February, 1998

1995, 1996, and 1997
American Numismatic Association
Outstanding Local Publication

Meeting 7:30pm, Wednesday, February 4
Talk and trading 7:00-7:30pm
VFW Post 1307
1601 Weld Road
Elgin, IL
Not a member?
Come and join us anyway!

January Prizes

February Meeting

Roger Bear, Clayton Hageman, and Bill Shepherd will conduct a panel discussion on grading for our February program. Bring along coins to grade, to question their grading, or just to demonstrate something about grading. People break coins out of slabs all the time to see whether they can get them regraded higher the next time. Come and see what this art, this prognostication, some mistakenly call a science us really all about. There are no absolutes in this game, just a lot of people passing off metal disks as an absolute condition.

If you haven't done so, please pay your $10 or $15 dues at the meeting or send them into our PO address. As Marty reminded us during the January meeting, you cannot win the membership prize if you are not paid up.

January Minutes

ECC Meeting 481
Jan 7, 1998
Opened:around 7:30
Closed:around 8:30

In President Doug Nelson's absence I called the 481st meeting of the Elgin Coin Club to order around 7:30pm at VFW Post 1308. VP Jim was present, but he opted to sit out and learn as he passed the reins to me.

Secretary's Report

The minutes were accepted as published.

I introduced our visitors, Kevin Kelly (Mayor of Elgin) and Steve and Jason Hardman.

Mayor Kelly spoke for a few minutes about his collecting, the city, his work, Trygve Rovelstad's works, and his relations with Roger Bear. Thanks for stopping by Mr. Mayor.

Treasurer's Report

Don read last month's numbers and apologized for not having this month's numbers ready. He'll have them ready next month. To avoid confusion, I did not republish the numbers I already published in the January Newsletter.

Old Business

Marty K. asked whether I had written the ANA about what happened to the ANA time capsule contents that the Elgin Coin Club had contributed to during the ANA centennial year as we discussed last month. I had not written the letter as of the meeting.

Since then, on Jan 13, I wrote and sent the letter to ASA Presicent Anthony Swiatek asking him to look into the situation for us. I will report whatever I hear from him. If you'd like to see the letter I sent, ask me during the meeting.

Roger Bear reported some numbers for different meeting places, numbers he had gathered in a couple places. After much floor discussion, mostly negative, I made moved that we end the search for a new meeting and continue using the VFW where we are. It was seconded and accepted by all present.

We set up the tables in a circle this month. It seemed to work quit well. I have to say, as an officer, I sure liked being off that platform and down with the rest of you. I think it worked well from the feedback I heard. We'll continue to set up this way for a few months and then reevaluate it. Let us know how you like it (or don't like it).

Program Chairman Report

Roger reported that he was working on future programs that included the February grading panel, a $3 program by John Wilson, and a couple others that are in the works.


Roger Bear talked about the new Official Guide to Coin Grading and Counterfeit Detection recently published by PCGS. We finally have some written and photographic statement of the standards PCGS uses to grade coins.

Next he talked about the Numismatist and its section in the center for young and starting collectors. He also mentioned the Cherry Picker's Guide for finding error coins.

When he finished, several other members brought up questions and discussion about various books.

Show and Tell

I showed my small denomination type set, a work in progress since 1956. It includes the very first coin in my collection, a 1900 VG quarter I received in change on my paper route.

I also showed my new $12.89 Wall Mart "gold plated" Washington Quarter watch. Almost as nice as those you get from the mint for a lot more!

Someone else had something, but I forgot to record who it was and what they showed. I even remember calling him to task to do the show and tell.


During the break Jim D. got the YNs together and showed them a no-date Type I Buffalo nickel. He asked them tell him the year it was minted. No one, even a couple adults taking part, could tell him. If you do not get this one, look at 1913 Type I buffalo nickels in your Red Book. They were only made in 1913 and have a distinct raised mound.

After a break to sell tickets, Jim D. passed out a quiz he had put together. After a lot of head scratching, we went through the answers with much discussion. In the end Marty and Al seemed to have the most correct answers. Marty declined the silver eagle prize.

January Prize Winners
Membership: Marty K. won an 1802 Large cent
YN: Mike C. won a 1989S Proof Half Dollar
Raffle Prizes: Ike and Suzie pair, 1830 large cent, 1896 and 1899O dollars, Ontario triangular milk token
Raffle winners: Harry W. twice, Marty K. Frank S., Tom H.
Door: Mike C., Jim D. Shae F. and ???

Finally we drew the winners listed in the box. The box includes the prizes this month because they were not published beforehand.

Submitted by Mike Metras

Board Meeting

Doug, Don, Jim Davis, Jim Klevenger and I got together at Don's January 21 in the evening for a board meeting, our first in the great '98.

We paid our 1998 dues for the Illinois Numismatic Association (ILNA) and the Central States Numismatic Society (CSNS).

We set Sunday, October 25, 1998 as the show date for our annual coin show this year. We are still negotiating with a couple people to be show chairman. More on that when we have a solid commitment from our nominee.

Jim Clevenger or I will be contacting the dealers who are advertising in this Newsletter for commitments for this year. If you want to become an advertiser and special supporter, contact Jim or me.

