By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ....
This is the first in a series of journals that we’re preparing in the lead-up to the August ANA Elections. We’d like to thank Oded Paz for his participation.
Oded Paz wants your vote. The 49-year-old Israeli-born dealer, who specializes in world coins and exonumia, currently serves as the ANA’s National Club & District Representatives Program Coordinator and recently announced his intention to run for the ANA’s Board of Governors in the upcoming August election. Paz is also involved in a number of specialty numismatic organizations and is the current President of the Elongated Collectors, an organization focused on the study and collecting of Elongated Coins, more commonly known as pressed pennies.
He was the first ANA candidate of this election cycle to be interviewed by CoinWeek.com’s David Lisot (See video below), and the first candidate Hubert and I reached out to in our series of print articles covering the election. We wanted Paz to elaborate on the positions he stated during the Lisot interview, as well as answer our specific concerns about the ANA and the future of the hobby.
The two platform line-items Paz raised during the Lisot interview were to bring the ANA back to its original base, the collectors, and to bring the ANA into the 21st century by implementing more technology using blogs, social media, and the ANA’s website. Both of these line items are notable in their intention, but how does Paz believe he can accomplish these goals?
The following is an overview of Paz’s position on various issues drawn from a lengthy email questionnaire and two telephone interviews we conducted in February.
Growing the ANA
In principle, Paz believes that to the average collector, “the ANA seems like an elitist society.” He believes that the ANA can change this misconception by expanding the reach of the national organization to regional coin shows, which is an extension of his current role as National Club & District Representatives Program Coordinator.
He sees tremendous growth opportunities in this approach, as the ANA’s presence at a local and regional level shows potential members that the ANA is a part of the hobby at all levels and understands the needs and concerns of numismatists at all levels. Paz says that he’s already seen the results of his work doing this and hopes his candidacy will draw on the grass roots support of the members and regional organizations that he’s supported over the past few years.
It’s his opinion that by participating at the regional level that the ANA can make a better case as to why people should be members. He sees the ANA board as ambassadors of the organization at the regional level, saying that he would highly recommend that ANA Board Members participate in additional coin shows to recruit new members in person.
He wants to strengthen the ANA’s outreach to young numismatists, mostly by appealing to them where they are most active - online. He also wants to expand the ANA’s Kid Zone, a youth oriented presentation and activity center put on by the ANA at ANA shows, as well as the Kid Zone online.
Using Technology to Promote the ANA
Paz feels that the ANA’s website can be “a much easier website to navigate through…. [with] more interactive functions- from a place to ask numismatic related questions, to a place questions can be sent to any or all of the board members, executive director, and staff.” In order to make the site appeal to young numismatists, he proposes expansion of the site’s Kid’s Zone, where the ANA can publish interactive quizzes and fun facts to get kids interested in coins and help them learn to be numismatists.
Paz would also like to see the ANA create apps, enhance its presence on YouTube by offering presentations and educational segments, allow certain ANA seminars and diploma courses to be taken online, and to make the ANA’s presence on Twitter and Facebook more robust.’’
Paz believes that the ANA should also invest in improving its own backend technology, seeing room for improvement in the way the ANA processes and utilizes member and club information in its internal databases. If elected, Paz says that he would push for the ANA to invest the funds necessary to bring the ANA into the 21st century from a technological standpoint.
The Role of the ANA in the Numismatic Hobby
Paz believes that to achieve the ANA’s chartered purpose, to educate collectors in the science of numismatics and spread interest in coin collecting, that the ANA must reach deeper into its collector roots and better utilize current technologies in order to promote the hobby and disseminate information.
Admittedly, we’d like to see the ANA perform not only as an educational enterprise but also a vehicle by which ordinary collectors could elevate the best and most honorable numismatists to positions as advocates for honest and fair play. For his part, Paz did not share our view of the role of the ANA as “industry enforcer”. His opinion may be born out of practicality or an earnest belief that it’s not the ANA’s position to play that role.
Regardless, Paz told us that he firmly believes that the ultimate responsibility for collector behavior falls on the collector, that it is the collector that must make educated choices in the marketplace. So long as dealers or sellers are not doing anything illegal, it is his opinion that the ANA is not in a position to reign in “bad behavior”.
On the Future of the ANA
When it comes to the future of the ANA, Paz is guardedly optimistic. He sees good things ahead for the organization but recognizes that “the ANA, like all organizations, needs to grow or it will wither. There is no status quo. You grow or you get passed by.”
He takes a more bullish approach on the state of the hobby and its future. While we pressed him on our belief that the hobby’s primary demographics are aging white males, Paz sees excitement and energy coming from a younger generation of collectors. He sees the hobby as an exciting place, with exhibition halls filled with people from all walks of life with interests in numismatics as diverse as the collectors themselves.
With society becoming less and less dependent on physical money, and coins having a diminished role in commerce due to their increasingly meager purchasing power, we hope Paz is right. That the future of coin collecting is as bright as the past, that those who put away pennies, nickels, and quarters now will relate to the dimes, quarters, and dollars of their daddies in much the same way those in the hobby do now.
Paz’s candidacy hinges on the proposition that the ANA can be a collector-centric organization again, and that it can better serve its educational role by going modern. To Paz, a man who enjoys smashing coins, the drive to make the ANA more accessible to everyday collectors makes perfect sense.
Flip of a Coin™:
2013 marks the thirteenth time that the American Numismatic Association has held their convention in Chicago, Illinois. The A.N.A. held its first convention there back in 1891 and returned two years later in time for the World’s Columbian Exposition. The A.N.A. went back to back in Chicago in 1943 and 1944.
The 1952 A.N.A. Convention was held in New York, NY. It was the first convention attended by famed numismatist-turned-industry pariah Walter Breen.
Save the Date: Although numismatists didn’t know it at the time, June 15, 1972 is a “key-date” for the hobby. This was the date when ANACS certified their first coin.