September, 1998

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

Meeting 7:30pm, Wednesday, September, 2
Talk and trading 7:00-7:30pm
VFW, 1601 Weld Road, Elgin, IL
Not a member? Come and join us anyway!


September Meeting
September Prizes
August Minutes
Board Meeting
ANA Publication Contest
Coin of the Month -
Katanga Cross

ANA Summer Seminar
July 1998

September Meeting

The September program will be a video tape of an outstanding Nova program on the process of creating the new look of our currency. It's a bit longer (50 min.) than our normal programs so we will have it after the drawings so you can leave before it is done if you need to.

Bring along some show and tell. Remember you can set up a few things for sale before the meeting if you want.

September Prizes

August Minutes

ECC Meeting 488
August 6, 1998
Opened:around 7:35
Closed:around 9:15

President Doug Nelson called the 488th meeting of the Elgin Coin Club to order around 7:35pm at the VFW.

Secretary's Report

The minutes were accepted as published.

There were these corrections to the August Newsletter:

Treasurer's Report

Don reported the numbers in the box and those present accepted them.

Show Report

Jerry reported that Jim has sent out invitations to dealers and that there were about 10 tables sold already.

I delivered around 1137 tickets to Jerry for the show raffle. After printing and cutting them all we discovered I had printed the date 1997 instead of 1998. The officers decided we will use them anyway, overstriking the 97 with 98 either in pen or with a stamp.

Old and New Business

There was neither old nor new business.

Show and Tell

Don had two items. The first was a radar note (the serial number reads the same from both ends). Don also bought a 1945 cent on a dime-sized, copper planchet. We had found it a couple of months before during a board meeting while looking through a stash of cents Don had recently received. We suspect it is struck on one of the many foreign coin planchets being used in the mint that year.

Program - The ANA Summer Seminar

I gave a three-quarter hour talk on my experiences at the ANA Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs. See the first part of a slightly different rendition of this talk in another part of this Newsletter.
August Prize Winners
Membership: Frank S
YN: Shane R
Raffle winners: Doug N, Jerry R, Marty K, Mike M, Harry W
Door: David J, Roger B, and ???

Finally we sold tickets and drew for prizes. The winners are listed in the box. Doug closed the meeting about 9:15.

Submitted by Mike Metras

Board Meeting

Don Cerny, Doug Nelson, Jim Davis, Jim Clevenger and I got together at Don's August 19 in the evening for a board meeting.

Jim Clevenger reported he had bought 2-1/2 (1911) and 5 (1895) dollar gold coins for the show raffle. They both look nice--you should like them. He also got 1987 and 1989 prestige sets for the raffle. Don wrote him a club check to pay for them.

Jim Clevenger turned the raffle tickets over to Jim Davis, who is in charge of ticket distribution and accounting this year. Jim, in turn passed out tickets to each of the officers present. He will be seeing you at the meeting.

There are several sites on the internet that list local shows. I agreed to inform them of our show.

The Numismatic News sent us a letter saying they would give our two half-year subscription to a raffle winner if we collected names for the raffle and turned the names over to them for promotional purposes. Since it will be entirely voluntary, we agreed to do so.

Pending other news from our program chairman, we decided to go with the Nova program for September.

We bought some coins for our regular raffle.

ANA Publication Contest

The Double Eagle of the Greater Orange (Texas) Coin Club received the first place award in the local club category of the ANA's 1998 Outstanding Club Publications contest August 8 at the Portland show. Anchorage's ACCCent received the second place award and the Ft. Lauderdale Coin Club News received third. We were not mentioned. Congratulations to all the winners.

Coin of the Month
Katanga Cross

This Katanga Cross (6-8 in.) from the Kasai Province in Congo dates to the 1880s-1910.

X-shaped copper ingots like this one are often called "Katanga Crosses." They are named after a region in Africa along the Kasai River in Zaire (now Congo again), one of the areas where they have been found. They were called locally "handa." The ingots weigh anywhere from around one half pound to two and half pounds, but their exact value in units of weight is unknown.

For centuries these crosses served as indications of wealth and were used as bridewealth payments, trade, currency, and burial rituals. Large crosses were convenient for stacking in royal treasuries and for transporting to areas of heavy demand. The Congolese regarded the non-ferrous metals--copper, lead, and tin-- as very precious materials. Metals were a widespread means of exchange and important in settling social contracts, like marriage. Early in this century, one cross might have purchased five to six chickens, two lengths of good fabric, eight to nine pounds of rubber, or six axes.

