Sheldon Banoff submitted these reminiscences of his attendance at the Roosevelt University numismatic program.
I was perhaps the youngest member of this class (being a 16-year-old high-school junior in Chicago) back when it was offered in the Fall of 1965. The class was fairly widely publicized in advance, and each student had the choice of taking it either for credit (1 hour) if you wrote a paper, I believe, or it could be audited (like I took it) for no credit. The course met one night a week (I want to say Wednesdays at 7 pm to 8 pm, but my memory may be rusty after 45 years).
I would guess there were about 12-15 students enrolled. (I think there were more present the first night, including university officials and the class sponsors.) There was a different guest lecturer for each class. Many if not most of the lecturers brought handout materials or used a slide projector or something to help illustrate. It was a single semester or single quarter course (that is, it met about 10 or 15 times in total).
Roosevelt is a private university, but the cost (for a 1 hour class) was not prohibitive back then, or I wouldn't have been able to do it. The topics were wide-ranging, although even by then I had decided to specialize in town anniversary tokens and medals, and I recollect there was not too much offered on medals in general and nothing on my sub-specialty.
I also recollect that mention was made at the class about The Chicago Coin Club, which I joined and was active in for 5 or so years before I started law school. I did not attend Roosevelt for college or law school, but did receive at the end of the course a certificate of completion (a nice touch) which I long ago misplaced or discarded. I took copious notes, like a good student should, and have misplaced or disposed of them also, like almost all students do.
If the exact date the course started was September 29, then I'm pretty certain that Yom Kippur started on September 28 that year, as the class began on the Evening that completed the day of Yom Kippur of 1965. The first class caused me a great moral dilemma. I had until then (and every year since) strictly observed the Jewish Holiday (Holy of Holy Days), which meant fasting from sundown (the night before our class started) to sundown (which was around or shortly after our first class would start).
Unfortunately, allowing for travel time from home to get to that first class, I would have to break the fast an hour or two beforehand if I wanted to eat first. It's really tough for a skinny 16-year-old to fast the extra 3 hours until I got home! I really didn't want to miss that first class (my first day of college, literally), so I ended up eating at home early and not going back to the synagogue for concluding prayers that evening. I have been repenting from that transgression ever since 1965 and obviously still have strong feelings of guilt to remember all that!
But I digress. The class was attended by several real college students at Roosevelt (who for all I know were serious history majors, numismatists or both) and some adults (post-college age), most likely like me from the Chicago area. I was extremely impressed by the level of scholarship that was necessary to really be knowledgeable on coins and related items. The class was not repeated or extended to a second level, for reasons that I do not know.
Roosevelt University is located in downtown Chicago, in the national landmark building designed by Louis Sullivan which also houses the breath-taking Auditorium Theater. The ANA Convention (in 1965 or 1966) was held 1 block south (across the street) at the old Pick-Congress Hotel, if I remember correctly, which was my first ANA Convention. Like the Roosevelt U. Numismatics Course medal struck by The Franklin Mint (and sent to each of us who attended the class at no cost - a nice bonus!) which George mentions, that Chicago ANA Convention medal featuring Abe Lincoln pops up on eBay from time to time.
I'd be interested to hear from others involved with the class - either as students, presenters or supporters.
First-person accounts of numismatic events are the best thing about The E-Sylum. Thanks so much for sharing this with us! Meanwhile, George Fuld sent along the following images of some of the course medals.
I just read Ken Bressett's recollections (from the participants' side) in the August 22 E-Sylum and it brings back some additional memories. Also, it points out a few errors in my memory - I wrongly stated there was no 2nd course (I don't recollect it and probably didn't take it). I do remember that the large majority of lecturers came a long ways to teach that one night lecture.
Kudos to those like Ken who made serious efforts to launch a college-credit level program at a 4-year university, and kudos to The Franklin Mint for issuing the medal (and presenting it to participants and presenters alike!).
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
THE ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY COURSE IN NUMISMATICS
Wayne Homren, Editor
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