POLL: Are you ready for the World’s Fair of Money

We are now a week until the opening of the World’s Fair of Money. It has been a long time since I attended the World’s Fair of Money. After starting a business that finally hit its stride, the pandemic changed everything.

It is 2022, and while the pandemic is still with us, vaccinations and testing have given us a sense of personal security, allowing the world to return to some semblance of “normal.” I hit my version of post-pandemic normal, and it’s time to add the World’s Fair of Money as part of my normal life.

You can find coins online. Aside from the many online auction sites, I receive advertisements from dealers via email that intrigues me. And while many of the advertisers are dealers I can trust, there is something about searching and buying coins in person than online buying cannot duplicate.

Over the years, I have been evolving my collection. I sold off my collection of Barber coins because they are no longer interesting to me. I sold off my old Morgan dollar collection because the collection was not as nice as I wanted, and I did not want to spend the time and money to upgrade the coins.

It might be time to revive my search for the finest Bicentennial collection. Although my Bicentennial is my only graded coin collection, there is something about the set I find intriguing. I could be in the market for an upgrade for some of my coins.

Then there’s my New York collection. What can I find that represents my hometown? Better still, what can I find from Brooklyn?

I cannot forget the books. As a collector also interested in history, I have been reading old books to learn the contemporary history behind coins, medals, tokens, and other numismatics. Like general history, the stories lose their details over time, and we lose the nuance of history that went into the decisions. The old books document history in a way that gets lost over time.

What else is available? I found the Somalia motorcycle coins many years ago at a World’s Fair of Money. Although I found my first GSA Blue Pack Peace Dollar at a National Money Show, I found several more at a World’s Fair of Money with different dates. Can I find something that I can say, “Oh… neat! Cool!”

What about you?

Are you going to the World's Fair of Money

Yes, I wouldn't miss it. (47%, 8 Votes)
No, I cannot get away (35%, 6 Votes)
No, it's not worth my time (12%, 2 Votes)
Maybe... I will decide later (6%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 17

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ANA Crowdfunds Its Technology Future

Earlier this month, the ANA emailed members to join the “Crowdfunding Drive to Improve Our Online Technology.” The email admitted the “pandemic taught us a lot about the importance of online learning and communication.” Thus, money is needed to “make much-needed website improvements to allow the ANA to take advantage of current technologies, resulting in a better online experience for ANA members and the collecting community.”

The email says that an anonymous donor will match all gifts.

I support this effort to raise funds to improve the ANA’s technology. I urge all members to donate. Please go to info.money.org/techfund and donate!

I also thank the anonymous donor. I raise my coffee cup to you, and that’s a high honor from a coffee addict!

The ANA should not be in this situation. While there were failures before the pandemic put the ANA on the path to this failure, President Steve Ellsworth cemented the ANA’s fate because his bravado and ego got in the way of effectively running this organization.

Ellsworth dismissed the Technology Committee Chairperson in October 2019, and he did not replace the chair before the pandemic precautions caused the world to shut down. Ellsworth assigned Ron Oberth to work on ANA technology, who had no background in technology, and came up with unimaginative solutions and put the ANA behind other organizations who learned from the pandemic.

Although Ellsworth is out of office, he continues to be an ex-officio member of the Board of Governors. President Ron Ross has not demonstrated an understanding of the issue. Sources say that the loudest voice in the room is influencing Ross and that loudest voice belongs to Governor Ron Oberth. Oberth runs a successful numismatic company, but he does not know or understand technology, nor is he experienced in education that should guide the technology.

Ross and Oberth have not asked the ANA community to help. While they have listened to the ANA Headquarters staff, they have not listened to any other advisors with the experience necessary to lead the ANA into the future.

In other words, Ross and Oberth turned the Board of Governors into an insular club, and the rest of the membership was not welcome.

Both will deny their responsibility for the failures and ignore calls for their resignation. What you can do as a member is donate to the fund and add a note that the donation is conditional on the ANA assigning an independent committee to oversee the future of the technology policy. It was the model used by Presidents Walt Ostromecki, Jeff Garrett, and Gary Adkins to modernize the ANA technology infrastructure, and it should be the model in the future.