From very early times, people in the Congo knew how to work copper, a native metal locally available.

They used open-faced casting to make the crosses. The metalworker melted the copper to 1,083 degrees Centigrade in a clay crucible. He poured the molten metal into a cross-shaped open mold of clay, stone, or a hollow depression in the ground. When the metal cooled and hardened, he removed the it from its setting. Some crosses were cast by a double mold process as well.

Source: The illustration and the basic content of this article come from the web site of the McClung Museum of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville at (It's amazing where you end up when you go out looking for something on the internet.)

ANA Summer Seminar
July 1998

(c) Mike Metras

ANA Summer Seminar pewter metal (c. 20mm) desiged by Virgina Jansen and Ron Landis and struck by Gallery Mint Museum in Colorado Springs during the seminar. Virginia's side is the Eagle.

When friends, collector and non-collector alike, ask what I do for a week at the ANA Summer Seminar, I usually just say I learn a lot and have a lot of fun and leave it at that. But this week is a lot more than just study, it is really fun. So here is what went on during this year's seminar. If you have been there, may this be a remembrance; if you have not, may it whet your appetite for some future vacation.

It was a quarter to noon on Saturday, July 11. I had just finished my two-day, 1050-mile dash west on I80 from Illinois to Colorado. Now I was winding around the construction barricades and driving up to Colorado College's Loomis Hall in Colorado Springs. I was beginning my fifth Summer Seminar. This was the 30th time the American Numismatic Association (ANA) was putting on these seminars.

Others were driving and flying in from all parts of the country. One arrived by plane from Germany. A Russian came by bus from Boston where he is on a study program.

I parked and registered. With my ID cards and name tags and requisite handouts and instructions in hand, I moved my car to a place fairly close to the back door. In four trips I lugged my fans and pop and clothes and books and coins up to the far end of the second floor.

My roommate had not arrived yet so I choose the bunk to the north. We had an east room, a lucky thing since the sun always warms the south and west rooms in the un-air-conditioned building.

I put my fan in the window and set some pop cooling in the refrigerator--where that came from I did not know, but I didn't tell anyone about it for fear of having it taken away.

While bringing my last load to the room, I met my roommate, Donald Chambers, a senior collector from Detroit. I had asked for a double room not knowing who my roommate might be. Don turned out to be a fine one. We went to bed and got up at about the same times. The rest of the time we aren't in the room anyway. And besides, he paid $5 for a phone for the week so we didn't have to stand in line at the pay phone to call.

With my necessities in the room, I headed for the buffet in the Loomis Lounge. On the way in I met Ed a friend I had made at the seminar five years before. Ed runs a store in Nebraska and collects everything big and beautiful.

I picked up a ham sandwich, cheese, and some fruit and sat with Clayton Hageman and Sonny Henry, friends from home. Clay was going to study Buffalo Nickels and Mercury Dimes and Sonny was ready to learn a lot about paper money.

I talked till two or so but the Colorado Springs Coin Club Show was calling me. On the way out Ken Bresset, Mr. Redbook, said a cheerful hello.

On the sidewalk I had to stop and say hello to John and his wife. John, a boiler operator in a power station in Nebraska, collects a lot of things. He brought an exceptional exhibit of error coins to the seminar the year before. John has been at every seminar I have been at.

After a few minutes, I excused myself to leave. A guy standing with John asked for a ride to the show. We drove down Colorado Springs' wide streets to the City Atrium on Kaiowa Street a mile or so away. The streets were packed with parked cars, but the Methodist church parking lot offered free many spots to the dealers. I took one.

Between 85 and 100 dealers crowded into the old, high-domed auditorium. I signed in and began to walk the floor looking for goodies. On the stage I discovered a hodgepodge of items intended for the club's three o'clock auction. Being the fan of auctions that I am, I put off the browse floor, got a bid ticket, found a suitable seat in the ancient theater, and prepared myself for a relaxing hour or so. In the end, after about 90 lots were sold, I had a pack of 50 uncirculated 1989 Costa Rican 5 Colones notes ($5) and a 1969 book Pioneers: Early Days around the Divide by Carl Mathews ($8), a history of early Denver-Colorado Springs goings on.

