The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 17, Number 33, August 10, 2014, Article 17



Thursday morning brought a new experience for me - flying out of Reagan National airport to Chicago for the ANA convention. I live near the Dulles airport, but this time I was taking American out of Reagan. I left my house extra early to allow for problems. I passed the silent Pentagon and managed to snag a decent parking spot in the economy lot. My flight to O'Hare airport and shuttle to the hotel were uneventful.

I checked into my room at the Hyatt Regency and made a beeline for the show. The beeline was an indirect path though, meandering a couple blocks thru the long walkway to the convention center. My initial destination was the Money Talks room.

I got there a little too late to meet and introduce myself to Colin Guilberg, who was already giving a talk on Chopmarked coins to a large audience. I spotted Susan McMillan, Charles Morgan of CoinWeek and Howard Daniel, but didn't get a chance to talk.

The NBS Symposium
My next stop was the Numismatic Bibliomania Society Symposium. Before it started I chatted with a number of folks, including David Sundman, Myron and Darryl Xenos, Joel Orosz, Len Augsburger, Pete Smith, Paul Hybert, Ralph Winter, George Kolbe and others.

From Marc and Charles Ricard I learned that Krause Publications had cancelled the decades-long Numismatic Ambassador program, of which I'm a previous inductee. It's an unfortunate decision. I'd spent many an hour pondering candidate bios to prepare my ballot each year, selecting those I felt best exemplified the selfless dedication to hobby service that the award honors.

I also learned about the big controversy of the convention - the long lines of people camped out for hours to buy gold Kennedy half dollars from the U.S. Mint. Dealers had hired a carnival of line-sitters, bussing them in from points distant to purchase gold Kennedy half dollars from the U.S. Mint. To hear people tell it, it was an invasion of unwashed vagrants, trailer trash and Chinamen, which frightened the general populace. What a disaster, all around. Midweek the Mint cancelled in-person sales.

Dave Bowers and Dennis Tucker gave a great presentation on the steps and thought processes involved in becoming a numismatic author. Ken Bressett walked in a bit late and was recognized by Dave and the crowd. In the Q&A session I asked Dave about the current library market, wondering if budget cutbacks and electronic publication have affected purchases of new numismatic books by libraries. Dennis summarized the marking in one word: DEAD. I'd been afraid of that. It's a shame that the high-quality numismatic publications being produced today aren't finding their way into our public libraries.

On to the Bourse
After the symposium I headed for the bourse floor. Among the folks I visited with were Phillip Mussel of Token Publishing, and Ed Reiter (seated at the COINage table. At Charlie Davis' tables I spoke with Jim Neiswinter, Neil Musante, and of course, Charlie. We talked a bit about the John Burns estate. Phil Mussell had also mentioned John. He said he was a good friend, and when he said "... and John came over, profusely sweating...", I knew that he indeed knew John well.

Medal Collectors of America
My next stop was the meeting of the Medal Collectors of America (MCA). Attendees included Simcha Kuritsky, John Adams, Anne Bentley, Joel Orosz, Tony Lopez, Skyler Liechty, Bill Swoger, Roger Siboni and Pete Smith. I was very happy to meet Anne, Skyler and Tony for the first time, having been email pen pals for some time.

The first speaker was Len Augsburger, with a nice presentation on the medals and other engraving work of Christian Gobrecht. Here are a couple nice images Len shared with me.

Franklin Institute medal obverse Franklin Institute medal reverse
Franklin Institute medal

New England Society For Promotion of Manufactures And Mechanic Arts medal obverse New England Society For Promotion of Manufactures And Mechanic Arts medal reverse
New England Society For Promotion of Manufactures And Mechanic Arts medal

Next up was art historian Tom Garver, who presented an excellent paper on "The French Narrative Medal". I hope to have more about his presentation in a future issue.

Dinner with the Biblio-Gang
For dinner I'd been invited to join a group of numismatic bibliophiles. Dan Hamelberg would meet us at the restaurant, McCormick & Schmick. The rest of us gathered in the expo center lobby and walked over. The group was comprised of George Kolbe, myself, Charlie Davis, Joel Orosz, David Fanning, his wife Maria and their son Sam.

It was a long and enjoyable evening, starting with some appetizers, going into the main course, and followed by desserts and more conversation. I complimented Maria on her great graphic design work on the Kolbe-Fanning catalogs and fixed price lists, and she filled me in on some of the exhibits at the show. Other topics included John Burns, Remy Bourne, Chris Komody, Eric Newman, and shipping books and art from Europe. Dan drove us all back to the Hyatt. It was a great way to end a long day.


