As I write these words I and many other staff members are looking forward to and getting ready to attend the World’s Fair of Money in Chicago. This will be a multi-faceted event for all of us — what with multiple auction sessions, programs, an active bourse and more.
For me I am also part of a number of different seminars and presentations. Check the convention program if you would like to attend any of these. The convention is likely to draw the best part of 10,000 and to be active non-stop from Tuesday onward. What a change this is from the first ANA convention I went to in 1955. That year the show was held in Omaha, Nebraska, in the Fontenelle Hotel. This was the era before there were many hotel chains, and most cities, including Omaha, had stand-alone hotels that had operated for a long period of time. The Sheraton and Hilton chains were doing business at that time, nearly always in older hotels the companies had purchased — not the modern new structures we know today. Marriott, Hyatt, Windham, and other chains were not dreamed of.
Somewhat similarly, towns such as Omaha had restaurants that were stand alone — not affiliated with chains. Today in 2014, we have Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris, Capital Grill, and other chains — very nice, but the dining experience is no different in Milwaukee, Omaha or Miami.
At the ANA convention in Omaha I had a bourse table, although I was not old enough to belong to the ANA. Back then one needed to be 18 years old, or an adult by law. Youngsters were viewed as questionable or unreliable. Bourse space was easy enough to obtain, and general secretary Lewis Reagan, who carried the ANA Headquarters in his briefcase, so to speak, told me I could set up if I had a letter of guarantee from my father and also some letters of recommendation from others. This was easy enough to do.
The Omaha show was held in the grand ballroom of the Fontenelle, with several dozen dealers ringed around the walls and with exhibit tables in the middle. At the end of the show it was announced that the astounding record of more than 500 attendees, including dealers and their assistants, had been achieved. This seems strange today in view of the great popularity of coin shows that has evolved since that time.
Every ANA convention since then has been quite enjoyable. Each one is different, and I expect that the upcoming show in Chicago will have its own interests and delights. If you plan to attend I look forward to seeing you there.