Early Registration for the WFM Ends Today!

Are you going to the World’s Fair of Money this year?

If you are, early registration ends TODAY, July 15, 2022.

If you register early, the ANA will mail your registration information so that you do not have to wait in long queues to register at the show. You can also purchase the convention medal, convention bar for those who collect the bars from each WFM they attend, and holders for those starting a new collection.

With life turning back towards normal, this show should have more opportunities to learn, see, and buy than last year. Although I did not attend last year’s WFM, the fact that the number of bourse tables available has returned to previous levels suggests that it has a making of an exciting experience.

There continues to be a problem with COVID, but not to the levels of the past. Some will be wearing masks, including me. Please be respectful of the mask wearers, and we can show that the numismatic community cares about each other and is supportive and friendly to everyone.

Are you going to the World's Fair of Money

Yes, I wouldn't miss it. (47%, 8 Votes)
No, I cannot get away (35%, 6 Votes)
No, it's not worth my time (12%, 2 Votes)
Maybe... I will decide later (6%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 17

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ANA Board Continues to Play Games

Faran Zerbe

Faran Zerbe ca. 1908

Last week, the ANA announced that the Board of Governors renamed the annual Distinguished Service Award to honor Chet Krause. The ANA will award the first Chester L. Krause Distinguished Service Award beginning this year.

In early 2021, the Board voted to remove Faran Zerbe’s name from the award based on unproven accusations. Based on the Board’s statement, they accused Zerbe of “hucksterism and fraud” for a collectible created in 1904 for the Louisiana Purchase Expo. However, contemporary accounts do not support this accusation, and Zerbe went on to serve as head numismatist for the expositions in 1905 (Portland) and 1915 (San Francisco).

The Board also accused Zerbe of “unscrupulously obtained personal ownership of The Numismatist in 1908 from relatives of the ANA’s late founder, Dr. George F. Heath.” Their statement even said it was an “allegation” and has never provided documentation to confirm their allegations.

It is difficult to argue against creating an award for Chet Krause, and his work and dedication to the ANA and the hobby deserve an honor. But honoring Krause should NOT diminish the contribution of Zerbe, and the ANA should have created a separate award or renamed the award the Zerbe-Krause Distinguished Service Award.

Instead of joining the politically correct “woke” crowd, the ANA Board of Governors should be working on ways to expand the association’s reach and impact. There is so much the Board can do to better the ANA than play these games.

My First Coin Design Change and Celebration

I am sponsoring GOLD memberships for new and renewing memebers of the American Numismatic Association. This is a limited-time offer to celebrate National Coin Week and the 131st anniversary of the American Numismatic Association. The offer expires on April 25, 2022. Call (800) 514-2646 or visit info.money.org/ncw-2022-barman to take advantage of this offer. Be sure to apply code NCW22SB at checkout!

1976 Washington Quarter with my favorite, the Drummer Boy reverse

Although I began collecting coins in 1970, I became interested in coins a few years earlier. My paternal grandfather used to pick coins out of change and save them. He owned a magnifying glass to look at the coins. When we visited his Brooklyn apartment, I would grab the magnifying glass and explore.

After the introduction of the Eisenhower Dollar, the first design change came in 1975 for the bicentennial. In the 1970s, celebrating the bicentennial was a significant event. The planning began in the last 1960s and picked up in 1972. The entire nation planned for a celebration that spread across every community.

The American Revolution Bicentennial Administration logo was everywhere, including the official medals the U.S. Mint produced. But that is not all the U.S. Mint produced as part of the bicentennial celebration.

In 1973, Congress passed the law allowing the U.S. Mint to change the reverse design of the quarter, half-dollar, and dollar coins to honor the bicentennial in 1975 and 1976. The coins will be dated 1776-1976 before they revert to their original designs.

My first introduction to a design change was the Drummer Boy reverse on the Washington Quarter. I liked the design more than the original eagle design on the reverse, and it continues to be one of my favorite designs.

