The month of April found one weekend spent at home sandwiched between a pair of road trips. The first trip found me flying to New York City to participate in the annual spring trustees board meeting of the American Numismatic Society on the month’s second weekend. The weekend following found me driving to the Chicago area to attend the 35th annual CICF production at Rosemont.
My early morning routine didn’t have to be changed for the New York City getaway, as my United Express flight out of Appleton was scheduled for a 9:33 a.m. departure. With on-time departures out of both Appleton and O’Hare, and a straight in approach at LaGuardia, with my suitcase being first out at the baggage carousel, I was on the ground by 3 p.m. and headed into Manhattan within minutes. A quick taxi ride by way of the Queens Midtown Tunnel delivered me to the Hampton Inn SoHo on Watts Street by about 3:45 p.m.
I unpacked and settled into my room, then caught up on the early evening news. At about 5 p.m. I headed out for a leisurely walk around the area, stopping at the restaurant Chicci on Spring Street at about 6 p.m. for a delicious sea bass dinner. The forecast was for rain in the morning, so I then spent about an hour walking along Canal Street into Chinatown, then down Broadway to Chambers, then up Church Street along the eastern edge of TriBeCa, getting back to the hotel around 8 p.m.
With Friday morning being rainy as predicted, I didn’t get into circulation until around 7 o’clock, at which time I headed down to avail myself of the Hampton Inn’s continental breakfast offerings. At 9 a.m., with it still sprinkling out, I hailed a taxi for the relatively short ride down to Wall Street. With the taxi dropping me off on the east side of Broadway, I walked the three short blocks to the site of the Museum of American Finance at 48 Wall St., quartered in the 1927 landmark building that until a decade ago was the home of the historic Bank of New York, founded in 1784 by Alexander Hamilton, a site that had been occupied by the bank since 1797.
The Museum of American Finance was founded in 1988 as the Museum of American Financial History by John Herzog, then owner of the Smythe numismatic dealership, it initially was located nearby in modest quarters on lower Broadway. The Museum reopened in its spacious new 30,000-square-foot home on Jan. 11, 2008. The new location is within steps of the New York Stock Exchange. It features a variety of galleries and interactive exhibits dedicated to the financial aspects of money, banking and the markets, including live transaction feeds from the Exchange floor, thus serving as its de facto visitor center.
At the museum I had the opportunity to meet with Herzog and its operating president, David Cowen, with whom I share a disconnected background. We both attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., at times separated by years. An easterner, he spent two years there, subsequently earning his bachelor’s and advanced degrees elsewhere, while for me it was one year and out into the working world. The three of us spent the better part of two hours in some preliminary discussions of how the museum and the ANA might explore some mutually beneficial outreach and educational activity exchange undertakings.
It was around 11 a.m. when we ended our discussions and I headed back onto the street, by which time the skies had dried, so I decided to walk over to view the status of the World Trade Center site, then back to the hotel along West Broadway. Around noontime I headed to the Red Line subway station at Canal and Varick, where I deposited a $10 bill to purchase an $8 transit ticket, receiving a pair of dollar coins in change, one a 1979 Anthony and the other a 2009 John Tyler presidential issue. My destination was the upper Midtown area.
Emerging from the subway at the 50th Street station I walked up 7th Avenue to 53rd Street for lunch at the Stage deli, opting for a sandwich piled high with corned beef, tongue and salami. Then I walked lunch off by heading up to Central Park South, from where I wandered down to Grand Central Terminal variously along 6th, 5th, Madison and Park avenues. From there it was to Times Square by way of the shuttle to pick up a southbound Red Line train, returning to the hotel around 3 p.m.
Having spent the balance of the afternoon relaxing in my room, it was about 6 when I headed out to find a place for dinner. This time I opted for the Savore restaurant on Spring Street. Following dinner I returned to the hotel, getting back there around 8 and calling it a day after a roundabout walk up West Broadway to Houston Street, then down 6th Avenue.
A pleasant morning greeted me on Saturday, as I headed out at about 6 a.m. on a constitutional, heading off east along Canal and East Broadway to Pitt Street, then up to Houston Street and back west to 6th Avenue, that returned me to the hotel about an hour later. The sidewalks along the way yielded three cents in serendipity finds. I was left with a couple hours of leisure time to again enjoy the Hampton’s continental breakfast and digest some of the contents of the morning’s paper, prior to heading off to satisfy the primary mission of this trip.
It was about 9:30 a.m. when I headed over to the ANS offices on the eleventh floor of the office structure a block away at Varick and Canal, where my arrival happened to coincide with that of fellow trustee Syd Martin from the Philadelphia area.
