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ANA show a golden opportunity

Dominated by six days at the 120th anniversary ANA convention in Chicago, the 50th I’ve attended over a span dating back to 1961, I spent a third of the month of August on the road away from Iola. Days before that outing I had embarked on a four-day excursion to Okoboji, Iowa, to participate in the third National Bank Note Seminar hosted at the Higgins Museum and attend a board meeting.

I drove to the Chicago area for ANA convention on Monday morning, pulling into the Hyatt parking garage in Rosemont at 11:15 a.m. It was about noon when I headed over to the Stephens Convention Center after having settled into my room. Along the way I crossed paths with Simcha Kuritzky, editor of the Maryland State Numismatic Association’s Maryland Numismatist newsletter, and Beth Casper from the Twin Cities, the Pobjoy Mint’s U.S. representative. Descending the overhead walkway escalator, I encountered the Chicago Coin Club crew of secretary Carl Wolf, treasurer Steve Zitowsky and convention Numismatic Theatre co-chair Mike Gasvoda holding forth at the host club booth.

Shortly thereafter I happened upon ANA general counsel Ron Sirna, joining him for a light lunch at the snack service set up in the convention center lobby. I spent the next three hours or so passing bits of time casually greeting dealers and exhibitors engaged in setup tasks around the bourse floor.

Reclaiming my Town Car from the parking garage at about 6 p.m., I drove over to the nearby Rosewood restaurant to attend the annual PNG banquet. During the reception I enjoyed engaging in an extended confab with Mary Counts, who heads up the Whitman operation, Joel Anderson and his wife Carmen from Florence, Ala., and David Lang of the NGC organization. The banquet table I shared included incoming ANA president Tom Hallenbeck, my predecessor Barry Stuppler, and California dealers Don Kagin and Fred Weinberg. It was around 9 p.m. when the banquet dispersed.

Tuesday morning found me heading out for my morning constitutional at about 5:30. An hour long walk took me up River Road into Des Plaines, where I looped around the recently opened Rivers Casino, before heading back to the Hyatt. It was about 7:30 a.m. when I headed down for breakfast at the O’H Grill on the Hyatt’s upper lobby, being joined there by Californian and fellow ANA board member Walter Ostromecki.

About an hour later I headed over to the Stephens, for the 8:45 a.m. ribbon cutting ceremonies formally opening the convention. During the course of the proceedings I had the pleasure of presenting a Good Fellow Award recognition to Bob Leonard, who was serving as convention general chairman on behalf of the host CCC, and the Host Club Award, which was received by CCC president Jeff Rosinia. Immediately following the ribbon cutting I joined most ANA board members and officers for an informal meeting with U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios, whose charges include both the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, spending about an hour exchanging explorations into mutual interest realms.

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Walking to the nearby Tavern Restaurant in the Hilton hotel across River Road at about 11 a.m., I enjoyed a two-hour lunch engaged in discussions with Sam Deep, who will be serving as local chair for the host Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists when the ANA gathers for its inaugural fall National Money Show in Pittsburgh this October. I spent some time after lunch making my way along the Mint Promenade filling a World Mints Passport with the offerings of the 13 participating mints. The balance of the afternoon was spent engaged in some impromptu meetings and discussions.

At 6 p.m. I joined roughly 200 attendees in boarding buses conveying us to the convention kickoff cocktails and dinner event at Chicago’s world famous Shedd Aquarium. For the ride down to the lakefront I shared seating with ANA staffer Sandy Hill, who has since retired after spending more than 20 years keeping tabs on membership. The evening view of Chicago’s downtown skyline from the Shedd was spectacular. Returning back to the convention center area around 10:30, I shared seating with Coin World staffer Jeff Stark.

Awaking early Wednesday morning a bit tired, rolling over and falling back asleep for a few minutes, I didn’t end up putting in my customary morning constitutional. It was a bit after 7 a.m. when I stopped by the Perks coffee shop off the Hyatt’s lower lobby to avail myself of light breakfast selections. From there I made my way over to the convention center, catching the beginning of the day’s convention volunteers meeting. There I presented an ANA Presidential Award to Bob Leonard in recognition of his ongoing dedication to Chicago Coin Club activities and support of the hobby community at large.

At 8 a.m. the ANA board convened in executive session, with the meeting not breaking up until about 2 p.m. Thereafter I worked in about an hour absorbing the offerings of the Collector Exhibits area, and another hour visiting about the club tables area in the back, as I made my way around the perimeter of the 800-table bourse.
Wednesday evening I joined two dozen or so guests invited to dinner at the home of the Joffrey Ballet by Gerhard Starsich, president and CEO of the Austrian Mint, whom I subsequently had the pleasure of hosting for a brief Iola visit following the convention. These dinners for the past 16 years have been an annual ANA convention tradition, arranged by international markets director Kirsten Petersen, for a small group of media and marketing types. We gathered at 5:30 p.m. for bus transportation down to the Loop location, returning about five hours later.