As a collector and a newly minted driver, I saved money from my after-school jobs to purchase uncirculated coins and the sets with the bicentennial coins.

In 2001, there was a reunion of the artists who created the designs. Jack Ahr (quarter), Seth Huntington (half-dollar), and Dennis Williams (dollar) attended the celebration. PCGS had the three artists sign labels inserted into slabs with proof versions of the coins they designed. I was able to pick up a set on the aftermarket.

1976-S Silver Proof Bicentennial Autograph Set

Because of the hype, and the potential to increase seigniorage, the U.S. Mint overproduced these coins. They also made proof and silver proof sets so plentiful that they remained on sale through 1986. The U.S. Mint ended up melting over 600,000 sets.

Suggested Reading: To learn more about the legislation that created the Bicentennial coinage program, read “14 Bits: The Story of America’s Bicentennial Coinage” by David Ganz (ISBN 978-0914478638).

The Bicentennial celebration was a national event to remember. Nearly every community issued medals. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing joined in and changed the reverse of the $2 Federal Reserve Note to an interpretation of John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence. The BEP issued the notes on April 13, 1976, and it is possible to find uncirculated notes postmarked on that date. July 4, 1976, is another popular postmark for bicentennial collectibles, especially postmarks from Philadelphia.

Reverse of the Series 1976 $2 Federal Reserve Note features an engraved modified reproduction of the painting The Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull.

Even though the circulating commemorative was generally successful, the concept would not return until the beginning of the 50 State Quarters program in 1999.

All images are original and property of the author used under the Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Weekly World Numismatic News for April 17, 2022

Welcome to National Coin Week 2022!

I am sponsoring GOLD memberships for new and renewing memebers of the American Numismatic Association. This is a limited-time offer to celebrate National Coin Week and the 131st anniversary of the American Numismatic Association. The offer expires on April 25, 2022. Call (800) 514-2646 or visit info.money.org/ncw-2022-barman to take advantage of this offer. Be sure to apply code NCW22SB at checkout!

For the next week, the theme of National Coin Week is Dynamic Designs, Artistic Masterpieces celebrating the designs on coins. I cannot think of any numismatic topic that will lead to a more heated discussion than coin designs. Whether it is about the design selected for a quarter, commemorative coin, or classic versus modern designs, coin designs can be a polarizing topic. Even the topic of colorization has caused some to have a visceral reaction.

This week, I will be celebrating coin designs. During the week, I will celebrate coin designs from my collection, and they will be designs that I find appealing and the reason why I like them.

Today I start with the newest design that has piqued the interest of collectors and potential new collectors, the Maya Angelou Quarter. Angelou appears on the first issue of the American Woman Quarters program, a four-year program celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of women in United States History.

Maya Angelou’s appearance on the quarter also marks the first time an African-American woman has appeared on a U.S. coin. Her first famous book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” inspired the design. It is the first time the general public has talked about a U.S. coin since the beginning of the 50 State Quarters program.

The obverse features a portrait of George Washington designed by Laura Gardin Fraser in 1932. When the U.S. Mint moved to change the quarter’s design to honor the bicentennial of George Washington’s birthday. A competition was held for the design. Fraser’s design was selected by the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) as the best representation of Washington for the coin. Unfortunately, Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, a known misogynist, rejected Fraser’s design and selected the art of John Flannigan instead.

The 1999 George Washington $5 gold commemorative coin featured Laura Gardin Fraser’s design. The American Women on Quarters program will feature her design. To sum up the impact of the design, the following is from the 1932 letter from the CFA to Secretary Mellon:

This bust is regarded by artists who have studied it as the most authentic likeness of Washington. Such was the skill of the artist in making this life-mask that it embodies those high qualities of the man’s character which have given him a place among the great of the world…Simplicity, directness, and nobility characterize it. The design has style and elegance…The Commission believes that this design would present to the people of this country the Washington whom they revere.

