July, 1998

1st Place Outstanding Local Publication
American Numismatic Association 1995, 1996, and 1997

Meeting 7:30pm, Wednesday, July 1
Talk and trading 7:00-7:30pm
VFW, 1601 Weld Road, Elgin, IL
Not a member? Come and join us anyway!
July Meeting
July Prizes
June Minutes
June Auction
Board Meeting
Coin of the Month -
Maria Theresa Thaler

July Meeting

Two years ago, in June, 1996, we had an "dquo;Other Hobbies" meeting where several people brought in things from other hobbies they enjoy. It went over well. We're going to do it again in July. We all do other things. Bring in something related with another of your hobbies and talk about it for a bit and share it with us all. It does not have to be a collectable--maybe you play a tuba or a harmonica. You may even gain a convert.

And as always, bring along some show and tell. Do you remember we used to have dealers set up a few things for sale before the meeting? Dealers and members, you are both free to do that before any meeting.

July Prizes

June Minutes

ECC Meeting 486
June 3, 1998
Opened:around 7:35
Closed:around 8:45

President Doug Nelson called the 486th meeting of the Elgin Coin Club to order around 7:35pm at the VFW.

Secretary's Report

The minutes were accepted as published.

We welcomed Roger's Wife, Barb, and Eagle McMahon. Welcome.

Treasurer's Report

Don gave us the numbers in the box and you accepted them.

Old Business

There was none.

New Business

Roger reported that Bob Hackbarth, a former member and president (in the early 80s) is suffering from terminal cancer. [Doug just called today (June 23) to say Bob Died yesterday. We are very sorry and express our sympathies to his family.]

We sold raffle tickets during a break before the Auction. After the break we drew for membership prize--no raffle or door prizes this month so everyone could save their money and interest for the auction. The winners listed in the box.
June Prize Winners
Membership: Lorraine W.
YN: Mike C.
Raffle winners: There was no raffle
Door: There was no door prizes


We ended the meeting with an auction of member coins (and plants!). Sixty one lots brought in $230.75. Thanks to all who took part. Thanks to Jerry R for donating the proceeds of two commerative dollars to the club and to the Westlakes for the proceeds of two plants. The Club has $29 more because of them.

We closed the meeting after the auction.

Submitted by Mike Metras

Board Meeting

Don Cerny, Doug Nelson, Jim Davis and I got together at Don's June 17 in the evening for a board meeting.

It appears that Jim Clevenger and Jerry Ransom are our show chairmen for this year.

I read a letter from the ANA requesting financial support for the ANA Portland show this summer. We voted not to send them any.

We tried to get in touch with Roger to see what was up for July. Roger called me the next day with the program, accepting my suggestion.

Jim Davis suggested, and we all concurred, that the club should recognize the birthdays of our members. To do that the club will buy a drink of the member's choice for each member who is present and has a birthday in the month of the meeting. We will start with the July meeting.

Bits ...

The following bits of news come from the greater numismatic press world. Some were reported in several publications. I give credit to the particular one I used as a source for my report here.

The Treasury Department's Dollar Coin Advisory Committee voted June 9 in favor of a liberty concept. The obverse is to "depict Liberty as represented by a Native-American inspired by Sacagawea." Sakagawea was the slave who served as guide and interpreter to the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Northwest in the early 1800s.

While the committee did not indicate how Sacagawea should be depicted, the did recommend that the word "Peace" be included on the coin.

[Looks like they covered just about everything here: a woman, a Native American, Liberty, a historical person (with no know surviving likeness), Peace. Now let's see what that combination will result in (you have to wait for that).][See the same Coin World p. 8 for a quick biography on Sacagawea.] -- Coin World, 6/29/98, p. 1ff.

The Delaware quarter, the first state quarter, will have Charles Rodney riding a horse to the left. Rodney was a Delaware statesman, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He served in many political posts during his life form 1728 to 1784. -- Coin World, 6/29/98, p. 1 ff., 98.

Peggy Hofmann, executive director of the American Numismatic Association since only April, resigned June 11 according to an ANA press release. -- Coin World, 6/29/98, p. 1.

The largest number ever, 325 have signed up for the American Numismatic Association (ANA) Summer Conference from July 11 to 17 in Colorado Springs this summer. They'll be studying grading, Lincoln cents, English coins, ancient coins, and 25 other courses. I'll be studying Byzantine coins now that the Arabic Coin class canceled for lack of interest. -- Coin World, 6/29/98, p. 26

America's Money America's Story: A Comprehensive Chronicle of American Numismatic History by Richard Doty, curator of numismatics at the Smithsonian, is now available for $34.95 from Krause Press in Iola Wisconsin. The 248-page book with more than 250 pictures describes all phases of the history of coins and currency in the US. It also includes an in-depth bibliography. [I took an ANA class a few years ago on the minting process. I cannot believe this book is anything but a top-level work of numismatic scholarship well worth looking at. I for one am going out to find it today.] -- Coin World, 6/29/98, p. 80

My house sits high in the highest tree.

