March, 1999

Year 6, Issue 3

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

Meeting 7:30pm, Wednesday, March 3
Talk and trading 7:00-7:30pm
VFW, 1601 Weld Road, Elgin, IL
Not a member? Come and join us anyway!
March Meeting
March Prizes
February Minutes
Board Meeting
A Challenge to our Young Members
Open letter to the Board
Helping During the ANA Convention
Coin of the Month
Nickel Three Cent Piece

George Smith's Certificate of Deposit
Index to other ECC Newsletter articles

March Meeting

During the March we have a "1-2-3" exchange program. The coin of the month is the nickel three-cent piece. In its honor we propose a trade and sell night. Bring in your 1-2-3 doubles--cents, two cents, and three cents (and any half cents). And bring in your want lists. During the program (and before and after, too, probably) we will all go among each other and trade and sell our duplicates and maybe buy the duplicates of others if you don't have something to trade. If this works, we can do it again with other denominations.

For show and tell, let's boost the trading by showing some of our prize half cents, cents, two cents, and three cents from our collections.

If you haven't paid your 1999 dues, please be prepared to do so during the meeting. I'm not supposed to send you a Newsletter after this one if you haven't paid your dues by March. So make sure you've done so.

March Prizes

February Minutes

ECC Meeting 494
February 3, 1999
Opened:around 8:05
Closed:around 9:00
Members: 19
YNs: 5
Guests: 1

President Doug Nelson called the meeting to order around 8:05.

Secretary's Report

The minutes were accepted as published.

Treasurer's Report

Don reported the numbers in the box at the beginning of the minutes. The treasurer's report was accepted.

Old Business

There was none.

New Business

Roger showed an American Eagles book that can be purchased for $10.00. All proceeds go to the Rovelstad Foundation in Elgin.

We voted on and accepted a new member, Donald Dool, to the Elgin Coin Club. His special interests are dated bronze coins from 1481 to date. Please welcome Donald to the club.

We also had a guest, Dave Koress. His coin interests are US, British, Canadian, and German coins.

I had a request to send cards to Dave Jones and Lorraine Westlake. We all hope you get well soon and hope to see you at the next meeting.


The video program "Modern Marvels" from the History Channel on the Mint and Bureau of Printing and Engraving was very interesting and covered American coin and paper money history from the beginnings in 1792 to present. [Ed. note: Though comprehensive, the video mixed facts in several places so that time lines and some facts were blurred.]

Show & Tell

Mike brought in a St. Eligus brass medal. St. Eligus is the patron saint of metalworkers and numismatics. He also brought an type set of quarter in a plastic holder he got for a song the previous month.

Guest Dave K. had everyone grade a 55 double die cent and revealed what the grade was after everyone had had a guess. If my memory serves me right, it was graded at MS64.

Jim D. showed a complete 1796 1/2 cent to one dollar Gallery Mint reproduction set.

New member Don D. brought in an 1864 dos centisimo copper coin of Potosi, a 1848 7-1/2 heller cast coin from Biaocco, a 1 sol cast coin from Luxembourg and a book, the 50 State Commemorative Coin Album. See Don if you would like to purchase one.

February Prize Winners
Membership: Mike M.
YN: Shae F.
Raffle winners: We did not get your names.
Door: Mike M., Jerry, and others.

Meeting adjourned at 9:00 pm.

Submitted by Jennifer Schulze

Board Meeting

Don, Jim Davis, and I got together February 17 at Don's for the board meeting.

I read an open letter (included later in this issue of the Newsletter) to the board from Dennis Kwaz concerning the fall show date. We discussed this at length. Although Doug was not physically at the meeting for personal reasons, he read the letter and gave his input and vote to the discussion. We voted unanimously to keep the show on the last Sunday. Though not an exhaustive list, the following points came up during our decisions:

The first three items guided our decision, the show will stay on the original last Sunday of October date, the 31st. Had the last point been the only point, I would have voted against it on principle--I hate the argument of tradition.

We also discussed getting the initial mailing out for the show. We decided to mail invitations to last year's participants first, in March, giving them first shot at this year's show. They will have until a specified date to be guaranteed a table. In April we will make a second mailing to other dealers.

Jim suggested we offer a YN challenge to create a clad dime set from circulation. We thought it was a good idea. The challenge is given later in this Newsletter.

We also revisited helping the ANA this summer. I agreed to rerun the list of chairmen you can contact. This list is also later in this Newsletter.

We also discussed March's program, the "1-2-3" exchange.

A Challenge to our Young Members

Jim Davis and the rest of the officers challenge each of the young members of our club (our YNs) to put together a new set of clad dimes from 1965 to 1999.

