I attended the “Introduction to Grading” class at the 2012 American Numismatic Association Summer Seminar and was one of the lucky few who were able to hear the five numismatist instructors speak on coin grading and share their coin-related experiences. I received a scholarship to the seminar from my local coin club.
I thought it might be interesting to address the class from the student’s point of view.
The class was truly one of the most enjoyable numismatic experiences I have ever had. I encourage everyone who can spare a week or two in late June or early July to take advantage of this experience. Whether you pay for the seminar yourself or attend on a club scholarship, the unanimous view of the people I spoke with was that this was an experience not to miss.
The seminar was designed as a total educational experience. During the day, classes covered major numismatic topics: for example coin grading, photography and counterfeit detection. At night, more specialized topics were discussed: how to be a coin dealer, numismatic security and how to encourage youths to join your local club. If you still had some free time, one-hour “sessions” were provided to allow participants to gather and discuss topics like what the new ANA executive director was planning to do and what were the 10 greatest coins of all time.
I signed up for the introductory grading class because this was my first seminar and I wanted to gain something from it that I could use. While I have been a collector of U.S. coins for more than 40 years and have followed grading, I never took the time to “learn” how to grade. My old method was to look at the latest grading guide for the series I was interested in and learn just enough to verify the grade assigned by the dealer.
The Summer Seminar class was an eye opener. The instructors explained the grading concept of “market grading” and gave students the tools we would need to be successful. They provided many real world experiences that indicated to us how the market really works and how we could become a player in it. The class was hands on and we practiced grading using boxes and boxes of coins. Most of these coins were provided by the instructors or their friends.
The class also had a practical side for those attending who are or want to be a coin dealer or numismatic grader. The ANA offers three levels of coin grading. I was told that passing these three courses has become a requirement at the professional grading companies and at some professional coin companies.
The instructors stressed that they wanted as many people as possible to learn from what they taught. They wanted us to pass the knowledge to everyone we could. This really hit home with me and I have resolved to use my role as the writer of my club’s newsletter to add a section to future newsletters about what I learned about grading. I estimate that I have enough material to fill several years of monthly installments.
The best thing about the seminar was the people. Attending the seminar were leaders of the hobby, members of the ANA staff, dealers of all types and experience levels, grading service personnel and numerous collectors like me. Everyone was willing to speak to me and discuss numismatics topics from many different experience levels.
If you have the opportunity to attend the ANA’s Summer Seminar, do not let it pass. The experience is one that may stay with you the rest of your life!
Chris Sutter has been a collector for more than 40 years. He is the corresponding secretary for the Missouri Numismatic Society as well as author of its monthly newsletter and editor of its annual coin journal.