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Extended road trip results in great finds

The week straddling the last days of August and the first days of September this year found me off on a triangulated trip taking me to Kansas City and Fargo.

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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The week straddling the last days of August and the first days of September this year found me off on a triangulated trip taking me to Kansas City and Fargo.


A driving outing, the seven days spent on the road resulted in the logging of 1,764 miles, with a lot of scenic countryside enjoyably passing before my eyes, and some rewarding experiences being added to my memory bank.

Having spent Monday morning at my Iola office, it was about 1 p.m. when I hit the road, making a short stop at home to touch base with Sally before picking up I-39 southbound out of Central Wisconsin. Dropping off the Interstate at Portage, I headed cross-country southwesterly to Dodgeville, there picking up US-151, crossing the Mississippi at Dubuque around 5 p.m. having logged a bit more than 200 miles, and continuing on to Iowa City.

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Picking up I-80 westbound, I continued on to Des Moines, arriving there about 8 p.m., having by that time logged 402 miles since departing Iola. After claiming a room at a north side Quality Inn just off the Interstate, I drove up Merle Hay Road four or five blocks for dinner at a Perkins before retiring for the day.

Tuesday morning found me getting the day started at about 6 o’clock with a constitutional up the frontage road along Merle Hay under thunder laden skies. This walking regimen was cut short at about 30 minutes, as moisture soon started falling with slowly increasing intensity, following which I availed myself of the Quality Inn’s continental breakfast offerings.

Navigating the Town Car back onto I-80/35 at about 8 a.m. My destination for the day was Kansas City, arriving there and claiming a room at a LaQuinta in the Kansas suburb of Lenexa at about 11:30 a.m.. The morning’s drive had been one of 206 miles, with driving thunderstorms frequently encountered all along the way, bringing to 608 the mileage for the first leg of this triangulated trip.

The objective for this stop was attendance at the Lyn Knight Auctions offering of the Melamed collection of Minnesota National Bank Note issues assembled over the past 50 years or so, initially by Mort, and subsequent to his death in 1987 by son Richard. After first locating the Knight offices nearby and obtaining a bidder number, during the process briefly exchanging greetings with Iowans Don Mark and Jim Sweeney, along with Gopher Jerry Swanson and Richard, I headed off to a nearby Cracker Barrel for lunch.

Returning to the LaQuinta following lunch, I rested for a bit before returning to Knight’s nicely appointed and spacious combination office and auction forum complex at about 3 p.m.
While chatting with Lyn following my arrival, I learned that this auction was being held five years to the day since the complex had been formally inaugurated with an earlier auction.

With the scheduled 4 p.m. start of the Melamed sale having been delayed about half an hour due to technical difficulties, the 30 or so bidders in attendance waited patiently. Once started, the sale progressed slowly with the hammering of only about 80 lots an hour on average, the slow pace was largely attributable to the fact that live Internet bidding was running in tandem with the floor biding. This being the first time I’ve sat in on such a session, the experience left me with an unfavorable reaction to this new world auction picture.

The Melamed sale session, comprising 400 lots, did not conclude until around 8:30 p.m., during the course of which I bid on three lots, capturing two. I also shared bidding responsibilities with Don Mark on 14 lots that were bid in for the Higgins Museum collection. Talking with Lyn following the sale, I learned that the total number of active bidders for the session was 120-odd, with 90-odd of them emerging winners. Given the 400 lots offered, of which 25 or so didn’t actually sell, that worked out to about four notes per successful bidder, so things got spread around quite widely.

Following a break of about half an hour, the day’s second sale session got under way with the offering of some 400 lots of U.S. type, about 250 lots of Nationals from other states and somewhat more than 200 lots of various nature. I headed back to the LaQuinta around 11 p.m., about halfway through the session, with the hammer rate having picked up to a rate approaching 200 an hour. I understand the session did not close out until near 2 a.m.

It was somewhat after 6 a.m. on Wednesday when I headed out for my morning constitutional, walking about the retail area immediately adjacent to the LaQuinta. With a very light drizzle falling, I again cut it short at only about half an hour. At about 8 a.m. I headed off for breakfast at a Mimi’s Cafe, just a couple blocks away on 95th Street, there joining Iowans Mark, Sweeney and Carl Allen.

At about 10 o’clock I headed back over to the Knight complex where an Internet world paper session was just getting under way. A few of the previous evening’s bidders were lingering around claiming their lots and enjoying the company of one another. I found myself engaged with Lyn, Lowell Horwedel from Indiana and others in an extended interchange of observations and concerns related to the ANA and the hobby community in general.

Taking leave around noon, I headed to lunch at a nearby Applebee’s. Later in the afternoon I drove out I-35 to the historically interesting Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm in Olathe, a designated Santa Fe National Historic Trail site. The Mahaffie facilities served as a stop on the Barlow & Sanderson Stage Line from 1865-69, where horses were changed and passengers fed. The stone farmhouse dates from 1865 and was outfitted with a unique dining room and kitchen arrangement to serve travelers.

Following a late nap back at the LaQuinta, I walked over to a nearby Chipolte’s Mexican Grill for a bite to eat before retiring early in anticipation of a long day on the road Thursday. Up and walking in the morning before 6 o’clock, I put in the better part of an hour before returning and treating myself to the LaQuinta’s continental offerings for breakfast. It was about 8 when I put the Town Car back on the road, this time headed north, picking up I-29 out of the Kansas City area, my destination for the day being Fargo.

