“We can now move immediately to ‘brand’ Chicago as an ANA city.”

With that statement by Larry Shepherd, the American Numismatic Association has begun to reverse the progress it has made to reach out to its members over the last few years. Rather than finding a way to bring the largest of the ANA shows closer to the membership, Shepherd convinced the ANA Board of Governors to anchor the summer show in Chicago.

“Successful conventions and auction contracts are critical to our future,” Shepherd was quoted as saying. But is he implying> that no other city can put on a successful convention. This would include Baltimore where a successful World’s Fair of Money was held two years ago.

Shepherd also said that the National Money Show in the spring and a new fall show, which was announced to begin in 2011 in Pittsburgh, would be available on a rotating basis with pre-selected cities.

Shepherd stressed the importance of branding Chicago as the home of the summer ANA World’s Fair of Money, noting the success FUN has had branding Orlando as its home, and Whitman establishing Baltimore as a destination for its shows. What makes this argument ridiculous is that Orlando is a central location in the area represented by the Florida United Numismatists and and easy place to travel in the state. Anyone who has travelled through O&rdsquo;Hare International Airport understands the effect of being the nation’s second busiest airport.

There is also a difference in using the location as the branding for the show. Orlando is a travel destination in a way Chicago will never be. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chicago. I think Chicago is a great city. I have friends in the Chicagoland area and look forward to visiting them. But unlike Orlando, Chicago is not the national or international destination Orlando is. Chicago is a great place to visit, but it is absurd to compare Chicago with Orlando. Face it, you are not going to hear the next Super Bowl MVP announce that he is going to Navy Pier!

To further add to the fallacy of Shepherd’s statement is that while Whitman has turned the Baltimore show into a bigger success than it was before they bought it, Whitman is also expanding their reach to Philadelphia and Nashville. While Whitman expands its reach, the ANA now has favored locations and if you are not able to travel to those locations then the ANA will not come to you.

Interestingly, not only is the ANA fixing the locations for their shows, no announcement has been made as to how to improve the outreach to those shows. This can be done using a little imagination and technology to allow members to virtually attend the show. I will have more on this in a future post.

In the past, Shepherd had been discussing the scheduling and handling of the ANA shows so as to not lose money. One consideration was to find what he described as “a good bourse city” primarily to make the dealers happy. What is not mentioned is what would make the collectors happy. Rather, Shepherd is saying that it is not enough to use what is probably the world’s largest numismatic show as the destination in different cities as outreach to its members and future members, the ANA, a non-profit organization, is using the show to make a profit and enforce profits for its dealers. While I am not against dealers making profits, I am against the profit motive as a driving factor for the placement of the ANA convention.

In the May 2010 edition of The Numismatist, ANA President Cliff Mishler quoted ANA Governor Jeff Garrett that Mishler told him, “He reminded me that there are not two classes of ANA membership—dealers and collectors—but rather a single community, one that cares about the well-being of the hobby.” It is interesting how Mishler could tell an ANA governor that the ANA is a community yet support a convention policy that is clearly geared to the dealer community.

I do not recommend quitting the ANA out of protest. This is where being a member helps. As an ANA member I am letting our elected Board of Governors know that this is not a good decision. It is not in the best interest of the ANA nor does it advance the ANA’s chartered mission for numismatic outreach and education. ANA members who are not happy with this decision should use this opportunity to contact the Board and tell them how you feel.

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