|Volume 65 No. 5||May 2019|
Only three months until ANA will be in Rosemont! The planning by our local committees is almost over — all that remains is your participation.
Paul Hybert, editor
Session I of the 1203rd meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was called to order by President Rich Lipman at 6:45 PM, Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at the Chicago Bar Association Building, 321 S. Plymouth Court, Downtown Chicago, with 30 members and 1 guest: Wendy Wang.
The Minutes of both sessions of the March meeting were approved as published in the Chatter. Steve Zitowsky delivered the Treasurer’s Report showing March revenue of $3,660.50 and expenses of $718.82. A motion was passed approving the report.
Following a second reading of the membership applications, a motion was made and passed accepting Kathy Rosinia and Donald Kagin into the club. A discussion followed regarding the five Club members running for office in the American Numismatic Association (ANA).
No new business was discussed.
First V.P. Lyle Daly announced the upcoming featured speakers:
Lyle introduced John Riley who gave a presentation on “The Die Sinkers of Chicago.” Following a question and answer period, Lyle presented John with an ANA Educational Certificate and an engraved Club medal suspended on a neck ribbon.
Second Vice President John Riley introduced the fourteen exhibitors for the evening.
The meeting was recessed at 9:43 PM and will reconvene at 1 PM, Saturday, April 27th, in the Utopia D room at the CSNS Convention, Renaissance Convention Center, Schaumburg.
Session II of the 1203rd meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was held in conjunction with the Central States Numismatic Society Convention at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center. President Richard Lipman reconvened the meeting at 1PM, Saturday April 27, 2019 with 40 members and 8 guests in attendance.
President Lipman gave a basic order or business, including the introduction of people running in the upcoming ANA Election: Shanna Schmidt (Governor), Clifford Mishler (Governor), and Thomas Uram (Vice President). Richard announced that candidates for ANA President, Donald Kagin and Col. Steven Ellsworth, would have time later in the meeting to address the membership.
Mark Wieclaw, Chairman of the Club’s 100th Anniversary Committee announced:
Four membership applications received first reading: Douglas Baldwin, Meredith Dunham, Constantin Marinescu, and Col. Steven Ellsworth.
First VP Lyle Daly:
President Lipman introduced Col. Steven Ellsworth and Don Kagin, candidates for ANA President. Each spent about 5 minutes introducing themselves to the membership and stating what they believe are the important current issues. Both agreed to stay after adjournment to meet the membership and answer questions.
The Secretary announced:
The meeting was adjourned at 2:15 PM and members were treated to a celebratory anniversary cake provided by Jeff Rosinia.
Carl F. Wolf, Secretary
by John Riley,
presented to our April 10, 2019 meeting.
It is a “collision” of related interests that culminates with a talk on the die sinkers, engravers, and brand-cutters of Chicago in this our 100th year of organization. Chance acquisitions years ago of “hometown“ tokens for Wheaton and Glen Ellyn (and Chicago also) stoked a curiosity for the maker’s infomation. In 1915, for example, where did one go in the Chicago area to have a promotional, advertising, or mercantile trade check made?
Simultaneously I have had a long interest in U.S. military tokens, early and modern, produced for post exchanges, ship’s stores, and food service open “messes.” Research done by pioneers in the field, Jim Curto most notably, tracked down the detailed manufacturer’s info including contemporary advertising and records of quantities delivered when putting together a list for collectors. When combined with knowledge of the steel die style-work used by the token or medal maker, a more complete picture is put together for a particular piece — how and why it was used as well as relative availability now.
So, many of the same maker names began to emerge. But first and foremost — there is the passion for old Chicago! The Chicago of Capone, of “Shoeless Joe“ Jackson, Virgil Brand, and Doctor Rackus. These things jingled in their pockets 100 years ago. Anytime when walking through the Loop, you have to wonder about the secrets held by all of these old buildings around us. Studying the grand architecture only further enhances an interest in local coinage substitutes, advertising and medallic commemorations that came from right here. A great numismatic history is right in front of us, within a stone’s throw of where we sit tonight: it is a piece of the past almost forgotten now and is entirely underappreciated.
And I’ll point out now with this type of material, exceptions are the rule! You will hear that a lot about tokens. Contradictions are all part of the fun and challenge of collecting tokens.
But I digress.
Let’s face it: trade tokens were always in the literal “junk box” category — literally worthless, base metal, generic — usually no artistry. Who cares?
