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Just how bad can I look after my breakfast?

Numismatic News editor talks about his experiences at the most recent ANA convention in Atlanta.

The American Numismatic Association unofficially turned a page at its National Money Show in suburban Atlanta April 7-9. It was a great show. The commercial market was active. Dealer-to-dealer trading was hectic. The public showed up.

It was clear that the problems that came to the fore during the winter were beginning to belong to the past. Many, if not most, ANA members want to look to the future.

My most serious problem was lint. Yes, that?s right, lint. The hotel at which I stayed had a restaurant with cloth napkins. After breakfast, I returned to my room to retrieve my briefcase and I discovered that my pants and coat were covered with a nice white lint. Fortunately for me, I always carry a lint brush in my suitcase and I quickly made my attire presentable and I was off on a busy ANA day.

Other guests, who were less prepared than I, had apparently more significant problems shedding their lint. It did nothing for their mood, but deep down, it really didn?t alter the dynamic of their business or the dynamic of the show.
Lint appears. Lint looks bad. Lint gets removed. Life goes on.

It was clear from my interaction with the ANA board members that they are unanimous in their hope that their recent troubles are like lint. It looked bad for a while. It has been removed. It is time to get on with the business of building the organization and making it better for all.

If it works that way, great. ANA will be better and the hobby will have its most important voice back.

The board adopted a balanced budget. Expenditures are projected at just over $5.8 million. The budget projects a surplus of almost $93,000. ANA President Bill Horton had repeatedly said that another deficit budget would be rejected out of hand. There are assumptions embedded in the budget that need to be made real to reach that number, but Executive Director Chris Cipoletti said they are doable.

Sure, rumors still swirl. Some may be true. Some bad things might happen. That?s the risk. But then again, that is always a risk. No matter what the board chooses to do, there will always be rumors.

The ANA staff, much of it new, is working on the assumption that a new approach is necessary to realize ANA?s potential. If it works, they will deserve the credit. We all would be the losers if they fail.

I made a private plea to a top-ranking employee, though witnessed by the new PR guy, Jay Beeton, that it is important not to forget collectors and the collecting impulse. These are the roots of the organization on which everything else depends.

The fact that the ANA PR guy was there is standard operating procedure for many organizations. They don?t want to be put in the position of my asserting something that cannot be immediately contradicted with witnesses. At least it does not go so far as the prior Mint director?s entourage. I remember sitting on a couch with the Mint director. She had her written talking points. Two other employees on either side of us had their written talking points and I am supposed to ask questions and then watch them as they flip pages. I have always been tempted to just ask for the papers and skip the rest of the exercise. But then, of course, I wouldn?t have that live quote to point to to show that the story was somehow uniquely mine.

The ANA is still on a very human scale. Passions about it are very human passions. There is a depth of good will that can be drawn on by the board if it chooses to do so. It is not unlimited and I could envision circumstances in which it would dissipate. It is there currently to help this board move forward with its vision.

If the ANA is rewarded with obviously successful new programs, a growing membership and an end to its need to dip into the endowment to fund operations, this board will be looked upon as the one that did it. Board members know that. Collectively, they are wearing their best business suits. They hope they now have removed the lint.