And now the news…

 April 11, 2022
The research, conducted by researchers at the University of Warwick and the University of Liverpool in England, revealed a debasement of the currency far greater than historians had thought.  → Read more at news.abplive.com

 April 13, 2022
FINDING valuable coins may not be too difficult – and an expert has revealed a way to do this. Should a coin be in a high grade or have a low reported mintage, the piece could be quite valuable.  → Read more at the-sun.com
Coin Collectors News


Flat Attendance for the National Money Show

Last week, the American Numismatic Association announced that the National Money Show attracted 3,288 visitors. However, that buries the lead because the attendance figure includes 376 dealers and 69 staff and volunteers, and the actual attendance of the people walking in the door is 2,843.

The first National Money Show in two years attracted only 2,843 visitors.

In 2019, the National Money Show in Pittsburgh attracted 2,504 visitors, an announcement saying the attendance was over 3,000.

The collecting market has improved. In fact, the collecting market remains very hot even though the economy is showing signs of strain. Attendance at other types of collectors shows has increased, as was experienced at a local ComicCon two weeks ago. Unfortunately, attendance for the National Money Show has not improved.

Recent National Money Show Attendance
Year City Attendance*
2022 Colorado Springs 3,288
2020-21 No Show  
2019 Pittsburgh 3,002
2018 Irving 2,671
2017 Orlando 2,516
2016 Dallas 2,585
2015 Portland 4,592
* Attendance figures include dealers and working staff.

The United States Mint reports that bulk sales of collectible American Women Quarters are approaching sellouts. Non-numismatic media is publishing reports about the quarters that have the general public looking at their change again, similar to the beginning of the 50 States Quarters Program.

Also, as the Innovation Dollars make their way around the country, the local media outlets report that their readership shows interest in the coins, including how to find them. Some reports note that once their readers discover the program, they purchase more coins and are now collectors.

The success of the Negro Leagues Commemorative Coins has led to an interest in other baseball-themed coins. One person wrote asking about other baseball-themed coins and where to buy them.

If this is what the modern coin collector wants, the shows must evolve to reflect these changes.

It is deja vu all over again. Every time the industry pats itself on the back to show that it is progressing, the reality makes these pronouncements look like an embarrassment.

Modern coin shows are operated the same as they were in the 2000s. In over 20 years, there have been no changes and no evolution, and there has been practically no growth in ANA membership attendance in over 20 years. Is it time to reimagine how to present a coin show?

National Money Show opens in (yawn) Colorado Springs

ANA President Dr. Ralph Ross opening the 2022 National Money Show (video screen capture)

While watching the National Money Show opening ceremony online, the speakers mentioned that it was the fifth time the show was being held in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs is the home of the ANA’s headquarters, and it is about 75 miles south of Denver. Colorado Springs is also the home of the United States Air Force Academy. It is a nice place, and planning a visit should be on anyone’s destination list.

While it is nice that the National Money Show is in Colorado Springs, other cities could hold the show. The ANA refuses to consider holding any show in Washington, DC.

Regulations by the city’s government and the city council’s unresponsiveness to address the issues prevented the ANA from considering Washington for one of their shows.

Times have changed.

Since Larry Shepherd stuck the ANA with keeping the World’s Fair of Money in the Chicago area, Washington has new facilities to host the ANA shows.

Even though Washington is the home of the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Smithsonian National History Museum, where the National Numismatic Collection is located, the ANA cannot get past the memories of past problems to explore new opportunities.

The problem was driven home by Larry Shepherd, who said on an episode of the Coin World Podcast that Washington cannot hold an ANA show. Shepherd, who probably has not been to Washington since being dismissed as the ANA’s executive director, has no clue how his pronouncement is wrong.

The ANA can hold either show at the National Harbor, a development outside the Beltway in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Aside from being the location of an MGM Grand Hotel, the 2,000 room Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center can comfortably host the ANA.

But people like Larry Shepherd do not keep up with the present and do not know about National Harbor. Instead, they isolate themselves in their prejudices and ignorantly dismiss the ideas.

The Washington region can be a destination for collectors and their families. After all, Washington is the nation’s capital. Come for the show, stay for the history. Bring the kids. We can go to the Smithsonian American Art Museum to see the art of the artists who designed U.S. coins. Tour the city to see the statues by some of those same artists.

