By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ……
This is the fourth in a series of journals that we’re preparing in the lead-up to the August ANA elections. We’d like to thank ANA Governor Dr. Scott Rottinghaus for his participation.
Dr. Scott Rottinghaus, the youngest sitting ANA governor, is seeking a second term in the upcoming ANA elections. The Connecticut-based physician is a sitting faculty member at Yale University’s School of Medicine, and works for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. He’s a numismatic scholar, author, and collector of ancient European coinage. In 2009, when he announced his initial run for the Board, he received the endorsement of the Ancient Coin Collectors’ Guild, an organization that Rottinghaus has been a member of since 2004. Aside from Ancients, Rottinghaus collects Massachusetts silver and dabbles in U.S. type coins.
Rottinghaus began collecting as a teenager. He told us about his frustration that published works on ancient coinage weren’t typically translated from Greek and Latin. This led him to study Latin, and eventually he found himself majoring in Classics. From there, he studied at the University of Cambridge and then at the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota. While a governor at the ANA since 2011, Rottinghaus also serves as a Clinical Lead at Pfizer and is a clinical instructor at Yale University School of Medicine – an impressive resume, to be sure.
His initial platform had five pillars, each of which Rottinghaus saw as necessary for the growth of the ANA. They were: creating a broad vision for the ANA, with a focus on the future of numismatics; shoring up the ANA’s financial woes through better budgeting; more effective fundraising; a redoubling of the ANA’s core mission of educating members and non-members about the science of numismatics; and turning around the ANA’s declining membership (currently at approximately 27,000 members).
We wanted to get to know Rottinghaus, to find out what he’s done in his first term to advance these goals, and to ask him to explain his vision for a second term.
The First Two Terms
Rottinghaus feels that his first term has been marked mostly by success. “We have made progress toward expanding the ANA’s vision…. I think the most important focus for the future should be outreach on electronic media, particularly the internet”, he said. While acknowledging that the ANA had allowed its online presence to grow stagnant in recent years, he points to the fact that the ANA has now established a Technology Committee to focus on remaking the ANA’s website to make it a “leading numismatic presence on the web”.
At the same time, Rottinghaus believes that the ANA should continue to focus on the great programs it already offers, saying that he wants the Board to “continue to focus on maintaining and enhancing traditional educational programs like The Numismatist, the Money Museum, Conventions, and the Summer Seminar.”
It is the one-of-a-kind experience that the Summer Seminar offers that Rottinghaus credits for his growth as a collector and scholar in the field of ancient coinage, saying “I have found the ANA very useful as I pursue various numismatic research projects, particularly through use of the library. Similarly, I have had the opportunity to study coins in the museum. But my biggest numismatic benefits have been derived from the Summer Seminar, which I have been attending since 1987, first as a student, and, for the past decade, as an instructor.” Rottinghaus believes no other program in numismatics exists where students of all levels can brush shoulders with the real luminaries in the hobby.”
Declining Numbers and a Possible Remedy
While no one doubts the ANA’s ability to attract luminaries, it’s the average collector that they can’t seemingly entice to join. The organization’s membership rolls, while never independently verified, have declined to below 30,000, according to some sources. Rottinghaus acknowledges that despite the Board’s effort to confront the issue, the decline hasn’t reversed during his first term. Blame can be directed at turmoil within the organization, including the abrupt end of Jeff Shevlin’s tenure as ANA Executive Director. Beyond that, the organization has been dogged with internal strife and scandal going back a number of years.
Rottinghaus sees a way forward, however: “We will need to make the ANA more relevant to younger collectors and collectors who interact with other collectors online in order to succeed in the long term.” He says the organization is working towards that goal and offers the fact that as a governor, he has advocated on behalf of young numismatists by actively promoting the ANA’s YN Program in order to make it more visible and by pushing to allow YN’s the privilege of voting whenever the ANA revises its bylaws.
But more than that, Rottinghaus feels that in order to grow the organization, that more work with young collectors will be necessary. As a governor, he has served as a liaison to the ANA’s YN committee, which has recently instituted a Kids’ Zone in the ANA Museum, and he’s also worked to create a YN-friendly dealer program. In addition, Rottinghaus says that the ANA continues to focus on enhancing programs for young numismatists at the Summer Seminar and Conventions.
The ANA’s continued push to bring young people into the hobby presents the organization with the challenge of ensuring that the children are properly protected and supervised. From a policy level, Rottinghaus and the other governors have developed a strategy to foster a safe learning environment. Recently, he said, the ANA hired a consulting firm that works with youth camps and groups like the ANA. This firm will conduct a thorough security assessment of the ANA’s needs and organize training for chaperones and counselors. In the past, Rottinghaus has served as a chaperone for ANA events.
