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From Baltimore to Aberdeen in April

exonumiaNo less than six outings, stretching from Baltimore to Aberdeen, were on my schedule for April. First up was a trip to take in Whitman’s spring Baltimore Coin Expo. That was followed by a run down to Milwaukee to enjoy a day at the 47th annual South Shore Coin Club show. Then came outings to Appleton to attend the 56th annual Fox Valley Coin Club event, followed by attendance at the annual banquet of the Nicolet Coin Club in Green Bay.

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Closing out the month was a two-event outing to take in a couple days of the 72nd anniversary convention of the Central States Numismatic Society at Rosemont and a day of the 60th gathering of the South Dakota Coin and Stamp Association in Aberdeen. Achieving the latter experience was a bit of a challenge, one that required a drive of 1,530 miles to tie the two dramatically contrasting experiences into a single excursion.

My travels to and from Baltimore to attend the spring Whitman event actually got under way on the last Wednesday of March and came off without a hitch. Hitting the road from home to the Appleton airport at about 7:30 a.m., I disembarked at the destination around 2 p.m. local time. A taxi ride into the city delivered me to the Hilton Baltimore hotel, ariving at the registration desk at the same time as ANA executive director Larry Shepherd, and by 2:45 I was settling into my room.
While the Hilton is situated adjacent to the west end of the convention center, the event occupied halls on the east end. It was about a three-block hike to get there, where I found Whitman convention organizer David Crenshaw hard at the task of tending to last minute setup coordination.

At 6 p.m. I joined Shepherd in hosting a trio of Canadian acquaintances, Royal Canadian Numismatic Association President Dan Gosling and his wife Judy, along with RCNA executive secretary Paul Johnson, to dinner at McCormick & Schmick’s, with our extended explorations of what makes the hobby tick pushing our return to the hotel out to about 11 p.m.

When I headed out on my daily constitutional at about 6 a.m. Thursday morning, a light mist was in the air. My route of travel took me along Pratt Street west to Fremont Avenue, then east along Washington Boulevard, looping around the Camden Yards ballpark, which my room at the Hilton overlooked, and down Conway to the Inner Harbor area, returning the six blocks up Pratt to the Hilton about an hour later. At about 8 a.m. I met up for breakfast with Chet Krause, whose travel arrangements to take in the Whitman Expo were independent of mine, at the Marriott Inner Harbor hotel’s Care Promenade across the street.

My focused objective in traveling to this event was a second annual gathering of representatives of the ANA, ANS and RCNA for an informal session dubbed the North American Numismatic Think Tank. Gathering at 9 a.m. for this year’s discussions, in addition to Larry and myself, along with Dan and Paul, was ANS deputy director Andrew Meadows, who was doing double duty in filling in for executive director Ute Wartenberg Kagan and President Roger Siboni, who had to bow out for personal reasons late in the planning. Our discussions stretched out over six hours with a short break for lunch around noontime.

Following our Think Tank session, I enjoyed spending an hour or so in discussions with a couple long-time friends, Charles and Joel Anderson, the principals behind the Whitman organization. Then, at 6 p.m. I joined about 60 attendees for the Gold and Silver Political Action Committee, an undertaking spearheaded by Barry Stuppler, my predecessor as ANA president. This was a fundraising reception for Rep. Lamar Smith from Texas’ 21st district, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who has taken an interest in addressing the Chinese counterfeiting situation legislatively or administratively.

At about 6:30 p.m. I chanced to join up with the hobby community’s long-time videographer David Lisot, who also hails from Texas, crossing paths in the Hilton lobby as we were both heading off for dinner. We hailed a taxi to Mo’s, where I feasted on a jumbo lump crab cake for my entree selection. We opted to walk back to the hotel from Mo’s, situated at President and Stiles, just east of the Inner Harbor area, a hike of somewhat more than a mile along Pratt, getting back to the Hilton around ten o’clock.

With Friday, April 1, dawning to rainy conditions, I opted to sleep in rather than embarking on what would have been a very wet constitutional. At 8 a.m. I again headed over to the Cafe Promenade for breakfast, this time joining Shepherd, Jim Simek from Illinois, Larry Hanks from Florida and his associate, Ken Alterman, for a planning session concerning a special exhibit that is under preparation for the Chicago ANA convention in August. With that session breaking up shortly after 9:30, it was nearing 10 when I arrived at the Whitman Expo area, arriving just minutes before the bourse was opened to the public, with the assembled queue of enthusiasts requiring about ten minutes to clear through the security doors.

During the course of the morning, with the bourse floor a buzz of activity and movement, I enjoyed passing some time with local hobby community stalwarts Ed Craig, Bill Lenz and Bill Stratemeyer, among others. At lunch time Shepherd ushered Gosling, Johnson and myself into a taxi for a short ride to the Lexington Market, where he treated us to the “best crab cakes in Baltimore” at Faidley’s. We chose to walk the half mile or so downhill back to the convention center, where I spent the afternoon exploring the bourse, along the way stopping by a book signing for a newly released title – The Secret History of the First U.S. Mint – authored by Joel Orosz and Leonard Augsburger, acquiring a copy and having it duly inscribed.

