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Souvenirs highlight ANA Portland trip

I didn’t hit the road out of Iola until about 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, to catch a 6:50 p.m. flight out of Appleton headed for the ANA National Money Show in Portland.

Instead of boarding a United commuter to O’Hare, this time I caught a Northwest Airlink flight to a Twin Cities connection. Arriving there with a connecting time of a bit more than 90 minutes, I eschewed the tram and moving walkways in favor of a hike of 20 minutes or so, judging it to be roughly a mile from gate B-6 to F-12, which left me with ample time to relax prior to boarding the scheduled 9:35 p.m. departure.
Arriving in Portland at about 11:15 p.m. as scheduled, I caught a taxi to the DoubleTree at Lloyd Center. It was right on midnight by the time I tried, unsuccessfully, to quietly settle into the room that I would be sharing with Chet Krause, who had traveled to the West Coast independently earlier in the week.

It was about 7:30 a.m. Thursday when I awoke to the sun rising in a clear sky, outlining Mt. Hood to the east out the window of our room. After showering and dressing quickly, Chet and I headed down to the Multnomah dining room for breakfast, during the course of which we observed fellow board members Alan Herbert and Walter Ostromecki sharing a table with ANA controller Carol Shuman, while another was occupied by Bob Hurst and Cindy Wibker, attending as representatives of the FUN organization, with whom we briefly exchanged greetings. Then we caught a taxi for the five- or six-block ride to the Oregon Convention Center where an ANA board executive session was scheduled for 9 a.m.

Much of this day was spent closeted in executive session discussions, with most of the actions taken reported out in the open board session on Friday afternoon. We did break shortly after noon. I joined fellow board members Herbert and Ed Rochette, along with Numismatic News editor Dave Harper for lunch at a Denny’s a couple blocks away. Returning to the executive session at 2, we spent an hour or so exploring the budget for the fiscal year that commenced April 1 before adjourning to be on hand for the opening of the bourse to dealers at 3. At 6 we sat down for an interchange with the Advisory Council, with about 10 former officers in attendance.

After walking back to the DoubleTree shortly after 7 p.m., I joined Ostromecki for dinner at his table. As we were winding down our discussions following our meals, we were joined by Harvey Gamer, who hails from Ostromecki’s home turf and has been a staple at many Southern California local shows for years. I enjoyed their reminiscing about a multitude of activities and personalities drawn from the greater Los Angeles numismatic scene from years gone by, finally calling it a day around 10:30 p.m.

My Friday got under way at 6 a.m. with an hour long morning constitutional, during the course of which I happened to cross paths with ANA convention manager Brenda Bishop as she awaited a tram to the convention center. It was about 8 when I joined Herbert and Ostromecki for breakfast before grabbing a tram myself. When I arrived, activity on the bourse and in the exhibit area was already well under way, with the ribbon cutting ceremony opening the convention to the public set at 9:30. Thereafter, I spent the next two hours absorbing the offerings of the exhibit area.

It was about 12:30 p.m. when I headed to Burgerville, a local burger chain outlet, where there was quite a line waiting to place orders. Spotting ANA President Barry Stuppler in line well ahead of me, placing a to-go order for the public registration crew, I invited myself to join him. With Barry treating me to their specialty burger and a black forest shake, this turned out to be a really good deal for me.

Early afternoon business activity around the bourse appeared to be rather soft. At 3 p.m. I participated in the open board meeting session, which commanded an attendance in the 25 to 30 range and stretched into a very lightly attended Town Hall meeting that broke up at about 6. I walked back to the DoubleTree and joined Walter and Chet for dinner, calling it a day at about 8:30 p.m.

On Saturday morning I repeated my walking regimen of the previous day. Light sprinkles had begun to fall by the time I excused myself from the breakfast table I was again sharing with Ostromecki and caught the tram to the convention center. With the bourse opening to dealers at 9, I spent the next hour introducing myself around the floor by passing out campaign literature. From 10 o’clock to noon I participated in the biannual Candidates Forum, following which I returned to my tour of the bourse. Walking past the table of currency specialist Tom Denly from Boston, I observed him polishing off a lunch sandwich; despite the drizzle outside, I couldn’t resist the temptation to scamper over to Burgerville, returning with a black forest shake to complement a sandwich.

My reading of the event was that it was an artistic success from an attendance standpoint, but generally a bit weak from the marketplace perspective. The marketplace is undergoing significant change. There is certainly still money present at the top of the market for those who are intent on buying rarities and quality. On the other hand, it seems there is little liquidity in the middle of the market, with dealers largely not willing to buy for inventory. And, the collector market has definitely softened, evidencing a lot of selectivity. The volume of activity today, at both shops and shows, is in the bullion element.

