I had lunch with American Numismatic Association President Clifford Mishler just after he returned from a July 2 ceremonial relaunch of the organization’s Hall of Fame at headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.
When it is finished, each member of the Hall of Fame will be honored with a plaque affixed to an outside wall of headquarters at the front entrance.
I have no special insights as to the workings or importance of a hall of fame. Obviously, ANA is not the only organization to have one, but I do have one stray thought about it.
That thought is the shame it is that the ANA Hall of Fame also doesn’t honor some critically important things in the hobby.
This is not to belittle or deny the importance of the people who have been selected for the Hall of Fame. I have known some individuals who have been selected for the Hall of Fame. I have known others solely through their written works. It is fair to say that as a body of individuals, they deserve the honor and respect shown them.
However, when the topic is coin collecting, objects are also important. It might even be said that objects are even more important than people. It wasn’t people that provided me with that initial spark of interest. That came from a comic book ad.
I am not proposing that we honor comic book ads in the Hall of Fame, but certainly as a newspaper editor I appreciate the power of advertising.
But the simple fact is I would not be sitting in this chair today were it not for the Whitman coin album.
Had I not had the guidance provided by the Whitman cent albums of 1941 to date (as it was labeled in 1963) and 1909-1940, I probably wouldn’t be here.
Those albums provided a private numismatic tutorial every time I looked at them. The funny thing, too, is the album did not intimidate my 8-year-old self either. There was information, but it was the minimum necessary without big words to make it look too difficult.
The albums gave me a framework to work with. It was filled with die-cut holes in which to place coins. Underneath them were dates, mintmarks and mintages.
I learned quickly that there were three mints, Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco and that the “S” mint closed because the sequence stopped in 1955.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which coins were the rarest. The lowest mintages told me that, but also, the holes that tended to remain empty the longest confirmed the relationship to the mintage numbers.
If any single object deserves to have ANA Hall-of-Fame-style honors, besides the very concept of coinage itself, it would have to be the coin album.
Without those cent albums and others, my interest in coins wouldn’t have been sustained long enough for me to buy a Red Book, subscribe to Numismatic News and Coins magazine, or to meet ANA Hall-of-Fame-quality people.