As I make plans for the World’s Fair of Money Show — the American
Numismatic Association convention in Rosemont, Ill., in August — my
thoughts turn to my first such show in the summer of 1955.
By that time, at age 17, I had been to a half dozen shows in the
East and had set up a bourse table in several. I was imbued with
youthful enthusiasm, and each coin-collecting event was a pleasure —
with new things to see and do.
As I was not yet of legal age, I was not eligible to become a
member of the ANA. So, I asked my father to join, which he did. Now, I
could read the monthly magazine, The Numismatist.
At the time, ANA officials believed that youngsters could not be
trusted. Reasons included that they were not old enough to make
contracts, lacked mature judgment, and, my gosh, they might return a
coin a month or two later and demand a refund.
Thousands of eager young people in the hobby were shut out.
In April 1955, The Numismatist printed this:
“Some additional bourse space is available for the annual
convention of the ANA in Omaha, Neb., Aug. 24-27, 1955. Bourse space
will be limited to not more than 40 so that adequate facilities,
light, and aisle space will be available. All bourse space is in one
room, around the wall in the room containing the membership exhibits,
and fully air conditioned. Cost is $50, which includes full
registration, badge and one banquet ticket. Reservation with
remittance should be sent to General Secretary Lewis M. Reagan, Box
577, Wichita, Kans. The Association reserves the right to decline any
reservation, and those received after available space has been
reserved will have to be declined.”
I wrote to Reagan and asked if I could have a table. The secretary
carried his office in his briefcase, figuratively, and took care of
nearly all association business, including printing contracts,
membership and convention details.
Reagan wrote back stating that I could have a space if my father
guaranteed my business there and if I could have another letter of recommendation.
My dad did this, and Lee F. Hewitt, editor of Numismatic Scrapbook
Magazine, sent a warm comment that he had found me to be very reliable
and with a good amount of numismatic knowledge.
All was set, and soon I would be headed further west than I had
ever been — a long way from my hometown of Forty Fort, Pa., where I
was a high school student in the junior class.
More next week.
Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries
and numismatic director of Whitman Publishing LLC. He can be reached
at his private email, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or at Q. David Bowers, LLC, Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894.