By their nature, it’s helpful to understand what these pieces were used for. Commemorative and promotional pocket pieces are self-explainatory. Trade tokens (or “good fors“) in this country were a marketing brainchild at least by the 1870s and 1880s. Think coupons with a twist. Saloons, dairies, bakeries, and small goods stores were the ideal merchant to have tokens produced. He or she would contract to have, say, 100 pieces made for 80 cents.
A beer in 1920 would set you back one Buffalo Nickel (or two for a dime): customer buys a beer with a dime and gets a token as change for a future beer. It’s genius: the actual original product wholesaled for less than five cents. You’ve kept the future sale in-house with a token that can only be used at your location and, even if it isn’t used at your bar, it’s a great advertising curiousity that will likely change hands again through accidental commerce or just ordinary contact.
There is a nebulous legal element involved in producing a token as a coinage substitute and explains a reluctance, in my view, for the maker to place their name on a trade piece. I’ll elaborate later but, basic economics — the normal cost of living increases throughout the past few generations caused trade token usage to decline and it is now basically obsolete.
As a quick aside, we won’t go into company scrip or the Ingle System here tonight — those devices behaved more like cash and backfired spectacularly on the coal mines in the 1940s. Those monetary mechanisms are fairly involved and I don’t wish to confuse what we are looking at tonight. None displayed here involved employee pay and scrip wasn’t produced in the Chicago area anyway…
Something happened at about the time these pieces were phasing out — say around 1960. Many of the same collectors who enjoyed U.S. Civil War tokens — Dave Bowers, Russ Rulau, the Fuld brothers, and the Club’s own Cliff Mishler and Ben Odesser — were organizing listings of early and interesting trade pieces by state and city, and they found common interests with enthusiasts for tokens with personal connections — family names, hometown businesses and so forth. The Tokens and Medals Society was formed in 1960 and state specific listings began to be placed in book form: such as Ore Vacketta’s ILLINOIS book. Russ Rulau, through Krause, began publishing the authoritative guides by state and time period.
This was all fine and well: to research types and locations, form connections with other specialists, buying and selling through the mail or at the annual conventions, et cetera. But then the Internet came along and the information opportunities exploded! Tokens and medals of course are microscopic in numbers compared to federal coinage and are a great combination of vastly increased availability, variety, and comparatively low cost.
One website all should consider is the token listing created by Richard Greever, a collector of Western United States tokens. The token list can be referenced through Google and followers can reliably track down the identity of a piece they have, or contribute info directly onto the site about unidentified material. This is just one example of where contributors in the Internet age can start connecting more and more dots about unknown tokens (or “mavericks”) in one of the last obscure areas of coin collecting. Just like that, the world became smaller!
Dave, if you are interested in Palatine history — Bob, if you like Wheaton — Lyle, if you like Oak Park — this specialty is for you. Imagine two people chasing the same scarce piece from Joliet — or Chicago — it’s a dealer’s dream on-line. I recall selling a piece on eBay from Half Day, Illinois — pulled from a “junk box,” two buyers bid it up well over $100.
That was a lot of background to bring us back to Chicago. Numismatic writer and ’Token Hound’ Dave Schenkman wrote a nice program article to commemorate the 2013 ANA convention here — it centered on the earliest years of Chicago and one Shubael Davis Childs — known today as S.D. Childs.
Born in Massachusetts in 1799, Childs moved to Chicago in 1837 for opportunity as an accomplished wood engraver. And needs presented themselves quickly — the dissolution of the Bank of the United States and the resulting Financial Crisis of 1837 dried up the circulating coinage in use — particularly in the East — and our familiar large cent-sized Hard Times Tokens were produced. Advertising and a ciculating coinage substitute in one.
Picture Chicago in the 1830s and 1840s — this was not the East Coast by a long shot, and coinage shortages were the daily norm. Nonetheless, S.D. Childs produced copper tokens locally during this time. Now for one important point regarding tonight’s talk: makers identifying themselves on their products. It is the frustration and the challenge of collecting these things!
For tonight’s talk, I suppose I am looking at things sideways: we know where most of these pieces were used, therefore what difference does it make who struck it? You see, in the classic research of “maverick“ tokens, it is diagnostic evidence of who made the token that often provides an answer for the town or city where the token was used. In the considerably more regionalized eras of 100 or 150 years ago, production obviously would have been done close to home.
Very little actual “signed“ work by S.D. Childs is known. Schenkman knows only of a merchant token style with defiant eagle, a few particular Civil War tokens, some advertising examples, and the official medal of the 1898 Trans Mississippi Expo in Omaha. I’m certain they did much work for the Columbian Expo in 1893, but they rarely are identified.
