The Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 11, March 13, 2022, Article 6


  M. C. Lilley & Company building postcard

In our February 20th issue, Carol Bastable mentioned discovering an eBay seller with "a glut of Masonic penny dies as well as all sorts of dies and stamps for various fraternal organizations, military, medals, advertising, and jewelry making items."

The seller mentioned that one die was "From the archives of MC Lilley". I published some information on the company and asked, "Is anyone aware of the location of their archives? Clearly the old dies and stock have been sold off, but do company records survive in some University or historical society holdings?"

Carol followed up with the eBay seller, who put us in touch with Heath White, from whom he had purchased the material. Thanks! Heath liquidated the stock of an Ohio company called Fraternal Supplies, a successor to M C Lilley and a number of similar firms. Heath kindly provided background information and photos seen here in two articles. Thank you! -Editor

My stepfather, Thom Mezick, owned a small company here in New London, OH called Fraternal Supplies. Fraternal Supplies ceased operations in 2012 and Thom passed away in 2016. Thom acquired the company in 1987 in an attempt to prevent one more manufacturer from closing their doors in our community. Thom hired others to manage the company and it lost money every year he owned it. Before Thom passed away I had never been in the factory and he rarely spoke about it due to his disappointment in the lack of success of the company.

When I first entered the factory building, what I saw was a building with multiple leaks in the roof, windows broken out, and many areas of the floor not even safe to walk on for fear of falling through the floor. The company artifacts stored in the building were all either rotting, rusting, or covered in mold and nothing was organized. I knew there were items that were supposedly historically significant, but couldn't tell someone what a fraternal organization was, didn't know anything about swords or military goods, and stamping dies, die sinkers, and numismatics were not terms ever used in my vocabulary. I walked in the building knowing nothing other than I was the one responsible for dealing with the mess.

Rosedale, Kansas Masonic penny die After reaching out to auction houses (national and local), auctioneers, museums (national and local), other manufacturers of similar items, and appraisal firms, every one of them told me what I had was of no value and I was wasting my time. The county was threatening to put the building up for sheriff sale so I had the choice of walking away or doing something very quickly. I spent a few months organizing items and sold the majority of the "worthless" items in the building in wholesale lots to three dealers, raising a substantial sum in return for my time. I did my best to preserve company records and history and keep most of the better artifacts for my collection.

Knowing nothing about the company history, I purchased several books pertaining to sword manufacturers because among other things the companies involved here were the largest, most prestigious, and most prolific manufacturers of swords in American history. As someone that was admittedly ignorant I remember reading the first book thinking much of the information in the book about sword manufacturers was simply not true. Thus began my quest to do my own research. I've spent the past few years researching company history, history of the artifacts in the factory, preserving the artifacts I kept, and acquiring back many pieces that were initially sold.

Turns out that little ole Fraternal Supplies was the successor company to over 20 other manufacturers. These companies were in business for nearly 1,000 years cumulatively, employed many thousands of employees, and produced millions of items. All the companies involved produced items for fraternal organizations and most manufactured military, police, and fire related goods too. Here is a flowchart that shows most of the companies involved (I ran out of room to add more) and how they became part of Fraternal Supplies. Nine of these companies produced goods using stamping dies.

  fraternal supplies lineage flowchart

My collection consists mostly of company research and history, stamping dies, casting patterns, trade catalogs, original company artwork, and printing blocks. I like to say I collect the things that made the things other people collect. I own exactly one sword, one medal, and one Civil War token. Last year I acquired two other collections of stamping dies and am in the process of cleaning, documenting, and preserving them. My plan is to keep all company history information and the best examples of dies from the collections and the rest will go to the eBay seller you got my contact information from, AuctionPlanner.

As a final note, one of the things I have been unable to salvage from the factory building is an old Ferracute coining press. It was set up in the basement of the building then the building was added on to in later years making the removal of the press more involved and costly than the press is probably worth.

But what a centerpiece for a numismatic museum! Thank you for this background. Bless you! It is a relief to know that much of the history is being preserved. Heath welcomes feedback, comments, and questions from readers - his address is . -Editor

Carol Bastable adds:

"I had no idea when I found the items on eBay that this would turn out to be such an interesting story with so much history uncovered...or perhaps, recovered.

"I do hope that we can find someone to help extract the coin press from the building, preserve it, and perhaps put it to good use again."

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: FEBRUARY 27, 2022 : More on M.C. Lilley & Co. (


RENAISSANCE OF AMERICAN COINAGE: Wizard Coin Supply is the official distributor for Roger Burdette's three volume series that won NLG Book of the Year awards for 2006, 2007 and 2008. Contact us for dealer or distributor pricing at

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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