Robert Burns wrote in his poem To A Mouse “The best laid schemes of mice and men/Go often awry” describes how I tried to leave early yet something always gets in the way. Such was my journey this morning when I tried to leave before my morning note posted. But after a stop at a local coffee shop, I was able to take to the road to Philadelphia.

With traffic, the drive to Philadelphia was 2 hours and 45 minutes with a stop to refill the coffee cup. I made such good time that I was too early to check in. So I left my luggage with the concierge and walked across the street to the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

I know I should not compare facilities because each city builds a convention center for its own purposes, but it seems that this facility was not as big as I thought it would be. Maybe I am not seeing the entire facility. But it is a nice place. It is well laid out, decently lit in the bourse area, and nicely positioned in downtown Philadelphia.

Every city has its charm, especially the old cities in the northeast corridor. Their growth, problems, and gentrification reflect the character of the city and how the city wants to show itself. Philadelphia seems to want to balance between the history of the colonial city while maintaining its melting pot atmosphere. The problem is that Philadelphia was so successful that it has made supporting services, such as hotels and parking, more expensive.

While I am not a fan of the American Numismatic Association’s decision to hold the World’s Fair of Money in the suburbs of Chicago, I am not sure they could sustain other shows in the downtowns of major cities. While I like Philadelphia, costs and the economy suggest a more cost effective location.

Maybe it is the cost and the economy why I was a little disappointed when I entered the bourse area of the World’s Fair of Money. Maybe the halls are bigger than they seem, but the show does not take up the entire hall. The back area is very open and there are sections blocked off so the show does not take up the entire hall.

The last time I attended the World’s Fair of Money was the 2008 show in Baltimore where they took up three halls in the Baltimore Convention Center and had a waiting list. While I have missed a few since (should have had my hip replaced sooner!), the differences are drastic.

Regardless of the size, the one thing you have to give to the ANA is that they know how to put on a show! The schedule is packed with interesting lectures, meetings, and other activities. They get the U.S. Mint, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and a few world mints here including the Royal Canadian Mint, Perth Mint, Holy Land Mint, and the Polish Mint—which are only the ones I saw today. I think there are others I will explore tomorrow.

When I arrived, I did make a dash to the U.S. Mint and BEP areas. At the U.S. Mint I was able to purchase the 2012 Making American History Coin and Currency Set, saving the $4.95 shipping costs. The set includes a 2012-S Proof American Silver Eagle and a Series 2009 $5 Federal Reserve Note from the Federal Reserve Bank Branch of San Francisco with the serial number beginning with “150.” The set looks like the U.S. Mint used the same supplier for this packaging as they have for other products. I like the set and glad I bought it.

At the BEP area, aside from taking pictures of their display (see my Pinterest board for images), I purchased the $10 Generations Set. This set contains a Series 1995, 2001, and 2009 $10 Federal Reserve Note from the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia showing the evolution of the note. What is really great is that all three notes have matching serial numbers. My three have serial number “0527.” Now if I would have understood that the sticky note on the cover was the serial number, I would have asked for something more interesting. At least I have the lowest available.

The packaging of the $10 Generations set is phenomenal. Inside the box is a binder with a booklet showing the history of the $10 note slipped in the pocket, the $10 FRNs in two pages with an intaglio print of Independence Hall on the second page. With only 3,333 to be produced, I am glad I purchased a set.

Comparatively, the BEP can teach the U.S. Mint a little something about packaging—although the wood boxes used for the Eagles and 2009 High Relief Gold Coin were pretty nice, too! But the $10 Generations set looks better than the Making American History Set.

While I did do some walking around and shmoozing, I did spend time at the Maryland State Numismatic Association table. I will be there off and on during the week and at the Gold and Silver Political Action Committee table right across the aisle. I will also try to attend some of the meetings and talks.

Before I forget, I found out there is a group called the Society of Bearded Numismatists who will meet at the show. I was told that they have been inactive for a while and this is the first time they will meet in many years. Well, since I qualify, I want to check this out. They are meeting at 3:00 PM at the World Mint Stage. This should be fun!

Otherwise, if anyone is in the area, come say hello. Whether you are in Philadelphia or watching from afar, watch Twitter (@coinsblog) and my board on Pinterest to see what I find.

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