My roommate bought a bit more. Several sets of fancy first day covers and many other pieces took his fancy. By then it was approaching five (that is, dinner time). So I drove Don back to the dorm with his new-found treasures--many were donated to raise a few dollars for the Young Numismatists (YNs) in the Wednesday YN fund-raising auction.

While I was at the Coin show, the ANA museum had open house to show off its new exhibit of Chinese coins. I went later in the week when the crowds were not in the way of a leisurely stroll, when I could view, read, and study at my own pace. At non-event times, you share the place with only one or two others, if that many.

Just after five I joined a few others and headed for my first meal at the college cafeteria, our food source for the week. The food was good and plentiful. That first time my salad bowl was overflowing from the salad bar. I had two or three kinds of meat, a hot dog, some pie, macaroni, potatoes, and a banana. A large ice cream cone went with me as I left. So much food sat there in front of me. It was hard to resist. At each meal I took a little less until I was eating reasonably along about Wednesday.

The cafeteria is one of the main mixing pots of the week. "May I sit here." "Sure." "I'm Mike." "I'm Joe." ... Our name tags tell our names and homes and the classes we are taking. Even though each of us takes only one class, we learn a lot from each other during these conversations over breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And we build friendships and learn about each others lives and families and jobs.

A year ago I was taking a class on Medieval coins from Alan Berman of Connecticut. During lunch one day he, another student, and I struck up a conversation about Pikes Peak, our western horizon out the dining room window. By the time we were done we had set up a drive to the top. That evening after class we did it- -even though my car moaned and groaned with a vengeance toward the top of the 14,000+ foot summit.

That was my third time to stand in the place where Katherine Lee Bates wrote America the Beautiful in 1890:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

What a place, what a view. If those words were in you, that place is the place to bring them out.

As we returned, Colorado Springs laid out as a carpet of lights in front of us that night.

But that was another time. Back at the end of Saturday evening meal, I placed my dishes in the scullery, got a french vanilla yogurt cone, and headed for lounge to listen to the weather on the Weather Channel and meet new and old friends as I waited for the opening ceremonies.

Around 6:30 we began to file into the large Gaylord Room of Warner Hall. J.T.Stanton (Cherry Pickers Guide co-author) soon got things going. After a string of introductions and the requisite speeches from various officers, J.T. introduced the Keynote speaker, Adna Wilde, who has held a number of offices including one that made him the organizer of the first summer seminar 30 years ago.

Lt. Col. Wilde talked a while about the history of the seminars. But his real topic was the Lesher Referendum Dollars of Joseph Lesher of Victor, Colorado issued around the turn of the century. He narrated a fascinating slide show detailing his exhaustive study of the tokens. He brought a tiny corner of the hobby to life in front of us all. The only problem was that there were more than 300 in a room that probably was a 250-person room. The air conditioning wasn't up to it.

Ed was so impressed he went to the coin show the next day and bought two of the Red-Book-listed Lesher dollars.

After the opening we went back to Loomis Hall for our first "bull session." The name is a bit misleading. In the past when things were less formal, these were really bull sessions. But they have become formal talks followed by question and answer sessions. The first was by J.P. Martin, an ANA authenticator, on detection of counterfeit and altered coins.

I now know that the main giveaway is the state of the die polish lines. They are always on genuine coins and they change as the die deteriorates. Counterfeit coins, on the other hand, may have die polish lines, but they are from the cast copy of the original coin so they don't change. By seeing a number of like coins, you build up a data base that eventually clearly identifies the suspect coins.

His 25-minute talk told me that one of my long time suspect coins is almost surely bogus and another is as much almost surely genuine. Thanks for these insightful words, J.P.

Though the ANA had nothing more scheduled for the day, I passed from group to group talking on many coin subjects. Others passed in and out of the group I was with at the time. My last group pondered the state of the economy. We thought we each had real solutions to our impressions of the problems. Our dilemma was that there was no one there to implement them--so we went to bed around one.

And there was morning and evening of the first day.

Day two, Sunday morning, July 12, started at eight with breakfast.

At nine Virg Marshall, an instructor and Lincoln Cent specialist and an ordained minister, led a non-denominational church service for those interested.

