US Coins

The Joys of Collecting: Author takes real vacation

Gen. Franz Sigel — “Hero of Pea Ridge” featured on this Civil War token — is featured in the book Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West, which Q. David Bowers acquired on a recent vacation.

Images courtesy of Q. David Bowers.

It has been a number of years since I have taken a real vacation. The reasons for this are several.

First, I live in Wolfeboro, N.H., itself one of the most popular tourist destinations in America. I can have a vacation without leaving home.

Second, as a coin dealer I have ample opportunity for travel. Recently aboard Amtrak I paid visits to Philadelphia to stop at the Mint and to Washington to call on the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (and to have a nice visit with U.S. Treasurer Rosa Rios in her office). I am looking forward to a few weeks from now when I will be in Rosemont, Ill., for the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money. While on that trip, I will also visit with some friends who collect music boxes and coin-operated pianos, a hobby interest of mine for a long time.

That said, I have just returned from a real vacation: one that was not a business expense and was not business-related. Well, not quite. On the last three days, my family and I stopped in Florence, Ala., to call on the Anderson family and visit the shipping department of Whitman Publishing LLC and Dawn Burbank who is in charge.

From there, we went to Atlanta to visit Whitman’s corporate headquarters.

The focus of the trip, however, was a delightful cruise on the M/V Queen of the Mississippi. We departed New Orleans on Saturday, paddled (paddlewheel steamer, sort of, with auxiliary power) upriver, and arrived in Memphis, Tenn., a week later. Operated by American Cruise Lines, the ship, launched in May 2012, could not have been nicer. The accommodations, food, entertainment and amenities were wonderful.

On my shore stops I visited Oak Alley Plantation, Frogmore Plantation and the Vicksburg Battlefield National Monument, among other places. In visiting with some of the residents of Louisiana and Mississippi I was reminded that the Civil War lives on. Not really, but I learned that Natchez at one time was the wealthiest per-capita city in America. As you know from Gone with the Wind, plantation life is no more. And, of course, millions of slaves gained their freedom. On the trip I was steeped in antebellum tradition, an interesting visit with history. I bought a few items along the way, including a book, Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West, a 416-page volume that includes the exploits of the “Hero of Pea Ridge,” Franz Sigel, who is memorialized on several Civil War tokens in my collection.

In time, I will learn more about him and the battle than anyone needs to know!

Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries and numismatic
director of Whitman Publishing LLC.
He can be reached at his private email,, or at
Q. David Bowers LLC, Box 1804,
Wolfeboro, NH 03894.

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