A Brief History of the Carroll County Coin Club

Revised by: Johnny Johnsson April 1, 2019

The Carroll County Coin Club was founded in Westminster, Maryland in 1967 by interested members of the numismatic community. There were 55 charter members. Ralph Shipley was member Number 1 and was very active in the success of the club for many years. Club meetings have been held at various times on the 3rd or 4th Monday evenings of the month. Monthly meeting locations have been changed by necessity over the years. At one time, meetings were held in the Westminster Library. The club met at the American Legion Hall on Green Street for a long period during the 1970s. After a short stint at the Knights of Pythias, we met downstairs in the public hearing room of the Carroll County Office Building on Center Street for many years. Then the club relocated to the Senior Center, which George Miller helped to secure. Most recently, the club has been meeting at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Leister’s Church Road.

The month of May has featured dinner meetings, and Christmas dinners have been held annually. In the early years the dinner meetings were held at Baughers Restaurant. Members would receive a rebate on the cost of the dinner. Then we moved to the back room of Bullocks Airport Inn. We also dined at Cactus Willy’s. Most recently we have had these dinners at the St. Johns Lutheran Church, which George Miller arranged. Pretzel salad and cracker gravy are two of the constant and endearing menu items for the dinners, supplemented by two meats, vegetables, mashed potatoes, and desserts. The Christmas dinner also features a presentation of perfect attendance awards for the year, a Christmas prize cash drawing for members only, and a final Progressive Prize drawing if needed. In the early 1990s, the club began holding August picnics at the Carroll County Farm Museum. The locale later moved to the Dattilio’s house and gardens. The 2009 picnic was hosted by the McDonalds. Most recently, picnics have been enjoyed at the St. John’s Lutheran Church picnic pavilion. The club provides the meat, cups, and utensils, and members bring other side dishes and desserts to share.

From time-to-time the club has sponsored local coins shows. In the early years they were held at the Reese Fire Hall. Vernon Ecker used to offer a whole table of broken bank notes, many of which were priced at $7 in Uncirculated and would sell for $30 to $100 today. In 1976, for the Bicentennial year, the club hosted the Maryland State Numismatic Association (MSNA) annual show at the National Guard Armory in Westminster. In recent years, an annual coin show has been held at the Best Western Motel near McDaniel College, with Les White as show chairman. The show involved most of the members in some way in volunteering to staff the registration table, setting or cleaning up, or posting advertising signs. Most years, and sometimes in conjunction with the Show or Christmas Dinner, a Coin Raffle or 50/50 plus Coins Raffle has been held. George Miller, Lew Erb, and Fred Hooper were always heavily involved in the raffle process and sold a lot of tickets. They were dedicated members who had good connections in the community and seemed to know everyone.

Meetings are opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and Introduction of Guests, and each meeting typically has the business items you would expect – Approval of Minutes and the Treasurer’s Report, Correspondence, Committee Reports, Old Business, New Business, and Role Call. Door prize drawings are held for everyone in attendance, and a Progressive Prize drawing is conducted for Members Only. During the break raffle tickets are sold for an evening raffle prize drawing. After a refreshment break, meetings often have a program. These could be as simple as Show and Tell or a coin trivia quiz. For many years we featured slide programs borrowed from the American Numismatic Association Library and presented by Johnny Johnsson. From time-to-time we have also had outside speakers, including well-regarded numismatists at the state level and a designer of the Colorado State Quarter. In recent years interesting YouTube videos on aspects of numismatics have been shown and several club members have prepared PowerPoint presentations on their area of interest. Early in club’s history it had fairly regular coin auctions at its meetings. When this practice got stale, auctions were be suspended for several years until sufficient interest renewed. A variety of coin swaps and sales have recently been held.

Beyond meetings and social events, the club has embarked on several field trips to places of numismatic interest including the Philadelphia Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Club members sometimes group and travel together to the MSNA Convention or the ANA Convention when it has been nearby in Baltimore or a not too distant city. Some of the members volunteer at such events. To help educate the community the club has sponsored numismatic newspapers such as Coin World and Numismatic News in local library branches. For a number of years during National Coin Week in April, the club was able to setup numismatic displays in the lobbies of several of the Carroll County library branches, and White’s Coin Shop always promotes the Week as well.

For commemorative and local history recognition purposes, the club has produced several medals, namely 10th, 20th, 25th, and 40th anniversary medals. There was also a 15th-year counterstamp given to the 10th anniversary medal, as a large accumulation of the bronze medals had accumulated and been stored in Ralph Shipley’s basement for years. One ounce .999 silver commemorative medals were also produced, some with membership numbers engraved on the edges. The medals featured local history of Carroll County including the First Rural Free Postal Delivery, Emerald House City Hall of Westminster, and Corbitt’s Charge.

Several coin dealers have been involved in the Carroll County Coin Club over the years. These include Donald Zauche, Jim Hirtle (Chesapeake Coin Company), and Les White (White’s Emporium featuring Coins, Antiques, and a Bike Shop in the Babylon Building in downtown Westminster). David McDonald owned Westminster Rare Coins and sometimes showed us rare maps and prints he had obtained. Other active members who are well-known beyond the local coin-collecting community have included Phil Greenslet (a Franklin and token/medal expert and author), and Bob Ruby and his son Greg, who have been an integral part of the success of the Maryland State Numismatic Association over the years. We have been privileged to have such experts in the form of dealers and recognized numismatists to be active contributors to our club over the years.

There have been so many memorable people and active members of the club over the years that the author hesitates to mention names for fear of slighting someone who may have been left out. But key names from fun times of collecting and fellowship do come to mind. A list of club officers and board members probably covers many of these names. Names I recall include Willard and Gaynelle Rush, Paul and Bessie Davidson of Greenmount, and Russell and Lucille Schaeffer. We also had Sam and Evelyn Von Gunten and their daughter. They brought new members into the club when it was meeting in the Carroll County Office Building. Who can forget Lew Erb’s blinking Christmas bowtie? He served as Treasurer for many years and designed the CCCC emblem. His wife Betty was Secretary for many years. Other members were very active, as officers and members, and shared with us the excitement of their travels and other collectibles. Dominic Dattilio, a retired honored Maryland State Police officer, probably conducted more new officer installations in January than anyone else. George Hopkins was also a member for many years. We’ve watched young members such as myself and several others grow into adults. Our parents or grandparents brought us as children because of our interest in coin-collecting. The older members took us under their wings with their knowledge of numismatics and their generosity of specimens. My father’s 1st cousin introduced me to CCCC and brought me to meetings when I was 12. I remember gentlemen such as Ralph Condon, (whose coin auction I attended at Snyder’s Auction in Hampstead after he died), Charles Sinnott, Bill Kroh, and Clair Foster, who lived to just beyond his 100th birthday. Hopefully this brief recount will prompt other members to recall more names and happenings during the history of the club.

Johnny Johnsson – Member & Past President jj 4/1/19