My route of travel was through the Missouri and Iowa countryside paralleling the east side of the Missouri River to Sioux City, there crossing over into South Dakota and continuing north. Rain squalls fell intermittently all along the way. I pulled off the Interstate a bit north of Sioux City for lunch at about 1 p.m., having been enticed by a small roadside advertising sign for Edgar’s, an authentic “Old Fashioned Soda Fountain” located in Pioneer Drug at Elk Point. It didn’t disappoint – the pineapple soda and two cookies were great – as was the ambience of the soda fountain itself, which dates from 1906.

It was about 6 p.m. when I pulled into Fargo, having driven 606 miles for the day on this second leg of my trip. Its comfortably cool low 60s temperatures were a welcome change from Kansas City’s very humid mid-80s conditions.

Registering at the Doublewood Inn, I encountered Floyd Hartley, Paul Manderscheid and Bob Williams from Michigan, along with Dick Grinolds from the Twin Cities and Luke and Nyla Johnson from Pipestone, Minn. Like me they were in town to participate in the annual NTCA token show, which I had missed attending the past two years, for which the typical venue is Omaha. Before calling it a day at about 8 p.m., I took a short drive to dinner, opting for a Red Lobster a few blocks west.

It was about 6:30 a.m. Friday when I headed out for my morning constitutional, which once again turned out to be a half hour in duration, pounding the sidewalks northeasterly along Fiechtner Drive to 28th Street South, then south to 13th Avenue Southwest and back west to the Doublewood. Heading down to the Dakota Grill for breakfast at about 7:30, I encountered Mike Greenspan and Robin Ellis from down Texas way heading off to set up their table in the function area where the token show was already getting under way.

With breakfast out of the way, it was about 8 o’clock when I arrived at the show area, there encountering event chair Bob Hanna, along with Leonard Otterson and others from the host Red River Valley Coin Club tending to the needs of participants. The day was an enjoyable one mostly spent in engaging visits with friends both old and new, while casually exploring the offerings of the bourse. Activity appeared generally light and unhurried, but certainly satisfying to the interests of attendees.

The annual meeting of the National Token Collectors Association convened at 3:30 p.m. with about two dozen members and officers in attendance. The officers presiding included President Richard Greever from California, Secretary Jerry Adams from Texas, Chairman Luke Johnson, board member and classified manager Norris Wahl from Iowa, and board member and Mavericks editor Paul Leafgreen from Texas.

The meeting lasted an hour or so, with the group voting to accept an invitation to return to Omaha in 2011, but expressing a consensus to seek an alternative location for 2012. Much of the other discussion concerned how to promote and build a bigger event, with nearly all of the focus being on locations east of the Rockies, west of the Allegheny’s and north of the Ohio River Valley. Those in attendance also went on record favoring a quiet and relaxed non-public Friday format as observed this year, urging its continuance.

A banquet was held at 6 o’clock with about 70 in attendance. I joined a table that included Hanna and his wife, Sue, along with Greever, North Dakotan Glenn Jorde, and Johnny and Susan Satterlee from Oklahoma. Also seated at our table was Mark Piehl from Moorhead, across the Red River from Fargo, an active member of the Clay County Historical Society, who presented an engaging and entertaining program on that city’s saloon trade from the late 1800s into the late 20th century, which concluded around 8.

My Saturday morning constitutional west along 13th Avenue to 50th Street and back got under way at about 6 o’clock and was around an hour in duration. Arriving at the Dakota Grill for breakfast about 8, I joined a table being shared by Bob Campbell and Chris Larsen from Salt Lake City. It was nearing 9 o’clock by the time I found my way back to the show area, where the activity buzz was already healthy and would build through the course of the morning and early afternoon.

Unlike Friday, when I spent most of the day roaming about the show floor, on Saturday I spent much of my time holding forth at a table I was provided for promoting the ANA. While I didn’t sign up any new members, I did managed to pass promotional materials into the hands of several attendees and enjoy conversations with a fairly steady stream of ANA members and Numismatic News subscribers. In fact, I came away with the impression that an unusually high incidence of ANA members and News subscribers were represented among the attendees.
Could it just be that there is a greater tendency for collectors to “join” or “belong” when they reside in a somewhat remote or off the beaten path location?

With box lunch service being available on the show floor to dealers and attendees alike, there was little break in the flow of activity until late afternoon. When the bourse closed for the day at 5:30, a buffet dinner was mounted in an adjoining meeting room in advance of an evening auction session, with participation being similar to what it was the previous evening. This time I shared a table with Adams, Mike Miller from Pennsylvania and Larry Elman and Steve Tureen from California.

The auction got under way at about 7 o’clock with perhaps 60 potential bidders spread about the room. With 570 lots being hammered in a bit over three hours, an average of just under 200 lots an hour were sold. I was also successful in bidding in two lots at this sale, finding its non-Internet format more inviting personally.

There was a Sunday morning breakfast buffet available, of which I availed myself, before hitting the road for home on the final leg of my triangular trip. My table mates ended up being Grinolds, Joe Copeland and Terry Hess from Tennessee, Jerry Schaeper from Kentucky and Loren Miller from Iowa.

It was about 8 o’clock when I fired up the Town Car and placed it on a southeasterly tack down I-94 towardsthe Twin Cities. By 11:30 I’d logged 233 miles. Pulling off at the St. Anthony/New Brighton exit to gas up and stop at a Culver’s, lunching on a cup of chili and a pork tenderloin sandwich. Back on the road by about 12:15, it was 4 p.m. when I arrived home, with the day’s mileage being 483, contributing to 1,764 total miles for the trip.

Was it worth it? You bet it was. I came home with two additions to my “out of place cities” National Bank Note collection and three additions to my CCC token collection, along with perhaps a couple dozen other pieces of more than passing interest. I consider that a pretty decent haul!

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