22), known to history as Elagabalus; the victory of his army over the forces of Emperor Macrinus at the Battle of Antioch came on June 8. The word Elagabalus is Latin for “Priest of El-Gabal,” the name of the Syrian sun god whom the emperor served as chief priest of the Emesene cult. Why a Syrian sun god? Because his ancestral home was the city of Emesa, in the Roman province of Syria, where he lived before leaving for Rome as Emperor. Although a cousin of Caracalla, to Rome he was an outsider who did not try to fit in.
Elagabalus was barely 14 years old when he came to power, after a coup against Macrinus initiated by his grandmother Julia Maesa. Controlled by his grandmother and mother, Julia Soaemias, things did not end well for Elagabalus and his mother. The surviving ancient accounds are not favorable to him, with some of his eccentricities including: singing and dancing, wearing exotic Eastern dress, sex with men and women, marrying and divorcing multiple times (once to a Vestal Virgin), and even elevating El-Gabal to the position of chief Roman god, before Jupiter.
Except for one, all coins shown during this program were from Michael’s personal collection. Most of the coins were silver, the denarii, with a few bronze coins. The coins were struck at Rome and various provincial mints. The first shown denarius of Elagabalus has a quadriga bearing the the Sacred Stone of Emesa on the reverse. (Now considered to be a meteorite, then something that fell from the sky might be considered a gift from the sun god.) Michael next compared coins showing Elagabalus and Caracalla making sacrifices: they are similar in that both figures are standing near a fire, holding a patera in one hand; the many little differences are in their attire and what they hold in their other hand. Caracalla wears traditional toga, veil, and sandals, while Elagabalus wears sleeves, cape, belted trousers, high heels, and that looks like a “horn” at the front of his laurel headgear. There is also a star in the field in front of Elagabalus.
Michael showed examples of denarii, of various emperors, with a reverse showing a star with a traditional Roman deity, such as Abundantia, Libertas, Liberalitas, Sol, Providentia, Victoria, Concordia, Caelestis, and Felicitas. A shown denarius of Elagabalus has an advancing Sol and a star on the reverse. The star, as the sun, might have a way for Elagabalus to incorporate an image of El-Gabal into more or less standard designs representing traditional Roman deities. A way to merge his Oriental sun worship with traditional Roman religion, in which Jupiter (Sol) is the supreme god.
We saw a number of denarii of Elagabalus with Sol in slightly different poses on the reverse, and a few pieces without a star. We even saw a large bronze coin (31mm in diameter) of Elagabalus with a Sol and star reverse. Sol is always shown with a radiate crown (which symbolizes sun rays).
Michael next focused on the star depicted on many coins, pointing out that one of its points was elongated. Michael feels this was an attempt to mark it as a comet, an attempt by Elagabalus to tie together the sun god, the comet from the time of the Battle of Antioch, and the “thunderstone” meteorite relic sacred to the Emesene cult – all are fiery objects in/from the sky. (A few slides quickly covered Edmond Halley, the dust and gas ion tails of a comet, and how the tails appear to an observer on Earth – those details are skipped here, but are available with a Google search.)
A workshop within a mint was known as an officina, and each mint could contain multiple officinas. Each officina had its own mark, and the coinage of some other emperors upon which star-like symbols also appear indicates that variations in the star could be different officina marks; this explanation cannot be excluded when interpreting the purpose of stars appearing on coins of Elagabalus. Yet Michael feels the more likely possibility is that the stars on Elagabalus’s coins are meant to depict Halley’s Comet. This would not have been the first appearance of a comet on a coin.
We saw a slide with three other coins which possibly show a comet: from 119 BCE, of Mithridates VI (king of Pontus 119–63 BCE); from 87 BCE, of Tigranes II (king of Armenia, 77/6–66 BCE), an ally of Mithridates VI; and from 44 BCE, honoring Julius Caesar after his assassination, but modern scholars doubt the existence of any “Great Comet of 44 BCE”.” According to Adrienne Mayor in her book about Mithradates, The Poison King, (2010), “comets were traditionally harbingers of war or the violent overthrow of rulers. Comets terrified the Greco-Romans, but in the Near East, a great blaze of light in the sky was a hopeful sign of the rise of a powerful leader.” The comet of 218 was seen as an ill omen in Rome by Cassius Dio, and his opinion probably reflected that of the average Roman citizen. It probably also was seen as an ill omen by Macrinus and his legions who were stationed in Antioch Syria but of Roman origin, whereas seen as a hopeful sign by Julia Maesa, Elagabalus’ grandmother, who desired to place her grandson on the thrown and gain power.
