Wife’s gift enables collector to attend 2015 ANA Summer Seminar: Guest Commentary

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Published : 08/21/15
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From Aug. 31, 2015, issue of Coin World:

As a gift from my wife for both Christmas and my birthday, I was fortunate to be able to attend the first of two sessions of the 2015 American Numismatic Association Summer Seminar. I thanked her every night when calling home from Colorado Springs, Colo. 

The ANA offers a number of different weeklong courses — something for everyone. Arriving on Saturday and departing Thursday, I had six days to enjoy being immersed in numismatics, surrounded by others sharing the same passion. Classrooms, lecture halls, cafeteria and dorm rooms are all located on the Colorado College campus. College cafeteria food has certainly improved in the last 45 years!

Besides the courses students attend, the ANA offers mini seminars, lectures, and trips to local tourist sites around beautiful Colorado Springs. The ANA Money Museum and Library have extended hours to accommodate the students’ schedules. Even meal time is a fun numismatic experience. You can sit at a table with instructors, ANA staff, authors, researchers, and with others just like you. 

Having a collecting interest based on the moneys that circulated in the British American colonies until the establishment of the U.S. Mint, I signed up for the new course titled “Numismatic Paper of Early America.” This is the third of three courses that are taught by John Kraljevich and Erik Goldstein. John is a professional numismatist, cataloger, columnist, and researcher. Erik is the curator of numismatics and mechanical arts (weapons, tools and so on) at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. I had previously taken the other two courses these instructors offered in 2012 (covering Colonial coins) and 2013 (covering Colonial exonumia) and had so much fun, I enrolled for this course as soon as I knew it was offered.

I was one of 17 students taking the “Numismatic Paper of Early America” course. The students consisted of four Young Numismatists, two wonderful people associated with the University of North Carolina, and the rest of us just possessing an interest in the topic. Our classroom had the tables positioned in a horseshoe configuration, with the instructors at the head. Each student had their own lamp and printed material. All types of Colonial fiscal documents and bills of exchange were passed around the room to view in hand. These were also projected on a large screen for all to see and discuss. 

While learning about the paper money authorized by the Continental Congress, and the colonies and states, we used the fifth edition of Eric Newman’s book The Early Paper Money of America as the main reference guide. Student questions and participation were encouraged (no question is a bad question).

We all came home with a better understanding of the difficulties our ancestors had in our early economy. Each of our colonies had its own “money of account.” Simply stated, a shilling of New York had a different value than a shilling of Pennsylvania, which had a different value than a shilling of North Carolina, based on either Spanish Milled dollars or the sterling money of England. It was a difficult concept to grasp. All of the bills were hand signed by prominent figures at the time. Some are still famous names we know today; others are obscure. Now back home in New Jersey, I have new Colonial bills I’ve added to my “want list” and new research directions to pursue.

As personal highlights outside of the classroom, there are many! I had the honor of Ken Bressett sitting next to me in class, as a visiting instructor, and enjoyed a dinner and visit to his personal library. I had fun at dinner with my instructors and Leo Shane, the Colonial Coin Collectors Club librarian. I met Jerri Raitz, the ANA editor that was assigned to me to get my article published in the April issue of The Numismatist. I had the privilege of giving a presentation on Monday night, open to any to attend, titled “An Introduction to Collecting Colonial Paper Money.” I was able to talk to many ANA staff, some of which are Kim Kiick, Doug Mudd, Andy Dickes, Barbara Gregory, Tiffanie Bueschel, Rob Kelley, and many more. Let me end by giving a big thank you to Sue McMillan and Amber Bradish and the entire ANA staff for their hard work to make this event a great success.

Ray Williams is one of the co-authors of Grading Guide for Early American Copper Coins, published by the organization Early American Coppers, and past president of the Colonial Coin Collectors Club. He is the American Numismatic Association Club Representative for the state of New Jersey.

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