Dave Bowers published a recollection of his first American Numismatic Association convention (Omaha, 1955) on the Stacks-Bowers blog. He also discusses the state of numismatic literature collecting at the time. Here's an excerpt, but be sure to read the complete version online.
The annual convention of the American Numismatic Association was held in Omaha in 1955. I was there, and it was my first, although I had attended other shows—mostly those of the Empire State Numismatic Association (ESNA).
Back in 1955, I was fairly well steeped in numismatic tradition, through reading, hardly by first-hand experience. I had only been a coin collector since 1952, although I could say and pronounce numismatist correctly. With a limited budget I mainly collected coins from circulation at the outset, and concentrated on building a numismatic library.
As strange as this may seem today, in the early 1950s scarcely anyone was interested in collecting old coin books, magazines, and catalogues. Members of the Wilkes-Barre (Pennsylvania) Coin Club, on learning my interest, deluged me with piles of copies of The Numismatist, The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, and auction catalogues. Concerning the latter, the only one that seemed to have any particular value, perhaps a few dollars, was the 1941 presentation by B. Max Mehl of the William F. Dunham Collection. Others dating back to the previous century were of little or no commercial value.
By 1955 I had developed a number of different specialties. I had an active business in buying and selling pattern coins in an era in which these were a niche at best, and most dealers did not handle them at all. I also enjoyed colonials and collected copper coins of Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, staying away from New Jersey coppers as my fine friend Jim Ruddy collected those. Anything else, such as Massachusetts Pine Tree shillings, for example, was way out of my financial reach.
Somehow, probably through corresponding about patterns and colonial coins, my image as a buyer far exceeded my financial resources. Many people thought I could write a check for whatever I saw, but this was hardly the truth. To buy one coin I usually had to sell another!
Numismatics was a wonderful hobby then, as it is now. Investors mainly concentrated on bank wrapped rolls and Proof sets, forming a division or niche in the field, but not driving it. The main buyers of coins did so for their collections, and the word investment was hardly ever heard. However, it was a given—just about everyone knew that a fine collection, carefully gathered, would do well upon its sale.
To read the complete article, see:
Remember When: My First Ana Convention
Wayne Homren, Editor
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