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Month includes two first-time events

By: Clifford Mishler

My attendance at the 120th anniversary American Numismatic Association convention in Chicago was followed by six weeks of inactivity insofar as numismatic travels were concerned. Things got rolling again on the first weekend of October with that Sunday finding me putting the Town Car on the road to Milwaukee to attend the 76th annual Milwaukee Numismatic Society show and participate in the annual fall board meeting of the Numismatists of Wisconsin.

It was about 7 o’clock in the morning when I hit the road, joined by traveling companions Joel Edler and Colin Bruce, who had driven down from Iola to join me. The drive of 132 miles found us arriving at the American Serb Memorial Hall on the city’s southwest side at about 9:15 a.m.

My first greetings were exchanged with MNS president Leon Saryan, vice president Jim Heinrich and longtime members Tom Casper and Henry Javorsky. A great crowd already populated the bourse aisles, with activity appearing to be quite lively. After spending an hour or so foraging, I headed off to survey the exhibit offerings, where exhibits chairperson Betty Petrosky cornered me to serve as a judge, before heading off to the NOW meeting.

Thad Streeter from Wausau presided over 13 of 16 board members in attendance. The agenda included the requisite financial critiques, reviewing the current year’s results and discussing the budgeting picture for the coming year. The slate of future annual NOW events also came under discussion, detailing that the 2012 event will be hosted by the Madison Coin Club on March 12. The 2013 event has been set for Sheboygan Falls, while the 2014 event will be hosted by the Racine Numismatic Society on the occasion of its 75th anniversary, with a special tribute to the late R.S. (Dick) Yeoman.

There were also extended discussions revolving around the stability of the organization’s membership numbers and the fulfillment of its educational mission. Like most numismatic organizations these days, NOW is struggling to maintain its membership numbers, even as it invests in the development and maintenance of a productive website. The educational discussions included a review of the annual writers awards for contributors to NOW News and participation in underwriting the sponsorship of a pioneering scholarly numismatic reference work.

With the pace of the NOW meeting seeming to have moved along in an orderly fashion, I was a bit surprised to note that my watch read 12:45 p.m. when we broke up. By 1 o’clock we were on the road headed for home.

Columbus Day found me putting the Town Car on the road again, this time to a more distant destination – Pittsburgh – as I opted to drive rather than fly. My outbound log, over about 12 hours on the road, broken up with an overnight, was 687 miles.

Departing from home on Monday morning at about 8 o’clock, I crossed over into Indiana at about noon, having logged 291 miles. About an hour down the road at the La Porte service area I stopped for lunch and gas.

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Back on the road in about half an hour, it was 3:45 p.m. Eastern time when I crossed over into Ohio, having put 392 miles behind me. Three hours later I pulled off the Ohio Turnpike at Streetsboro, opting to overnight at a Holiday Inn Express and dinner at an Applebee’s.

On Tuesday morning I headed out for a short morning constitutional, putting in about half an hour strolling the sidewalk fronting Highway 14, following which I availed myself of the Holiday Inn’s continental breakfast. Hitting the road at about 8 o’clock, I pulled up in front of Pittsburgh’s Westin Convention Center hotel at 9:45 a.m., a second day drive of only 105 miles. My five days at the inaugural ANA fall National Money Show were under way.

After having settled into my room at the Westin, it was about 11 a.m. when I headed over to the adjacent David Lawrence Convention Center by way of the enclosed link. I found ANA staff hard at work polishing off setup of the registration, Museum Showcase and related areas of the convention floor.

Encountered over time were convention director Rhonda Scurek, controller Carol Shuman and membership director Cary Hardy as well, along with president Tom Hallenbeck. I also exchanged greetings with exhibit area national volunteers Gene and Pat Hynds, along with Mark and Myrna Lighterman.

After lunch and a nap, at about 3 o’clock I headed back. I prevailed upon IT manager Florik Botvinik to print out a photo ID for me, given that I had managed to leave mine in Iola. Thereafter, for about an hour I assisted the Hynds in assembling the photo ID lanyards that registrants would be receiving. Eventually, I also crossed paths with ANA exposition supplies manager Brian Miller and his assistant, Larry Gaye from Oregon, who were busying themselves making sure that all tables, signage, display cases and table lights were properly arranged.

