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Blue Ridge celebrates golden anniversary

Down-home, warm Southern hospitality, a public meet-and-greet with President Abraham Lincoln and an American Numismatic Association governor, a red-hot paper money and Southern mint gold coin market, and more than 100 eager, outgoing and hobby-motivated youth and families added the spice that helped make the Blue Ridge Numismatic Association’s 50th birthday celebration and annual coin convention held Aug. 21-23 in Dalton, Ga., a rousing and grand success.

By late Sunday, registration figures had already topped the 2,600 mark, according to registration chair Blenda Brush. More than 105 signed in and eagerly waited to get in just after the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday morning at 10 a.m.

“To the best of my knowledge [this] has never occurred before during the past 12 years the BRNA has held the show at the Northwest Georgia Trade & Convention Center location,” Brush said.

 “The 160-plus dealers seem to be very upbeat, with most reporting brisk sales, particularly those offering paper money, bullion and U.S. Southern mint struck gold coins raw and certified in all grades,” said Gary Overton, BRNA president. “If the country is indeed experiencing a serious recession, there was certainly no evidence of it at this year’s show. Wheeling, dealing and buying was the dealer catch word I heard on the floor during this … 50th anniversary birthday show. My hat’s off to our bourse coordinator, Bob Hurst.”

A crowd of approximately 100 gathered outside the BRNA bourse floor on Friday morning, waiting to witness the ribbon cutting ceremony. President Abraham Lincoln (a.k.a. Dennis Boggs) acted as the official BRNA greeter, welcoming, mingling, shaking hands and politicking with all those gathered as the club officers cut and doled out blue iced birthday cake.

This was followed up with the presentation of two official awards. The first was an American Numismatic Association 50th anniversary certificate of recognition, read by the author on behalf of ANA President Cliff Mishler. Next, Mayor David Pennington read a Dalton City proclamation.

Saturday morning’s activities kicked off at 9 a.m. with a Society of Paper Money Collectors breakfast, made to order by that multi-talented North Carolina Southern belle, society hostess and numismatist, Judith Murphy. The educational program featured a PowerPoint presentation on “North Carolina Colonial Money” by Bob Anderson via teleconference, a unique twist and a first for the SPMC. This was followed by a number of other outstanding educational forums covering everything from “Civil War Studies” and “Bust Halves” to “Confederate Currency” and “Bank Notes of the Afterlife.”

In addition to the ANA Youth Activities Table in the foyer staffed all three days by the author, the 1 p.m. Young Numismatists program, facilitated under the guidance of that energetic and talented Tennessee First Lady of youth activities, Gayle Pike, was the educational highlight of the show. She was assisted by the author and the ever-so-talented living historian, President Abraham Lincoln. In all, 55 youngsters and an equal number of family members were numismatically enriched during the two-hour, hands-on youth event.

Why a kid educational program? Well, Pike summed it up best this way: “Kids are the hobby’s future. From them will come the dealers and leaders of the future. If we invest time and energy now by introducing them to the fun of numismatics today, then the future growth of coin collecting is insured.”

The 2010 BRNA Convention will be held at the same venue in Dalton, Ga., Aug. 20-22. Bourse information can be obtained on the BRNA Web site at www.brna.org, from Chairman Hurst by e-mail at forvm@cfl.rr.com, or by writing BRNA Secretary, Box 56156, Virginia Beach, VA 23456.

The BRNA also strikes a yearly 39mm Southern-theme medal and a smaller U.S. quarter-size copper piece that are given out at each convention. The 2009 50th anniversary copper piece featured the obverse Indian motif design on the Saint-Gaudens U.S. $10 gold coin. These medals and other past issues are available at a minimal cost. Please visit the Association’s Web site for cost and ordering information, or write the secretary at the above address.


Walt Ostromecki is an American Numismatic Association governor.

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