Breakfast with Dave
At 7am I met NBS Treasurer David Sundman for a nice breakfast. We reviewed some updates for the NBS web site, and discussed some financial arrangements on advertisements for the web site. Afterwards I went back to my room and put the finishing touches on my presentation for the NBS meeting later that morning. It all came together quickly. While part of me wanted to work on The E-Sylum, I was glad to flesh out my talk on The Past, Present and Future of Online Numismatics. It sure was a trip down memory lane.

A Special Lunch
Knowing I'd have a long day and would be busy around lunchtime (and having heard from David Fanning how the bourse canteen had run out of all food by 2pm Thursday), I decided to have an early lunch. I was still on east coast time anyway, and was used to getting up early.

Along the walkway I was stopped by Tom Harrison, an NBS member and E-Sylum subscriber. He showed me Armand Champa's copy of the "Invasion of Pittsburgh" book I'd put together, a collection of photos of a visit to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh rare book room in 1989, I believe.

When I walked into the Expoteria, it seemed empty save one lonely cashier. When I asked, she confirmed that they were indeed open. When I ordered a burger, the cook told me they were only serving breakfast. But he agreed to make me one if I'd wait, and accept hash browns instead of fries. Sounded good to me.

The manager came out of the kitchen and I thought he'd raise a fuss. But he said, "hey, you must be one of those guys still on East Coast time, already looking for lunch." I was in love. He SO gets me. So I got my burger, and (shhh, please don’t tell anyone - the cashier threw in a candy bar free). All in all, it was my kind of reward for being first in line. Who knew cafeteria people weren't all sourpusses?

NBS Meeting
I showed up early to set up the projector for my presentation at the NBS General Meeting. It was a good crowd of almost 40 people, many of whom I'd already seen at the convention. Former American Numismatic Society librarian Elizabeth Hahn Benge was there, and it was great so see her. She's now living in the Chicago area.

After Dan Hamelberg's short presentation on his displayed items, I gave my talk on the Past, Present and Future of Online Numismatics. I had a great time giving it, and it seemed very well received. Several folks stopped to thank me afterwards.

To the Bourse, of Course
After the NBS meeting I headed down to the bourse floor with Dennis Tucker. He bought his lunch and I got a pretzel to snack on. We had a nice talk about my web site project. Joel Orosz and Len Augsburger joined the conversation after a while. John Mutch and Gene Hessler stopped by at different times as well.

Next, Joel Orosz and I decided to saunter around the exhibit area, and were impressed with many of the exhibits we saw. Along the way we ran into John Adams, George Kolbe, Paul Hybert, Pete Smith and others. We both enjoyed David Sundman's great exhibit on his 1870 Carson City die, which he has now paired with a coin struck from the die. Wow!

Other exhibits covered the Two Cent piece, the Susan B. Anthony dollar, Baby Bonds, Signers of U.S. paper money, a complete collection of wooden medals of the 1876 Centennial, the Tenino, WA wooden money scrip, and Operation Bernhard notes.

Some of my favorites included exhibits on the Pedley Ryan dollars of 1933, and one on the obsolete notes of Chattanooga, Tennessee. We met and congratulated the cowboy-hat-wearing exhibitor who happened to pass by.

Somehow I missed the exhibit on Morse Code on coins. We cut our visit short so Joel could go to a Money Talks presentation by Coin World editor Steve Roach. The rest of the afternoon was a blur. I raced around the bourse floor making the most of the time I had left. In short succession I'd spoken with Christopher Webb of Dix Noonan Webb, Julie Lecoindre of Baldwin's, and several others.

I caught up again with Joel at the tail end of Steve's talk, where I also ran into Pat McBride and Walt Ostromecki. I chatted for a bit afterwards with Jeff Starck and Steve, before we went our separate ways. Jeff was on his way to the House of Blues for an event with one of the world mints; Steve and I were going to rest up before the banquet.

I didn't rest long - Len Augsburger called and we met to chat in the lobby. Someone nearby called my name. I had to admit I didn't recognize him. It turned out to be Archie Black, and old friend from my days working at Bell Labs in Holmdel, NJ. We'd bumped into each other somehow and discovered we were both collectors, with Archie's specialty being casino chips and tokens. I was great to see him again and meet his wife.

WPNS 100yr plaque At 7pm I headed back to my room to call my wife and change into a suit for the awards banquet. While I would ordinarily choose a small dinner with friends over any banquet, I wanted to be there for this one to see my hometown coin club be honored. The Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society (WPNS) was being recognized for 100 years of ANA membership.