The Fire of 1871 displaced Childs’ business, but they were able to quickly regroup and continue: the preponderence of evidence is that S.D. Childs made these pieces but, again, they are not marked. The firm patented bi-metallic tokens according to Schenkman based on the patent wording on the reverse.
S.D. Childs & Co. did a lot more than produce tokens and medals of course. They stopped producing medallic issues in 1906 when George Greenburg left their employ and, with a partner, split off as the Greenduck Company. More on them later. The Childs firm existed until the late 1930s, a victim of the Great Depression, and served Chicago in many commercial capacities including making every type of nameplate known to man, fine stationary, and engraving work for, among others, the C.D. Peacock fine jewelery firm.
Bill Burd comments in his book on our own club numismatic issues that Childs engraved the badges used for the the 1929 ANA convention here. No doubt they made some convention memorabilia from earlier events also.
Childs is our most famous diesinker, he was both highly artistic and prolific. He was early and long-lived. But there was competition here.
Christian Henry Hanson, known as C.H. Hanson, is an interesting local story. They are the sole surviving company. Now in Naperville, Hanson & Co. was founded in 1866 in Chicago. Nowadays they do stencil work and manufacture light industrial marking devices. A phone inquiry into their token past drew an awkward silence — it has been lost to time, unfortunately.
But we know they produced transportation tokens (such as the 1890’s era Springfield, IL transfer check by horse carriage from the railroad depot to Abraham Lincoln’s tomb) as well as conventional trade pieces. How prolific was Hanson in this market? Probably not very, but it’s difficult to tell because they didn’t sign much of their work! Clearly, tokens and medals were not a main focus of Hanson’s.
I mentioned earlier the cloudy legalities of striking coinage substitutes. Not all have been careful to identify “good for trade,“ “good for merchandise,“ “good for a drink,“ etc. However, I’ve concluded that these pieces simply did not have permanence in mind when they were made — they were simply industrial checks that would later be discarded. Who knew people would later collect them? And potentially pay big money for them??
There was a multitude of small producers, glorified machine shops perhaps, that created Chicago numismatics -— The American Badge Co., J.B. Carroll Co., Skelly Manufacturing Co., and Passow. There are many others no doubt.
Our own Chicago Coin Club luminary Henry RIpstra made tokens — some of the early Chicago Numismatic Society pieces are his work.
I should also mention the great Pick & Co. and Brunswick Balke Collandar pool table pieces, while Chicago is named, were primarily produced in Cincinnati by the James Murdock Engraving Co.
Louis Boche made badges and checks with a very distinctive style. He was born in 1875, emigrated to Chicago from Germany as a child, and died in 1905 — so we have a timeperiod for his work. Boche seemed to corner the Elgin-area industrial token businesses, and a common theme is seen with his work in the particular German-style engraving artistry and expertise that is common among the makers out of St Louis, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia: strikingly precise and polished work.
I already mentioned the S.D. Childs’ token and medal business split off to employee George Greenburg in 1906 and, with his partner Harvey Decghersel, the Greenduck Company was born. Greenduck is a favorite because they seemed to work with a more whimsical nature — unlike the commercial makers who “moved product“ with little thought to a legacy — so Greenduck stands out.
In business through 2004, and well known for their advertising signs, for our purposes tonight their advertising coins were winding down by the late 1950s. “The Colonel“ token is an exception being signed, and it is pre-1910 based on the street numbering system. Very attractive pictorials on larger-sized planchets are usually the indicator of Greenduck’s work mdash; they were prolific in the 1920s and ’30s — many of the good luck “swastica“ pieces from the teens and ’20s through the Century of Progress Expo and later. They marked significantly more of their production than the others, but still only a small percentage of their output.
I exhibit tonight a Wheaton, Illinois example produced by Greenduck and marketed by a Chicago land & title bank. This is the story of many of our neighborhoods — a post war product clearly heralding the rise of the suburbs. Also a Lake Michigan ferry piece, Wabash Street landing to St Joe, Michigan made by Greenduck. This token is listed in the Atwood-Coffee Transportation Token book.
Greenduck is reminiscent of the Newark, New Jersey firm of Whitehead & Hoag who produced the majority of similar marketing devices for the whole country during this time period. Whitehead & Hoag did sign their work, and their brand is omnipresent during this period.
Finally, I will conclude with the firm who, in my opinion, is the hero of tonight’s story: Meyer & Wenthe.
Another pre-Great Fire company, Gustave Meyer and William Wenthe formed their company in Chicago in 1854. Their forte was engraved tags and bands; they were apparently very aggressive marketeers and very successful at what they did when the time was right. Sending salesman throughout the country, Meyer & Wenthe made their mark on train equipment during the development and golden age of the railroads. From a collector’s standpoint, Meyer & Wenthe may well be best known for, of all things, police uniform badges. Needless to say, there is an entire subset of collectors who passionately pursue that material. Some military badges of the WWI-era are also known with M & W stampings — original pilot wings are very much sought-after.