You must collect these dimes from circulation starting now. You cannot buy any of the dimes and you should not use any dimes from your current collection. To make this fair, you do not have to include the 1982 with no mint mark or the 1996W. Otherwise, you must have all dimes. There are 67. It will cost you $6.70. You can put these in an folder if you want, but you do not have to do so.

For your efforts, Jim will give a silver eagle to each of you who completes at least one set. And you can keep your sets.

How long do you think this will take you to complete? For now, the deadline is the December meeting. Maybe we will have to give you longer. But I'll bet several of you will have the set by then.

Open Letter to the Board

[Editor's note: I received the following open letter to the Elgin Coin Club board from Dennis Kwas via the internet. I have reproduced it here unchanged. The officers considered it and voted as reported earlier in this Newsletter.]

February 9,1999

I want to convey some of my thoughts regarding the Elgin Coin Club's 1999 annual coin show.

It seems that this year's show is on the same day that the Oak Forest Coin Club's annual show is. That in itself is no big deal. So we in the Chicagoland area have 2 shows on the same day, so what, who care's?

This was not by choice on the Oak Forest Coin Club part. They did not want this to happen. The hall where they are holding their show could not accommodate them with another date that would work. The club thought this may be a problem and let the dealers know what was happening, because of the conflict with the Elgin Coin club show date for 1999.

The Oak Forest Coin Club, I believe, asked if our club could or would want to change our show date this year. I don't know if this has been done or can be done, but last I heard, it seems like we did not want to change our show date. That in itself is fine.

Our show is in Elgin and the other is in Orland Park. There may be about 40 miles between the shows, maybe more, maybe less. I had heard comments that the shows are far enough apart that it won't matter.....hmmmm.

Well the shows are far apart. My question is which show will the customers or collectors chose to go to? Do all the collectors and customers that will come the Elgin show all live in Elgin. Also the collectors and customers that would go to the Oak Forest show don't all live in Oak Forest or Orland Park. At least I don't think so.

Now, once the collectors and customers choose which show they want to go to, will the dealer they want to see be at that show or the other show. Yes, where will that dealer be? We are not only asking the collector to chose between shows, are we not asking dealers to choose also?

The club shows are great to go to. You can see and find coins that only come out at club shows. Some of the dealers that set up at club shows only set up at their clubs show. This is where some people can show off their coins and meet new friends.

Remember also, that both shows may not get their fair share of customers. Each Club may loose 25% to 35% of their customers because some will pick one over the other. Yes they are far apart. There may also be dealer fallout - dealers that buy at club shows they set up at may chose to visit both shows rather then setup at one. For the small dealer it may not be worth it to set up when 2 shows are going--loss of customers and collector is loss of money.

If Doug has some choice Canadian Coins and Mike has some Canadian Coins I may want from his collection at the Elgin Show and Ace Coins has some full step Jefferson's at the Orland Show that I may want to see. What to do, what to do?

Are we doing this for the customer and collector because this is the only day of the year he can come the Elgin Coin Club's annual show or are we not wanting to change because we don't have to?

Please note that I am not a member of the Oak Forest Coin Club. These are only my thoughts.

Dennis A. Kwas

Helping During ANA 1999 Convention

Some of you have again have expressed interest in helping with the ANA Convention show at Rosemont August 11-15, 1999. In case you have misplaced your list, first published in October, here are a list of chairmen for the show. Please feel very free to contact any of the following to offer your help or to exhibit or to contribute to the educational forum. I know every one of these people and I know they will be very glad to accommodate you. If you want, I can mediate with anyone for you.

Coin of the Month
Nickel Three Cent Piece

On March 3, 1865, congress passed a law authorizing a three cent piece in 25 percent nickel and 75 percent copper weighing 30 grains, 1.94 grams. They were to be legal tender up to 60 cents. The bill also stated that the one- and two-cent pieces were to be legal tender only to four cents!

The coin was not made to replace the tiny silver three-cent piece. Nor was it made as a convenient denomination to make it easier to buy the three-cent stamp. Instead, they were to be paid out in exchange for the hated, dirty, three-cent notes then in circulation and called derisively "shinplasters." The people did not like the paper and in fact used private tokens rather than the paper. Both the paper and the tiny "fish scales," as the people called the silver three-cent piece, were for buying three-cent stamps.

"United States of America" surrounding a strong figure of Miss Liberty graces the obverse. The date, in rather small numerals, is below Liberty. The reverse has a simple Roman numeral III surrounded by a laurel wreath.

