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WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: JUNE 31 - AUGUST 1, 2008With great anticipation I left my office shortly after 2pm Wednesday and pointed my car toward Dulles Airport. I parked my car and raced toward the terminal. I was running a bit late, but luckily so was Douglas Saville, whose flight from London's Heathrow airport was about half an hour late. Douglas, the former head of the Spink book department, was coming to the U.S. for the Baltimore ANA convention, and we'd made plans to get together.
I found the international arrivals gate and picked a spot to stand. The cleared area surrounded by short gates was where arriving passengers exit customs and parade past the crowd of friends, relatives and limo drivers. It reminded me a bit of the runway at a fashion show, except that only one party in the crowd of 300 or so cares that you exist. To the other 299 you're a disappointment. Passengers began slowly trickling out and were greeted by someone in the crowd.
My cell phone buzzed and it was Douglas - he would be out shortly. When he came out we were both relieved that our plans had paid off. We walked to my car and drove off, with me in the driver's seat on the left hand side of the vehicle, just the opposite of when Douglas chauffeured me around Reading and Oxford last summer. I was quite happy to repay the favor (or should I say "favour"?)
We drove past many new freeway ramps, office buildings and businesses. Northern Virginia is a bustling area - I found myself pointing out landmarks that didn't exist just two years ago when I moved here with my family.
We soon pulled up in front of my house. On entry I introduced Douglas to my eldest son Christopher, who was dressed in a swim suit for an outing to the neighborhood pool. We looked to the top of the stairs, and there was four-year-old Hannah standing in her birthday suit with her swimsuit in her hand. Next came my son Tyler and wife Dee. They were all ready to head to the pool, but we all stopped to chat for a bit.
Douglas had graciously brought gifts from the Heathrow shops - T-shirts for the kids and chocolate for Dee. The boys had several questions for Douglas. Tyler asked about the London Eye and the living statue street performers from Covent Garden - those are what he remembered most from my stories of living in London last summer.
When Dee took the kids to the pool, I drove Douglas around our neighborhood and stopped at Clyde's, a nice nearby restaurant. We had a couple of beers while we inspected the framed Audubon prints that lined the room. They were NOT originals, but still made an impressive sight. We stayed and ordered dinner. Before leaving we scouted a private room for and upcoming meeting of my numismatic social group, Nummis Nova.
By the time we left the restaurant traffic had died down and I pointed my car toward Baltimore. We arrived about 8pm and checked in to the Holiday Inn, where I immediately ran into NBS Board member Dan Friedus. After dropping our luggage in Douglas' room, we parked my car and walked thru the Inner Harbor area. On our way to Phillips' Seafood Restaurant we ran into dealer Steve Fenton of London, the onetime owner of the 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle.
Douglas and I took seats at Phillips' bar and ordered beers. ANA Governor Wendell Wolka & his wife were on their way out. I said hello and introduced them to Douglas. We had an enjoyable time. Douglas told me of some interesting coin book deals he'd made over the years.
As we walked back to the hotel, at about 10pm we ran info gaggle of bibliophiles coming the other direction as we crossed the street. The group consisted of NBS President John W. Adams, NBS cofounder George Kolbe, Joel Orosz, Len Augsburger and his wife. We had a cocktail-less cocktail party in the middle of the intersection until a car had the nerve to interrupt our chatter.
On Thursday morning Douglas and I walked over to the convention center and found the room for the Numismatic Ambassador breakfast. The annual event is a gathering of all past winners of the Numismatic News award. I became an Ambassador in 2002 and the beautiful plaque is hung proudly on the wall in my library.
I made certain to plan for the breakfast because it's the typically the greatest single gathering of top numismatists in the country. It would be a way for me to be sure to see as many friends as possible, and also introduce Douglas to many American collectors.
My plan paid off in spades. We found seats at a table occupied by dealer Claud Murphy and his wife Judith, Howard Daniel III and this year's Farran Zerbe award winner, Gene Hessler. I introduced Douglas, and soon we were joined by Celator publisher Kerry Wetterstrom, Sam Deep and David Lange. It was great to see everyone.
Publisher Fred Schwan of BNR Press swung by our table. At the far end of the room I spotted the Lancaster, PA contingent so John Eshbach, Dick Duncan and Jerry Kochel, whose collection was being auctioned by Heritage at the show.
At the next table was ANA Governor Wendell Wolka and shipwreck coin expert Tom Sebring. Riding in on an electric scooter was writer Ed Reiter. Also on a scooter/chair was longtime ANA officer Adna Wilde. He looked well and we spoke after the meeting. Although I didn't get to speak with them this time I also saw former ANA Executive Director Ed Rochette, Krause Publications' founder Chet Krause and Vince Alones.
I had nice chats with "Redbook" editor Ken Bressett and American Numismatic Society Executive Director Ute Wartenberg-Kagan. She was relieved that the move to the ANS' new location was complete. The new space sounds wonderful. We talked about the recent book sale, which raised about $100,000. We also discussed the library move, which was much easier this time. Rather than packing everything in boxes (which took months the last time), moving crews transferred the books onto shelving on wheels and rolled them on onto trucks and right into the new building. A new librarian has been hired, and a press release is forthcoming.
