The annual ANA anniversary convention – World’s Fair of Money – has been one of the top highlights of my numismatic travels calendar for most of the past 53 years, dating back to 1961 in Atlanta. The exception was 1970 in St. Louis, the only year in which I was not in attendance.
My travels to this year’s six-day outing got under way at midday on the second Monday of August. The 213-mile drive delivered me to the Hyatt Regency at the in Rosemont, Ill., at 5:55, with much of the last 10 miles having been bumper to bumper in stop and go traffic.
The day’s first familiar face was encountered at Hyatt registration. It was Steve Goldsmith, who would be manning the Spink U.S.A. table, but is particularly familiar in paper money circles from his past services with the R.M. Smythe organization. After settling into my room I returned to the hotel lobby where I also chanced to have brief conversations with dealer Bob White from Texas and David Alexander from out New York way, who with his wife was awaiting delivery of their evening meal in the restaurant. I opted to pick up a couple snacks at the lower lever Perks coffee shop before returning to my room and calling it a day.
Rolling out of bed early on Tuesday morning, by 5:30 I was out walking up River Road into Des Plains past the two-year old Rivers Casino, putting in what worked out to be an hour long constitutional. As I approached the base of the escalator to the Hyatt lobby, having picked up my breakfast selection at Perks, I encountered Jeff Rosinia, immediate past president of the host Chicago Coin Club, who would be serving the convention as page committee co-chair.
It was about 7:30 a.m. when I headed off for the convention center, joining up with ANA treasurer Larry Baber from San Diego along the way. I also had the opportunity to chat a bit with both Sandy Hill from the Pacific Northwest, incoming national coordinator of the Club & District Representative Committee, and president-elect Walter Ostromecki from the Los Angeles area.
At the convention volunteers orientation meeting at 8 a.m., ANA convention director Rhonda Scurek reported that more than 600 had pre-registered to attend, while the count for the evening’s “Beyond the Ivy” rooftop kickoff event at Wrigley Field was approaching 300.
The ribbon cutting opened the convention to the public at about 9:45 a.m., with the assembled queue of attendees surging into the bourse at 10. I treated myself to an early lunch at the snack bar on the convention floor, where I shared a stand-up table with CCC member and convention Scout committee chairman Eugene Freeman. The buzz of activity emanating from the bourse was a very healthy one then and throughout the day, as I made my way up and down the aisles seeking and visiting.
Calling it an afternoon at about 4:30, I returned to my room to rest up a bit, returning to the convention center lobby to join the nearly 300 others – five bus loads I think – to head over to the “Beyond the Ivy” rooftop, overlooking left-center field at Wrigley, for an evening of baseball. My seat partner over and back, and at the game as well, was ANA national volunteer Sandy Pearl from Florida. Supper was a couple hot dogs and beers. It was a tight game, tied 4-4 at the end of 10 innings, when we boarded one of the buses back to the convention center. The Cubs ended up losing to the Cincinnati Reds 6-4 the inning after we left. It was about 11:30 p.m. when I tucked myself in for the night.
In light of the resulting short night for sleeping, on Wednesday I opted out on pursuing an early morning walking regimen. It was about 7:30 when I headed over to the convention center where my first objective of the day was to sit in on the Token & Medal Society board meeting. As with most hobby organizations these days, the 15 officers and board members in attendance found themselves struggling with membership numbers and financial welfare challenges.
At 9 a.m. I excused myself to join an ad hoc meeting involving ANA President Ostromecki and Bill Waychison, immediate past president of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association, to explore some possibilities for cross-promotional efforts between the ANA and RCNA for their 2014 conventions. Those discussions broke up at about 10 o’clock and I spent the balance of the morning wandering the bourse, where the tempo appeared to remain solid, but somewhat slower than it had been on Tuesday.