I was looking forward to the reception, which is a great time to mingle with old friends over drinks. I'd paid the full $95 list price and thought there would be hors d'oeuvres, but alas, there wasn't a cocktail weenie in sight. But I thought the dinner was pretty decent for banquet fare.

Among the folks I chatted with were David Lisot, Clifford Mishler, Ron Guth, Gene Hessler, Bob Leonard, Neil Shafer and Robert Galiette. Rob's collection of Liberty Head $20 Gold pieces had just been sold at auction, and he seemed happy with the results. I signed a copy of the accompanying book he wrote with Dave Bowers.

I also spoke a bit with Numismatist editor Barbara Gregory and learned that the organization is planning to digitize all of the back issues of club's flagship publication, a long-overdue step that will make more accessible to researchers a trove of great numismatic information.

WPNS AWARD EdK. WalterO copy WPNS President Ed Krivoniak was seated at an awardees table up front. I joined the remaining Pittsburgh-area crowd at another table, sitting between Larry Korchnak and Pat McBride. It was fun to see everyone and trade jokes and stories. Many pictures were taken of Ed receiving the plaque from ANA President Walt Ostromecki, and we also took a group photo around our table.

WPNS group photo
Front - Ed Krivoniak (president), Nancy Shiff
Back - Andy Uram, Tom Uram, Tom Corey, Wayne Homren,
Larry Korchnak, Blaine Shiff, Ted Shiff
Photos courtesy Pat McBride

The ANA's People's Choice award is named for another Pittsburgh-area resident, Rodger Hershey. Many of us had known Rodger and we applauded this year's winner, Charmy Harker. Her exhibit on unusual uses for one-cent coins was nicely done, and we agreed that it was one Rodger would have approved of. She was seated at an adjoining table, so I introduced myself and signed her up for The E-Sylum.

Wendell Wolka did a fine job as MC. I could relate to his comment about the walkway between the convention hotel and convention center "passing thru two time zones." He kept things on track despite one recipient's rambling talk on his 50 years of membership, wherein the audience started clapping (twice!) in hopes that he'd fast-forward to the present and put us out of our misery.

While I'd missed out on attending a restaurant dinner that night with John Kraljevich, John Feigenbaum and others, it was an honor to be there and applaud the achievements of honorees Guth, Hessler, Shafer and others. Another banquet for the record books.


Rittenhouse Society Breakfast
Saturday morning I made my way across the lobby to the annual breakfast meeting of The Rittenhouse Society. Founded in 1957, the group consists of numismatists interested in numismatic research. Founding members included Q. David Bowers and Ken Bressett, both of whom were present.

The meeting is the one and only time during the year that the group assembles, and I have to pinch myself each time I attend, in awe of the breadth and depth of numismatic knowledge gathered in a single room. I ended up sitting between John Kraljevich and John W. Adams. Also at my table were George Kolbe, Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth. In all some 35 members and several spouses were in attendance.

One by one each member stood and introduced themselves, and spoke about their collecting and research interests, and current projects. Several had new manuscripts in the works. The last order of business is the consideration of new members, and by unanimous vote David Schenkman joined our ranks. As author of several books and a constant researcher and writer on tokens, he's eminently qualified.

Many thanks to Whitman Publishing for sponsoring the gathering. I was able to see a number of great folks I rarely encounter during the year, including Bob Julian, Bob van Ryzin, Bill Bugert, Pete Smith, Mark Borckardt and Wendell Wolka.

Before leaving the room I spoke with Phil Bressett and Joel Orosz about the first printing of The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, the rare versions before the updates about the King of Siam set which burst into view at the 1962 ANA convention.

The rest of Saturday for me was a leisurely walk around the bourse floor, where many of the dealers were either packing up or had already left. I missed seeing John Feigenbaum, Jake Sherlock of the ANA, and others. I did manage to chat with several folks though, including Doug Mudd of the ANA, Brian Kendrella of Stack's, Rob Galiette, Dave Wnuck, Bob Rhue, and Greg Ruby, whose organizational meeting for Sherlockian Numismatists was a success.

I left early and killed some time at the airport, working a bit on The E-Sylum. The flight home was uneventful, and the landing was a delight. The first recognizable structure to come in to view was Lincoln Center, followed quickly by the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial. In the distance was the dome of the U.S. Capitol, gleaming white through the darkness. It would be after midnight before I got home, but it was a super trip all around.

Many thanks to those who stopped to thank me for my work on The E-Sylum. You folks are why I keep doing it every week. It's great to get that feedback and know the effort is appreciated.


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