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Towards the end of the afternoon I had the opportunity to briefly exchange greetings with Don Carlucci, the founding inspiration and Rock of Gibraltar of the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists, who served as assistant host chairman of this event. It was about 6 o’clock when I heading out on an evening stroll along Penn and Liberty avenues between 7th and 21st through the Strip District area, Pittsburgh’s historic market district that is said in mornings to be a beehive of activity, but was relatively quiet in the evening although sprinkled with a few bars and restaurants. Then it was the Original Fish Market for dinner at about 7:30 p.m. and by 9 p.m. I had returned to my room.

Wednesday turned out to be a rainy morning, so I skipped putting in a daily constitutional before heading down to the Westin’s Penn City Grille for breakfast at about 8 o’clock. There I joined a table occupied by fellow ANA board member Scott Rottinghaus and his wife, Katherine. We were subsequently joined by general counsel Ron Sirna. It was nearing 10 a.m. before I found my way over to the convention hall, where a relatively quiet PNG Day had gotten under way two hours earlier.

For lunch I again returned to the Original Fish Market, this time finding myself outnumbered by lawyers – Sirna, along with Greg Allen from the Twin Cities and Richard Knight from Nashville – but the conversations were instructive and pleasant.

It was about 5:30 p.m. when I climbed aboard a bus to be transported to the Gateway Clipper Fleet dock for the convention kickoff dinner cruise framing Pittsburgh’s watery point formed by the juncture of the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers. On the way to the charter I shared bus seating with Kerry Wetterstrom from Lancaster, Pa., publisher of The Celator, a monthly journal dedicated to ancient and medieval coinage. Among those with whom I shared a dinner table during the cruise were fellow ANA board member Mike Ellis from Georgia, national volunteer Sandy Pearl from Florida and Bryce Doxzon from Baltimore. It was about 10 o’clock when I returned to the Westin.

With Thursday another damp morning, I again eschewed thoughts of a morning constitutional. It was about 7:30 a.m. when I headed down for breakfast at the Penn City Grille, sharing a table with Greg Allen. It was somewhat after 8 a.m. by the time I got over to the convention hall, quickly becoming so conversationally engaged back in the Museum Showcase area that I overlooked being on hand for president Hallenbeck’s formal remarks at the 8:45 a.m. public opening ceremonies.

The balance of my Thursday exhibition hall time, where the flow of activity bourse activity appeared to be reasonably steady, but certainly not robust, was largely spent visiting with dealers and attendees alike, along with absorbing the exhibits area offerings. Along the way I became deeply engaged in a conversation with Doug Mudd and Scurek for perhaps an hour, exploring Museum Showcase feature subject possibilities for future ANA conventions.

The bourse closed at 5:30 p.m. and about an hour later I joined my fellow board members, officers and ANA staff for an executive session, which commenced with a catered dinner. Our wide ranging discussions embraced topics from mediation issues to the proposed 2012 budget, along with explorations of such related issues as auction contracts and site selections and diverse considerations from museum policies to expense monitoring. We did not emerge until about six hours later.

With Friday dawning to yet another wet morning, I chose a walking regimen, opting to spend about an hour strolling under the convention center’s protective overhangs. At the Penn City Grille I enjoyed a quick breakfast with Rottinghaus, before we each headed our separate ways at about 8:30 a.m.

At 9 o’clock I sat in on the ANA District Representatives meeting chaired by national chairman Oded Paz from Idaho, exploring the reinvigoration of the program, which has fallen into disrepair over the past several years. It drew the participation of no more than a dozen. At noontime I attended designer/sculptor Jamie Franki’s behind-the-scenes exploration of the development of the medal produced by the PAN organization in commemoration of the ANA’s first fall National Money Show. This meeting registered a similar level of participation. The medal is a tribute to industrialists and benefactors Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon, and the “Steel City.”

An open session ANA board meeting convened at 3 o’clock, followed by a short “Town Hall” meeting. There were about 30 in attendance at the beginning. The meeting topics were largely housekeeping in nature, including, the acceptance of financial reports, adoption of the fiscal year 2012 budget, enactment of a couple bylaws amendments and the naming of a couple appointments for future conventions. The Town Hall meeting, at about nine minutes in duration by my reckoning, was the shortest I can recall. By about a quarter past five everyone was dispersing.

My destination for the evening was the annual PAN banquet, a special affair hosted at Pittsburgh’s award-winning LeMont restaurant atop Mount Washington, where I joined 100 or so fellow members and guests. The colorful nighttime view of the city that provided the background was spectacular, as was the food. I was delighted to share a table with the tenacious PAN trio of John Eshbach, Jerry Kochel and Dick Duncan, who were honored with lifetime achievement awards for their contributions to PAN and the numismatic community of central Pennsylvania.