In his 1968 study of the coinage of Elagabalus, Marcel Thirion reported that stars appear more frequently on the coin types issued at Rome in 220-222 than over his entire reign of 218-222, 65% to 40%. With no primary records available to us, there is little chance of our finding any document directing the use of a comet-like device on the coins of Elagabalus; the meaning of the star will be the subject of theories based upon studies of the available coins. Most collectors, dealers, and scholars persist in following the standard numismatic references, which invariably describe these symbols as stars. Michael thinks it is time for us to revise our understanding of the meaning of the star-like symbols appearing on coins of Elagabalus. His exhibits and presentations at ANA and other conventions have been well presented and well received, but his theory is not fully accepted. Please look for his presentation at future conventions, to find the latest developments and to ask him questions.
presented by Carl Wolf,
to our December 9, 2020 meeting.
Carl Wolf’s first time organizing and running the Numismatic Theatre sessions at an American Numismatic Association (ANA) summer convention was in 1984, which was only his fourth year as an ANA member and his first ANA convention. At that convention in Detroit, he instituted a format which continues to this day. One feature was his work table at the back of the room, where he met with speakers and longtime convention-goers, both before and after each session. People liked the arrangements and appreciated Carl’s work – the only awkward moment came when some saw the Chicago Coin Club business cards!
Four or five ANA members were very angry about the Chicago Coin Club but, when Carl asked why, they never could say exactly why. Back home, when Carl asked at CCC meetings, members answered vaguely, or by saying, “Always jealous of us.” When Carl asked, “Why?” to that, the answer was “Don’t know.” Carl knew many of the senior members of the CCC, the people who were “there” many years ago, and they shared personal knowledge and experiences of the events of the day with Carl; one member had joined the CCC in 1928. Most were happy to have someone listen to their stories. They related many experiences and observations. It was all verbal – it never appeared in club minutes or newsletters. But senior members had inadvertantly left out a key piece of information that they just assumed everyone knew.
Carl joined the Chicago Coin Club near the end of the 1970s, and he always travelled in cars or airplanes for long business and pleasure trips. But before the 1960s (with the interstate highway system and jet passenger planes) most long distance travel was by passenger trains! Carl had a number of slides showing the on-board environment from the 1950s: well-dressed passengers, in a relaxed atmosphere of comfortable couches and reclining seats. The dining car had linen tablecloths, fine china, and waiters; slides showed banquet seatings for 10 and 25, for an extra fee and planning in advance. The lounge and observation cars provided a relaxed atmosphere for discussions, visiting, and private conversations. Some trains offered valet service and would press your suit, so you would arrive looking rested and refreshed.
During the first half of twentieth century, Chicago was the undisputed railroad center of North America – six intercity train stations in downtown Chicago, served by more than 18 different railroads. Scheduled train routes did not pass through Chicago – they began and ended in Chicago! Through 1960, long-run trains were plush hotels on wheels – ANA convention-goers would board the train in Chicago and, as the trip progressed, more collectors would board. A train might take up to 2 days to reach its destination, providing plenty of opportunities for collectors to move from car to car and always find a group discussing numismatic topics. In short, traveling to an ANA Convention via train was nothing short of a 16-, 24-, or 36-hour coin club meeting, with collectors buying, selling, and trading coins.
For CCC members, the train ride to an out-of-town ANA convention was not to be missed. For non-members, getting on the Chicago train was not to be missed. Bob Leonard mentioned he had found mention of a reserved train car to Phoenix in 1951. [Editor’s note: After the meeting, Bob clarified that the proposal, on page 641 in the June 1951 The Numismatist, for a special excursion car or even entire train to leave from Chicago, was made by Leon Belt of the Phoenix convention committee who was making the arrangements, with Phoenix Publicity Chairman Jack Ogilvie promoting it. The Chicago Coin Club had no involvement. However, the fact that the train was to start in Chicago confirms that the club’s position at America’s railroad hub gave it special advantages.] In the rest of the program, Carl covered three possibly perceived offenses that might have arisen.
Hold ANA Committee Meetings. Naturally, collectors began discussing ANA issues. Those who served on committees grouped together to discuss pertinent issues while on the train. When the train arrived at the convention city, many decisions were made, much to the disappointment of other committee members.
Election of ANA Officers. Election of ANA officers took place at the convention. Mailing of ballots was encouraged, but bringing proxy ballots to the convention was allowed. The 1907 Columbus, Ohio Convention had an attendance of 35, with a total of 250 ballots (most were held by only 6 or 7 members). The 1909 Montreal Convention had 50 attendees and 450 proxy ballots. Over the next 45 years, the proxy system grew. At the 1954 Cleveland Convention, 3,105 ballots were received; with General Secretary Lewis Reagan holding 1,030 proxies, that gave him good influence over the election outcome. Proxies were eliminated sometimes before the ANA headquarters opened in Colorado Springs in 1967.
