The Joys of Collecting column from the Dec. 26, 2016, Weekly issue
of Coin World:
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City might now
be part of my DNA. Way back in the 1950s when I was in my first decade
as a professional numismatist (while going to high school and then to
Penn State) I usually stayed at the Park Sheraton when I was in the
city, as did most coin people. I knew of the Waldorf-Astoria, of
course, but had never stayed there.
In 1957 I paid the seemingly ridiculous price of $4,750 for a Gem
1894-S Barber dime at Stack’s sale of the Empire Collection. This caused
a sensation, and my story was carried in hundreds of newspapers
nationwide. I received over 6,000 letters from readers.
The NBC Studio in Rockefeller Center picked up on the excitement,
and a representative contacted me at Penn State.
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Would I come to New York City to appear on the Today Show
with host Dave Garroway? They had funds for transportation to and from
town and for three days and two nights at the Waldorf-Astoria. I
I had never been on television before. The show aired at 7 in the
morning. Dave Garroway met with me before that time. “What are you
going to ask me?” He replied that he just wanted to talk with me to
see how I spoke.
When I was live on the air someone handed Garroway a note. The next
guest was delayed in traffic. Would I mind staying on for an extra 15
minutes? I stayed.
Since then I’ve been on the Today Show many times, including
with Matt Lauer as the host. Rare coins, gold from shipwrecks, and
such stories are always interesting to audiences, it seems. No more
free hotel stays, though!
The New York International Numismatic Convention
has a new home for 2018 and beyond:
NYINC bourse chairman Kevin Foley acknowledged earlier this year that the
impending closure of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City
would necessitate a new show venue.
Since then I have also stayed at the Waldorf many times. In 2006, I
was the honoree at the annual Gala staged by the American
Numismatic Society there. The benefit auction of donated items
raised over a half million dollars for the ANS! At another time we had
a family reunion there with nearly 50 people coming from all over the
In April the hotel is scheduled to close, to be reconfigured mainly
into condominiums. How sad.
In the meantime, the last hurrah will take place this coming Jan. 12
when dealer and longtime friend Tony Terranova will be the ANS Gala
honoree. I will be the emcee. I’d love to see you there. If you are
interested contact the ANS on the Internet.
See you next week!