I also spoke with John and Nancy Wilson, former ANA librarian Nancy Green, George Cuhaj, Bob van Ryzin and many others (forgive me for not publishing every name)! People were very kind in their compliments on The E-Sylum. In the hallway afterwards I spoke with ANA Governor Joe Boling and numismatic literature dealer David Sklow. Barely 9am and already I'd talked with a Who's Who of American numismatics. Many thanks to Krause Publications and our host and emcee David Harper for a memorable event.
My next mission was to exchange my vouchers for Saturday's banquet for actual tickets. The booth wouldn't open until 10am so I bought a soft drink and looked for a seat. From across the lobby I'd spotted Colonial Coin Collectors club (C4) President Ray Williams and took the empty seat next to him. We had a nice conversation, partly about the recent books published by C4. Next I spoke to Pittsburghers Richard and Eva Crosby and Dick Gaetano.
Getting in line for the ticket exchange I ended up behind Roger Burdette and Gene Hessler, so I introduced them. David Sklow came by and invited me to join his table. Although I'd hoped to sit with my old Pittsburgh friends Sam Deep or my Lancaster PAN friends, their tables were already full, so Dave's offer was welcome. I got the tickets and headed into the bourse area.
Right near the entrance was the Kagin-Holabird table with a big glass display case of items from the firm's recent price list. I spoke for a while with Fred Holabird about our mutual friend Bob Evans (numismatic conservator of S.S. Central America fame) and the controversial U.S. Assay Office of Gold pieces (more on these in the next article).
John Wilson came by with ANA Executive Director Larry Shepherd in tow, and introduced me. I was glad to meet him and complimented him on his efforts to right the ship. He joked that this was his first new job where he didn't lie awake the first night worrying that he might screw things up. With things as bad as they were, the only way to go was up. John warned him that I'm a journalist (although I'd never been accused of that before...) But Larry was fine with letting me publish his remark, in the spirit of the new openness of the organization.
Next I briefly spoke with Traci Poole and Wayne Herndon, who was operating two large booths - his usual coin booth and a huge walk-in store setup for his Wizard Coin Supply business. It was a great arrangement with a wide array of coin supplies and numismatic books for sale. His staff sported colorful Wizard hats and could be spotted easily from across the bourse floor.
Next I stopped at Scott Loos' table and picked up a copy of George Selgin's Good Money. Scott said the shipment had been misplaced by his hotel and that he'd had to turn away half a dozen buyers who'd stopped by his table to buy the book.
From there I wandered down to the table of numismatic literature dealer John Burns where Sam Deep's grandson Josh Wadsworth was hanging out. Nearby was Mastronet's table, where I met Rich Mantia for the first time. We had a great talk. Rich showed me a number of interesting items from their upcoming sales, and gave me some elongated coins he'd had made to promote the use of Braille on coins to aid the blind. Rich is famous as the owner of the only Guide Book of United States Coins in Braille.
Soon it was time to go to the NBS Numismatic Literature Symposium. I'm out of time tonight but hope to hear from other attendees and write something up for next week's issue. After the Symposium I stayed in the room for a meeting of the NBS Officers.
Afterwards, Joel Orosz, Len Augsburger and I went to the bourse floor to meet Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing. We'd never met in person before. While waiting for Dennis to be available several folks stopped to chat, including Saul Teichman, whom I'd never met in person before.
Joel, Len, Dennis and I went down the street for lunch at The Wharf Rat brew pub, where we met Katie Jaeger and her friend Kay Freeman. The pair stayed and the group of us had a great conversation. It was my first time meeting Katie and Kay.
Back at the convention Joel and I chatted a bit and I signed a copy of my manuscript for An American Numismatist in London, a compilation of my E-Sylum London Diaries from last year. I gave it to Joel for Friday's NBS General Meeting, which I'd be unable to attend.
Time was running short. I dashed back into the bourse and quickly ran into Chick Ambrass and Ed Krivoniak, fellow members of the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society. I stopped by Charlie Davis' table, and had a short conversation with NBS VP Dan Hamelberg about soliciting ads for The E-Sylum and the NBS web site. From there I dashed to the exhibit area and met up with Joel again. We enjoyed reviewing the exhibits. Lots of nice ones!
Today was my day to meet a number of E-Sylum folks I knew previously only by email. While in the exhibit area medal collector John Sallay introduced himself and complimented me on The E-Sylum. Regular contributor Alan Weinberg made time to meet me (also for the first time in person), and he, Joel and I had a great conversation about the convention.
By 6:15 it was time for dinner. I met numismatic literature dealers George Kolbe, Douglas Saville and David Fanning in the lobby and the four of us went to Phillips' Seafood Restaurant for a nice leisurely dinner. At 9pm we bid adieu, and I walked to my car and drove home to Northern Virginia. I had to be at work Friday, and would miss the NBS General Meeting.
On Saturday, my wife Dee and I drove back to Baltimore for the ANA Banquet. More on this next week!
Wayne Homren, Editor
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