I have decided to toss my hat in the ring and run for the ANA Board of Governors.
In 2007 I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I saw that the membership of the ANA wanted a change, and I was pleased to see the next three Boards do an excellent job of giving us that change. We now have a financially and organizationally stable Association whereas before we had one teetering on the brink of disaster. Now is the time to decide where we go from here and who will lead the ANA as it prepares for the future. I believe I have much to offer in that regard.
You probably have two questions uppermost in your mind as your read this: Who am I, and what do I plan to do if elected? I’ll take them in the opposite order, starting with my plans.
Preserve the gains of the last six years. Many of the leaders who pulled us back from the brink are no longer serving on the Board and many incumbents have chosen to stand down this year. They have done fabulous work under trying circumstances fixing the ANA, and they have earned a rest. They–and you–also deserve to know that their successors intend to preserve what they have done, and I am committed to doing so. If I am elected to the Board I will do my utmost to ensure that the ANA stays fixed. One thing I bring to the table that will help is that I live near the ANA headquarters, and can serve as the Board’s “man on the spot” should it ever be necessary.
Many challenges ahead. The ANA needs to stay fixed because it must now face up to the future from a position of strength. Our hobby is undergoing many challenges right now, and many of them will only get worse.
Preparing for a (nearly) cashless society. Cash is used less and less frequently and many claim it’s going to become irrelevant in much the same way we are watching happen to stamps, the other great government-produced collectible. I don’t believe cash will ever disappear but usage might decline precipitously, so that we will have low mintages even in good economic years. We will have to make extra efforts to inspire an interest in coins and paper money, and of course that will involve education, the core mission of the ANA.
Education must move to the internet. The education itself will have to take forms new to many of us born before the age of the internet. The ANA is making great strides with its website, and the current envisioned upgrades to it will probably be completed in the upcoming term. But that will not mean the job is done; the internet–and people’s expectations of it–is constantly evolving. The actual task of upgrading the website will never be complete because the target is moving. And we should put more and more of our informational resources on the internet, including the library and museum.
The increasing threat of fakes. Another challenge we face as numismatists is the increasing number and quality of fakes. Now you cannot even take a third party holder (“slab”) as assurance that a coin is genuine, as the holders are also being faked. The monthly column in The Numismatist is an important tool but it is not nearly enough. We should be putting far more information about these fakes online, both common techniques for making fakes, and the diagnostics for specific fakes, searchable by date and denomination. This too is an effort that won’t ever be completed—in fact it will be difficult not to fall further behind–because the fakers continue to produce more fakes.
It is fortunate we have a healthy organization that can now apply itself to these and other challenges of the future, because there is a lot of work to be done.
Now on to who I am. I started collecting at the age of 6, taking cents out of circulation and pressing them into those blue folders. I graduated to larger denominations and foreign coins, and started buying coins to fill holes. I attended the first ANA spring show in 1978, held in an ice rink complete with the ice. (Many of the coins had frosty luster.) I went through the common period of disinterest in coin collecting going through college and the first years of my software engineering career, but then I returned to the hobby with a vengeance, collecting 20th century US and then Russian Imperial (1700-1917) coinage. I also served as president of both of the local clubs, and secretary of one of them, and did many years of work with the Colorado Springs coin show.
ANA Involvement. Eventually I focused exclusively on Russian Imperial, and began exhibiting at ANA shows in 1998, racking up ten class wins, three bronze medals as second runner up for Best of Show, and finally three Howland Wood Best of Show awards in a row at World’s Fair of Money shows (2005-07) and additional awards at National Money Shows, all with Russian Imperial coinage, before retiring from “hard core” exhibiting in 2007. My collecting focus began to change back towards US Type and ancient coins at this time. I started judging exhibits in 2006, and have served as assistant chief judge once. In 2007 I joined the ANA’s Exhibits and Awards advisory committee. In 2009 I was appointed chair of that committee and have served in that capacity since. I am still judging and setting up the occasional exhibit, usually non-competitively, as one way of contributing to the ANA’s educational mission.
I’ve also endowed the National Money Show’s Best of Show award–quite a turn for the youngster who attended the first of those shows, agog at the cornucopia of coins and paper money, while shivering from the cold of an operating ice rink. Little did he know that someday his name would be on the top exhibit award for that show.