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Chicago Coin Club Inducts M. Vernon Sheldon into Hall of Fame

The Chicago Coin Club announces that the fifth person to be inducted into its Hall of Fame is former ANA President and exhibit case manufacturer M. (Merrill) Vernon Sheldon.

M. (Merrill) Vernon Sheldon joined the Chicago Coin Club August 1, 1928, as member No. 166. He was Secretary from 1937 to 1938, but his most lasting service to the Club was securing life membership in the ANA for it; in 1941 he generously offered it with his compliments. He was awarded the Club’s Medal of Merit in 1956. In 1985 the Chicago Coin Club held its 800th meeting, and as part of the celebration published a book, Perspectives in Numismatics, which is dedicated to his memory.

M. (Merrill) Vernon Sheldon (Image courtesy of ANA.)

M. (Merrill) Vernon Sheldon (Image courtesy of ANA.)

Mr. Sheldon (October 20, 1901 – April 10, 1982) studied engineering at the Universities of Michigan and Utah. He briefly worked at a Utah copper mine, then moved to Chicago in 1924 where he joined Teletype Corporation, continuing his education at the University of Chicago and the Armour Institute. In 1944 he opened the Gagefix Manufacturing Company, producing vital equipment for the armed services, which operated until 1953. He began collecting coins about the time he moved to Chicago, initially specializing in U.S. and ancient Greek and Roman coins. Later, his collection of United States currency included many plate notes in Friedberg’s Paper Money of the United States, particularly a group of the “coin notes” of 1890.

In 1938 Mr. Sheldon was elected general secretary of the ANA, serving with fellow Chicago Coin Club member J. Henry Ripstra (Hall of Fame No. 1), ANA President. Elected to the ANA Board of Governors in 1944, he served as First Vice President 1947-1949 and as President August 24, 1949, to August 28, 1951. He was added to the committee responsible for the fifty-year index to The Numismatist in 1938, which relied upon his personal card index to the first forty-one volumes. He was instrumental in setting up the ANA’s slide program in 1949, allowing local club members to view sharp images of coins and currency. In 1955 he was appointed Chairman of the Exhibit Case Committee, set up to manufacture and sell a quantity of ANA standard steel exhibit cases by subscription; the project was a success. He continued to advertise these cases on his own account in The Numismatist as late as 1963, and they were used at ANA conventions until replaced by the somewhat larger Allstate aluminum cases many years later.

Mr. Sheldon was the recipient of ANA’s 1949 Medal of Merit and in 1951 received its highest honor by being named the first recipient of the Farran Zerbe Award. In 1983 the ANA initiated an annual award in his memory for the best audio/visual program; five years later, he was inducted into its Numismatic Hall of Fame. In his obituary notice in the Chicago Coin Club Chatter, May 1982, Secretary-Treasurer Carl F. Wolf wrote, “His dedication and the generous sharing of his time and talents will forever remain a standard for the membership to follow.”

Through his service on the ANA Board of Governors, Mr. Sheldon met Marcella L. Beck, secretary to fellow Governor V. Leon Belt; they married in 1946 after the Davenport convention. She actively supported his numismatic work and received the ANA Medal of Merit herself in 1952.

Twelve Hall of Fame inductees have been selected. Each of the remaining seven will be announced at the rate of one per month, June through December, during the Chicago Coin Club’s centennial year, 2019.

The Chicago Coin Club was organized in 1912 as American Numismatic Association Branch No. 1 and reorganized under its present name in 1919. All are invited to join. To become a member you must attend a meeting and submit an application along with a membership fee of $20 ($10 for a Junior membership). The first reading of your application will be held at this meeting, and a second reading at the next monthly meeting, following publication of your name in the club newsletter. (You are not required to be present for the second reading.) Upon membership approval, you will become a member.

The Chicago Coin Club holds monthly meetings in downtown Chicago, plus at major numismatic conventions such as Central States, with a speaker featured at every meeting except the annual auction, held at the November meeting.