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Made it by skin of my teeth

The Professional Numismatists Guild President Dana Samuelson gave the PNG Lifetime Achievement Award to Gary Adkins last night. The Minnesota dealer and American Numismatic Association vice president was lauded for a 50-year career.

It was a touching moment, especially when he said that if he had ever hurt anyone in the business this was a good time to apologize.

It showed true humility and grace crowned by success.

For a while, success was not something that I felt I was experiencing yesterday.

I had great difficulty getting to the dinner and I was not even flying Delta. Instead my United flight from Chicago to Los Angeles decided to throw mechanical problems into the lives of the passengers and crew.

We arrived in Los Angeles four hours late. Instead of comfortably settling in and meeting my commitments, I was sweating every minute and forced to take an expensive cab ride to the hotel in rush hour traffic.

When all was said and done, I made it with five minutes to spare. That probably sounds a bit melodramatic, but PNG had arranged for a bus to take guests to the restaurant, which was about 15 minutes away from the hotel. I arrived at the collection point a few minutes before it left.

This year I had another duty to perform at the PNG dinner, which was why I was sweating my travel delay.

The highest honor of the evening, the Abe Kosoff Founders Award, was given posthumously to Chet Krause, the founder of Numismatic News and the company he built. I had been asked to accept the award. What if I had not been present when Barry Stuppler revealed the winner?

Others might have forgiven my absence, but I would have felt terrible. Chet and his legacy mean a great deal to me. I wanted to say thank you to PNG and let its members know how much the recognition means. I was able to do that.

Being absent would have been an unfortunate letdown.

The group of honorees last night included some who could be there and a few who could not.

Present were Doug Davis, Mike Fuljenz and Jerry Jordan to receive the Sol Kaplan Award. It recognizes efforts to combat crime against the numismatic community. In this case the three worked for nine months. They helped law enforcement in four states to help elderly victims of three con artists who either took their coins and did not pay for them or sold the victims counterfeits.

The Robert Friedberg Award was given on behalf of the PNG by James Simek. It recognizes literary achievement. In this case, the award was given to a Belgian, Hugo Vanhoudt, who was not present. He wrote a reference work, "The Coins of the Burgundian, Spanish and Austrian Low Countries and the French and Dutch Periods, 1434-1830."

Another absent honoree was dealer Anthony Swiatek, Mr. Commem. His work with commemorative coins since 1979 was recognized when PNG executive director Bob Brueggeman announced the Art Kagin Ambassador Award.

I was pleased to be at the same table as the winner of the Significant Contribution Award. This is given for years of dedication and significant contributions. The plaque was presented by James Sego.

It went to Paul Whitnah, who was the voice of the ANA convention message center for many years. One of the responsibilities of his volunteer job was to coordinate with the delivery companies to get coins in and out of the convention. Paul did this so smoothly that it did not look like work. But dealers know it it serious work. It is an honor well deserved.

Paul said it had been a labor of love. That is the fortunate thing about being in numismatics. Many of us are here because it is a labor of love.