ANAStaff's Blog

07 Aug 2013

Dr. Kelly's ANA Summer Seminar experience

ANA - Summer Seminar | ANAStaff

Written by: Dr. Nancy W. Kelly

Ever since receiving the news in January that I had been awarded a scholarship by the GNA for a week at the ANA Summer Seminar, my excitement level was a ten. The hardest part was convincing my husband, Buddy, that he could survive for a week without me. We have been married 48 years and he is sort of attached to his spouse.  I immediately made reservations with American Airlines. In a second call, I negotiated an outside aisle seat assignment since I am somewhat claustrophobic.


My twenty-eight inch carry-on bag was fully packed two weeks before departure day. On the morning of the flight to Colorado Springs, Buddy let me out at the airport curb. With everything meticulously pre-planned, there was no need for him to park and walk me to security. I chose an early morning flight to make sure I arrived at the Colorado Springs airport during the specific times that the ANA had shuttles to the college. The opening Summer Seminar reception was at 6:00 p.m. When I approached the agent to pick up my boarding passes, she advised me that the flight had been cancelled. No reason was given. After a foot-race to Delta's gate and an unexpected transfer in Houston, I eventually made it to Colorado Springs.


Tiny Cross, an iconic ANA volunteer, cheerfully greeted me and a few others. He delivered us to Loomis Hall, an older building at the college with very basic dorm rooms. No phone. No TV. No air-conditioning.


Weary from the journey, I plopped on the twin bed at 4:30 p.m. hoping to catch a quick nap before the evening reception. I woke up several hours later to a pitch dark room. I peeked out the dorm door to the eerily quiet hallway. A partially dressed man with a beach towel over his shoulder was coming my way. I asked if he knew the time. "3:30," he mumbled. I groaned. So much for my making the opening reception and orientation.


A few hours later I walked what seemed like two city blocks to the college cafeteria. It was nice to finally see lively numismatists of all ages. I didn't recognize anybody then, but later ran into GNA members, John Phipps and Chip Davis. It was difficult choosing my courses for study during the week. I selected the seminar: "Light from Many Lamps: All Star Numismatic Symposium." A variety of speakers and subjects was presented morning, afternoon, and even some nights. Impromptu and scheduled bull-sessions were common.


In my first session, Stephen Carr lectured on collecting early American coppers. He used slides to demonstrate the nomenclature and unique vocabulary common to numismatists. Identification of varieties was taught. I learned the need for counting the beads on certain large cents.


Ever wonder how a commemorative coin gets chosen and then minted? Rod Gills discussed that long journey. He urged ANA members to contact their congressman. The WWI American Veteran Centennial Commemorative Coin Act needs lobbyists. If the act passes, proceeds would be used to erect a monument recognizing the ending of WWI. Rod had a personal interest. His grandfather was a veteran of WWI.


"So-called Dollars" was the subject of Jeff Shevlin's talk. These historically significant, eight-sided medals can be made of most any material including aluminum and plastic. Chris Marchase added to our knowledge by lecturing on the Lesher Referendum Dollars. Joseph Lesher was born in Ohio in 1836. He was captured in the Civil War but escaped Andersonville. He only served 100 days, but was responsible for commercial token minting.


S. Henry Mitchell directed the study of Roman Bronze Coinage and included detailed PowerPoint slides depicting emperors as struck on Imperial, Provincial and Byzantine bronzes. Coins bearing portraits began with Julius Caesar. The height of portraitures occurred during the reign of Nero around 50-96 A.D. David Lange, from NGC, taught on the basics of variety attribution. I was surprise to discover there were so many coin varieties and not just Morgan VAMS. From 1793 to the mid-1830's, the large designs were punched and then given to engravers to add lettering and other details.


Joseph Boling taught on official counterfeiting. Did you know that the producers of currency during the Civil War furnished it for both the confederacy and union without either side being aware? His stories were truly interesting and informative. Seems that countries all over the world have counterfeited currency for economic and espionage purposes. Wendell Wolka also engaged us with the subject of possible treason in regard to the Montgomery notes and bonds.


One of the most fascinating classes for me was led by Jamie Franki. Professor Franki is responsible for many significant coin designs including the obverse of the westward Journey nickel series. His favorite design is an Olympic medal. If one of America's teams medals at the Olympic Games, the athlete gives his or her coach the Franki- designed medal. It debuted in Beijing and has been used ever since.


Bill Rosenblum enlightened us on numismatics of the Holy Land, a place I have been privileged to visit three times. My current Roman and Greek coin collection is meager, but I look forward to adding to it in the future.


David Schenkman spoke about tokens, also a favorite of mine. He discussed the various values of trade tokens including the half-penny and half-dime. Did you know that there are token denominations as unusual as 8 3/10th? My knowledge of war currency was practically nil until Fred Schwan filled us in on current trends in military collectibles. He also showed us some fascinating numismatic trench art which included unusual items made from objects of war such as shell casings. Old soldiers can be very creative. Kenneth Hallenbeck brought many examples of plastic and alternative money. He disclosed the fascinating genesis of credit cards. The American Express Diner's card is believed to be the first. Some of the earlier credit cards are quite collectible as well as valuable.


Dick Horst, an expert on Thalers, delivered the most technical of the classes. The Thaler was a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years. Dick used detailed charts to demonstrate the minute differences in weights that help in detecting varieties. Not all of our time was spent in the classroom. David Sklow, owner of a numismatic literature company, gave us a comprehensive tour of the Money Museum. He acquainted us with the ANA library, a mecca for researchers. He explained the library's unique numbering system and escorted us through the small, but magnificent rare book room which held many original or first editions of coin-related material. The 2013 ANA Summer Seminar wasn't a vacation. It was a valuable education. My knowledge of numismatics was vastly expanded. Thank you, GNA, for providing this learning opportunity.


Kelly Photo

 (Dr. Nancy W. Kelly)

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