Tuesday October 6th, 2015 brought me a special treat. I'd been invited to dinner by Tom Uram of the Pennsylvania Association of
Numismatists. He was in D.C. for a meeting of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), and many of the committee members would be
there. E-Sylum readers know I'm an amateur coin design critic, so this would be a real treat.
I knew some members of the committee by name, but other than Tom and Roger Burdette (who served an earlier term), I'd never met them
Traffic was light and I arrived early and parked in the Embassy Row hotel off Dupont Circle. With time to kill I walked around the
neighborhood a bit. I came up from behind on a bronze statue of a bald man and wondered who it was. When I got closer I realized it was
Mahatma Ghandi. 'The Indian embassy can't be far away", I thought, and I was right. Squinting to read nearby building signs I
spotted the Indian Embassy. A tall man in a blazing white turban was manning the front desk. The Indonesian Embassy was across the street
from the hotel.
Just a block down Massachusetts Avenue was the headquarters of The Society of the Cincinnati that we wrote about last week.
Unfortunately its museum and library close at 4pm and it was now about 6.
When Tom arrived he introduced me to his travelling companion, his brother Jim. They'd driven down from Washington, PA. After
checking in they joined me at a table in the lobby bar, where I was already working on a glass of cabernet. I checked my email and saw we
had a new subscriber - Mary Lannin.
CCAC members began trickling in, and soon Tom was introducing me to the CCAC Chair, Mary Lannin. She sat next to me and was a delightful
dinner companion. If anyone had been thinking that the CCAC members would turn out to be a bunch of fusty fuddy-duddies judging from on
high with noses upraised, think again. Mary and the whole CCAC gang were the warmest, friendliest bunch of people one could ask for. I had
a wonderful time.
Mary is from San Rafael, California and collects and researches Seleucid Coinage. She is a member of the American Numismatic Society and
American Numismatic Association, the San Francisco Ancient Numismatic Society, the Pacific Coast Numismatic Society, and other coin
She told me about people and happenings in her local coin clubs and in turn I told her about my northern Virginia numismatic social
group Nummis Nova and the Pittsburgh group it was modelled on, The Sphinx Society. What's so great about these groups is that there are
no officers, no committees, no reading of the minutes - no nothin' except the fun part of the hobby - socializing with fellow
collectors and looking at coins (just like this gathering).
We also talked about mentoring not-so-young-anymore young numismatists. Some Nummis Nova friends and I are mulling ideas for
introductions and events to help take younger numismatists to the next level of the hobby. In addition to one-on-one mentoring, we'd
like to expose them to numismatic libraries like mine, big coin shows like the Whitman Baltimore events, museum collections like the
Smithsonian and research hubs like the National Archives. We're blessed to live in the Washington D.C. area where so many national
sites are right in our back yard.
Accompanying Mary was Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, an artist from Central Pennsylvania. Her medallic sculpture has been exhibited throughout
the United States and is in the collections of museums throughout the United States and Europe.
Tom Uram showing Jeanne a coin design
While my passion is in sculpture and medals, coins are a very close second! As a medallist and US Delegate to FIDEM (Federation
Internationale de la Medaille) my interest lies in developing coinage that will be extraordinary in design attracting more folks to the
hobby and inspiring the younger generation to see coins in a new light.
Jeanne provided images of a some nice examples of her work (above). The first is titled "Quietly Watching Fox." Her Fossil
Medallions are installed in the Children's Garden at Penn State's Arboretum along with some of her sculptures.
Mike Moran of Lexington, KY ended up sitting to my left. I was familiar with his writing but we'd never met. His first book was
Striking Change: The Great Artistic Collaboration of Theodore Roosevelt and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He's working on a new one,
also with Whitman Publishing, so stay tuned for more information. I told him about The E-Sylum and he's now a subscriber,
I was delighted when artist Heidi Wastweet arrived. We'd never met, but I'm a huge fan of her medallic work. Roger Burdette had
clued me in to her a couple years ago and I wrote some E-Sylum articles about her medals. She was chief engraver for Sunshine Mint
and lead designer/sculptor for Global Mint. In 2001 she opened her own studio and relocated from Idaho to Seattle, Washington in 2002.