The first coin was issued in 1856 when the mint produced just under 11.4 million. The last were minted in 1889 when only 21,561 were made. Between 1865 and 1876 this coin retired over 17 million three-cent notes. Few coins were made after 1876, except for 1881. And many of those made during that period were for proof sets.

You can get a three-cent piece of most of the common years (till 1876) in extra file for $20 or less at Red Book prices. And an uncirculated version of any of first four years is only $80. The proof-only 1877 lists for the most at $1,300 in PF-63.

There are many overdates and repunched dates and letters in this series. Because of the difficulty the mint had with minting nickel in the beginning there are a lot of weak strikes and many examples of broken dies, fun items for me. And if you like clashed dies, you will be able to add several to your collection from this series.


Breen. Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins. Doubleday. New York, 1988.
Yoeman. A Guide Book of United States Coins. Ed. Bressett. Western Publishing. Racine, 1996.

George Smith's Certificates of Deposit

The 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s were a time of great growth in Illinois in general and Chicago in particular. Money in any form was scarce. Hard money, gold and silver coins, was held as the basis of value. But there was very little of it.

To make up for the shortage of hard money, national, state, and local banks, and insurance companies, private companies, and individuals all issued paper bills that promised, in one way or another, that they could be exchanged for hard money. Some issuers offered direct exchange. Others offered service or merchandise.

Technically, only governments or banks chartered by the government could offer circulating paper money in exchange for hard money, referred to as specie. But they were not doing it. Illinois was growing and many people used loopholes in the law to their advantage. Providing circulating currency and redeeming it for hard money was just another way enterprising people could make their fortune, provided they could do so without breaking explicit laws, or getting caught when they did.

By 1850 Illinois had tried and failed with two different versions of a State Bank of Illinois. The first operated in the 1820s and the second was established in 1835 and liquidated in 1843. The first state banks secured their currency with state property and revenue. The branches of the second state banks were required to have $300,000 in specie on hand before they could open and issue currency.

To protect the public, notes of the second state banks were to be redeemable within ten days of presentation under the penalty of liquidation. In other words, if you brought bills into the bank that issued them and demanded specie, the bank had to deliver within ten days or be liquidated and lose its charter.

After the 1843 second State Bank liquidation, it was only a new Illinois constitution, drafted in 1848, that contained the seeds of a new banking system.

In 1850 Illinois had no incorporated banks. Business volume was rapidly increasing. What did they use for currency? There were a few notes of the old Bank of Illinois of Shawneetown circulating at a 75 per cent discount ($0.25 on a dollar) and fewer of the second Illinois State Bank system circulating at a 50 per cent discount. This was the only currency originating in Illinois. Some $500,000 in notes of the St. Louis banks circulated here also. To fill out the supplies, uncounted bills from banks in other states, from wildcat banks, and from other sources filled the needs unsatisfied by the absence of legal Illinois institutions.

Though there were no local banks supplying Illinois business needs, many other institutions and individuals stepped in to fill the gap. Some issued currency and did not back it. Others issued currency and always redeemed it for hard money. Both, though often illegal, filled a very needed function in the business world of the mid-1800's. They provided circulating paper currency where there was none, or very little.

This document looks at one of the latter figures in this story, someone who provided a trusted, though technically illegal, service to his community, someone whom the community came to respect, even though the legislature in the end legislated him out of business.

Back in 1837, the state legislature had chartered the Chicago Marine and Fire Insurance Company. Its charter specifically forbad the company from doing any banking business or from issuing any notes to be passed as money or "in the semblance of bank notes." But in May of the same year, the Chicago Marine and Fire Insurance Company advertised that it was taking advantage of the section of its charter that allowed it "to receive monies on deposit and to loan the same." They, in effect, went into the banking business, issuing demand certificates of deposit for deposited money. The bearer of the certificate, not necessarily the original depositor, could return at any time and "demand" the money back. The company complied with the letter of the law and did not issue the certificates "in the semblance of bank notes." These certificates soon became de facto circulating bills that were readily used by the economy.

George Smith An enterprising Scotch farmer, George Smith, visited Illinois in 1836 and was impressed with the financial potential he saw. He returned to Scotland and organized the Scottish Illinois Land Investment Company, a group of Scottish investors. When he returned to Illinois, he took a copy of the Chicago Marine and Fire Insurance charter to Wisconsin and obtained an almost identical charter from the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature to set up the Wisconsin Marine and Fire Insurance company. Half of the company's $225,000 stock was held in Scotland.

Return here next month for the rest of the story.

[Editor's note: This article, written by Mike Metras, was originally published by The Chicago Coin Club as part of a souvenir sheet giveaway at the February, 1999 Chicago Paper Money Expo. It is copyrighted in its current form by Mike Metras.]

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