We bought several coins for future prizes.

Chicago Coin Club to Meet at CPMX

The Chicago Coin Club (CCC) will hold its February meeting during the Chicago Paper Money Exposition (CPMX) on Saturday, February, 22, at 1 PM. Douglas Ball will talk on U.S Continental and Colonial Currency, 1690-1786. The CCC will give out a reproduction, a souvenir sheet, of Chicago area notes. Everyone is welcome to attend. If you are taking in the show Saturday, please stop in and join them. CPMX is at Ramada O'Hare Hotel 6600 N. Mannheim, Rosemont, IL, February 20 to 22.

Coin of The Month Our New Circulating Coins

In the early or mid '90s the mint began upgrading the quality of the portraits of all the circulating coins. The change that impresses me the most is the one to the quarter. Suddenly by '94 or '95 George has very defined locks of hair. These changes are not restricted to the quarters. All denominations have had face lifts. The quarter is just the one that stands out the most in my eyes.

We have been talking a lot about all the changes that are not happening to the circulating coins, they are the same year after year, there is no design change. But take a look again, these coins do not look like they did ten years ago. The mint has added a lot of detail. They have to be commended for that.

Don't get me wrong. I am ready for major design change. But maybe we're getting a start here with these minor changes thanks to some inspired cleanup from the mint.

Bring on the statehood quarters on.

Almost Half of Morgan Dollars Made Before 1918 Were Melted

by Jim Davis

In April, 1918 Congress passed legislation calling for the melting of up to 350,000,000 Morgan dollars. The bill, known as the Pittman Act, named after Senator Pittman of Nevada, attempted to accomplish five main goals. In a report from the committee of banking and finance Senator Owen stated the following goals: "To conserve the gold supply of the United States, to permit the settlement in silver of trade balances adverse to the United States, to provide silver for subsidiary coinage, to assist foreign governments at war with the enemies of the United States and to stabilize the price and encourage the production of silver in the United States." Senator Owen added, "India is demanding silver. We need $50,000,000 alone to take care of our jute trade with that country. The silver we are to use is lying unemployed, as dead metal in the treasury."

In 1918 gold had all but disappeared and silver was the dominant metal in currency and trade especially between Europe, India, and China. Under the act, the silver, after the dollars were melted, was sold for $1.00 per ounce to England who subsequently shipped the silver to India. This accomplished the goal of stabilizing the price of silver at $1.00 an ounce. From 1915 to 1918 the price of silver fluxuated from a low of 48 cents an ounce to a high of $1.18 in September, 1917. With the price set at $1.00 an ounce, the silver mines increased the output of silver despite rising cost of mining and refining.

Since so many silver dollars were to be removed from use, one provision of the act called for an equal number of silver certificates to be retired. Most of these certificates were $1 and $2 denominations. The bills were replaced by an equal number of Federal Reserve Notes (not backed in silver). Another provision called for the Government to eventually buy back an equal amount of silver that was sold from U. S. mines at a price not to exceed $1.00 an ounce. This silver was to be used to replace all silver dollars melted.

The final number of Morgan dollars melted was 270,232,722. The silver from 259,121,554 was shipped to England while the silver from the remaining 11,111,168 was reused in subsequent minor silver coinage. From 1878 to 1904 the mints struck 570,272,610 Morgan silver dollars. The Pittman act resulted in the melting of 48% of the Morgan dollars struck to that date, including, most likely, all 12,000 business strikes of the 1895-P.

The Government kept its word. Using silver purchased from U. S. mines, it struck 86,730,000 Morgan dollars and 183,502,722 Peace dollars from 1921 to 1928. The number exactly matched the number melted.

Why 4' 8-1/2"?

Why is the US standard railroad gauge, the distance between the wheels, exactly four feet, eight and one half inches? Why such an odd number. That's the way they build them in England--English expatriots built the US railroads in the beginning.

So Why did the English build them that way? Because the first railroads were built by the same people who built the prerailroad tramways and they used that gauge.

Why, you say? Because the tramway builders used the same jigs and tools to build wagons, which used the same wheel spacing. So, why such a wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagons would break on some of the old long-distance roads. The wheel ruts on those old roads was that width.

So who built those old rutted roads? The engineers of Imperial Rome built those roads for their legions and they have been used ever since. The ruts, which everyone has had to match for fear of breaking their wagons, were made by Roman war chariots. And in the interest of uniformity and ease of building, and repair, all Roman chariots had the same wheel width.

So, because some Roman decided more than 2,000 years ago that their chariot wheels would be spaced just a bit less than a pace wide our train tracks are 4 feet 8-1/2 inches wide.

Source: Unte Reader, July-August, 1997, as taken from Kyoto Journal.

How Many Combinations?
Jim Davis brings you this one. Suppose you have all the cents, nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars as you need to do so. How many different combinations of these coins can you use to make change for a dollar?

I give you one clueşthere are many. Jim holds the answer, so he says. When you think you have it, see him. The Newsletter does not have enough pages to print his answer if it is correct.

Look at the Elgin Coin Club Home Page for more information.

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