Heidi brought one of her medals to show us. Titled "Becoming Beatrice", it's about the great, unrequited love of Dante.
According to Dante, he first met Beatrice when his father took him to the Portinari house for a May Day party. At the time, Beatrice
was eight years old, a year younger than Dante. Dante was instantly taken with her and remained so throughout her life even though she
married another man, banker Simone dei Bardi, in 1287. Beatrice died three years after the marriage in June 1290 at the age of 24. Dante
continued to hold an abiding love and respect for the woman after her death, even after he married Gemma Donati in 1285 and had children.
After Beatrice's death, Dante withdrew into intense study and began composing poems dedicated to her memory. The collection of these
poems, along with others he had previously written in his journal in awe of Beatrice, became La Vita Nuova.
Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, Tom Uram, Wayne Homren, Heidi Wastweet, Mary Lannin
Other CCAC members attending the dinner were Erik Jansen and Gary Marks. They were at the far end of the table, and I didn't get a
chance to speak much with them. Gary is the City Manager in Lebanon, Oregon. From his bio:
While working as the City Manager of the City of Whitefish, Montana, Mr. Marks served as a Commissioner of the Montana Quarter Design
Selection Commission and subsequently as the Master of Ceremonies at the official launching ceremony for the 2007 Montana Quarter Dollar.
He also served as Executive Director of the Whitefish Centennial Medallion Commission and as Chairman of the Whitefish Bronze Sculpture
Committee. Mr. Marks has been a dedicated numismatist for over 40 years.
As an avid artist, Mr. Marks works in multiple mediums, including oil paint on canvas where he produces colorful abstracts,
large-sized abstract sculptures using various wooden materials and medallic designs, some of which have been privately minted as bronze
and silver medallions.
From Erik's bio:
Mr. Jansen is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of a medical device firm in Mercer Island, Washington. In addition to his
significant business experience, Mr. Jansen has a long history of successful non-profit and philanthropic work, especially in the area of
education. He is a life-long coin collector and has a deep knowledge of coinage and many of the numismatic-related issues facing the CCAC
and the United States Mint.
An accomplished bunch to be sure, but as I said, not a fusty one. Here's Erik photobombing a group of us trying to take another
Wayne, Mary, Heidi, Erik, Jeanne
I had a nice talk with Heidi before leaving. She's an E-Sylum subscriber despite her more narrow interest in the artistic
side of the hobby. She asked if I would be coming to Wednesday's CCAC meeting. I wasn't aware they were open to the public, but
many sessions are. I had to be back at work, but I would encourage readers to take advantage of the opportunity.
I thanked Tom once again for the invitation. We talked some more about programs for not-so-young young numismatists, and he offered to
help arrange a visit to the Mint Headquarters and a meeting with the Director of the Mint. It would be hard to top that, but we'll try.
He also broached the idea of having a combined dinner sometime with the CCAC and Nummis Nova.
It was a marvelous evening. GPS got me out of town along an unfamiliar route, but I made it home by 11pm. Whew. Sometimes it seems there
aren't too many people in our hobby that I haven't met yet, but there are always more, and it was an honor and privilege to meet
some of the hardworking men and women who help create our nation's coins and medals. Thanks for all that you do.
To read CCAC member bios, see:
To read articles about this week's meeting, see:
Proposed designs get
CCAC nod for two Code Talkers congressional gold medals
2017 America the Beautiful Design
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS COIN DESIGNER HEIDI WASTWEET
HEIDI WASTWEET'S FREEDOM GIRL (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v16n12a22.html)
MORE ON HEIDI WASTWEET'S FREEDOM GIRL
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster