|Volume 66 No. 10||October 2020|
The 1220th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was called to order by President Richard Lipman at 6:45 PM CDT, Wednesday, September 9, 2020. Due to the pandemic shutdown, the meeting was online with 27 members and guests.
The August minutes were approved without objection as posted in the Chatter. Elliott Krieter gave the August Treasurer’s Report, showing $0.00 revenue and $492.50 expenses. The report was approved. Elliott announced that Robert Feiler had become Life Member.
Lyle Daly introduced Junior Member Madeline Rodriguez who gave the evening’s program, U.S. Coinage During and After World War II. There were many questions and answers.
Second VP John Riley announced the evening’s 8 exhibitors.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:39 PM CDT.
Carl F. Wolf, Secretary
presented by Madeline Rodriguez,
to our September 9, 2020 meeting.
The program started with a chart showing the years during which the US Mint and branches made the different denominations of circulating coins. The short-lived denominations were noted first: the 2-cent, 3-cent, and 20-cent pieces had relatively short lives; the $3 pieces lasted not much longer; and the half cent was dropped more than 160 years ago. (The denominations above $1 were all minted in gold, but that has been over for more than 85 years.) Of the long-lived denominations, this presentation would be on the 1-cent and 5-cent coins, focused on the types similar to today’s: the small 1-cent penny, and the 5-cent nickel. Starting with the nickel.
The Shield Nickel, introduced in 1866, has the same weight and copper-nickel alloy as does today»s nickel. The small mintages of 1877-1881 were due to the return of the silver 5-cent half-dime to circulation following years of hoarding. The somber, not celebratory, design was not popular, and it was replaced by the Liberty Head design in 1883; also, the diameter was increased to the size used to this day. Its being similar is size to the current $5 gold piece, and the lack of CENTS under the V (signifying five), led to pieces being gold plated and passed off as a $5 coin. That, and the existance of five pieces dated 1913 which are not mentioned in the mint records, are what most people know about this design. Lesser known is that the introduction of coin operated machines in the 1890s (many accepting only the nickel) increased the need for this coin, especially in the west where the silver minor coins were favored.
The Buffalo/Indian Head nickel was introduced in 1913, as part of a coin redesign effort started by President Theodore Roosevelt who was disappointed by the current designs. The public had contrasting opinions about the new design: some appreciated the American ideals and history it depicted, while others thought it was ugly and did not match the other coins (with their traditional devices such as eagle, shield, and Liberty). A second design was introduced because the first was hard on the dies, but the second design proved to be even tougher on the dies; the date was very exposed to wear on both designs. Although Congress’ permission is needed to change a design used for less than 25 years, only the Secretary of the Treasury’s permission is needed after that. A design competition was held, requiring a bust of Thomas Jefferson on the obverse, and a view of his home, Monticello, on the reverse.
Felix Schlag won the competition and the $1000 prize. The featured bust remained the same until 2004, but his Monticello design had to be changed because the used perspective view would be hard to strike correctly. His initials, FS, were added below the bust in 1966 – some say he forgot to include them. Although the 5-cent nickel coin’s design had changed a number of times, its weight and composition had remained the same – until WW II. Nickel was a critical war material, added to high grade steel to make armor plating for battleships and tanks.
Due to the need for nickel, the US Mint considered other alloys for the coin. A composition of 50% copper and 50% silver was considered first, with eventually a 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese decided, as this combination still worked with counterfeit detection machines. A large special mint mark was placed above Monticello so that these “war nickels” could easily be separated out after the war. After the war, the composition returned to the original 75% copper and 25% nickel, which continues to this day.
But how important was this alloy change to the war effort? Madeline shared her calculations which show only a small part of the nickel supply going into coins. Her revised calculations started with the number of nickels (of both types) actually produced from 1941 through 1943 (845 million) and multiplied it by the 5-gram weight of a single coin to obtain, after unit conversion, a total weight for three years of about 4,700 tons of metal. Had they all been produced at the old alloy, they would have used almost 3,600 tons of copper and 1,200 tons of nickel; which seems a large amount, but not when compared to the approximately 375,000 tons of nickel mined during those three years in Canada (the major supplier of nickel to the US). This led to a discussion about shared sacrifices and the sense of involvement when spread over many groups, each of which contributes a small amount – when enough small bits are added together, a large amount might be raised.
Madeline concluded the nickel story by showing the Westward Journey Commemoratives which honor the 200th anniversary of the Louis and Clark Expedition. Four different reverse designs were used in combination with a different bust of Jefferson on the obverse: an Indian Peace Medal; a Keelboat, similar to what was used at the start of the expedition; an American Buffalo; and a Coastline View with a quote from William Clark, “Ocean in view! O! The Joy!” The traditional Jefferson/Monticello design resumed in 2006.
Madeline started the penny part of the presentation with a composition history of the 1-cent coin, but highlighted the part, starting in 1856, for the small-sized coin we know today. A composition of 88% copper and 12% nickel was used from 1856 through 1864, being replaced by a bronze composition in 1864, consisting of 95% copper and 5% tin/zinc. That was the composition when the Lincoln Wheat Cent design was introduced in 1909 for the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth – this is Madeline’s favorite design on the 1-cent coin. This bronze composition was used through 1942, when replacement materials were investigated because copper was used in the war effort, commonly identified as used for shell casings for ammunition. The 1-cent coin was made of zinc plated steel in 1943, a coin weighing 2.72 grams instead of the usual 3.11 grams.
