US Coins

Recalling six decades of ANA experiences

The Joys of Collecting column from the Aug. 1, 2016, Monthy issue of Coin World:

The summer of 2016 could have been my 64th anniversary as a member of the American Numismatic Association.

It will not be, because in the summer of 1952 when I discovered the world’s greatest hobby, I was only 13 years old. To be a member you had to be 18. Young numismatists were not wanted. 

This caused a problem when in 1955 I desired to have a bourse table at the annual ANA convention, held that year in Omaha, Neb. 

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Lewis M. Reagan, general secretary, was “the” ANA. He made decisions, awarded contracts, arranged with hotels, and was in charge of the bourse. If I would have my father send a written guarantee that he would stand behind my business at the show, and if I could send other recommendations, I might be allowed.

My father did that, and Lee F. Hewitt, publisher of The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, wrote to endorse me — as during my course of being an advertiser he never received a complaint.

I joined the ANA when I turned 18. Fast forward to the 1960s when I contributed to the headquarters building in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the 1970s and 1980s when I was a member of the board, then vice president, then president (1983 to 1985).

For a number of years I gave my popular “All About Coins” Summer Seminar course, where I came to realize that Young Numismatists (by then allowed to be members) were always the brightest and the best in the class.

In 1991 I contributed the narrative for the three-volume Centennial History of the American Numismatic Association

When the American Numismatic Association Certification Service was launched to study coins for authenticity (later it added grading), I was a consultant. I wrote the introduction to The Official ANA Grading Standards for United States Coins (Ken Bressett and Abe Kosoff did the coin descriptions).

Some years ago I worked with the family of Harry W. Bass Jr. to arrange the splendid loan exhibit of the Bass Collection, today a prime attraction at ANA headquarters.

All of the above has been a two-way street. The ANA has made my numismatic life much fuller and more enjoyable than I could have ever imagined in the 1950s.  

Today, the association has more services, programs, and other features than ever before. I cannot imagine how anyone could participate in collecting coins, tokens, medals, or paper money without being a member. It can add a lot to your life.

At the same time, I realize that many newcomers to what is now called an industry, become interested for what I consider to be the wrong reason: speculative and investment profits.

Often, indeed, these are illusory unless another kind of investment is made: study.

Study takes time. The easiest way to start is to buy a half dozen books on coins — about their history, not about investment.

For starters, I recommend A Guide Book of United States Coins. When I was a kid I read it cover-to-cover, not once but several times. In time, I became very knowledgeable as to its content.

I have two recommendations to insure your future success in our hobby/industry. Join the ANA with a “Platinum” membership so you will receive hard copies of The Numismatist, a wonderful magazine. 

Give yourself a budget of $200 and buy a group of books I suggest.

Perhaps include the 100 Greatest series published by Whitman.

Do this, and I expect you will multiply your enjoyment of numismatics and will still be a reader of this column years from now!

In the meantime, track me down at one or another of the many ANA events, such as the upcoming show in August. 


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