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ALAN WEINBERG'S ANA DIARY AUGUST 2009
Alan V. Weinberg submitted these thoughts on the recent American Numisamtic Association convention, along with a recollection of Henry Christensen. -Editor
The Los Angeles ANA has just concluded . I had alot of fun, learned alot and acquired a few nice things. But it was the worst summer ANA I've attended since I started attending in 1964 and this opinion was echoed by many longterm attendees with whom I talked. No, it wasn't the economy in the main - it was the isolated Los Angeles downtown convention center. Altho I've lived in Los Angeles since 1970, I've never ventured to downtown LA and no one does unless they work there. Negative word of mouth concerning the venue was prolific several months ago and many regular summer ANA dealers and collectors just didn't come.
Other complaints such as mediocre ANA-chosen hotels quite some walking distance away, outlandish hotel parking fees, $12 daily convention parking, 1st time $6 daily admission fees to non-ANA members (the vast majority of collectors are not ANA members) , dismal uninviting surroundings around the convention center, and many other factors lead to a spiritless "just a big Long Beach show" atmosphere. The aisles were often almost empty, unlike the vigorous, crowded Portland and Baltimore ANA's recently attended.
From the numerous (dozens) of conversations I had and overheard, most everyone who attended echoed my sentiments while there. Even the many ANA show comments on the PCGS Coin Forum are almost totally in agreement with what I said. Location!
Larry Stack attended the show for the first two days only, walking around only and chatting with old friends, including yours truly. He's lost perhaps twenty pounds (and proud of it!), and looks relaxed and rested.
National Gold Exchange, discussed in The E-Sylum, had a large corner booth and Mark Yaffe was there - gotta give him credit with all the negative publicity for having the courage to attend. Curiously, his cases were full of merchandise.
There was quite a run on the new U.S. Mint high relief proof bullion gold pieces at $1,289 apiece. The U.S. Mint booth restricted you to 10 pieces which you could pay for on your credit card. Many used their 2% back American Express cards and also got enormous airline mileage credits to boot with an almost $13,000 purchase. Then, they'd turn the 10 pieces around for a $50+ apiece profit and sell their entire purchase to any one of perhaps 5 major dealers there buying them up for massive orders they had.
One major dealer had an order for 500 pieces he had to fill and bought and bought 10 piece limits over and over from dealers, their assistants, their wives, their children, etc. That injected a bit of excitement into a rather lackluster show.
Simply put (and expressed by dozens of people I talked to or overheard), the ANA needs to choose venues a lot more carefully and consider many factors, NOT just the cheapest venue. Otherwise, shows and attendance will shrink dramatically and membership will drop off, exactly the opposite from the ANA's current intention with the new $6 daily show entry fee for non-members.
With respect to Henry Christensen- I recall his slender frame, strong jawline and wire rim glasses. I guess I'm getting "that old".
I own a superb 1652 Massachusetts Oak Tree threepence which I bought from Tony Terranova a few years after he bought it in one of Henry's auctions, an auction session containing several superb Mass colonial silver coins. There were 4-5 lots of extraordinary Mass silver , apparently all from one source (European?) which HC didn't normally handle. As I recall, Dick Picker chased the coins up.
It is the finest known rare variety Noe 24. It was sold in Christensen's December 1978 auction sale and Tony sold it to me in 1984.
Thanks for the update! Sorry I missed the show. Seeing old friends and making new ones is the best part of any convention.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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