Wednesday again found me taking lunch a bit early, this time sharing some conversation at the snack bar counter with Maurice Rosen, publisher of one of the hobby’s longest running collecting/investing newsletters. At 1 o’clock I was off to another TAMS venue, its general meeting and symposium with about 30 in attendance. Nevadan Fred Holabird gave a presentation on western “saloon” tokens and embossed bottle ties. Returning to the bourse and spending a couple hours there through the mid-part of the afternoon, the tempo appeared to be substantially more upbeat than it had been in the morning.
It was again about 4:30 when I opted to end my day on the bourse and return to my room at the Hyatt to rest up a bit before attacking the evening. There were conflicting events of which I desired to partake. First up was a joint banquet of the Chicago Coin Club and New York Numismatic Club at the Rosewood restaurant, with the social hour beginning at 6 p.m. That event overlapped with the annual TAMS banquet at Gibsons, for which the reception was scheduled to get under way at 6:30.
My solution was to first drive over to the Rosewood, about a mile away, and be one of the first to arrive at the CCC/NYNC gathering. Excusing myself as the time neared 7, the short drive over to Gibsons at the DoubleTree hotel across from the convention center found me arriving at the TAMS banquet shortly after the dinner service had gotten underway.
Both of these activities garnered participations of about 50. At the TAMS gathering I shared a table with Don Young from Kentucky, Bob Fritsch from New Hampshire, Fred Reed from Oklahoma, Ken Hallenbeck from Colorado, Jack Huggins from the St. Louis area, and the Wolkas and Lockwoods from Indiana, and participated in the presentation of the annual cataloging award recognitions. It was about 9 o’clock when I claimed my car from valet parking for the short drive across River Road to the Hyatt and called it a day.
Rolling out of bed early on Thursday, it was again about 5:30 a.m. when I headed out on a morning constitutional, this time walking along River Road into Schiller Park, returning about an hour later. Along the way back I encountered a fellow conventioneer who was also out on a morning walk – he was Frank, from New York City, whose family name escapes me – a new acquaintance with whom I enjoyed visiting as we walked back to the Hyatt.
Thursday’s first objective was attendance at the annual Numismatic Ambassador Breakfast hosted at the convention center by the Numismatic News and Krause Publications at 8 o’clock, with this year’s gathering topping out around 100 inductees and guests. This year I shared a table with Charlie and Mark Ricard from the Chicago area, Scott Loos and Bruce Winter from the Pacific Northwest, Ken Bressett from Colorado, Bill and Marilyn Fivaz from Georgia, and Art and Prue Fitts from New England. Added to the roll of ambassadors at this year’s breakfast were Richard Jozefiak from Alabama, Scott Rottinghaus from Connecticut and Bob Brueggeman from California.
With the Ambassador Breakfast breaking up as the time climbed to 10, I was able to spend four solid hours enjoying what still appeared to be a very lively bourse and the Collector Exhibits area. At 1 o’clock I was invited to attend an impromptu salute, with perhaps 40 or so of his associates and friends in attendance, to Dave Bowers’ 60 years in numismatics, complete with servings of an anniversary cake.
Next I sat in on the end of an ANA Advisory Council meeting before heading off to a Money Talks presentation – “1792: Birth of a Nation’s Coinage,” delivered by Leonard Augsburger, Joel Orosz and Pete Smith. They offered a current assessment of the facts and fables concerning the 1792 half-disme with a pretty full house of 50 or so in attendance. Then it was off to the 4 o’clock annual ANA awards presentation event, which included a member and donor reception, where attendance appeared to be in the 100 range. Shortly after the presentation ended I again headed over to the Hyatt to relax a bit before returning to the convention center for the evening. Upon return, my first mission was to avail myself of the buffet spread the Stack’s Bowers Galleries folks had laid out for attendees at the evening auction sessions, as I would be sitting in on the first 50 lots of the “Rarities Night” session, one being the Rittenhouse-Judd-Hayes half-disme I had consigned to the sale.
It was about 6:30 when I took leave of the auction and headed to the convention center for the evening’s executive session ANA board meeting, which got underway at 7 o’clock. The topics of discussion that dominated the next five hours concerned the challenges and commitments inherent in developing a new business database and website outreach, contracting issues concerned with future conventions, and personnel issues of varied nature, along with a variety of housekeeping matters. When all was said and done, it was just after midnight as I was walking back to the Hyatt in the company of outgoing president Tom Hallenbeck.
