By William Shamhart – Numismatic Americana …….
After being gone for over ten days I have finally caught up with things enough that I can sit down and write this show report. Okay, maybe not completely caught up, but enough time has gone by that this needs to get done.
Some of you may know that I have been going out to Colorado Springs for the past 15 years and teaching at the ANA’s Summer Seminar. In fact, many of you have been students in my class. I am not shy (never have been) about my feelings for this time of year. It is without a doubt the best time and value in Numismatics. Over a two week period there are two different sessions of classes held on the Colorado College campus covering a wide variety of subjects.
In addition to the two weeks of classes, there is a coin show put on by the Colorado Springs Coin Club on the weekend between sessions. For students and instructors alike this has been a hidden little GEM on the show circuit. I arrived in Denver on Wednesday afternoon and made my way down to the “Springs”. Many of the students and teachers take advantage of the housing available on campus. I do not. I like to stay off campus. Not that I’m a snob or anything. I just like the privacy that it affords me.
This year I had the privilege to stay at the newly completed “The Miners Exchange”, a Wyndham Grand Hotel and I was very impressed. Spending over 30 weeks a years on the road, believe me when I say it takes alot to impress me. Note: ”The Miners Exchange” was originally built as an exchange for stocks and bonds for the many mining companies that sprang up in the Colorado Rockies in the first part of the twentieth century. It is grand and opulent, just like you’d expect for a city built from new found wealth in the gold and silver mining industry.
The show set up was on Thursday around 12-2. There weren’t a lot of people there earlier on, but as classes winded down, and more dealers arrived, it was in full swing by late afternoon. At this leisurely pace I was able to hook up with some dealers I see only once a year, as well as catch up with some of the Seminar attendees who I have met over the years. This show, what I’d call a regional one, isn’t near as hectic as a major one. There is a totally different pace there, with the collector definitely being the dominant factor.
I’ll tell you one cute story. A collector, who I’d never met before, came to my table and looked through my cases as if on a mission. Then he left. He came back about an hour later and asked to see an 1847 Hawaiian Cent in PCGS MS63BN. He asked the price and after a little negotiation, purchased it. Then his story came out. Seems he lived in Hawaii as a child and was doing some yard work for a neighbor. Upon completion of his tasks, he was paid with two Hawaiian cents. As a kid he didn’t really care that much about the coins, and at some point in life sold them. But the memory never escaped him. Now, later on in his adult life, it was time to replace them. A symbol of his childhood and the time spent in Hawaii was now his forever. I didn’t sell a tremendous amount of coins at this show, but each and every one had a story attached to them. Usually from the collector’s side and their adventure to find them. Pretty cool if you ask me.
Buying, well that was a mixed bag. After the first few hours of walking the floor, I limited myself to going out to about once an hour for a few minutes looking for possible new additions. Funny thing about shows. Most people (mainly dealers) tend to think that if you don’t get there first thing, you’ll miss all the good deals. That is generally correct, but they forget that collectors are constantly showing up at the show and either selling or trading something there. So if you have the time, and are already at a show, don’t run off so quickly. Some of the best deals I have bought have showed up later in the show. And this my friends is where the “relationship” part of the business comes into play. Chances are I wouldn’t have gotten offered a few little deals had I not been there on Saturday afternoon. But I was and I took advantage of it by buying some pretty cool pieces. They aren’t up on the web yet, but will be after a short trip out to Las Vegas for PCGS’ Members Only show.
Now on to the ANA’s Summer Seminar.
This year marked my sixteenth year of attending. Wow…how time flies. For the past nine years I have had the honor of teaching with Charlie Browne (no, not that Charlie Brown, he’s a comic strip character silly). In addition we had Don Ketterling and Ken Park teaching with us. In the past I have tried many different people, all very successful coin dealers, to teach alongside Charlie and me. Believe it or not, it isn’t that easy to find qualified instructors. Many of them, while very good at grading and dealing coins, weren’t quite able to convey grading tactics to the students. The dynamics in the classroom are very important. Synergy is paramount. The classroom antics are hard to explain, but if you ever get the chance to take our class I highly recommend it. You’ll have a blast.
Throughout the week Charlie, Don, Ken and I did our best for the students. Oh, did I mention that we had 27 in our class? Yep, about half of them were YN’s (Young Numismatists in ANA speak) and the other half had an average age of over 50. Quite the mixture. For four and a half days we challenged the students to see the coins in a different light. Some of them got the concept right away, while others took their time, getting their Eureka moment later in the week. I’m pretty sure that they all came away with a new appreciation for what goes into grading coins nowadays, as well as being able to spot some of the more subtle “doctoring” techniques.
And then it happened…
Thursday evening, after all the classes were over, and everybody was getting ready to return home, we had our banquet. In the prior 15 years of teaching there, I think I had attended maybe 2 or 3 of these at the most. But my fellow instructors wanted to attend so we did. It was a wonderful affair, with great barbecue, and held on the 4th of July to boot. Our table, comprising of students and instructors alike, ate and laughed as if the night would never end. There is nothing better than eating watermelon while busting on each other.
After everybody had a belly full of food, they started the awards ceremony. All I could think was “Another one is in the books”. I was talking with Ken Park when I realized that the MC was talking about a “grading class”…our grading class. I looked at Charlie…and then they read our names.
Charles O. Browne and William Shamhart had each been given the honorary degree of “Doctor of Numismatics” in recognition of Distinctive Career Achievements, Service to the Hobby and Selfless Contributions to Summer Seminar by the American Numismatic Association School of Numismatics.
And while no one got to see it…I cried.