In the evening I joined Shepherd and ANA staffers Nadia Moskver and Tiffany Hulsey for dinner at The Prime Rib. Having gorged myself on crab cakes the previous two evenings and for lunch, this time I opted for a prime rib entree, which was nothing short of outstanding. We called it a day early, returning to the Hilton by 9 p.m., which pleased me, as I had to be at the Baltimore airport for my homeward bound flight really early on Saturday morning. Arriving there at 4:30 a.m. for a 6 a.m. flight, I enjoyed spending some time visiting with Miles Standish of the PCGS organizations as we awaited our flights out of adjoining gates, mine getting me through O’Hare and back to Appleton by 9 a.m. and home by 10, allowing me to spend most of Sunday relaxing there.

The following Friday found me putting the Town Car on the road for a run down to Milwaukee, my destination t being the 47th annual South Shore Coin Club show at the Wyndham Hotel adjacent to the airport. Joining me for this outing was Joel Edler, as we hit the road from the lake at 7:30 a.m. for the 143-mile drive, which got us there as the event was opening to the public at 10 a.m., with attendance building quickly and actively.

I found club members buzzing about tending to their usual duties; Walter Weis as chief show honcho, Tom Casper heading up the security function, and immediate past president Joe Bartoszewicz plugging holes wherever needed, along with others. I responded to chairperson Betty Petrovick’s solicitation to serve as one of the judges for the 10 to 12 exhibits. The 70-table bourse appeared to be reasonably active throughout our stay. It was about 3 p.m. when we took leave of the show and headed north.

About a half-hour into our homeward bound journey we stopped at the Cracker Barrel on Milwaukee’s northwest side for a very late lunch or early dinner, take your pick, with my choice being a salad and bowl of pinto beans. Back on the road around 4:30 p.m., we arrived back in the Waupaca area at 6:30, meeting Joel’s wife for his return to Iola. That left me with time to take our dog Snickers on a half-hour walk before darkness descended.

The following weekend found me taking in the 56th annual spring coin show of the Fox Valley Coin Club in Appleton on Sunday, this time with Joel Edler doing the driving. He picked me up at about 8 a.m. with Colin Bruce in tow, which got us to the Monarch Gardens event venue a few minutes in advance of its opening to the public at 9. We were greeted by club President Jerry Roberts and secretary-treasurer John Boyce, who were busily engaged in their hosting duties.

A nice crowd was in evidence in short order. I enjoyed an extended conversation with Mike Tramte from Green Bay, a Numismatists of Wisconsin board member and treasurer of the National Token Collectors Association, with whom I share some collecting interests. Along the way I also purchased a book of door prize tickets, as I typically do when attending coin shows, which in this instance yielded the reward of a proof specimen of the 1978-S Ike dollar.

With the three of us having scoured the floor to our satisfactions, we took leave of the show after about two hours, heading off to lunch at the nearby Asian Garden Buffet, before hitting the road for home. Having gorged ourselves on the plentiful selections, and lingering over enjoyable and relaxed conversations, it was about 1:30 p.m.  before Joel dropped me off at the lake, enabling me to spend the balance of the day lounging around at home. That’s a welcome benefit of taking in local shows.

The last Tuesday of April found me putting the Town Car on the road to Green Bay, this time with Chet Krause and Joel Edler in tow, to attend the annual banquet of the Nicolet Coin Club. It was about 4:30 p.m.  when we hit the road from Iola for the 63-mile drive to the Rivers Bend supper club, where we joined up with a couple dozen club members and their wives at about 6 p.m. During the course of the evening we enjoyed visiting with President Roger Bohn, secretary-treasurer Don Kocken, old-timer Tom Fruit, who enjoyed a stint on the Numismatic News staff way back when, Paul Reiser, Mike Tramte and others.

With the gathering breaking up at about 8:30 p.m., we immediately hit the road for home. Having dropped Chet and Joel off in Iola shortly before 10 p.m., it was nearing 10:30 before I pulled into my garage at home. Unfortunately, attendance at the NCC banquet was typical of the attendance at too many club gatherings these days, with every attendee being north of 60 years in age.

The following morning found me putting the Town Car on the road again, this time for an extended outing. Heading out at about 7 a.m., an hour later I pulled into the Lincoln dealership in Appleton for a service appointment, getting back on the road about an hour later. The 183-mile drive to Rosemont that followed took almost exactly three hours, as I pulled up at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare hotel right at noontime. Within a half hour I had found my way over to Hall G of the Stephens Convention Center, where PNG Day session of the 72nd anniversary Central States Numismatic Society convention was under way, with activity around the bourse at full throttle.

Before engaging myself into the flow of activities around the floor, I opted to avail myself of the snack stand, lunching on an Italian sausage sandwich in the company of Chicago area collectors Don Dool and Leon Blasi. During the balance of the afternoon, among those I engaged in extended conversations were Professional Currency Dealers Association secretary Jim Simek, Doug Davis who runs the Numismatic Crime Information Center out of Texas, currency dealer Tom Denly from Massachusetts, ANA board member Jeff Garrett from Kentucky, incoming ANA board member Gary Adkins from Minnesota, and Carl Schwenker from Houston, who birddogs for the annual Money Show presented there.