What if the ANA worked with the Smithsonian Institute to create exhibits around the coins and the history they represent. How fascinating will it be to take the Native American Dollar program and create a program to expand on their message at the National Museum of the American Indian?

Even though the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has brought interesting items to other shows, they can host special tours in their Washington printing center for ANA members.

When it is time to visit the bourse, it will be in the expansive convention center at the Gaylord Hotel. After the bourse closes, convention-goers can stay in National Harbor to have a good time, including a ride on the Capital Wheel overlooking the Potomac River.

Since National Harbor is in Maryland, the sales tax laws favor bringing all of the shows to the area.

Maybe Larry Shepherd is right. All Washington could do is add new educational opportunities and create family fun to increase the show’s attendance. It is not the direction it appears the ANA wants to go.

Opening Ceremony at the 2022 National Money Show in Colorado Springs

Time for the ANA to wake up and EDUCATE against counterfeit scams

There was once a time that the American Numismatic Association worked with stakeholders to protect numismatic buyers. The ANA worked with eBay to create marketplace protection rules. They were involved with helping raise awareness to gain the passage of the Collectible Coin Protection Act. But where has the ANA been over the last eight years?

Since the passage of the Collectible Coin Protection Act 2014, the ANA has been silent on all aspects of counterfeit coins entering the United States, primarily from China. In the past, the ANA has partnered with China Gold Coin to manufacture Panda silver coins with the ANA logo for the World’s Fair of Money. China Gold Coin is a People’s Bank of China subsidiary that manufactures the Panda bullion coins.

According to the ANA’s website, its mission statement begins:

The American Numismatic Association is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to educating and encouraging people to study and collect money and related items.

The education process has been lacking in the area of consumer awareness. While some of the topics are covered in their introductory collecting course, are no courses, statements, or seminars about the scams collectors face daily.

Previously, the ANA has used its position as a national organization to work with eBay to make the online marketplace safer for buyers. It is impossible to eliminate all problems, but the result has been a safer marketplace for eBay buyers. It is a program that the ANA can proudly take credit.

But when it comes to Chinese counterfeits, the ANA has been silent.

The ANA must develop a plan to educate the public to help the collecting and investing public how to protect themselves against the scammers.

While the ANA devises a plan, they can produce videos that teach collectors to avoid scams. The videos can feature the ANA President, prominent dealers, collectors, and anyone who can help deliver a message. Find someone who was scammed to talk about their experience. Two videos can include a guide to examining an American Silver Eagle to determine if it is a counterfeit coin.

The ANA must advertise the release of the videos nationally. While the numismatic press will promote these videos, the promotion must appear in the non-numismatic media. The promotion must go beyond the press release, and Spokespeople must be made available to media outlets catering to a broader audience.

The ANA can craft a plan to educate the collecting and investing public during the video production to protect against counterfeit coins. The plan must continue to educate the collecting public and educate law enforcement and politicians who can become involved with a scammed collector. The ANA can partner with the U.S. Mint, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the U.S. Secret Service to add depth to the public education program.

A plan must include working with Facebook to eliminate advertisements for counterfeit coins.

If the ANA Board of Governors does not know where to begin, consider the Ad Council’s campaign criteria to develop a plan. Even if the ANA cannot convince the Ad Council to work with the ANA, they are successful guidelines to publicize this issue.

The ANA Woke Up on the Wrong Side, for a change

When they persisted in questioning him, he stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”

— John 8:7

During an open session of the ANA Board of Governor on January 19, 2021, a session not advertised in a prominent location, the Board voted to remove Farran Zerbe’s name from the top service award offered by the organization.

Let’s take a look at the reasons given for removing Zerbe’s name from the ANA award. According to the ANA’s press release:

A retrospective look at Zerbe’s professional dealings uncovered accusations that he made deceptively inflated claims about the future value of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition gold dollars he sold; complaints of hucksterism and fraud for his creation and sale of coin-like 1904 gold-plated exposition souvenirs;

Modern hucksterism that the ANA Board does not seem to mind versus one that allegedly occurred 112 years-ago.

