One of the responsibilities I took on as I headed to Chicago for the American Numismatic Association convention in the middle of August was a promise I made to Russ Rulau to accept the ANA’s 50-year membership medal on his behalf.
Russ has been long retired. It has been even longer since he left the Krause Publications office in 1984 after serving a decade as editor-in-chief of sister publication World Coin News.
Under Rulau’s leadership, World Coin News prospered and saw its prime competitor cease publication.
During his time, the great gold bullion boom that ended in 1980 occurred. It was a market phenomenon very much like today’s bullion boom. You couldn’t help but notice it and report on it in numismatic periodicals.
As a result, one nickname for World Coin News was “World Gold News.” For some, it was a term of endearment in a joking sense. For others, it was a jibe as in “why can’t you forget about gold for once and tell us about collectible coins?”
As you know, editors make decisions about content and have to live with results, even at the risk of a few less than laudatory comments in the letters to the editor section.
However, whatever the topic, anything that was put together under Rulau’s direction was worth reading. He was always deeply interested in whatever was being covered. This applied to gold as well as just about everything else. He even taught himself to read the Cyrillic alphabet.
During his tenure at World Coin News, I joined the staff of Numismatic News in 1978 and for a time transferred to work with Russ on World Coin News. I learned a great deal from him and from the experience generally, but I never did learn Cyrillic. It is all part of my lifetime of learning in the numismatic hobby.
Russ is now too frail to make the automobile trip from Iola to Chicago. I know he was disappointed that he could not attend the ANA banquet. As recently as early June he was making plans to go, but he is ever the realist and so he asked me to stand in for him.
I was glad to do it. It was the least I could do for someone who loves the hobby as much as Russ does and who has always been willing to share what he knows. As I found out, all it took was to ask a simple question and I found myself being whisked into a numismatic adventure/tutorial/work assignment.
Yes, I am wearing glasses at the moment that have a heavy tint of nostalgia on the lenses. There were awkward deadlines and other problems, too. That’s life.
But the thing about a lifetime of numismatics is that the awkwardness goes away and the learning stays with you. Just remember to absorb as much as you can when you have the opportunity to do so.
I know not everyone can work in numismatics as I do, but every collector can aspire to a 50-year ANA medal. To stay associated with the hobby for that length of time means you valued the experience. I hope everyone can say they value their time in numismatics.