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The Joffrey Ballet was established in 1956 in New York City, moved to Los Angeles and has now been resident in Chicago for many years. One of the world’s top dance companies, known as “America’s Company of Firsts,” it was the first dance company to perform at the White House, the first to appear on television, the first American company to visit Russia, the first and only one to appear on the cover of Time magazine, and the first to have had a major motion picture based on it. Pleasurable dinner table conversation was shared with David Crenshaw of the Whitman organization, Marilyn Reback of The Numismatist, Beth Deisher of Coin World, and Andrea Lang, the Austrian Mint’s sales and marketing director.

On Thursday I met up with Denis Luck at about 5:45 a.m. in the Hilton lobby, from which we embarked on an hour long constitutional walk along River Road down through a small Polish residential district of Schiller Park and back. We spent the time largely recounting and sharing our respective hobby community development experiences.

At 8 o’clock I joined the Numismatic News sponsored Numismatic Ambassador breakfast, having walked over from the Hyatt to the Stephens with Jim Hunt from San Diego. The table I shared included Dave Alexander from New York, Dave Cieniewicz from Alabama, Bob Julian from Indiana, Dave Lang from Florida and Kay Lenker from California, illustrative of the multitudinous origins the more than 100 fellow travelers assembled for the occasion.

With the Ambassador breakfast breaking up at 9 a.m., I then sat in on the first hour of the Token and Medal Society board meeting session. At 10 a.m. I moved on to ANA executive director Larry Shepherd’s presentation “Alive & Well … Another Year of Progress at the ANA” — providing an overview of the organization’s activities since the 2010 Boston convention. Late morning and early afternoon found me enjoying interaction around the bourse and in the Museum Showcase area.

At 3 p.m. I participated in extending awards during the annual ANA Awards Presentation program, which included 25-year membership longevity recognitions, along with an assortment of literary and service awards. Included was an ANA Presidential Award recognition that I extended to ANA headquarters staffer Sandy Hill, whose lively and faithful presence at headquarters and the Summer Seminar will certainly be missed with her retirement. More recognitions were presented at the ANA Member and Donor Reception which followed, with both events having generated gatherings in excess of 100.

In the evening I headed across River Road to Gibson’s restaurant, situated adjacent to the DoubleTree Hotel, where the gatherings of two splinter groups were set to get under way at 6 p.m. First up was the CONECA mint error gathering, which I addressed briefly before moving on to the annual TAMS banquet, the former being a small gathering of about 20, while the latter was a somewhat larger assembly of roughly 60. At the latter I presented Fred Reed with the club publication excellence award accorded the Society of Paper Money Collectors Paper Money journal, which he edits along with the TAMS Journal, accepted by me on his behalf during the ANA Awards program earlier in the day.

It was about 9 p.m. before I made my way over to the annual Numismatic Literary Guild Bash, which had gotten under way about a half hour earlier with a finger foods buffet in one of the Hyatt ballrooms. Following the evening’s irreverent humor, at the head end of the awards program, MC and fellow ANA board member Wendell Wolka from Indianapolis, allowed me to present yet another ANA Presidential Award, the final one of my tenure, to Kay Lenker in recognition of her long-time grass roots support of the hobby community in her local San Diego area, the state of California, and as a former ANA board member and long-time NLG treasurer.

Heading out at about 6 a.m. on Friday morning I put in my morning constitutional strolling the streets of the River Road hotels and offices area for about an hour, then again catching a quick, light breakfast at Perks, before heading over to the convention center to preside over the open session board meeting, my final one as president. Convened at 9 as scheduled, with perhaps 35 members in the audience, the hour-long session ended at about ten, with the primary action having been adoption of a new ANA governing Bylaws package, which had been a somewhat contentious issue with respect to voting age eligibility.

After spending a bit of time on the floor, at noon I sat in on the ANA Advisory Council meeting, an assembly that commanded the participation of a dozen to 15 former board members. Moving on from there, at 1 p.m. I also attended the ANA Exhibit Awards Presentation & Reception program, which boasted a solid attendance of 75 or so. Returning to the bourse at about 2 o’clock, I enjoyed spending the next three hours or so interacting with a mix of attending dealers and collectors, as the convention tempo was winding down.

Shortly after 5 p.m. I took leave to the Hyatt to relax in my room for a bit before heading down to the reception and banquet that capped this 120th anniversary event, the 13th time the ANA has assembled in Chicago, including the founding meeting on Oct. 7, 1891. By far the biggest assembly — the expansive bourse/exhibits floor occupied in excess of 200,000 square feet — this year’s gathering was undoubtedly the best by most standards of measurement.

