Why the American Numismatic Association Matters

Posted by Jeff Garrett on the NGC Weekly Market Report …..

I strongly urge anyone collecting rare coins to discover what the ANA has to offer.

This past week the American Numismatic Association (ANA) conducted the World’s Fair of Money. My last article discussed this convention and the excitement the annual convention promises for everyone who attends. The convention is also a time when the ANA Board of Governors hold several open and closed sessions. This is a transition year, and the newly elected board members were sworn into office during the Friday night awards banquet. I am proud to have been chosen as the incoming Vice President of the ANA. I actually ran unopposed, but the other candidates for board seats were not so lucky. Fourteen individuals ran for seven seats. It’s difficult to predict these elections, but I was somewhat surprised that all of the incumbents won re-election handily. I guess the membership, who voted, feels the ANA is on the right track.

ana_medal_thumb_4Anyone who reads the numismatic press, however, knows there are struggles at the ANA. There have been a number of issues with executive directors, museum losses and declining membership. An unusual amount of the Board’s time is consumed dealing with the above issues and others. I am happy to report, however, that quite a bit of progress has been made recently. The newly named Executive Director, Kim Kick, has over thirty years of experience working for the ANA. She knows the organization thoroughly, and should provide a steady hand moving forward. Kim will be working with the ANA staff to resolve outstanding issues. The museum collection has been given considerable attention since the thefts of several years ago. High value coins have been segregated and a complete security assessment has been conducted to determine the best ways to protect the collection.

One of the highest priorities of the ANA is to improve our web presence. Nearly everyone agrees that for the ANA to grow, the best possible website will be needed. This will require considerable resources, including money, intellectual talent and membership participation. I strongly believe the ANA needs to offer unique content that will drive membership and be a catalyst for growth in the future. The ANA has one of the greatest numismatic libraries in the country and decades of experience in numismatic education. Hopefully, ways can be found to offer this wealth of resources to members and those who wish to become members.

I have been a member of the ANA for nearly forty years. I take great pride in my membership and truly believe it is one of the best bargains in numismatics. In today’s world many might wonder if the ANA matters anymore. There is plenty of competition for the time of anyone interested in rare coins and being a member of a one hundred year old organization might sound too old school for many. I strongly urge anyone collecting rare coins to discover what the ANA has to offer. Membership starts at only $28 per year for an online subscription to The Numismatist (one of the finest coin publications in the country). The ANA also offers an incredible opportunity to experience the fellowship that collecting rare coins has to offer. This past week’s convention in Chicago was a great example of that. Nearly 10,000 collectors and dealers will be attending the week’s activities.

I have stated many times in this column the importance of education. The ANA offers an incredible slate of educational opportunities for collectors. Every ANA convention is packed with classes, speakers, exhibits, hundreds of bourse tables and just about every numismatic educator and writer in the country. If you collect something, there will probably be a specialist at the show to give you more information about your interest. The amazing number of coins at each show is also a great opportunity for collectors. As everyone knows, coins of the same grade are not always identical. Reading about a coin is one thing, but actually seeing and sometimes holding them is much better. The ANA offers a wonderful hands-on experience for collectors.

I truly believe the ANA is moving in the right direction for growth and improvement in the next few years. The ANA does still matter and I hope you will take the opportunity to be a part of it.

Questions about the rare coin market? Send them to [email protected].

About Jeff Garrett

jeff garrett Coin Shows: The Biggest Week of the YearJeff Garrett, founder of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, is considered one of the nation’s top experts in U.S. coinage — and knowledge lies at the foundation of Jeff’s numismatic career. With more than 35 years of experience, he is one of the top experts in numismatics. The “experts’ expert,” Jeff has personally bought and sold nearly every U.S. coin ever issued. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t call on Jeff Garrett for numismatic advice. This includes many of the nation’s largest coin dealers, publishers, museums and institutions.

In addition to owning and operating Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, Jeff Garrett is a major shareholder in Sarasota Rare Coin Galleries. His combined annual sales in rare coins and precious metals — between Mid-American in Kentucky and Sarasota Rare Coin Galleries in Florida — total more than $25 million.

Jeff Garrett has authored many of today’s most popular numismatic books, including Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795–1933: Circulating, Proof, Commemorative, and Pattern Issues; 100 Greatest U.S. Coins; and United States Coinage: A Study By Type. He is also the price editor for The Official Redbook: A Guide Book of United States Coins.

Jeff was also one of the original coin graders for the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). He is today considered one of the country’s best coin graders and was the winner of the 2005 PCGS World Series of Grading. Today, he serves as a consultant to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), the world’s largest coin grading company.

Jeff plays an important role at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Department and serves as consultant to the museum on funding, exhibits, conservation and research. Thanks to the efforts of Jeff and many others, rare U.S. coins are once again on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. We urge everyone who visits Washington, D.C., to view this fabulous display.