Shortly before 5  o’clock I caught a tram back to the DoubleTree and adjourned to Stuppler’s suite, joining Vice President Patti Finner and general counsel Ron Sirna for a meeting of the personnel and compensation committee. It was about 6:30 p.m. when Chet and I caught a taxi to the Higgins restaurant, a top of the list recommendation provided by Bob Merrill, a hobby circuit veteran who calls Portland home. We enjoyed the opportunity and came away with no regrets.

As I was heading out for my morning walk shortly before 6 a.m. on Sunday, Chet was heading to the airport for his early morning flight back to the Midwest. With a light drizzle still falling, as it had throughout the day on Saturday, I put in an hour walking four laps of the four covered levels of the parking garage adjoining the DoubleTree. Heading down to the Multnomah, I spent about an hour over breakfast visiting with Hurst and Wibker from the FUN organization, who were heading to the airport for their flights back to Florida as well. Returning to the convention one more time myself, I sat in on the ANA judges and exhibitors awards ceremony, which attracted about 30 people.

At about 11:30 a.m. I caught a tram back to the DoubleTree, where I had to finish packing and check out, and from there boarded another tram at 12:30 p.m.  for a 22-minute ride to the airport. When the ticket machine located on the tram loading platform vended the change from a tendered $5 bill, it yielded a Sacagawea and an Andrew Jackson presidential dollar.

While checking in at the airport I encountered Ed and Maryann Rochette. Following lunch in the Rose City Café, I visited with them for a half hour or so in United Red Carpet room as we awaited our respective 2:04 and 2:08 departures to Denver and Chicago. In the boarding area I subsequently exchanged a few parting words with fellow board member Wendell Wolka from Indianapolis, who was on my flight as well.
With my connection to Appleton coming off without a hitch, it was about 11:30 p.m. when I arrived home. This was the second time I had transited O’Hare inside of a week, both times homeward bound, as early the previous Monday morning Sally and I had flown in from Hawaii, ending a three-week vacation with stays on the islands of Maui, Lanai and Oahu. I had spent the better part of two days in Iola sorting through mail, e-mails and voice mails before heading off to Portland.

While our vacation to Hawaii was a strictly non-numismatic outing, I couldn’t resist setting aside all of the quarters we received in change while there. Since returning from Portland I have taken the time to inventory the $53.50 in quarters that were received in change. I have charted comparisons of similar random surveys taken during visits in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Unbelievably, among the four logs, which numbered a combined total of roughly 1,000 quarters, only the 2007 log yielded a New Jersey quarter, that being a single Denver mint example.

This year’s log did not include any examples of the Vermont, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine, Michigan, Florida, Texas or Alaska issues either. In fact, it was seriously devoid of the 2002 through 2004 dated State Quarters offerings, including a consecutive string of six issues from Louisiana through Maine over 2002-2003, and only nine of 16 offerings for the full three-year run.

It’s also interesting to note that while State Quarters encountered among the 214 pieces logged, at a percentage of 41 percent, increased in incidence from the 32 percent figure recorded for the 425 coin 2005 sampling, there are many more issues for which no examples were encountered this time around; 14 out of 50, as contrasted to four out of 31.

Obviously, the earlier issues in the series seem to be disappearing from circulation in Hawaii after just 10 years. Whereas 28 of the first 30 issues were represented in the 2005 sampling, only 19 of them are represented in the present sampling. And, while 42 examples of the 2002 through 2004 dated issues were represented in the 2005 sampling, only seven were present in 2009. On the other hand, the 2006 through 2008 dated issues in the 2009 sampling reveal a grand total of 36, a figure slightly stronger than the 42 figure recorded in 2005 for the issues of 2002 through 2004, but with much less mixing of Denver and Philadelphia mintages.

It’s also interesting to note that while the 2005 log of 287 1965 through 1998 quarters yielded at least one example of all issues with the exception of four, the 1966, 1971, 1973-D and 1998-P, this year’s 127-coin log was missing 13, the 1966, 1968, 1969, 1969-D, 1971, 1972, 1977, 1982-P, 1983-D, 1986-P, 1993-P, 1996-P and 1998-P. Obviously, a larger sampling would have likely filled in some of those holes. Also, while the preponderance of issues in the 2005 log – 69 of 287 – were dated 1995-98, only 20 of 127 in the 2009 log were of that same range. I came up with five Bicentennial quarters out of the 2005 mix, while the count was four this time out.

I found these comparisons of these decidedly unscientific samplings interesting, as previously indicated, but probably not particularly valuable.            

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