The Chicago Coin Club has chosen this quotation from Shakespeare as our motto. I believe it is an appropriate, meaningful motto to mark the 800th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club, September 14, 1985.
I have been asked to be, among others, a contributor to this commemorative book project. It was suggested that in this foreword I bring to the readers some recollections I may have of my past half-century in the Chicago numismatic scene.
Coin collecting, I believe, came alive in the modern sense about 1934 when Lee Hewitt came out with his no-nonsense, non-technical NUMISMATIC SCRAPBOOK. I recall that at first his down-to-earth style stirred interest mainly with the new series of commemorative half dollars, and in turn the proof sets in 1936. Incidentally, in 1934 I became inextricably involved with the coin board. This novelty product, first introduced in the Chicago area, quickly reached popularity in all directions as a depression-ridden populace discovered a gimmick that took its mind off its hard times.
As it turned out, coin boards, and later coin folders, were perceived as grass roots numismatics though at first it was simply a fad. No matter how embryonic we may have thought this not-quite-numismatic pastime to be, it caught on at a time when many folks were receptive to anything that would drive dull care away. Nevertheless, this craze proved to be the curtain-raiser for present-day coin collecting popularity.
Lee's SCRAPBOOK gave a timely balance to this newly-opened field and rapidly gained nation-wide readership. By 1939, Lee rounded up a group of forward-looking Chicago Coin Club members who together launched the Central States Numismatic Society.
Over the years many Chicago Coin Club personalities have made the national scene. Officers and board members of the American Numismatic Association have come from our membership including, Alden Scott Boyer, Henri Ripstra, M. Vernon Sheldon, Harold Klein, Col. James Curtis, Glenn Smedley, Harry X Boosel (who is still active) and others. In the days when I became active in the club, there was a host of fellow-members who made things move in various club, regional and national activities. A partial roster of these old-time friends include (wives in parentheses):
Marjorie Baker, Earl Barger, Harry X Boosel (Tillie), Elston Bradfield (Jean), Earl Brown, Charles E. Green (Ruth), Clyde Grimm, August Hausske (Evelyn), Matt Jackson, Ernest Jonas, Harold Klein (Blanche), I. T. Kopicki (Pearl), Leroy Kurtzeborn, Edmund Lamb, Tom Nolan, Ben Odesser, Glenn Ostrander, Paul Pennington, Dick Peterson, Ted Pokorny, Joe Merkle, Mike Powills (Dorothy), Bill Rayson, Ted Rich, Henri Ripstra (Anna), Frank [Fuad] K. Saab, M. Vernon Sheldon (Marcella), Arlie Slabaugh, Glenn Smedley, Leonard Stark, Del Worthington. Others are "face memories" with forgotten names.
Of course, there have been and still are many prominent numismatists outside the Chicago area who are CCC members. Some of these prominent specialists have contributed articles to this volume. Members or not, we are privileged to present a panel of recognized numismatic authorities from around the world as contributors to this commemorative project. It has been my pleasure to know several of them.
Eric Newman has included an article titled "The Earliest Money Using the Dollar As A Unit of Value." I met Eric, then Vice-President of the newly organized Central States Numismatic Society, at the 1940 Burlington, Iowa convention. He has been a constant friend over the years. I know no researcher more thorough.
Miguel Munoz, who writes about Spanish American coins for this project, is perhaps one of the leading authorities on the subject. My wife and I have enjoyed his and Anita's hospitality at their home in Mexico City. Miguel consistently attends conventions in the United States where we have "amigo" visits time and again.
Courtney Coffing has made his mark in foreign coin and currency research and reporting. We have had friendly visits at numerous conventions. He has submitted a paper here, well researched, on notgeld.
It seems only a few years since Dave Bowers, an enthusiastic youth, came onto the numismatic scene. He has established himself as an authority on collectibles other than his main numismatic interests and has published volumes to prove it. I have had the benefit of his expertise in editing my catalogs over the years. He has written a thoughtful essay for this book, "The Hobby as I See It."
As a regular listener to Radio Station WBBM, Chicago, I became aware of newscaster Donn Pearlman. Then to read his numismatic papers and finally to meet him at conventions convinced me that he earned his status in the Numismatic Literary Guild. Donn can be serious and whimsical. His contribution to this volume, "BU or Beware!," is reasonably serious.
Elvira Clain-Stefanelli is one of a kind. She and her late husband Val have been long-time friends, our friendship dating before their Smithsonian Institution days. Today, Liza enjoys a unique responsibility in her management of the National Collection. The Clain-Stefanellis were at the right place at the right time when Congress entrusted the vast Eli Lilly numismatic collection to the National Museum. Her article, here, about the national treasure will entertain you. This small bundle of expertise is herself a national treasure.
Of course, other prominent authorities have contributed their expertise to this volume. I must confess that I am not acquainted with them personally, but surely know of their numismatic achievements and qualifications. They include:
Al Oikonomides, "New Evidence on the Coin-Portrait of Philip II of Macedon;" David R. Sear, "Eights Hundred Years of Roman Coinage;" John F. Lhotka, Jr., "Medieval European Coinage;" Saul B. Needleman, "Economics of English Coinage;" Gerard Anaszewicz, "Early Coinage of Moscow;" John Wright, "It Makes Cents;" Richard Doty, "English Merchant Tokens;" Robert Leonard, "Collecting U.S. Tokens: Challenges and Rewards;" Bert van Beek, "Jetons - Use and History;" George Lill III, "Caudillism as Demonstrated by Bolivian Propoganda Coinage;" Cory Gillilland, "Coins: Mirror of Art and History;" and Carl Wolf and Jennie Sochon, "History of the Chicago Coin Club."
As far back as I can remember, Chicago was an attractive, exciting locality down the road. The family changed trains there for my parent's native Elgin, where most of my cousins live. Quite naturally the Windy City skyline became an early impression and later a familiar haunt in and around the Loop. My father attended the World's Columbian Exposition several times during 1892 and 1893, which will explain how one of the first coins in my collection was a Columbian Half dollar he received in change. Would that he had put aside a nice MS-65, well-protected Barber half!
A feeling of being at home in Chicago came during the mid-thirties when I represented Whitman Publishing Co. with a booth at the Hobby Show in the Stevens Hotel (Now the Conrad Hilton). Our stamp supply line was on display and when we came along with the coin boards things started to really come alive. The show provided their first formal public appearance. As manufacturers nothing we showed was for sale. Interested buyers of the novelty coin boards were referred, across the aisle, to an enterprising young coin dealer Ben Dreiske, who stocked them by the dozen. He was newly established in the back of a jewelry shop on Wabash under the banner of Ben's Coin Shop (now Rarcoa).
For stamp supplies, we pointed out the Blue Ribbon Hinge Company booth manned by the Huss brothers, Ray and Matthew. A retired railroad man, Mr. E.M. Eversole, was an unofficial greeter at each annual Hobby show. He sauntered around the hall wearing a white ten gallon hat. We became good friends and important to me for his thoughtfulness in sponsoring me for membership in the American Numismatic Association (No. 7947). That was 1940. I attended my first meeting of the Chicago Coin Club that year.
The Chicago Coin Club Publications Committee has given countless hours to this 800th meeting project. Only certain people volunteer for this kind of thing. They deserve sincere praise for bringing a blue ribbon panel of numismatic authorities together to make this volume a truly symbolic milestone for the club.
In retrospect, my intuitive perception of a place called Chicago has focused on the Chicago Coin Club. To me, this volume is only the latest typical expression of its enlightened, dedicated spirit.