Another of those seated at my table, with whom I enjoyed sharing conversation was Steven D’Ippolito from Colorado, a dedicated exhibitor and judge, who served as chairman of the exhibits and awards committee during my term as ANA president.

With Saturday morning dawning dry, I walked across the Allegheny on the 9th Street bridge to the North Shore area. There I took a looping stroll around the Pittsburgh’s adjacent sports venues, the Pirates’ home at PNC Park and the Steelers’ home at Heinz Field. I returned to the city’s triangular downtown Point area over the Roberto Clemente Bridge (6th Street). The hour long outing got me back to the Westin by about 7:30 a.m., followed by another quick solo breakfast at the Penn City Grille, allowing me to get over to the convention center by 9 a.m. Activity quickly built to a much higher level than had been the case through the previous three days.

At lunch time, as had been the case the previous two days, I contented myself with the offerings of the lunch stand adjacent to the Museum Showcase area. On this occasion, I enjoyed sharing conversations with Richard Jewell, editor of PAN’s quarterly publication The Clarion, and his wife Fran, breaking in on a discussion that was under way between him and author Mark Benvenuto from Michigan.

At 3 o’clock I joined a couple dozen or so exhibitors and other attendees at the exhibit awards presentation and reception event. I had also sat in on a portion of the exhibit committee meeting in the morning. Returning to the bourse area around 4 p.m., I found that activity had pretty much wound down, with most dealers packing up. I stuck around until around 5 p.m., calling it a convention and heading back to the Westin.

Following a short nap, at about 7 o’clock I put on my walking shoes to head out and find a place to have dinner. Just a few steps down Penn Avenue I came upon August Harvey’s, a bar and restaurant that looked inviting. I selected a crab cake salad and a cup of chili from the menu. Both proved to be very tasty. I seem to recall that Pittsburgh is known for the many styles of chili offered by its restaurants. For me this style certainly was one of the better ones. Within the hour I was back at the Westin ready to call it a day.

Hitting the road for home on Sunday shortly before 6 a.m., I paused for a quick McDonald’s sausage biscuit and egg breakfast at the Mantua service area on the Ohio Turnpike. It was about noon Wisconsin time when I tuned in the Packers-Rams game on WTMJ out of Milwaukee, listening as they posted a 24-3 victory in the first half, with the offense going flat in the second half.

Having crossed over into Wisconsin at about 2:30 p.m., with a 515 mile log to that point, about an hour later I pulled off at the northwest Milwaukee U.S.-41/45 expressway Highway Q exit for a very late lunch at Cracker Barrel. Back on the road an hour later, it was about 6:30 p.m. when I pulled up at home, having posted a homeward bound log of 691 miles over 11-1/2 hours.

The following Thursday I headed to the Appleton airport for a United flight to New York City. My departure got off as scheduled at 9:05 a.m., the O’Hare connection went smoothly and my arrival at LaGuardia was at 2 o’clock, a few minutes early. A taxi ride into Manhattan by way of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel delivered me to the Hampton Inn on Watts Street at about 3:15 p.m.. My window afforded a nice view up to the Midtown area, including the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. After a nap of about an hour, I walked up Sixth Avenue to a restaurant called the 12 Chairs, there contenting myself with a quick burger for early dinner.

From there I walked down to the offices of the American Numismatic Society, which are on the 11th floor of the One Hudson Square building on Varick Street, just a few steps from the Hampton Inn. My objective was to attend a lecture, tabbed the Krause-Mishler Forum, that presented an exploration of the linkages between the east (Russia) and west (Sweden) in Finnish monetary history. It covered the period from the 17th century through the early 20th century. I found the presentation by Dr. Tuukka Talvio, keeper of coins and medals at the National Museum in Helsinki, to be quite insightful and informative.

Attendance at the forum numbered 20 or so, with the presentation getting under way at 6 o’clock following a short reception. During the reception I had enjoyed visiting briefly with several longtime acquaintances, including the ANS’ U.S./modern curator Bob Hogue, former curator Michael Bates, fellow trustee Jere Bacharach and auction cataloger and author David T. Alexander. After visiting briefly with other attendees following the forum, by 7:30 p.m. I had returned to the Hampton Inn.