The ANA Board of Governors, whose members include dealers, is assessing 112-year-old accusations of conducting business. In the meantime, the ANA sits idly by while ANA dealers on television have done the same thing.

I have documented inflated prices and deceptively inflated claims by Rare Collectibles TV, DCN Coin Talk, and other scams that walked into my shop that purchased coins from these members of the ANA. the RCTV pitch included Miles Standish, and the DCN Coin Talk pitch included David Ganz. Ganz, like Zerbe, is a past ANA President.

These are not the only cases of inflated claims on coins that have appeared on television. Frequent viewers of “The Coin Collector” on HSN regularly send emails asking if they are legitimate. I purposely avoided the show because I already have heartburn issues, and it would put a severe test on my regimen of Pepcid.

Zerbe also served as head numismatist for the expositions in 1905 (Portland) and 1915 (San Francisco). Were there any accusations for those expos? Or was there cherry-picking of reasons to justify their actions?

What is the difference between the claim that Zerbe made inflated claims on coins versus the television hucksters? Zerbe is dead and cannot defend himself. The hucksters are living and have given money to the ANA.

[A]llegations that he unscrupulously obtained personal ownership of The Numismatist in 1908 from relatives of the ANA’s late founder, Dr. George F. Heath (then ANA Vice President W.W.C. Wilson subsequently purchased the periodical and donated it to the Association in 1910);

The first word of this is “allegations.” His actions were alleged. Can the allegations be substantiated? What evidence do they have?

Whatever evidence they have is circumstantial and hearsay. I understand that someone can make a strong case using circumstantial evidence, but when the case is being built against someone who cannot testify, there should be almost no questions.

An example of solid circumstantial evidence would be that if you go to bed, the ground is clear. When you wake up, there is snow on the ground. You did not see the snowfall, but you see the snow on the ground. The snow on the ground is circumstantial evidence that there was a snowfall overnight.


… and claims of bribery involving the 1909 ANA election in which Zerbe’s friend John M. Henderson was named president.

CLAIMS? The ANA Board of Governors has chosen to besmirch the name of a past president, the driving force behind the creation of the Peace Dollar, and whose collection formed the basis of the Chase Money Museum on CLAIMS?

What are the claims? Who made the claims? What documentation do we have of the claims?

No ANA dealer face an ethics examination after the fiasco of the 2014 Kennedy Half Dollar 50th Anniversary Gold Coin release. (Image is a screen grab courtesy of ABC 7 News, Denver)

In the mean time, no dealer was ever sanctioned who paid someone to buy 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Gold Half-Dollars that caused problems outside of the Denver Mint and at the World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont. The ANA only released a statement essentially saying “bad boys” to dealers that created the dangerous situations.

The problem I have with all of this is that there is NO documentation offered to the membership. The ONLY documentation provided is a 119-word paragraph, most of it reproduced here.

Another problem I have is that the ANA holds open Board sessions with little advertisement. Had I known about the session, I would have made myself available. Unfortunately, the Board is lax with their membership engagement making it seem they are a club amongst themselves.

The press release does not report the vote total for the motion. I am sure that the press release would report it was a unanimous vote if it was the case. But the tersely written press release suggests there was contention behind the decision. The ANA does not write terse press releases. Look it up!

The decision was made by a Board of Governors with a sitting member that was once asked to resign from a previous Board because “He realized he had made a mistake.” It was a mistake related to a lawsuit against the ANA by former ANA Executive Director Larry Shepherd.

What did Steve Ellsworth add to the discussion? As past president, Ellsworth is a non-voting member of the Board of Governors. However, given his previous actions that left the ANA flat-footed when the pandemic closed everything down, it would be interesting to hear his counsel on this matter.

Unless the ANA Board of Governors publishes the details of the allegations against Zerbe, including source material and where it was discovered, then the move adds the ANA to the “woke community” looking to cancel a historic member of the numismatic community.

Therefore, as a member of the ANA, I hereby move that the ANA Board of Governors reinstate the name of Farran Zerbe to the organization’s highest honor.

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