US Coins

Q. David Bowers says goodbye to the Waldorf-Astoria

The American Numismatic Society is holding its annual Gala one last time at the Waldorf-Astoria before the iconic hotel is converted into condominiums.

Images courtesy of Q. David Bowers.

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 accepted immediately!

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!

Waldorf-AstoriaThe 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 United States.

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!

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