Ken has really done it all since his introduction to coin collecting
in 1937! He’s been president of the ANA (and is in its hall of fame),
led ANACS, and has published many books. He’s also one of the nicest
people you’ll ever meet, happy to share his knowledge with everyone he meets.
Q: You’ve been associated with A Guide Book of United States
Coins since 1956. What do you think about the expansion of the
“Red Book” over the years?
A: That was a natural and essential evolution to accommodate the
needs of collectors. The book grew to include new information,
research data, grading and pricing trends as well as items of special
interest to collectors. It is a never-ending process. R.S. Yeoman
advised me that collectors make the best editors. Someone will always
report the typos, or suggest that something needs to be fixed or
added. The book truly belongs to all the readers and they very much
influence the content.
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Q: Few people have published on such a diverse area as you! What do
you say to those in the hobby who say that collectors need to
specialize? Of your many books, does one stand out as a favorite?
A: I have never wavered in telling collectors they should follow
their individual goals and interests rather than follow the crowd.
Yes, specialization has its own rewards and can be all absorbing.
Taking a broader approach gives one a better sense of the whole world
of numismatics and an opportunity to explore and appreciate the entire
spectrum. I am particularly fond of Milestone Coins: A Pageant of
the World’s Most Significant and Popular Money. It tells the
story of coins throughout the ages from the earliest to the present,
and gives my impression of why each is an important documentation of
history or artistry. Researching this project and selecting the coins
to include was a very enjoyable quest.
Q: You were director of ANACS before the advent of Professional
Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corp. Did you
anticipate the explosion in third-party grading in the late 1980s?
What do you think about slabbing today?
A: It never occurred to me that slabbing could someday become a
popular practice for all sorts of coins. I still have no taste for
them and prefer “raw” coins that I can enjoy on my own terms. Everyone
should be concerned about the variances in the grades assigned by
different services, and learn how to grade on their own using ANA Standards.
Q: How do you stay energized in your hobby after all of these years?
A: Scientists say people who have hobbies are not just filling time;
they may also be extending their life span, increasing their energy
level and living a more rewarding life. There is no question about
this in my mind. Those who actively participate in any absorbing
activity nearly all live longer, happier, less stressful lives. I find
or do something new with my hobby every day, whether through writing,
reading or research. It keeps me in contact with friends all over the
world. After being totally involved with numismatics for the past 70
years I have enjoyed it all. Diving with the Fisher group for
shipwreck treasure was a blast; and being ANA President was the most
challenging. I served on the Assay Commission and I still chuckle at
telling the Director of the Mint that it was the duty of the
Commission to hang anyone found guilty of issuing substandard coins.
Fortunately that never happened!