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Change ANA membership approach

Yesterday I wrote about the appeal of luxury as can apply to coins.

Today, I should point out that some sense of exclusivity is a good thing.

In this case, I am thinking about it in relation to members of the American Numismatic Association, the nation’s top coin collecting organization.

The membership number today is lower than during the heyday of numismatics in the past. That worries some. They see an existential threat. They want to improve things.

But are we going about it in the right way?

Too many times I have heard individuals pose the issue as, “What do people get from an ANA membership?

They answer by putting together a laundry list of things like a subscription to The Numismatist, access to the library, free admission to the convention and other tangible things.

But in reality, anyone who asks what’s in it for me already has missed the primary benefit of ANA membership.

That is the luxury of knowing he or she is one of an exclusive group of collectors. Their collective wisdom, experience and wealth sets them apart.

Being part of this group is invaluable to living the true collector life.

To define membership any other way is to devalue it.

I am not trying to make a numismatic House of Lords, but rather it is not productive to have the source of true scholarship, true expertise and extensive resources chasing indifferent people with the message: “I can give you all this for $46.”

"No? How about $41?”

"No? ?How about $28?”

This approach to membership is a dutch auction to nowhere.

On the other hand, a statement that, “Our membership costs $75 a year, but is not for everybody” would be a much better approach.

It would pay the bills, reduce organizational angst and have the added benefit of giving current members a sense that they were very smart to join.

This is a sense that is too rare among members. I see it in the eyes of a Chet Krause and a Harvey Stack when they received their 60-year membership medals at the ANA World’s Fair of Money.

All ANA members should feel like that from Day 1.

Membership in ANA is a luxury. It is exclusive. It is not something that should be sold like dog licenses.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."