Was this alloy change more necessary than the alloy change to the 5-cent coin? Madeline shared her calculations on this question, and the result shows a small effect. The 1-cent mintage in 1941 and 1942 totaled 2.06 billion pieces, at 3.11 grams each, of 95% copper &ndash showing 6,700 tons of copper used in two years. Because US copper production in those two years totaled 2,300,000 tons, less than 0.3% of US copper production was used in the cent coins. The comments made during the discussion of the war nickels apply here, too.
Due to the complaints, a copper alloy for the 1-cent coin was resumed in 1944, but with a little twist. The prior tin component was not restored, so the alloy was 95% copper and 5% zinc from 1944 through 1946. This was due to the use of used shell casings, of 95% copper and 5% zinc, to make the planchets. The bronze alloy was used from 1947 through 1962, but then the 95% copper 5% zinc was used from 1962 through 1982, but these usually are called “copper alloy.” Copper plated zinc has been used since 1982, with these pieces weighing 2.5 grams (instead of the earlier 3.11 grams). The pre-1982 coins are much preferred when making an elongated, because the high copper content results in a more uniform surface coloring.
Although the obverse design has mostly stayed the same (Lincoln’s head became smaller in 1969), there have been changes to the design of the reverse, starting in 1959 with the appearance of the Lincoln Memorial to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. In 2009, for the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the Lincoln cent and the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, there were four different reverse designs representing important stages in his life: a log cabin similar to where he was born and grew up in Kentucky; a young Lincoln seated on a log, taking a break to read a book; Lincoln in front of the Illinois state capital building; and the construction of the US Capitol dome during Lincoln’s Presidency.
Concluding the 1-cent portion of the presentation was the current Union Shield reverse which is supposed to be a modern rendition of the American flag. Madeline is in good company in considering this her least-favorite design on the cent. In 2017, cents minted in Philadelphia were marked with a P to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the US Mint (Philadelphia Mint pennies are not usually struck with a mintmark).
Allen Howard Meyer, age 94, passed away July 5, 2020 in Chicago. He joined the Chicago Coin Club, May 1960 and became member #714. He was ANA member 1185493.
A life-long Chicagoan, Allen attended Nettelhorst School and Senn High School. He graduated from Harvard University (1948) and Northwestern University Law School (1951). Served in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Service as a Lieutenant from 1945-47 during the post-WWII occupation of Japan. Practiced law 1951-2014 from his downtown Chicago office at 111 W. Washington. He was a longtime member of Temple Sholom of Chicago, served in leadership positions with the American Legion Post No. 1183 (Chicago Nisei Post) and fought for justice for Japanese Americans, and received the Congressional Gold Medal.
Allen attended our meetings when held at multi-day coin shows. He frequently stopped to visit at the club’s information table. Although he rarely attended regular Wednesday meetings, he read The Chatter and was always up-to-speed on club news.
At the August 14, 1999 meeting at the ANA Convention, Eric Newman gave a talk on “The Sheldon U.S. Large Cent Theft.” He went into detail how it happened and the lawsuits filed by the American Numismatic Society (The Chatter, September 1999, pages 3-4). Since Allen was a lawyer, he arrived early and got a front seat. Afterwards he told the Club President how much he enjoyed the program and volunteered to share his legal knowledge on this subject at an upcoming meeting.
At the February 9, 2000 meeting, Allen delivered his program “Theft of Valuable Coins: Impact on Innocent Collectors.” He procured and analyzed all the legal briefs and court findings related to the cases and appeals referred to by Eric Newman. Allen then compared applicable California and Illinois laws on the matter (The Chatter, March 2000, pages 8-10).
Allen was a voracious reader and wonderful role model for everyone who knew him. In addition to coin and stamp collecting, he enjoyed cartography, genealogy, and horse racing.
Allen is survived by Suzanne, his wife of 68 years, children Lynn Gutzmer, Chuck Meyer, Nancy Knight, and four grandchildren. He is preceded by his son James Meyer, sister June Becker, and parents Nathan and Bess (Rubenstein) Meyer.
Carl F. Wolf
|CSNS Convention||Chicago Coin Company|
|Harlan J. Berk, Ltd.||Kedzie Koins Inc.|
Items shown at our September 9, 2020 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.
|Date:||October 14, 2020|
|Time:||6:45 PM CDT (UTC-05:00)|
Visit our Online Meeting webpage, at www.chicagocoinclub.org/meetings/online_meetings.html, for all the details on participating in an online club meeting. Participation in an online meeting requires some advance work by both our meeting coordinator and attendees, especially first-time participants. Please plan ahead; read the latest instructions on the day before the meeting!
|Featured Program:||Raymond J. Dagenais —
Liberty Nickels and the Development of a Nation
It took many years for the nascent United States to grow from the original 13 states to the 50 states of today. Prior to 1959 the United States consisted of 48 states. It wasn’t so long ago that America had fewer than 48 states. To put this notion into context, my mother was alive before the last two states were added to the “Great 48.” This history can be chronicled through a study of the coinage produced. From 1883 through 1912, Liberty Nickels were minted for circulation. This presentation will tie together this useful piece of coinage and the completion of the “Great 48.”
Unless stated otherwise, our regular monthly CCC Meeting is online during the Covid-19 isolation era on the second Wednesday of the month; the starting time is 6:45PM CT.
|October||14||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Raymond J. Dagenais on Liberty Nickels and the Development of a Nation|
|November||11||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Michael Kodysz on Halley’s Comet: A Visual Record on Coins of Elagabalus|
|December||9||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced|
|January||13||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - James McMenamin on Latin Monetary Union of the 19th Century|
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