What kind of organization do you want the American Numismatic Association to be?
The question is timely.
The year 2019 will witness the biennial election of officers and members of the ANA board of governors.
The time for expressing opinions is now, especially since there is a competitive race for president between Don Kagin and Col. Steven Ellsworth.
I am sure both will welcome input from all members and potential members.
While you are thinking about the question of the future, it is a good idea to pause and reflect on where we have been.
If there currently is an organization that reflects the popular opinions of the mass of coin collectors, it is the ANA.
I say this because it has the largest membership, which is currently 25,000.
In days gone by, the membership number has been larger, but I can say that about the circulation of Numismatic News and other periodicals in the field as well.
Even in its heyday, the number of ANA members has been but a fraction of all coin collectors.
However, it undertook to speak for average coin collectors by testifying before Congress from time to time.
It laid out a favorable view on coinage redesign while it was still but a glimmer in the eye of Diane Wolf, who pioneered the concept that eventually led to the state quarter program in 1999.
Members of the board endeavored to represent average collectors.
They sought out their opinions and faithfully tried to reflect them in their decisions.
When they did not, they were turned out en mass in 2007 when Chris Cipoletti was executive director.
The result was a refocusing of the ANA on the needs and opinions of average members.
Controversies from time to time have usually stemmed from budget problems.
A financial squeeze does cause rethinking of old truths.
That brings us to the present day.
Falling auction fees and a smaller membership has caused ANA to rely more heavily on its endowment to pay current bills.
This has prompted some board members to call for the role of the board members themselves to be donors and fundraisers rather than just elected representatives of the average member.
Those who cannot pay their expenses to attend board meetings and raise money besides have left the board or decided not to run at all.
This is a huge departure from past practice when board members were reimbursed for these expenses.
Is this change a bad thing?
That is for members to decide.
Wisconsin had a governor elected in 1978 who always cited his golden rule, “He who has the gold makes the rules.”
Who will an ANA board of fundraisers listen to most closely?
Will it be to a member who complains that dues are already too high?
Or will it be to someone who will write a large check every year?
Don’t get me wrong.
ANA has had many a generous donor in the last 40 years.
But a donor’s voice was not the only voice being heard during that time.
What kind of ANA does its membership wish to see in 2019?
This summer’s election will be the chance for all ANA members to register their choice of direction for our national organization.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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