By Steve Carr
The annual ANA Summer Seminar starts this week. Numismatists (and I use that weird word for effect – anyone who attends Summer Seminar really is a numismatist, not just a collector) from around the world will come to Colorado Springs for a week or two of collecting fun. All classes are taught by nationally known numismatists, who are experts in their fields. Most of these experts are more than happy to mingle and talk with you about anything.
Summer Seminar has been around since about 1980 and started as a group of about 20 collectors, who wanted to learn more about coins. The original seminars were only one week long. Now, the ANA offers two one-week sessions of classes on a wide variety of collecting topics. The classes range from a class on early American coppers class (yes, I help teach that class with Doug Bird) to one about how to create dies and strike coins (a limited attendance class). As a side benefit, everyone can even strike coins like they were struck in the early years of our country at the ANA’s Mini-Mint. Special dies are made for these strikes and attendees are encouraged to make some errors!
To top that all off, you have access to almost all the neat numismatic literature you may want to study in the library. Their collection of books and auction catalogs, as well as major works on-line, are really amazing. You can also see some nice exhibits at the ANA museum, which has lots of unique items in their collection. Want to see the dies used to strike the 1823 “restrike” cent? The only red seal uncut sheet of national currency from Wyoming? A 1913 nickel or 1804 silver dollar? They are all at the ANA!
There is also an evening Young Numismatist auction, with proceeds going to YN scholarships. These auctions usually raise between $15,000 and $20,000 for their benefit. A person once bid $1000 for a 100% mint clip 1794 half dollar (an empty holder!). Talk about being generous.
Typical of most classes, our early American copper class covers the different types of large cents and half cents, why they were made, who designed them, and how to tell which variety they are. We will also cover technical, EAC, and market grading and learn how to tell if a coin has been recolored. Students work in small groups and learn both from the instructors and from their neighbors. We will also cover some of the recent die transfer counterfeits being sold. Other classes cover pertinent topics for the series or time frame the class covers. There are also classes on grading, taught by people who are professional graders, and counterfeit detection, which uses counterfeit coins from the museum to show diagnostics. I am willing to bet that everybody will learn something at the seminar, no matter how smart you are.
If you have a week to spare, some extra cash (seminar costs) and a love for the stories of money, call Susan McMillan of the ANA at (719) 482-9850 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may still be able to get in a class. If you do, I look forward to seeing you there. If you don’t, think about attending next summer.