Jeff has been a member of the prestigious Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG) since 1982 and has recently served as president of the organization. In 2009 and 2011, Jeff ran successfully for a seat on the Board of Governors for the American Numismatic Association (ANA), the leading numismatic club in the world. He plans to run for ANA vice president in 2013.

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  1. Until the ANA takes a full inventory of all coins in it’s care, I would not join that organization. Too many coins have been stolen by ANA employees. The new Director was an employee during all this tumult and as such, can not be deemed “clean”. An audit firm needs to come in and audit all inventory and clean out employees. The ANA can be a great organization but until there is serious remediation, one should cast a suspicious eye.

    • Two points:
      1.) I thought it was one employee who was convicted of stealing from the museum. Whatever internal struggles there may be at the ANA, I do not think one should indict the entire organiz. for the actions of one person.
      2.) Like many others I am concerned about all the recent problems at the ANA involving executive directors and so forth, but I still think it is an important organization which offers many benefits to its members and which collectors should support.

      • Read the lawsuit between the last Director who is suing ANA. It was more than one employee stealing. Also, the current Director was “allegedly” involved with undermining the previous Director. I don’t know if that is true, but it sure looks like she didn’t help or at least turned a blind eye. In fact, it seemed to be a culture of back biting throughout the whole organization. That’s why I want some outside agency to come in and clean house and audit the entire organization.

        • Db Tuner, you don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about. It’s amazing how confidently some people can state things without having any knowledge of the situation.

          • D.B. Cooper

            Just reporting what was filed in a lawsuit between the past ANA Director and the ANA. It was an official legal document filed with the Court. I just summarized it.

            BTW – the ANA spends millions of dollars every year on legal fees due to lawsuits. Not a great return of your annual fees. Again, another fact.

          • Millions of dollars every year? Nope. And just because something is an official court document doesn’t mean there’s any truth to it whatsoever.

  2. I had been a member of the ANA for several years but let my membership lapse after the latest bout of issues. I was hoping Jeff would give some compelling arguments for rejoining, but unfortunately I don’t see many. The Numismatist is pretty solid, but not essential. Anyone can attend an ANA Convention, not just members, so that isn’t really a reason for joining. Access to information is a click away thanks to the internet, so the library as a resource isn’t what it used to be. I was also disappointed several incumbents were re-elected to the board. I am hoping the “fresh” faces will shake things up and give us reasons to join. I don’t personally know the new Executive Director but the fact she has been with the organization for so long doesn’t exactly excite me for the future. I’m not trying to be pessimistic, but I’d love to see an ANA taking some chances and stepping away from the status quo. A new website is a good start. I wish them all the luck in the world and hopefully one day I will be inspired to rejoin.

  3. He has a myopic view from the first sentence. The ANA is NOT just for rare coin collectors. It should be for all coin collectors no matter their budget or specialty. As long as the ANA leadership continues to forget that it will continue to see its membership age and decline. Someone needs to remind him that coin collecting is a huge hobby encompassing many areas…it’s nice that he does rare coins but as VP he needs to remember the big picture. Way to start out as VP.

    • I agree with Rob Johnson that the ANA has to be for all collectors. However, I think that Jeff’s view can be excused because of his perspective. For the most part, the Board is aware of the diversity of the collecting community and if you take away Jeff’s first sentence the rest of his article applies.

      To @NJ, there will be better opportunities for all ANA members in the future. The website will be a start because of what it will allow the ANA to deliver to its members. There will be content that will only be available to members. As a long time critic of the ANA and its lack of use in technology, I am happy to say that the ANA is on the right track and is committee to building its future.

  4. The ANA’s problems are legion and began back in the early 1980s when the ANA dropped the ball and cowtowed to industry interests and sold ANACS- not before trying to up the value of the organization by screwing over its staff.

    This was the last time the ANA had a chance to exhibit real leadership in the hobby and it blew it.

    I offered the ANA a chance to buy the most complete Lincoln cent RPM collection ever assembled for a pittance after the death of John Bordner. His estate was handling the sale of his collection through a family friend- and instead of having it carved up, I felt it would be great for the ANA to buy it and allow members to use it for research. The collection came complete with photographs, coins, and a catalog system. They balked. Couldn’t do it.

    So, my question is… what good is the ANA, if it isn’t an organization for collectors and researchers.

    The governors say the charter mandates education. Well, what is the result of the past 30 years of this effort? I say the Internet has done a better job educating collectors than the ANA.

    The ANA needs a massive shakeup and a renewed mission. Education alone won’t cut it. They need a viable enforcement role to police the hobby and to make it stronger. Right now they are a jobs program and the host of a mediocre coin show.

    The ANA is a ship that’s already plowed into an iceberg. It’ll take a miracle to turn it around.


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