Heading out in the pre-dawn darkness, Friday at about 6 o’clock I took an hour-long walk east along Watts Street, north on Broadway, west on 14th Street, then south on Ninth Avenue and Hudson Street to Watts and back to the Hampton Inn. Having availed myself of the continental breakfast and otherwise prepared myself for the day’s activities, it was around 9 a.m. when I hit the streets. I enjoyed a leisurely stroll down Sixth Avenue and Church Street past the rebuilding World Trade Center site and a nearby small park occupied by the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Ten o’clock was approaching when I arrived at my destination, the Museum of American Finance at 48 Wall Street. It occupies the main banking hall and lower floors of an historic and ornate old building that served as headquarters for the Bank of New York for 85 years, the site having been served by the institution from 1797 to 1998. Having visited the museum on several occasions since its development was initiated nearly six years ago, the museum proper was not my objective this time, as I was heading to the conference area on the lower floor.

A modest two-day (Friday and Saturday) Wall Street Collectors Bourse was getting under way in the conference area, the brainchild of museum founder John Herzog, the former principal of the R.M. Smythe organization. Herzog and Smythe had been behind the widely acclaimed semi-annual Strasburg stock, bond and currency events that were popular in the 1990s.

The conference area of the museum hosted perhaps no more than a couple dozen dealer tables, occupied by the likes of Larry Falater and Lee DeGood from Michigan and Scott Lindquist from North Dakota, along with locals that included Steve Goldsmith, Lyn Glaser, Mark Anderson, Andy Lustig and Tony Terranova. The participating dealers leaned towards stock and bond offerings. So, there were quite a few unfamiliar faces behind the tables, given that these “money” collectibles fall outside the focus of my interests.

Herzog invited me to be his guest at a 6 o’clock dinner he hosted at the Bayard’s restaurant in the India House, a historic Financial District fixture. Those in attendance were primarily a mix of dealers participating in the bourse, supporters of the museum and neighboring Wall Street area businesspeople. I was pleased to share a table and conversation with Bob Hogue of the ANS, Jerry and Josephine Haggerty, Alexander and Jocelyn Marinescu and Tommy Tesoriero. While an auction followed at 8 p.m., I did not partake. A short subway ride returned me to the Hampton.

On Saturday it was a bit after 6 a.m. as I walked west on Watts to the Hudson River Park bike/walkway, then south to the Battery Park area, before walking past the World Trade Center area, then up Church Street and Sixth Avenue back to the Hampton and breakfast by 7:30 a.m. It was about 9:30 a.m. when I walked over to the ANS offices. The fall board meeting got under way at 10 a.m. with a dozen trustees in attendance and a couple others participating by phone. As with the ANA, significant slices of time at ANS meetings are spent on budget and membership issues, which was the case for this nearly five-hour long session.

The ANS’ 154th annual meeting started at about 3 o’clock, with perhaps 30 or so members in attendance. The meeting was addressed by board chairman Ken Edlow, president Roger Siboni, treasurer Sid Martin, governance committee chairman Bob Kandel and deputy director Andy Meadows. Attendees also heard overview reports on the year’s collection activities from librarian Elizabeth Hahn, curators Elena Stolyarik, Robert Hogue and Peter van Alfen. The meeting adjourned at about 5 p.m. and was followed by a reception.

It was about 6 o’clock when I caught a subway to Midtown, getting off in the Times Square area, from where I walked over to the Grand Central Terminal. From there I walked over to Fifth Avenue and the Rockefeller Center area where the plaza ice skating rink was already in place, then up to 52nd Street and across to Seventh Avenue. After enjoying a tongue sandwich for dinner at the Stage Deli, I walked back down to the Times Square area, where I caught a train south, arriving back to the Hampton shortly after 8 p.m.

A 6:45 a.m. Sunday pickup for what would be about a 20-minute ride to LaGuardia by way of the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway got me there more than two hours ahead of my scheduled 9:12 a.m. departure. Having again availed myself of the Hampton’s continental breakfast, I headed to the United Club Room where I enjoyed a couple light snacks while reading the morning paper.

While the departure was delayed about half an hour, the lost time was recovered en route. A full hour and 20 minute connection as scheduled at O’Hare left me with time to put away a big bag of popcorn from Concourse E Nuts on Clark outlet prior to my 11:55 a.m. departure to Appleton. Landing there at about 12:30 p.m., on what had been scheduled as a 50 minute flight, I was able to be home relaxing by 1:30 p.m.

It’s certainly not often that the log of a month’s travels can include attendance at a pair of inaugural numismatic events, as was the case for me in October, allowing me to chalk up yet another memorable hobby community experience.

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