I had planned to continue my comments about my coin-buying travels in
Europe 50 years ago, but then a special event intervened.
The memorable event held at the Massachusetts Historical Society in
Boston on April 26 trumps my adventures overseas, at least for the
time being. Honored was John W. Adams, one of our hobby’s greatest figures.
The sponsor was the American Numismatic Society. The occasion was
for Ute Wartenberg Kagan, executive director, and board chairman
Kenneth L. Edlow, to present Adams with the Archer M. Huntington medal
in recognition of his outstanding career contributions to numismatic scholarship.
On view at the Massachusetts Historical Society’s reception rooms
were some of the books John had written and an exhibit of Comitia
Americana medals made to the order of Congress. John and curator Anne
E. Bentley were co-authors of the standard book on this subject.
In today’s numismatic world there is much emphasis on the market.
Most players in the coin game arrive with the expectation of making a
profit, spend most of their available money quickly, tire of the
novelty, and leave. This causes a fairly rapid turnover.
However, it has been said, and with some justification, that once a
collector stays with the hobby, he or she stays for life.
If someone begins as a youngster, the case for longevity in the
hobby is even stronger. Born in 1936, John Adams began in numismatics
at the age of 9! His first effort was to fill in Whitman folders for
From there, he went on to buy Indian Head cents in duplicate
quantities for two cents each (more is better, he thought at the
time), then on to other specialties, later mentored by Philadelphia
dealer David M. Bullowa. Fast forward to today. As a retired financial
executive of great accomplishments, he still loves numismatics.
The Adams Fest, and it can be called that, then moved via chartered
bus to a dinner at the Brookline Country Club, where John and his
wife, Regina, hosted more than 50 guests from all over the country.
Joel Orosz was master of ceremonies. It was figuratively a gathering
of numismatic eagles. Nearly everyone there had spent many years in
numismatics — in research and scholarship, in publications and
exhibitions, and more. In six hours of camaraderie I did not hear the
words “grade,” “price,” or “market.”
John’s fete was a reality check on how wonderful numismatics is! It
was super exciting and inspiring to me.