If you were a business or an individual in Chicago or a surrounding town, Meyer appears to be where you would turn for bar chips, lumber or coal company store credit pieces, milk “bottle checks,” school lunch tokens — on and on.
Meyer very rarely signed their pieces — shocking! In their case, however, I see a professional intent to be standardized and generic in the style of production. They did have a patented early and later token reverse diestyle: in my observation, the first was in use circa 1915 through the end of World War II. The second went until about 1971.
Meyer also did stamping work of course — recall the 1954 Chicago Coin Club commemorative overstamp of Mexican peso coins — the Club contracted Meyer & Wenthe for that work!
Importantly, Meyer & Wenthe did a lot more — here out of Chicago they cornered the bus & train transportation token manufacturing niche for the entire country and our territories. The firm also contracted a large share of the U.S. government contracts for military “good for” token production during the 1960 — much of the Vietnam War-era production was done near where we are tonight. That should be a point of pride for Chicago numismatics.
Meyer & Wenthe was done with token production by 1971 or so, and that was it for local makers. Formed in 1854, bought out in the 1980s by Everson Ross Co., which was then acquired in 1999 by Smith & Warren of New York.
The end of an era, but leaving a very interesting legacy with very deep Chicago roots.
In closing I would tell you that I’ve really enjoyed putting this talk together. These pieces are of such variety and personality — and are typically very inexpensive — I believe it is a great area to bring new people into the hobby. If you have items like this for buy/sell/trade, or if you want an opinion on something local, please let me know.
|CSNS Convention||Chicago Coin Company|
|PCDA Convention||Harlan J. Berk, Ltd.|
Items shown at our April 10, 2019 meeting,
reported by John Riley.
Reminder: You can email to John a description of what you will show at a meeting, to give him a start on this write-up. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 16, 2019
The sixth meeting of the 2019 ANA Convention Committee met April 16, 2019 in the offices of Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., 77 W. Washington, 13th Floor, Downtown Chicago. Chairman Rich Lipman called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM with Mark Wieclaw, Melissa Gumm, Dale Carlson, Harlan Berk, John Kent, Sharon Blocker, Elliott Krieter, and Carl Wolf in attendance.
The committee gave a warm round of applause and thanks to Harlan Berk for providing the meeting space, dinner, and parking.
The Minutes from the March 19th meeting were approved.
Volunteer Report by Carl Wolf:
Money Talks Committee Report by Mark Wieclaw:
Page Committee Report by John Kent & Dale Carlson:
Youth Committee Report by Scott McGowan & Richard Hamilton:
Report on the Club’s 100th Anniversary Celebration at the ANA Convention by Mark Wieclaw:
Report from Elliott Krieter, Assistant Chair:
The meeting was adjourned at 7:04 PM.
Carl Wolf, Secretary
Chicago Coin Club
|Date:||May 8, 2019|
At the Chicago Bar Association, 321 S. Plymouth Court, 3rd floor meeting room. Please remember the security measures at our meeting building: everyone must be prepared to show their photo-ID and register at the guard’s desk.
|Featured Program:||Robert Feiler
— Changed Coins and Numismatic Oddities
In addition to a wide variety of altered coins, medals, and tokens, we will be treated to some numismatic oddities. We will see Box Dollars (coins and medals containing engraved messages, photos, historic scenes, and even watches), coin knives, cigar clippers, pop-out coins, money clips, and more. And more such as miniature paintings on coins, coin miniature utensils made by prison inmates, enameled coins, and love tokens. The manufacturing methods will be covered briefly, and a few reference books will be available for prusal before the meeting starts. A few of the items have been exhibited at previous meetings, but many will be new.
Unless stated otherwise, our regular monthly CCC Meeting is in downtown Chicago on the second Wednesday of the month; the starting time is 6:45PM.
|May||8||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Robert Feiler on Changed Coins and Numismatic Oddities|
|June||12||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced|
|July||10||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced|
|August||13-17||ANA in Rosemont, at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Admission is free for ANA members — for details, see http://www.worldsfairofmoney.com.|
|August||13||CCC 100th Anniversary Banquet - Featured Speaker - Clifford Mishler|
|August||17||CCC Meeting - 1pm at the ANA Convention,
which is held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 North River Road, Rosemont, IL.
No admission charge for our meeting.
Featured Speaker - to be announced
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