Collectors Club of Chicago Early History

The origins of the Collectors Club of Chicago (CCC) are traced to the informal meetings of specialized collectors residing in the local area. The club was incorporated on 13 October 1928, and it is believed that meetings were held in the homes of members until the beginning of World War II, at which time the meetings lapsed.

Then, in the early part of 1944, three legendary Chicago-area advanced collectors of postage stamps and postal history planned the formation of an intimate group of collectors having similar interests: Clarence W. Hennan, David Lidman (then the Stamp Editor of the Chicago Sun), and Charles F. Meroni, Sr.

On 26 November 1944, a meeting was held at the home of Max Johl. In addition to the three original organizers, the meeting also was attended by Arthur E. Burke, Waldo V. Kenworthy, Frederic ‘Fred’ W. Peters, and Anthony ‘Tony’ C. Russo, with Dr Hennan acting as the chairman for the meeting.

An agreement was reached whereby a Chicago-based organization would be formed for the purpose of promoting philatelic research, for the exchange of information concerning all aspects of postage stamps and postal history, and for the promotion of social contact between good friends having a common bond through philatelia — the name of the organization was to be the ‘Collectors Club of Chicago’.

On 21 January 1945, a second meeting (the first official meeting) was held at the home of Charles Meroni, the attendees including Burke, Dr. Hennam, Johl, and Russo. It was at this meeting that an agreement was reached whereby future meetings would be held at a public central location, and on 8 March the first such meeting was held at Chicago’s downtown Shamrock Restaurant, near the LaSalle Hotel.

By December of 1945, new CCC members included Lawrence ‘Larry’ M. Edmunds, Deloss A. Grant, Dr. J. P. O’Connell, H. N. Sprague, Dr. Herbert Pollock, Theodore Sheldon, Col. Otto H. Schrader, Theodore Sheldon, Julius P. Steindler, Julius M. Westphal, and Lawrence ‘Larry’ M. Winters.

In June 1946, the meetings were transferred to the University Club and then, in September 1946, and through the courtesy of Charles F. Meroni, Sr., to the Union League Club. Meroni continued to host the monthly meetings at the Union League for 23 years, through 1969.

In a letter to the Club dated 29 August 1967, CCC member Richard McPherren Cabeen and his wife, Blema, formally offered the Collectors Club of Chicago their stately four-level brownstone home, located in Chicago’s ‘Gold Coast’ area. On 13 September 1967, at a special meeting of the CCC Board of Directors, the Cabeen house gift was accepted.

When the property became available, a House Committee was organized under the direction of Raymond Vogel and Roger Swanson. The Committee diligently worked long hours, first in clearing the house of the many unneeded collections and furnishings, then in the house planning and remodeling, and then for the installation of the new heating and air conditioning systems. On 8 January 1970, the CCC met for the first time at its new home.

Because of the foresight of the Chicago-area’s philatelic fraternity in the formative years, the current CCC membership now enjoys the privileges and benefits of a permanent upscale clubhouse building, a very comprehensive philatelic library, and the opportunity to socialize monthly or more frequently with fellow collectors having similar interests.