Looking back over CCC and ANA records prior to 1967 (about the year members began traveling by air) Carl looked for CCC members who were ANA Presidents – he found 14, serving terms in: 1891, 1909-10, 1911-12, 1915-16, 1921-25, 1927-29, 1932, 1933-34, 1937-38, 1947-48, 1949-50, 1955-56, 1957-60, and 1965-66.
Also, he found four CCC members who were ANA General Secretaries, serving terms in: 1921, 1923-37, 1938-43, and 1944-61 (“Mr. 1,030 proxies”); six CCC members who were ANA Board Chairmen (an office discontinued in 1937), serving terms in: 1909, 1910-14, 1915, 1919-20, 1926, 1929-32; and four CCC members who were Editors of The Numismatist, serving terms in: 1942-43, 1943-44, 1954-66, 1966-67. Not all active CCC members lived in Chicago or the adjacent counties; some members living a few counties over, or even in an adjacent state, timed their business trips to ensure they were in Chicago on club meeting days.
Carl never heard of an exchange of money – but a CCC member did say he went to each ANA convention with hundreds of proxies. In this mix of people on the train were ANA Past-Presidents, past and current Governors and Editors of The Numismatist – all Chicago Coin Club members! Conditions were ripe for reaching an election consensus. It should come as no surprise that in some years, the election might have been decided before the “Chicago Train” arrived at the convention city. At least that is what some were convinced happened.
Cherry-Picking Dealer’s Stock.
The bourse floor was not part of conventions in the early years. Coin dealers, however, came to the early conventions, and rode the train with regular members. After boarding the train, club members were asking to see their stock of coins. By the time coin dealers arrived at the convention, much of their best material was sold and in the pockets of club members.
Now take these three offensive deeds and multiply them by 70! That is how many years it lasted, from 1891 to 1961. And multiply by two, because there must have been a train ride home!
Local oral lore and legends, even the strongly held ones, can fade away to nothing over the years. Unless they are recorded and shared. It would be great to hear reminiscences of the train trips to Chicago, in the years when the convention was held in Chicago. Does anyone have anything to match the mythical Train from Chicago?
|CSNS Convention||Chicago Coin Company|
|Harlan J. Berk, Ltd.||Kedzie Koins Inc.|
|Date:||January 13, 2021|
|Time:||6:45 PM CST (UTC-06:00)|
Visit our Online Meeting webpage, at www.chicagocoinclub.org/meetings/online_meeting.html, for all the details on participating in an online club meeting. Participation in an online meeting requires some advance work by both our meeting coordinator and attendees, especially first-time participants. Please plan ahead; read the latest instructions on the day before the meeting!
|Featured Program:||James McMenamin —
Latin Union and Disunion: An Overview of the Latin Monetary Union – from its creation in the mid 19th Century to its dissolution in the 1920s – from a numismatic perspective
The Latin Monetary Union, or LMU, was established by treaty in 1865 between France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy. These four founding states agreed to mint their gold and silver coins according to the French standard, which had been introduced in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte. While each nation would be allowed to mint its own currency, (French Francs, Italian Lira, and so on), each currency had to follow a specific set of standards as to weight, fineness, tolerance, and diameter; this bimetallic standard fixed the silver to gold weight ratio of 15.5/1. Almost immediately other nations petitioned to join or attempted to standardize their currencies to match the LMU model. Countries as far afield as Venezuela and Colombia joined in, while others such as Austria-Hungary, which rejected the concept of bimetallism, standardized some of their coinage in order to smooth trade with the new currency bloc. An overview of some of the many denominations, currencies, and issuers of coins under the LMU standards will be reviewed.
Unless stated otherwise, our regular monthly CCC Meeting is online during the Covid-19 isolation era on the second Wednesday of the month; the starting time is 6:45PM CT.
|January||13||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - James McMenamin on Latin Union and Disunion: An Overview of the Latin Monetary Union|
|February||10||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced|
|March||10||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced|
|April||14||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced|
|April||22-24||82nd Anniversary Convention of the Central States Numismatic Society at the Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center, 1551 North Thoreau Drive, Schaumburg, IL. There is a $5 per day admission charge, but admission is free for CSNS Life Members. For details, refer to their website, http://www.centralstatesnumismaticsociety.org/convention.|
|April||24||CCC Meeting - 1pm at the CSNS Convention,
which is held at the Schaumburg Convention Center.
No admission charge for our meeting.
Featured Speaker - to be announced
|May||12||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced|
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