The board meeting got under way at 10 a.m., stretching over the better part of four hours or so, with a working lunch from a catered sandwich buffet. Our discussions covered a range of issues from finances and fundraising, through an overview of the collection database build that is under way and a discussion of making the library holdings accessible through Google, to some lively exchanges on a pair of controversial issues, they being the specter of the Chinese counterfeits and import restrictions on Italian coins from cultural property perspectives.
Having returned to the hotel, it was about 3 p.m. when I headed off on a walk by way of Broome Street, Broadway and Fulton Street to the South Street Seaport historic and entertainment district. After spending a bit of time there, I walked up Catherine Street, then across on Worth Street to Hudson Street, up through the TriBeCa and SoHo districts to Spring. It was about 6 p.m. when I opted for dinner at the Bistro Les Amis on Spring ––the scallops were great––returning to the hotel around 7 o’clock and making it an early-to-bed night.
By 4:30 on Sunday morning I was on my way to LaGuardia, an under 20-minute journey by way of the Williamsburg Bridge and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. I was planning that it would leave plenty of time for check-in, security clearance and a light breakfast prior to my scheduled 6 a.m. Delta departure, which with a connection in Detroit would get me home by 10 a.m. or so.
Unfortunately, the crowds being processed and confusion in the air at the terminal resulted in it taking nearly 40 minutes to get to the gate area, where boarding was already under way. And that was just a start. While the flight boarded on time, pushback was delayed an unbelievable hour and a half due to “new paperwork” introduced that day, according to an announcement from the captain. Thus, it was nearly 9 a.m. when I arrived in Detroit, by which time my scheduled 8:55 connection had already departed.
There I found the Delta computer system had confirmed me for a 9 p.m. departure, but I was able to obtain a standby upgrade to a 12:10 p.m. departure. With the actual departure of that flight being delayed until about 12:30, I didn’t arrive back at the Appleton airport until about 1:45 p.m. I pulled into the garage at home somewhat after 2:30, which translated into about a four and a half hour delay in my return, but with ample time for a late afternoon nap to recover and enjoy a pleasant evening at home.
After having spent the better part of two weeks at home, the last day of April found me hitting the road for a 219-mile drive to the Chicago area to attend the 29th annual Chicago International Coin Fair.
Putting in my daily fitness center routine and accompanying Buffy on her morning walk before hitting the road south, it was about 8 a.m. when I climbed behind the wheel of the Town Car. With traffic sailing along smoothly all the way, it was about 11:20 when I pulled up to the Holiday Inn O’Hare at Rosemont. It was nearing noon when I reached the CICF registration area after claiming my room.
At the registration area I was greeted by Krause Publications numismatic publisher Scott Tappa and corporate events director Cory Smith. I also briefly exchanged greetings with reader James Belt from central Ohio.
Upon entering the bourse room, which had opened to dealers with tables and early bird registrants at 9 a.m. and to public admissions at 10, it was immediately apparent that business was really humming. Frankly, I don’t recall the last time that I witnessed such a vibrant tempo at a CICF.
As I made my way to a table that had been set aside for the American Numismatic Association, it was immediately apparent that an overwhelmingly high tempo of activity permeated the bourse area. The adjoining table in my aisle was occupied by the American Numismatic Society, with ANS Fellow and 2011 Chicago ANA Anniversary Convention general chairman Bob Leonard holding forth there.
At another table just down from us was The Celator, where publisher Kerry Wetterstrom was plugging his monthly ancient and medieval coin journal, while across the aisle was a table occupied by the Chicago Coin Club, where club secretary Carl Wolf and treasurer Steve Zitowski were in residence, along with member John Riley, with whom I enjoyed chatting a bit.
Among those who stopped by the ANA table to chat early on was Doug Rohrman from Chicago, a fellow ANS trustee board member, with whom I shared an engaging conversation on the topic of the proposed cultural property importation restrictions on coins of Italian origins and Bill Spengler from Colorado, with whom I’ve enjoyed an extended association tied to Krause numismatic book publishing activities. Then, there was central Illinois elongated cent enthusiast Bob Olson, who reminded me that it had been 100 years ago, to the day, that the St. Louis World’s Fair had opened.
Later, at 1 p.m., I sat in on the sixth annual CICF meeting of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, conducted by executive director Wayne Sayles. There were about 15 interested enthusiasts in attendance, a session that extended well over an hour and related to the same topic. This session accorded me an opportune time to recognize Sayles with an ANA Presidential Award for his dedicated and ongoing contributions to our hobby community.