I drop down off the edge to gain flight speed
as I open my great wings
to gulp up the air's liquid strength.

I feel myself climb.
I flow over field and stream.

Below I spot a brother, a hawk,
floating above a faint wisp of dust on the ground.
An updraft!
I don't have to look for one on my own today.

I stretch out my wings
and soar in his direction.

Now there, I lift my right trailing wing feathers
ever so slightly
and roll right into a great circle.

Around   and around   and around
I let that shaft of wind carry me
up    and up    and up.

What a great summer day.

Mike Metras

Thought a few words on my flight as our great national bird on this the longest day of the year would add a bit to our newsletter. After all the Eagle has to be on our coins--so why not a few words from its mouth.

Coin of the Month
Maria Theresa Thaler

Enlarge obverse. Enlarge reverse. (Scanned by Metras)

The Austrian Maria Theresa thaler (dollar) has served as a trade dollar world wide for 226 years. Initially minted in 1782 this dollar-sized coin has served as the only coin in many near countries and even still used today in some places. It was one of the silver coins used in the early United States along with the Spanish dollar and other European dollar sized coins.

Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Turkey, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Niger, and Chad, are only a beginning list of the countries that have used and still use the Maria Theresa.

The coin has been continuously used for such a long time because it is pretty, it is a convenient size, and it has not changed in the 226 years it has been around. It is 39.6 to 41.5 mm in diameter and 2.5mm thick, weighs 28.0668 grams, is 833 fine, giving .752 oz of silver.

Maria Theresa, the daughter of Charles VI, the last Hapsburg ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, was born in 1718. When she was 19, Maria Theresa married Francis Steven, Duke of Lorraine. Crowned Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia in 1745 when her husband was crowned Holy Roman Emperor, Maria Theresa had 16 children, 11 daughters. She died in 1780.

The thaler has been minted in several world mints since, always with the same date, with minor differences that allows one to identify the source of any particular coin. The date has always remained 1780. You can still get it for a very reasonable price; 6 to 9 dollars will get you a proof depending on who has it for sale.

The obverse features the buxom Maria Theresa surrounded by the legend that begins on the obverse and continues on the reverse. The two-headed eagle with the arms of the Austro-Hungarian Empire dominate the reverse.

The Latin legend starting on the obverse "M(aria) THERESA D(ei) G(ratia) R(omanorum) IMP(ratrix) HU(ungariae) BO(hemiae) REG(ina) continues on the reverse ARCHID(ux) AUST(riae) DUX BURG(undiae) CO(mes) TYR(olis) 1780" -- "Maria Therese, by the Grace of God, Empress of Romans, Queen of the Hungarians and Bohemians, Arch Duchess of the Austrians, Duchess of the Burgundians, and Countess of the Tyrolian."

The letters "S F" under the bust identify the original mint master Tibias Scoebl and mint warden Joseph Faby of the original Gunzburg mint.

Though dated 1780 the Maria Theresa thaler was first minted in 1782 in Gunzberg, Germany, in what was then part of the Austrian Empire. Since then it has been minted intermittently in many mints of the world, among them, Vienna, Rome, Paris, London, Brussels, Bombay, Birmingham, Prague, Milan, and Venice. Krause's 1996 Standard Catalog of World Coins says that over 800 million have been struck to date.

The Italians and Maria Theresa

In one of the great number of stories about this coin, the Italians introduced a "tallero" with .8139 ounce of silver into their new colony of Eritrea in 1890 in direct competition with the .752 oz Maria Theresa. The latter held her ground hands down. In 1918 they introduced another tallero, this one at .7535 and sporting an image imitating Maria, did equally poorly. Ethiopia's .7537 oz Bir did equally poorly. The Ethiopians were just used to the Maria Therese and would only accept it--or they would accept the others at a significant discount to the Maria Theresa value.

Between 1935 and 1937 the Italians minted no less than 18 million Maria Theresa to finance their invasion of Ethiopia and subsequent Italian East Africa (AOI) Colony. Maria was the only coin accepted. Between November 28, 1934 and August 15, 1935 the official exchange rate dropped from 4.75 lire per thaler to 9 per thaler. By October it was 12.5 lire per thaler.

After their occupation of Ethiopia, the Italians declared the Lira the official coin of the new colony and would give out five for each thaler (the 5 lire coin weighed 1/5 of the thaler!). They would not give thalers for lire. They wanted to eradicate the Maria Theresa and establish the lira as the only currency.

By February, 1937, the official rate was back up to 10.50; it rose again June 11 to 13.50. The black market value ranged about 5 lire over the official rate. In reality, the thaler was in demand and the lira was not. By 1940 as the Italians were about to be ousted by England the rate was around 30 lire to the thaler.

This is just one of the many, many incidents in the life of the great lady of Austria on one of the most successful coins ever made.


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