The History of Central States
Part 1 - 1939
by W.Ray Lockwood
As published in the Spring 2003 (Vol 51, Number 1) Issue of the Centinel
The idea for an organization of numismatists living in midwestern states was born in Chicago in 1938. Lee F. Hewitt, editor of Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, reporting on the August, 1938, meeting of the Chicago Coin Club, states that his club had voted to team up with his magazine to host a Central States Numismatic Conference in the Spring of 1939. All clubs in the "Central Area" were asked to co-operate. A fund of $100 was made available to "provide entertainment."
In his September, 1938, issue Hewitt noted that a Central States Numismatic Conference had been definitely set for late Spring, 1939. The next issue of his magazine was to have the date and hotel plans. Preliminary planning for the "Conference" called for a Saturday and Sunday meeting with "every minute packed with numismatic activity."
For some unknown reason, the next issue of the Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine did not contain 'Conference' information. Readers had to wait until the March, 1939, issue to learn the details. Indeed, the stage was set for the first-ever Central States Numismatic Conference at the Hotel Congress in downtown Chicago, April 22 & 23, 1939. The hotel's beautiful Florentine Room was secured for the Conference, the same room that hosted the 1933 ANA convention.
Seventeen midwest coin clubs and the Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine were listed as Conference sponsors. The registration fee was set at $2.00, a sum much less than actual cost. This small fee paid for a banquet, medal, badge, demonstrations and other souvenirs. Quite a bargain even for 1939! The April, 1939, issue of the Scrapbook contained this invitation: "Attend the Central States Numismatic Conference, Chicago, April 22-23. All the features of a national convention crowded into two days: educational demonstrations, roundtable discussions, exhibits, an auction, etc."
Exhibits were certainly encouraged at the Conference. Through the courtesy of a Chicago firm, exhibits were to be placed in brand new locked cases measuring 18 x 30 inches. All exhibits would be fully covered by insurance and protected by Pinkerton Detective Agency guards. Potential exhibitors were encouraged by Exhibit Chairman William Evans to make reservations no later than April 10 to ensure having their names and exhibit descriptions in the Conference program.
Other advertised features of the 1939 Conference included a "high powered" auction to be conducted by the Chicago Coin Club, and two educational programs featuring the ANA president J. Henri Ripstra, M. Vernon Sheldon and Dr. R. E. Davis. Program topics included: "Troubles of a Coin Maker" and "Cleaning and Preserving Coins."