The activity buzz around the floor was at heightened levels throughout most of the afternoon, with the aisles relatively jammed. And, based on conversations I had with dealers around the floor on Saturday and Sunday, the assessments were that business was anywhere from good to great. Several remarked that they had witnessed a fair number of new faces in the aisles. While attendee traffic was thinning somewhat by 4 p.m. or so, activity actually appeared to remain quite strong almost to the 6 p.m. closing bell.
In the evening I enjoyed attending the 6:30 meeting of the Bermanian Guild of Numismatics, at which His Majesty Alanus I, Rex Bermaniae (dealer Allen G. Berman presided), which offered up a half hour or so of fun and frivolity, complemented with the serving of honey drenched baklava as largess to the 25 or so in attendance. Gathered in the “spirit of Bermania … where humor is a national value … its governing principals being responsibility and joviality,” those in attendance were treated to a historical reading delivered by Bermania’s hereditary monarch Alanus I.
It was about 9:30 that evening when I called it a day, following a relaxing dinner that stretched to about two hours in the company of D.C. area dealer Lucien Birkler and show chairman Kevin Foley in the Holiday Inn’s Metro Grille dining room.
My Saturday started at about 5:30 a.m. with an hour-long constitutional along Des Plaines River Road down to Lawrence Avenue then up to Higgins Road and back got. As I was returning to the hotel I encountered dealer Gary Morris from Cincinnati, who was out pursuing a walking regimen as well. Heading down to the River Rock dining room for a buffet breakfast at about 7:30, I was joined by Victor England, head of the CNG organization out of Lancaster, Pa. Our talks extended over the next hour focused on wide ranging discussions on such topics the fixing of ANA event sites, cultural property import restrictions and marketplace change observations.
Activity in the bourse built up quickly, although it never reached the crescendo that was evidenced the prior day. During the course of the morning I enjoyed a couple extended conversations with attendees who stopped by the ANA table. One was with Joe Paonessa from Racine, who along with George Cuhaj from Iola, operates the Badger Mint as a hobby, and will be conducting a “creating minting errors” course at the ANA Summer Seminar. The other was with French coinage realm enthusiast Brad Ream, who hails from east-central Indiana.
At 1 p.m. I joined an attendance of about 45 at the meeting that the Chicago Coin Club annually hosts in conjunction with CICF, with president Jeffrey Rosinia presiding. The educational speaker for this year’s meeting was John Burns from Pittsburgh, a dealer specializing in collectible books. Burns’ presentation explored facts about a selection of noteworthy and interesting titles. Everyone in attendance received a specially prepared “Cowry Shell Money” educational card souvenir mounted with two authentic cowry shells, the 24th addition to an ongoing series of numismatic object overviews produced in conjunction with their meetings held during CICF since 1986. Returning to the bourse following the meeting I found the floor was still active, though the overwhelming buzz evidenced on Friday was absent, with activity really tapering off after 3 p.m. or so.
Having again skipped lunch, I was more than ready for an early dinner when I assembled around 5 p.m. with Bob Leonard, Carl Wolf and Mark Wieclaw, assistant chairman or the 2011 Chicago ANA, for an evening of informal convention explorations. The hotel dining room was closed, so we headed off to the nearby Capital Grille. My citrus glazed salmon entree was outstanding. It was a bit after 8 p.m. when I returned to my room and called it a day.
It was about 6 o’clock on Sunday morning when I headed off on my daily constitutional. While I only walked up River Road to Devon Avenue this time, it was about 7:15 when I got back to the Crowne Plaza, as on the way back I stopped off for a sausage muffin breakfast. While activity around the floor was relatively quiet from the 9 a.m. dealer opening, through the public opening at 10 a.m. and on through the morning, very few dealers were observed pulling up stakes prior to the noon-1 p.m. closing timeframe.
With the bourse having closed to one-way traffic at 12:30 p.m., by 1:30 p.m. I was on the road north, having gathered up a load of light fixtures that I had arranged to borrow from the Krause supply for use at the late May Numismatists of Wisconsin 50th anniversary event in Iola. I pulled off for a late lunch at the Apple Holler restaurant about 53 miles and 55 minutes up the road at the Kenosha-Racine county line. Quickly downing a bowl of soup and a salad, I was back on the road around 3 p.m. It was about 5:30 p.m. when I pulled in at home.
Compared to most of March and April, being able to have spent 11 of 18 days at home over this time-span was a comparative luxury. The travails aside, however, I’ve enjoyed every last trip.
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