Spring 2014 - Message
We'll soon be in Schaumburg once again to celebrate the 75th Anniversary Convention of our Central States Numismatic Society. I can actually remember the moment I signed up as a member at one of the CSNS conventions at the now-closed Red Carpet Hotel, just across the street from Milwaukee's General Mitchell Field. I believe the year was 1977 or 1978, and I recall feeling overwhelmed by the size of the event as I stepped into the outer lobby of the Red Carpet Expo Center. Marjorie Owen was the secretary, and she motioned me over to her lobby station with the admonition that I should sign up as a member. I decided to take her up on the invitation, if only to sort of catch my breath as a bit less-than-fully experienced dealer before venturing farther into the bourse area, where I felt decidedly over my head. A.P. "Del" Bertschy, one of the iconic figures in Wisconsin numismatics, was either the general chairman or bourse chairman.
I struck up a friendship with Del; and after Dan Parker, who had succeeded Rollie Finner as editor of The Centinel, passed away unexpectedly, Del, by then the president of CSNS, asked me if I'd like to be the editor, a suggestion I accepted. I served in that capacity until Karen Jach, who'll be installed as vice president at our Saturday Awards Breakfast in just a few weeks, took over that position from me almost ten years later. Recalling that first visit to a CSNS convention somewhat more than 35 years ago, I have to admit that I never envisioned a future for myself where I'd wind up as the general chairman and a daughter I hadn't yet even thought about as part of my life would be the bourse chairman.
Those early years of my association with the Central States Numismatic Society hold some particularly fond memories of really dedicated and just plain nice people - Ray Lefman, after whom our Medal of Merit is named, John Cain, Ralph Hardman, Don Hudson, Del Bertschy and Marge Owen in particular stand out for their service on the Board during that era.
There have certainly been a lot of changes in the world of numismatics since I joined CSNS. I don't think I knew anyone who owned a home computer then. Fax machines had yet to become the latest technological innovation and a $1 million auction was a really big deal. Paper money rarities that today sell for several million dollars could still be acquired for prices comfortably - in fact, quite comfortably - within the five-figure price range and the extensive data bases of auction price records that are available today for just a few dollars a month hadn't yet come into being. In fact, if one wanted to do research before figuring out auction bids, an extensive library of past auction catalogs and a good memory for what sold when were necessary.
When I first started flying to numismatic conventions all one had to do to board a plane was buy a ticket and show up at the airport - no identification, no security checkpoints, no X-raying or opening of luggage for inspection. You just showed up, gave your paper ticket to the gate agent and boarded. No one had yet suggested, except in articles predicting the future, that there would one day be such a thing as an e-ticket or that your unticketed wife or children wouldn't be able to accompany you to the gate to say goodbye.
In her first message as bourse chairman, Patricia reminisced a bit about her own early memories of attending coin shows along with her sister at the old MECCA Convention Center in Milwaukee and selling soda to the booth holders. That is one thing that still happens at coin shows - actually a rather flagrant and willful violation of the catering exclusivity rights of the convention center or hotel involved. Sometimes in life, however, it is better to look the other way. One of the things I still take some quiet enjoyment from when I take the time to sit back and just watch at our all-too-hectic CSNS conventions is seeing children nurturing their own commercial ambitions doing what your present day bourse chairman did when she was a child.
I hope that you'll all enjoy our 75th Anniversary Convention as much as Patricia and I, along with our CSNS convention employees and our Board have enjoyed producing it. There will be a lot of really special things going on - the truly exceptional Heritage Signature Sales that have become a regular feature of the CSNS conventions, our 275-booth bourse area with dealers from at least half of the states, our best-on-the-convention-circuit educational exhibit area, presided over by Fran Lockwood, our multisession Civil War Educational Forum, the release of Ray Lockwood's history of the Central States Numismatic Society as well as the release of a special limited edition commemorative Red Book in observance of the 75th Anniversary. These are just some of the special things you'll find in Schaumburg. We'll also have a Club Representatives Breakfast, a special reception for our educational exhibitors and Civil War Forum speakers, as well as whatever special satisfaction you'll be able to create on your own by finding an item to bring home from our bourse area or auctions that you might have been seeking for longer than you'd care to admit.
Our job is to provide the raw materials. Yours is to make those raw materials into an experience that will be special for you. We'll know we've done our job right - and you will, too - if you find yourself saying to a friend 10 or 20 years from now, "Do you remember at the CSNS 75th Anniversary Convention when, ………………….? An important part of life is having memories. I hope that you'll all join us in Schaumburg to help us all create those memories.