Tuesday August 16th, 2016 was the night of the monthly meeting of Nummis Nova, my northern Virginia numismatic social group. We'd postponed it a week from our regular night because of last week's American Numismatic Association convention in Anaheim, which several of us attended. Our host was Julian Leidman, and he'd chosen Jerry's Seafood in Bowie, MD.
I arrived about 6pm and already sitting in the lobby were Roger Burdette and Howard Daniel. We chatted a bit and soon in walked Dave Schenkman and his guest Mike Merrill. Julian was one of the last to arrive. Eric Schena had car trouble and had to cancel. By the time we ordered dinner Jon Radel, Steve Bishop and Wayne Herndon had joined us.
I had brought my CDN Education award plaque from the NLG meeting to show everyone, but took it back to my car after a while to clear room on the table. Dave Schenkman brought a couple examples of a nice Bolen baseball medal.
The Pioneer Baseball Club medal was J. A. Bolen's first effort. 75 were struck in copper, and 125 in white metal. Neil Musante, in The Medallic Work of John Adams Bolen, gives a great history of the club, and as he points out, this is probably the earliest numismatic item relating to baseball.
Dave's guest Mike Merrill is a retired Maryland coin dealer. I asked him about his most interesting or memorable coin shop purchase. He told us about the time during the gold boom when a woman came in with a large gold medal on a very heavy gold chain - thousands of dollars worth of gold in all. It was an Order of the Bath, a British order of chivalry.
Mike bought it, and soon afterward took it to an ANA convention where he showed it to someone from Spink. A private placement was arranged, and everyone was happy.
Mike, Wayne and I had a great conversation about the future of the numismatic hobby. Wayne and I agree that the future is bright, but the landscape is changing, making that harder to see. The internet has already fundamentally changed the business, which has mostly moved online. It's just too easy to find buyers to not be online. While coin shops may still be useful for buying collections and hoards, someone in a back room needs to be putting items online for sale.
Printed coin publications are getting thinner and thinner, and local club meetings and shows are getting smaller. But the hobby isn't disappearing, it's just moving online. EBay and the major online auction houses are thriving.
Wayne and I have faith that there will always be a new generation of collectors. As we discussed before, there seems to be a special gene that makes a subset of the population interested in collecting and studying. It may skip generations, but it's there. And the internet makes it easier than ever for these budding collectors to find, learn about, and buy their stuff.
I personally feel there will always be a role for the national and regional coin shows. Teleconferencing has not done away with business meetings, and business conferences of all kinds are thriving. It's part of human nature to want to get together and meet friends and business parties in person. Big coin shows may become a little smaller and less frequent, but they'll never go away.
As Julian Leidman pointed out, they are no longer a place where he expects to sell a lot of material. It's a place he goes to see and be seen, to speak with existing clients and meet potential new ones. Then everyone goes back home and continues buying and selling online.
Our meals were good, as always. Most of us ordered the restaurant's signature dish, the Crab Bomb. I drank a diet soda and skipped dessert this time - no room!
Jon brought another couple VERY large medals to show, and Steve had another nice grouping of Russian copper coins.
Roger and Howard were up at the far end of the table, so I visited with them a bit. We talked about a number of things, including a couple recent deals they were involved in regarding coin books and a rare pattern.
It was a smaller crowd than usual, but fun nevertheless. About 9:15 I headed home - it would take an hour to reach my house from Bowie. The ride was uneventful. I'll be the host for September's meeting, so I made a mental note to start thinking about a restaurant.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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