No, this is not going to be a piece about an airline.
This is about our gracious hosts, fully. The ANA has been around a long time. It has been having conventions since Liberty Seated coins were "that modern stuff". That, in itself, is a miracle. When the ANA received its Federal Charter in 1912, signed by President Taft, it became unlike any other group in numismatics.
Because it immediately had a membership made up of several very distinct constituencies. They and their views and desires often are in harmonious agreement. But sometimes they are not. In fact, sometimes the legitimate and understandable desires of its several constituencies are in direct tension with one another. Example? Oh, let's just say it's the subject of the lead story in every coin-related publication out there right now - the Kennedy gold story.
Many dealers sometimes conveniently forget that the ANA is not a trade association of, by, and for dealers. It really isn't! From time to time, it may seem that way, depending on the then-current Board of Governors and the issues that may have bubbled up. If dealers want a dealer organization, there's one biggie out there, the PNG. No, that's not the ANA's mission. I have watched more dealers embarrass themselves at ANA BoG meetings while under this misapprehension than I can count. If PNG isn't your thing, there's also ICTA, and others.
And the ANA, as an Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)3 entity, is most certainly not a lobbying and/or political action committee nor a funding source for such or political candidates. (Barry, this is directed at you, good buddy. Okay? We good? Barry 'n' me, we're linkedin.com buddies, ain't we?)
Many collectors believe the ANA is there to advantage them and their financial interests. Again, ... noooo. Collectors' ability to financially profit from numismatics is both incidental and not part of the ANA's mission or mandate. When it happens, we smile, but it is not the focus of even a tiny part of any of the ANA's collective thought process or ethos. The ANA may correctly say, "No my yob, man!" Not that it would put it so politically incorrectly. I might, but they wouldn't. This is a very tough thing for many collector members to internalize. When they see something happen at an ANA convention that financially advantages a different constituency of members, some collectors want to cry "FOUL", and who can blame them? It is a natural response. But no collector should ever come under the misunderstanding that the ANA will engage in picking financial winners and losers or even try helping to do so.
Oh boy, deep breath. Even a United States Government entity, the United States Mint, frequently conveniently forgets that the ANA is not an unpaid intern in its numismatic product division's marketing department. (Oh, Hi, NSA and FBI. Yes, I did speak ill of a government agency's conduct and attitude. If you keep watching me, you'll see me do it again, over and over and over. If you're going to keep a file on me, you're going to need the really wide expandable gusseted type. Oh bother, set me up with a whole filing cabinet.) See why I like to travel on Amtrak? The TSA doesn't get to give me the amateur proctologist treatment. Ahh, the life of a civil liberties activist and purist! Gotta love it.
Anyway..., as I was saying, the ANA does have a core mission, and it's one to which most members seem completely oblivious - numismatic education! Hopefully, I, as not a staffer for the ANA, but a staffer for a state legislature that works around about a gazillion lawyers, lawmakers and law books, have helped the ANA, an association that I truly love institutionally, and am coming to be friends with its leadership and staff, to just a tiny bit fulfill its educational mandate, by educating readers about what the ANA is for, and what it's not.
The coin collecting field can be an unwieldy tangle of often harmonious, but sometimes competing, diverse, and even incompatible interests. The ANA sits both aside from, and paradoxically right at the center of, those several interests. So there really is only one ANA, with apologies to the Japanese airline, even though it serves such a diverse and sometimes incompatible set of members. If it helps even one member be slightly more appreciative of a few dozen marvelous people in Colorado Springs trying to perform miracles on very little in liquid resources, this piece will have fulfilled its self-imposed mandate.
Now about those Army tanks outside my window...