December 2000
Year 7, Issue 12

Award Winning Newsletter
Meeting 7:30pm, Wednesday, December 6
Talk and trading 7:00-7:30pm
VFW, 1601 Weld Road, Elgin, IL
815-786-6779
Not a member? Come and join us anyway!

December Meeting

Our annual holiday dinner. Starting at 7 PM followed by the club meeting.

December Prizes


November Minutes

ECC Meeting 515 - November 1, 2000

President Doug Nelson called the meeting to order at 7:35.

Secretary's Report

As printed in November's newsletter and was accepted.

Treasurer's Report

Balance: $284.80

The Treasurer report was accepted.

Old Business

There was none.

New Business

There was none.

Prizes

Before the White Elephant, we had our customary raffle and membership drawings. The raffle winners were Don, Dennis, Frank, Larry, and Marty (2).

The winners of the show coins were:

  1. $10 gold coin - Chuck C.
  2. $5 gold coin - Jim C.
  3. 2000 Silver Eagle Proof - Mike M.
  4. 2000 Silver Eagle Proof - Don A.
  5. 2000 Silver Eagle Proof - Don A.

Member: Steve YN: None

The meeting closed around 8:49 P.M.

Submitted by Frank S., Temporary Secretary.

Board Meeting

Doug, Jim, Mike, and Don got together at Don's Wednesday night Nov 18 at 7 PM for the monthly board meeting of the Elgin Coin Club.

We had an uneventful board meeting. We talked about getting the final payment from the advertisers. So if you are an advertiser and have not paid for this year yet, please do.

There will be no regular Membership prizes for the December meeting. The raffle prizes are as listed on page 1.

Show and Tell

Mike M. brought some coins he purchased on his trip to Sicily.

Don D. brought in a copy of a Confederate States of America copper 1-cent piece and a 1691 Ireland Siege of Limerick coin.

Newsletter Trivia Quiz

  1. What was the only type of current note printed in the United States in 1999?
  2. How does the rotated hub form of a doubled die occur?
  3. What direction does Queen Elizabeth II face on coins of Great Britain?
  4. A Federal Reserve note with plate position D2 comes from where on a sheet?
  5. A group of coins, tokens, etc., not sorted or classified as a collection, is called a what?
(
Answers)

Sicilian Coin Collections

(C) By Mike Metras

During my four weeks in Sicily last month, I visited two fabulous coin collections. One I knew about and had on my itinerary of places to see. The other was a most pleasant surprise.


Enna

I was about two weeks into my wanderings when I arrived at the mountaintop village of Enna in the middle of Sicily. Buried among its narrow streets on a hill was its Baroque cathedral, nothing unusual in a county full of Baroque churches. But this one was different; it had a special museum. In the late 1700s and early 1800s a priest of the church, Canon Giuseppe Alessi, collected, among many other things, ancient coins. In the square next to the cathedral the Alessi Museum housed many of the items in his collection, among them his coins. What a collection!

Many large ancient coin collections concentrate on silver and gold coins. Not so with Canon Alissi, he collected the coins of the common people, the copper and bronze and brass coins.


Coins of Cartage

Ancient Sicily was made up of many Greek city states, each with their own coins. Displayed in cases in several well-lit rooms, the collection included many examples of the coins of most of these cities. Along with their own coins were many city coins issued by Rome after Rome drove the Carthaginians out of Sicily in 212 B.C. at the end of the second Punic War.


Coins of Hadrian

Next came the regular heavy As-Grave Roman copper ingot coins and the Republican silver coins. The other half of the collection was the large copper coins of the Roman emperors from Augustus in 28 B.C. through Romulus Augustus in 476 A.D., 500 years of Roman coins. Each emperor was represented by tens of large copper coins, many some of the finest examples I have ever seen. All included a short description of the emperor and his reign.

A week later I was in Syracuse, the home of Archimedes, the inventor of the pump named after him, the Archimedes screw. When he discovered how to determine the specific gravity of an object, Archimedes ran down the street naked yelling, "Eureka, eureka!" "I have found it." (He had been taking a bath when he realized that the amount of water his body displaced was a way of measuring specific gravity.) Don't tell him science isn't emotional and exciting.

Syracuse was the most powerful of the Greek cities in Sicily. It had a lot of coins. In fact few will argue with the statement that Syracuse's coins are among the most beautiful coins ever made.

By the end of the second day, I had visited the Archeological Museum. But to my disbelief, I had not seen even one coin. A woman at the tourist bureau told me that the coins were at the Archeological Museum. I told her I had seen none. She shrugged her shoulders saying she had seen them there once. I went away disgruntled; the often very helpful tourist bureau had not only failed, but failed on he most important of subjects, coins.

That evening as I studied the city map, I discovered a place identified as "Numismatic Gallery" at the corner of the cathedral square. The next day I went to that location and found the door to the "Superintendent of Properties, Culture, and Environment," not exactly coins, but the only possible candidate for the location on the map. I walked in and asked the woman at the first desk found, "Is there a numismatic gallery here?" (I figured I'd ask what a "gallery" was once I found out whether it was here.)

She pointed to a guy standing with three others in the hall and said something to him.

"Do you want to see the Numismatic Museum?" he asked.

"Yes."

"Are you the only one?" he asked somewhat put out, or incredulous.

"Si."

He got on the phone at the desk, talked for a couple minutes, came back, and told me I'd have to leave my camera and bag at the desk here downstairs. I did.

We walked down a long cavernous hall (most Italian halls are cavernous), up an echoing stairway (all Italian stairways echo), and through a very heavy steel and glass door into a room with a big, closed walk-in vault door. The room had eight or ten cases with coins, the beginning of the collections. The man who had brought me up motioned for me to begin looking. I did.

Where the Enna collection had copper coins, this one had silver and gold. The coins were laid out according to city-state, each with a short comprehensive history of the city and its coinage. In two hours I saw more riches of the ancient world than you could ever guess. These were the best and most uncirculated examples of Sicilian and southern Italian coins. I only wish I could read Italian more fluently and my vocabulary was richer--I would have learned a lot more.


Some Coins of Syracuse in Enna

As I walked through seven other similar rooms of coins, many worth thousands of dollars each, there was always one person watching me and often there were two or three.

After the Greek coins there were Carthaginian and Byzantine coins. The latter included several piles of gold coins, hoards found in various locations over the years. The hoards were followed by a more or less complete run of Byzantine emperors with gold coins of every emperor, for the full 1000-year history of He Empire.

And that wasn't the end, there were also gold and silver coins of the Arabs, the Normans, the Swabians, the Angevins, the Spanish, and the Italians.

At the end of the tour, I was asked to sign their guest book. I did with pleasure and left glowing praise. And unlike every other museum I visited in Sicily, I was asked no entrance fee. What an unbelievable find!

So between Enna and Syracuse, I saw the copper, silver, and gold coins from the earliest coins of the Greek colonies through Spanish Sicily.

Newsletter Trivia Quiz Answers

  1. Federal Reserve Notes.
  2. When there is a turning or rotation of the second impression from the first during hubbing.
  3. To the right.
  4. Lower left-hand side.
  5. Accumulation.

(Quiz questions)


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