With the PNG Day bourse closing down at 5 p.m., I headed back to relax in my room at the Hyatt for a bit before poking my head in on the CSNS board’s executive session that was getting under way at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the convention center. There I presented an ANA Presidential Award to board member Jim Moores from Missouri, recognizing his efforts to develop educational initiatives throughout the Central States area. I then returned to the Hyatt, relaxing over dinner at the O’H American Grill before calling it a day by 8:30 p.m.

Thursday got under way at about 6 a.m. with an hour long constitutional walking along River Road up to Higgins and down to Balmoral, before returning to the Hyatt for a sticky bun French toast breakfast at O’H’s, where I also enjoyed chatting with currency specialist Joe Sande from Florida, before heading over for the day’s opening of the bourse to early birds and exhibitors a 9 a.m. Activity around the floor, with Central States dealers finalizing their setups, appeared to be moderately active. Around noontime I accepted the hospitality of Michigander and ANA general counsel Ron Sirna at the snack stand, where we joined Gary Groll from Virginia in conversation.

Following lunch I took the time to survey the offerings of the exhibit area, organized by Fran Lockwood from Indiana, numbering more than 240 cases arranged by 44 exhibitors, 14 of whom were first-timers. It was 2 p.m., just as the show was opening to the public, with a queue of no more than 50 enthusiasts having gathered, when I took leave of the floor to hit the road to my second destination of this outing.

At about 2:30 p.m. I was on my way to South Dakota, traveling the U. S. Grant Memorial Highway and crossing the Mississippi at Dubuque. From there I continued into Iowa by way of Dyersville, site of the “Field of Dreams” and home of the National Farm Toy Museum, calling it a day at about 7 p.m., having reached Waterloo after driving 257 miles for the day. Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican Cafe was my choice for dinner.

On Friday morning I picked up my  westbound trek through central Iowa. It was just minutes down the road when my odometer turned over to all sevens – 77777.7. It was about noon when I dropped off at Elk Point to enjoy an authentic pineapple soda at Edgar’s Old Fashioned Soda Fountain, topped off with a big fish sandwich at a Burger King a few miles further up the road.

My day’s journey continued northbound arriving in Aberdeen at about 5 p.m. having logged 520 miles for the day. After registering at the White House Inn, I opted for dinner at the Millstone Family Restaurant and called it a day around 7 p.m.

Saturday my day began at about 6 a.m. with a walk into town, returning to the  White House Inn around 7 a.m. I encountered ANA board member and long-time associate Alan Herbert treating himself to the continental offerings in the breakfast area and joined him for some conversation.

It was nearing 8:30 when I found my way to the Eagles Club, where the 60th annual gathering of the South Dakota Coin & Stamp Association was getting underway under the tutelage of Charles Fulker and his Aberdeen crew. Among those I encountered were President Warren Jackson from the Sioux Falls area and newsletter co-editors Robert and Cheryl Maisch from Mobridge, the latter being acquaintances of long standing, with ties to Token and Medal Society involvements. At 11 a.m. I sat on the organization’s annual board meeting at Jackson’s invitation.

At noontime I joined Jackson, Fulker and board member Mark Zimmerman from Aberdeen for the soup and sandwich offerings available from the Eagles. During the course of the afternoon I broke away for an hour or so, walking over to visit the nearby Dacotah Prairie Museum.

One exhibit featured what is reputed to be the country’s largest collection of independent telephone and telegraph company materials dating from 1886. I was also among those in attendance for a book signing opportunity with Herbert for his newly published Krause title Warman’s U.S. Coin Collecting, offering easy to understand advice for the collector.

I also enjoyed meeting Ben Laufman, one of several youngsters I observed enjoying the show. Ben stood out as an exhibitor of an inspirational Peace Dollar collection assembled with the aid of his father, Steve, who is a long-time collector. I was pleased to discover that Ben, who lives in Mitchell, is a member of both the SDC&SA and the ANA, and that he is involved in ANA youth activities.

Activity around the bourse appeared to be quite lively throughout the day. Attendance mounted to just a shade shy of 200, which isn’t bad for a bourse of only 20 dealers or so.

An hour after the bourse doors closed at 5 p.m., the annual awards and meeting banquet got under way in an adjacent room with perhaps 60 in attendance. I shared a table with the Laufmans and immediate past president Lyle Walth from Mobridge. Among the awards presented was an ANA Presidential Award that I extended to Jackson in recognition of his leadership contributions to the SDC&SA.

With a long day’s drive ahead of me, it was about 5:30 on Sunday morning when I hit the road, arriving home about four hours later with the log having climbed to 523 miles. There I reconnected with my Central States experience, so to speak.

Ron Sirna had driven up from Rosemont for a brief visit to Iola. We spent the balance of Sunday and Monday visiting and exploring before he hit the road for home on Tuesday morning by way of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and across the Mackinac Bridge.

All in all, a fitting and pleasurable conclusion to a diverse and enjoyable numismatic month.

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