Meanwhile the ANA library was about to begin its annual sale of no-longer-wanted books. Some began to line up before seven. Really good buys are to be had if you are willing to line up early. The doors opened to a long line at ten. I was not there--I stopped in later in the week and scarfed up a few auction catalogs dealing with ancients.

I headed back to the Colorado Springs Coin Club's show. After looking over the goods of several dealers, I stopped at my real objective of the morning, Bill Rosenblum's World Famous Half-off Boxes. Two hours and a thousand or so coins later my haul included a denier of the Knights Templars, a piece of Russian wire money of the 17th century, a medieval coin with a cross and monogram I have yet to identify, a Masonic token of Jackson, Michigan, a 1868 Bolivian proclamation coin, and a tenga of Bukhara. You got it, a rather eclectic combination.

A fellow searcher in Bill's box struck up a conversation as we looked. He was from Elgin, Illinois. But he's been in Colorado Springs for 19 years. I told him that in each of my five seminars, I get closer and closer to moving there permanently. I really like the climate. He told me that as a technical writer I would have no problems finding work. He continued to praise the area. As you see, I didn't take him or myself up on our fantasies, but I thought about it.

It was after 12:30 when I entered the cafeteria for a quick lunch. Then it was off to class at one. Our class on Byzantine Coins met in a small room just above the cafeteria. Other classes met in several buildings around the campus. It was time to get down to studying Coins of the Bible, Coins of the Republic of Mexico, Flying Eagle, Indian, and Lincoln Cents, 2001 Years of British Coins, Grading US Coins, Ancient Coins, the minting process, America's Money America's Story, the Art of Engraving, and several other topics, 27 in all, and all taught by some of the top people in the fields.

We settled into our classes. Our instructor, Chris Connell, is an Episcopalian minister by vocation and a passionate byzantine historian and numismatist by avocation. His enthusiasm kept us on the edge of our seats waiting for the next tidbit of history and intrigue. We were nine students (a tenth dropped out after the first day) from all walks of life: a writer, a world traveler (retired businessman), an ANA summer intern, a retired highway worker, a couple coin collectors' wives, and an art teacher (Larry, who was in my very first class 6 years earlier). The intern, and I had originally signed up for the canceled Islamic class. I cannot speak for the him, but I was not disappointed with the change.

We left the books at four. Some took an optional, wonderful cog railway trip to the top of Pike's Peak. The weather looked good from the city. No clouds or rain as in some earlier years.

Others went to the Garden of the Gods for hiking among the rocks of that beautiful park.

The YNs went for a mandatory visit to Fargo's Pizza, Miniature Golf, and Fun Palace.

I went to the cafeteria for dinner and conversation.

During the first bull session at seven Chuck Opitz, an expert on the subject and author of Odd and Curious Money, talked about primitive monies as used today.

At 8:15 David Lange talked about "The Colorful World of U.S. Coins: Highlights from Photo Proof."

During the bull sessions, at invitation, I joined others in the ANA museum to welcome Dr. Ute Wartenberg at a reception hosted by Robert Hoge, the ANA museum curator. Dr. Wertenberg, a former British Museum curator of Ancient Greek coins, is a new assistant director at the American Numismatic Society (ANS). It was an opportunity to rub elbows with just about everyone who wants to be someone in the ANA/ANS numismatic subculture. I had to go to see what was happening.

I returned to Loomis Hall for the final bull session of the evening, Aimie and Steve McCabe's "Just What's All this Hubbub over the Internet?" Their presentation on the same subject the year before had inspired me to finally get on the internet and to place the Elgin and Fox Valley Coin Clubs there too. I had to return to thank them and to see what new things they had to present this year.

They conduct a weekly auction (Patriot Coin Auctions at on the internet using the software Steve created. Their presentation unintentionally included all the happenings that put paralyzing fear into those who are not yet on the internet and simply irk those of us already on the net. The connection was terribly slow. The phone line was noisy. They were disconnected several times. Later they discovered the phone line they were using was also being used by the front desk. So every time the desk picked up the phone Steve was cut off the net. None of this inspired confidence in the attendees. All they had to do is wait for the next night's presentation to see things corrected.

Afterwards we again talked into the night, first on the internet and then on other topics with Steve and Aimie and then with other groups milling around.

Bed was a bit after one again. And there was morning and evening of the second day.

More to come in later editions of the Newsletter.

[Editor's note: This continues in the October Newsletter (Click here to see it).]

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

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