Preceded by an hour long reception, the banquet let out shortly before 10 p.m. The program featured the presentation of the ANA’s top achievement, recognition, longevity and exhibit awards, along with the installation of incoming president Tom Hallenbeck and the board that will serve the organization for the coming two years. The banquet table I shared included a five-member governor mix of outgoing Joe Boling and his wife, Louise, and Alan Herbert, returnees Wendell Wolka and his wife, Linda, and Scott Rottinghaus and his fiancée, Katherine, along with incoming board member Greg Lyon.

Capping ANA recognitions accorded annually at the banquet is the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award, which this year went to Anthony Terranova, a Manhattan-based dealer and collector extraordinary who truly loves the coin hobby community. If you haven’t read the interview of him published in the August, 2011, issue of The Numismatist, you certainly should. It closes with Tony’s perspective; “Collectors and the hobby are everything. Without them, there would be no coin business. … I’ll never stop working in numismatics. …  It’s a lovely world to live in.”

Saturday morning found me again heading out walking. Returning to the hotel I crossed paths with ANA national volunteer Sandy Pearl from Florida, who was just heading out on his own daily constitutional. It was about 8 a.m. when I headed over to the convention center for the new board’s 8:30 a.m. open meeting, a relatively brief session commanding an audience in the 14-20 range.

After joining my fellow incoming governors in sitting for individual portraits, I moved on to sit in on the beginning of the 9:30 Good Fellow meeting, a gathering of 10 or so past convention chairs, an informal forum with ANA convention director Rhonda Scurek for the sharing of thoughts on the conduct of conventions past, present and future. At 10 a.m. the new board convened in executive session, which tied me up until about 2:30. After catching a quick sandwich with Sirna at the convention center lobby snack service, it was right at 3 when I wheeled the Town Car on the road for home on a non-stop 214 mile drive that delivered me home at about 6:20 p.m.

From all indications, the 120th anniversary ANA convention was a great, record- breaking event.

The Tuesday before heading off to the ANA convention had found me hitting the road from Iola to Okoboji, Iowa, arriving there at 6:30 p.m., having logged 365 miles for the day. I pulled up to the Arrowwood Resort for my overnight accommodations. After settling into my room, I hiked the roughly two miles to the Arnolds Park amusement complex on the south shore of West Lake Okoboji. Among the attractions is the wood structured Legend Roller Coaster, dating from 1927. It is the 13th oldest in the country, which I’d anticipated riding for the first time in a decade or more, but it had just closed down for the day. After enjoying a relaxing light dinner at the adjacent Maxwell’s Beach Cafe overlooking the lake, a return hike got me back to the Arrowwood at about 9 p.m.

At about 6 a.m. Wednesday morning I headed out on an hour long constitutional on the Iowa Great Lakes Trail atop the abandoned railroad grade between Okoboji and nearby Spirit Lake. Following breakfast, I spent time reading in my room. At 2 p.m. I headed over to the Higgins Museum where I visiting with curator Larry Adams until about 3 p.m. when I gathered with my fellow board members for our end-of-season meeting. At about 5 p.m. I attended a reception for early arriving participants in the 2011 National Bank Note Seminar set for the following day followed at 7 p.m. by a gathering of about 20 presenters and early arriving attendees at the Bracco Waterfront Grill on the southeast shore of East Lake Okoboji. It was about 9 p.m. when we called it a day.

On Thursday morning I again headed out at about 6 a.m. for another hour long walk, this time along roadways that  pretty much skirt the perimeter of the central Okoboji community. It was about 8 a.m.  when I arrived at the Higgins Museum.  The day’s program began at 9 a.m. and aside from brief breaks between speakers and at lunchtime, the session continued uninterrupted until somewhat after 5 p.m. when most participants began spreading to the four winds.

Having briefly returned to the Arrowwood before again heading off to dinner at the Bracco, riding there with speakers Peter Huntoon, Lee Lofthus and Jim Simek. Our fourth speaker, Mark Anderson, excused himself to hit the road for the Twin Cities and his flight home. The gathering ended up being but a dozen or so in number, but the conversations were enjoyable and it did not break up until somewhat after 8 p.m.

Following a shorter walk early Friday morning, I was on the road back to Wisconsin by 7:30 p.m., a drive that was overcast all the way. Crossing the Mississippi at about 11 a.m., I pulled into the Perkins at Tomah shortly before noon to enjoy a French dip sandwich for lunch, having logged 276 miles. Back on the road at 12:30 p.m., my mileage log had climbed to 365 miles by 2:15 p.m. when I pulled into Iola, where I spent a couple hours at the office before heading home for a relaxing weekend prior to my busy week at the ANA.

The middle two weeks of August, to say the least, left me with little time to twiddle my thumbs!

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