1899 Morgan Dollar Obverse, Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions      1899 Morgan Dollar Reverse, Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions

Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions

Convention Chairman's

Summer2015 - Message

Our 76th Anniversary Convention is now history. This is the fourth consecutive year that we have been in Schaumburg, and we have contracts in place through 2018, with discussions underway with the Schaumburg Renaissance and the convention center to add dates for 2019, as well. While no site will ever be the favorite of everyone, the positive comments that the bourse chairman and I receive about Schaumburg outweigh any critical remarks by a considerable margin. And … whatever people say, what they actually do is far more important as an indicator of their opinions. Somewhat over 70 percent of our 2015 booth holders actually completed their 2016 bourse applications and paid their full bourse fee for next year prior to leaving the event. Q.E.D.

Producing and managing a major numismatic convention can be a bit like riding a roller coaster. Things start slowly, suddenly erupt into a frenzy, with some intermittent quiet moments, again interrupted by considerable excitement, and then it is over. There are really two parts of the event, both at opposite extremes, that I enjoy the most. First is the evening just before the booth holders arrive to move in the next morning. The decorator has set the booths up, his work has been checked and rechecked by the bourse chairman --- especially to make certain that the booth signage is correctly placed and error free. The electrical installations have been checked by our own employees to make certain that the outlets are really live. The exhibit cases have been cleaned inside and out, and case and light deliveries to the booths have been verified, as well as a myriad of other seemingly mundane details, all of which become important only if they aren't correctly done. At that point, it is usually 8 or 9 in the evening, and I just like to sit in the message center with the bourse chairman in an otherwise empty hall and survey what in the morning will become the focal point of the world of commercial numismatics. This year I think we both just sat there for at least five minutes without a word passing between us until Patricia said, "Doesn't this just make you feel good inside?" I replied simply with a smile and a nod of my head.

The next morning dealers began to gather outside the exhibit hall entrance at least a full hour before the 9 a.m. opening of the bourse for their move in and setup period. By 8:30 the din of anticipatory conversation in the outer lobby was so overwhelming that it was difficult for the registration employees to hear what people were saying to them. By a few minutes before the appointed 9 a.m. hour quite literally several hundred dealers were waiting - some patiently, some not so - to gain admission and go to their booths. We opened the doors a few minutes early and what could only be characterized as a stampede resulted. At least 10 minutes passed before the rush diminished to a trickle. By that time there was a din of conversation in the hall as some set their booths up while others rushed about trying to be the first to see another dealer's inventory. It really is quite a scene to be standing there when the doors of a roughly 300-booth bourse area open to the booth holders.

Being a numismatic dealer isn't an occupation that one typically learns in a formal training program, like being an electrician, an attorney or a physician. The most typical route to being a full-time dealer comes from the ranks of hobbyists who began with a casual interest that became more serious over time and then went through a transition period where they might not even have realized that they were dealers in a de-facto sense, but really were. While some may never have had any other real-world employment, such dealers are a distinct minority. There can be quite a diversity of backgrounds represented in the dealer booths, recovering attorneys, dentists, physicians, chemists, automobile salesmen and a whole host of others. What I find particularly refreshing about the world of commercial numismatics is that it is an arena where competence and knowledge are directly rewarded and there are few crutches for the unprepared to function with. There is also really no correlation between formal educational background and actual commercial success. Numismatics is a field where if you know the material and understand current values and demand patterns, you are likely to be a success. If not, the opposite will be your reward.

One of the most popular educational initiatives we have ever undertaken, our Civil War Educational Forum, came to a close this year after a four-year run. While many of the talks had only the most tangential relationship to numismatics, most of the presentations were quite well attended, in fact, far better attended than the typical entirely numismatic talk. Next year Education Director Ray Lockwood and I will be collaborating on a two-day, multipresentation forum centered on Chicago history. We'll be cooperating with academic contacts made in the course of organizing the Civil War Forum to have presentations on a range of topics related to the growth and development of Chicago. We'll keep you posted through announcements in The Centinel as to specific plans.

In closing, I'd also like to mention a number of dealers and others who helped enhance our 76th Anniversary Convention by making donations as convention sponsors. Our booth holders already lend material support to CSNS by participating in the coin show portion of our event that produces the profits that make our general educational activities possible at all. I hope that you'll remember them and simply as a member of CSNS express your personal appreciation when you see them at a show: The Argent Group, Carter Numismatics Coinweek.com, Coleman Foster, Heritage Auctions, Jonathan K. Kern Co., Jay King, the Mark Petty Foundation, Professional Coin Grading Service, Quad City Coin Co. and SilverTowne. All of these sponsors lent additional financial support to the convention and made it more than it otherwise would have been. Thank you, all.

Next year our 77th Anniversary Convention will be held at our Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center, with the bourse dates being April 27-30. I really do think that it is not idle boasting to characterize our convention as a "must attend" for anyone with a serious interest in numismatics. Whether your motivation is profit, education or social interaction opportunities, you'll find it at the Central States Numismatic Society Anniversary Convention. For those who came this year, Patricia and I will hope to see you next year. For those who didn't. Give it a try. You might just get hooked.