Sheldon, M. Vernon (1901-1982)

M. (Merrill) Vernon Sheldon joined the Chicago Coin Club August 1, 1928 as member No. 166. He was Secretary 1937-38, 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.

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. Henri Ripstra (Hall of Fame No. 1), ANA President. Elected to the ANA Board of Governors in 1944, he served as First Vice President 1947-49 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 acccount 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.


The article was published first in the Chicago Coin Club Hall of Fame and is re-published courtesy of the Chicago Coin Club.