In deference to another short night, Friday morning did not find me getting the day underway with an early morning constitutional. It was about 7:30 when I walked across River Road to the Embassy Suites to meet up with friend and former ANA general counsel Ron Sirna from Michigan for breakfast. By 9 o’clock I was back at the convention center for the annual open meeting of the ANA board, my last following two terms as a governor and one as president. The principal topic covered in what was to be a roughly two hour session – with 16 elected and appointed officers and board members in conference seating and 20 or so members in attendance – concerned the database and website development, to which the board unanimously voted a financial commitment that had been laid before them.
With the adjournment of the board meeting, at about 11 o’clock a Town Hall meeting got under way, which I took leave from shortly thereafter to attend an impromptu presentation at the Central States table on the bourse. The organization’s second “Lifetime Achievement” recognition was presented to Chet Krause. Following the presentation I headed off to lunch over at Gibsons, joining Chet, CSNS president Jim Moores from Missouri, and David Heinrich from Ohio, who had crafted the award and was accompanied by his wife Heidi.
Next up at 1 p.m. was the annual exhibit awards presentation and reception. Following the close of that session, I headed off to the bourse, finding that by late afternoon activity was slackening perceptibly.
It was a bit before 7 p.m. when I headed to the annual banquet reception held at the Hyatt, encountering two Milwaukee area acquaintances in the lobby along the way, Dave Hunsicker from West Bend, and Darrell and Sue Luedtke from Franklin. Dave is a long-time involved member of the Milwaukee Numismatic Society, while Darrell is president of both the South Shore Coin Club and the International Organization of Wooden Money Collectors, where he serves as editor of their Bunyan’s Chips newsletter.
The banquet table I found a seat at ended up with an interesting mix of attendees. For starters there were Amy Karazsia and Margaret (Maggie) Webster from the Smithsonian Institution. Also sharing the table were Wendell and Linda Wolka, Wendell being the banquet master-of-ceremonies, a task he has been dispatching with aplomb for many years now. Then there were holdover collector governors Greg Lyon from Missouri, Scott Rottinghaus from Connecticut, and Mike Ellis from Georgia. Rounding out the group were a pair of dealer governors, holdover Jeff Garrett from Kentucky and newly elected Laura Sperber from Pennsylvania.
With the banquet having broken up at a reasonable hour, about 10:15 p.m., the good night’s rest that followed found me awaking refreshed on Saturday morning. It was about 5:30 a.m. when I headed out for an hour walk followed by breakfast and packing. It was about 8 a.m. when I headed over to take in some activities at the convention center before hitting the road for home.
I sat in on the Club & District Representative meeting where the chair was passed from Idahoan Oded Paz to Oregonian Sandy Hill. Among those in attendance with whom I had the opportunity to chat with briefly was Stan Mead, representing the Anchorage Coin Club, which he serves as treasurer and young numismatist program facilitator. Next up was the 9:30 a.m. open meeting of the new board that had been installed at the banquet the previous evening by Ray Dillard from Michigan, which generated an attendance of about 20 and lasted roughly an hour.
Then there was time for one last short sojourn onto the bourse, during which I grabbed a quick hot dog for an early lunch. An ANA Goodfellows gathering followed at 12:30 p.m., this being an annual occasion at which past host club convention chairs are invited to exchange ideas with the ANA convention director and executive director, in this instance Rhonda Scurek and Kim Kiick. That session encroached a bit on the scheduled one o’clock membership meeting and educational program of the Chicago Coin Club, held next door, that I was intent on attending as well, which played to a full house of some 60 or so and broke up at about 1:45 p.m.
With the CCC meeting having concluded I quickly made my way over to the Hyatt parking garage. On the road headed home by 2 o’clock, I arrived there just a shade after 5:30 p.m. and ready to spend the evening and Sunday relaxing after a long and busy convention week.
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