A Vote of Support for New Executive Director Kim Kiick
Since we’ve begun our series of profiles on candidates for the Board of Governors, Executive Director Jeff Shevlin’s contract was not renewed by the ANA and he was relieved of his duties after a vote by the Board of Directors.
While Rottinghaus and the other governors are not at liberty to discuss the recent departure of ANA Executive Director Jeff Shevlin (questions about it are referred to the ANA’s legal counsel, Hollie Weiland), he does support the Board’s selection of long-time ANA Senior Manager Kim Kiick. “She is well-qualified for [the] role, and I believe that she will do a great job in leading the day-to-day activities of our Association”, he said.
He says that he understands that people have questions about the decision and that the board has to take responsibility for its actions, but it is his opinion that the ANA made the right decision and that Kiick is the right person to head the organization going forward.
A Third Term…
“We need to focus on our website development and outreach to our membership,” Rottinghaus says. “Our current website continues to be inadequate, and we need to make sure our timelines for the redesign of our website don’t slip.”
The ANA’s website, as we mentioned last time, has been a constant cause of concern for the organization. It’s one of the most visible pieces in the ANA toolkit when it comes to recruiting and retaining members. It is also woefully behind its competitors (both free and pay sites) when it comes to scholarly research or providing an interactive community.
In our conversation, we bandied about some of our ideas: an interactive money library with high resolution; rotatable images of not just the ANA’s great rarities, but also common coins; complete descriptions of these coins, detailing who donated them and why the coins are interesting; and a weekly upload schedule that feels like an event, allowing ANA members to experience the Money Museum’s holdings in a new and innovative way. We also talked about our desire to see as many numismatic reference works provided online and every back issue of every ANA published periodical available online in a digital and searchable form.
It isn’t clear if any of our ideas are in the cards, though the governor did listen to what we had to say and thought our ideas had potential, but he did add that he will continue to support enhancements to the ANA’s educational programs, including Summer Seminar and programs provided at ANA Conventions, saying that he is pushing for online learning opportunities and a revamp of the ANA’s correspondence course offerings.
But, he adds, all of this must be done responsibly, keeping in mind the ANA’s need to be fiscally responsible.
Rottinghaus wants the ANA to take a more prominent role in legislative advocacy. He wants the ANA to get involved in the debate over an Internet Sales Tax and to push for regulatory protections against counterfeit coins. He also points out that “the ANA needs to take a leadership role in our hobby”, which he feels can be carried out by “establishing a more significant role for the ANA in consumer protection.”
We asked Rottinghaus to ask our readers for his vote. This is his pitch:
“I have been involved in numismatics my whole life, as a collector, researcher, author, ANA Summer Seminar instructor, and ANA Governor. I am a physician who works in the pharmaceutical industry, managing people and overseeing clinical trials while maintaining patient care responsibilities and a faculty position at Yale. I am proud of my young family that includes buddings young numismatists- one of whom has already won a literary award from the ANA. All of these experiences combine to put me in a unique position to serve as an effective ANA governor. I believe that I have governed our ANA with integrity and responsibility for the past two terms, and I ask for your vote to continue my work at the ANA.”
Flip of a Coin:
Robert Aitken’s $50 gold designs from the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition didn’t just have a classical feel, they basically plagiarized classic Greek coinage. The dolphin motif on the obverse recalls the Syracusan tetradrachm, which features the nymph Arethusa surrounded by four of the sea mammals. A fifth century Athenian tetradrachm features the goddess Athena in battle headdress (as does Aitkens’ modern work). The reverse of that coin, like the $50 slug, features the owl of Athens. The main difference? Aitken swaps California pine cones for Athenian olive branches.
The use of coins as propaganda traces its roots back to ancient Greece. The United States’ use of the eagle holding arrows and an olive branch simultaneously is said to derive from a commemorative decadrachm coined to celebrate the Greek victory over Persia in the Persian War. The symbol infers strength yet peacefulness.
From the Morgan/ Walker Numismatic Files: During the Roman Republic, the man in charge of making money was called a moneyer, well actually, in Latin they were called tresviri aere argento auro flando feriundo, which we translate to mean “three men who strike bronze, silver, and gold”.
Or: CONOB (an acronym for Constantinopolis Obryza), was an early mark appearing on Roman coins, typically in the exergue. It meant that the gold was assayed and indicated its purity.