Pacific Northwest Numismatic Association
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Scholarship Report - 2008
A Voyage of Discovery – ANA Summer Seminar 2008by Larry Gaye
My journey to the 2008 ANA Summer Seminar began on rather short notice; let me explain. I have always wanted to attend but really lacked the financial resources to do so. As many of you may know I am an ANA National Volunteer and travel to the World’s Fair of Money and the National Money Show each year which takes time and reserves. While time I could manage, tuition and associated expense was another story. To attend Summer Seminar I would need financial assistance and what better organization to apply to than the PNNA which offers a $1,000 Summer Seminar scholarship to its members. Scholarship coverage includes the cost of the class, as well as room and board. You can choose to attend either one of the two one-week sessions offered.
The short notice comes into play this way. As president and board member of PNNA over a ten year period I felt it would be a bit unseemly for me to apply while still an official. Not only did I wait until my term was up, but also to make sure as the deadline for applying approached that no one else was seeking the PNNA scholarship that could create a conflict. With this in mind the day before the deadline I submitted my application. As it turned out no adult nor junior had applied — I had won my scholarship.
The sole requirement for the $1,000 PNNA scholarship is that the attendee must write a summary of their experience at the seminar to be published in the PNNA’s journal, The Nor’Wester. As many of you all may suspect I love to “talk,” be it in person or on paper, so here goes.
I chose to attend Session I and enjoy “Colonial Americana—Beyond the Basics” taught by old young friend John Kraljevich, and his co-presenter Erik Goldstein, a curator at the Colonial Williamsburg Museum. I also opted for the evening mini-seminar “Conder Tokens” taught by my partner in crime Jerry Bobbe. These two sessions plus staying an extra day to attend the Colorado Springs Coin Show midway between Sessions I and II pretty much ate up all of my scholarship funds. I paid out of pocket for my roundtrip airfare to and from the seminar at the ANA Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The ANA holds the annual seminar at Colorado College, as our “club house” ANA Headquarters located on the Colorado College campus is a bit too small to accommodate the number of students that attend. Many of you might not realize that the ANA leases its facility from Colorado College. Last summer there were over four hundred attendees that attended sessions I and II.
Colorado College is a small liberal arts school with a beautiful campus perfectly suited to host the ANA’s premier educational event. Attendees stay in campus dorms, use the classrooms, and invade the cafeteria; the CC staff is terrific and facilities are top of the line.
ANA headquarters house all the instructor and attendees resource needs: from the vault to secure coins as well as an amazing library for research. Many instructors give assignments that might include researching coins in the extensive ANA collections and library. My biggest worry at attending my first “summer camp” was that I would forget the words to Kumbayah. This turned out not to be a problem, for which I was greatly relieved and no, I didn’t pee my bunk or cry to go home once!
I flew into “The Springs” on Saturday June 21 and arrived a bit late as the plane involved in the Salt Lake – Colorado Springs air link suffered an aborted take off; I just love surprises such as blasting down the runway at 125 mph and coming to an abrupt stop. The takeoff was aborted because the pilot had a false hot engine light appear on his control panel. Once the problem was sorted out we flew out with no further incident. [Larry is also a pilot!]
Upon landing at The Springs, we were met by ANA staff that whisked us away to the campus for registration and a wonderful sandwich buffet lunch. The room was full of ANA staff and attendees, some old friends and soon to be new friends. I found my dorm room shared with old buddies Jerry Bobbe, Tom Mulvaney and Brian Fanton, a rowdy group indeed. Orientation at 4:30 was followed by dinner in the CC cafeteria. A word about CC’s cafeteria, ok more than a word. The cafeteria staff does a great job; the food was plentiful and very good with a wide range of choices for all meals. You will not starve, and yes you can eat healthy.
Sunday morning we were acquainted with the ANA library, collection, and vault. A very pleasant surprise was waiting for me when I checked the coins I brought into the vault. Collection manager Robin Sisler greeted me as an old friend. I had worked and spoken with Robin during my work at conventions. I told him he should join the Willamette Coin Club. He informed me that he was a member as a kid before he and his family moved to Alaska. I was blown away and his name tag magically appeared in my brain’s memory files. Robin is married with four kids, so you can understand me not making the connection. What a gift, making contact with an old friend! Isn’t numismatics wonderful?
Sunday afternoon we attended our first session that ran from 1:00 until 4:00. During the week class would start at 9:15 am and run until 4:00 pm. The mini-seminars ran from 6:30 –9:30 pm Monday through Wednesday. As you can see, it was a busy schedule; numismatic heaven.
The Class: it would be impossible to bring you word for word the content of the Colonial America seminar. I will do my best to bring you the scope. The thrust of the curriculum was designed to inform the students of the diversity of the mediums of exchange in the colonial lands of the European New World as well as that of the original inhabitants that were there before the “conquest.” This means all colonies in North and South America, not just the English colonies as we here in North America like to think were the only ones that mattered!
When the Spanish arrived (and subsequently destroyed the native population and its culture) they found the Mayans using copper hoes, which the Spanish laughed at, as they were too flimsy to use in agriculture, so why bother? Their actual purpose was a form of wealth, not tools. The Spanish quickly developed (read stole) the gold and silver resources and shipped the wealth home to Spain. To do this they established three mints, Mexico City, Potosi in present day Bolivia and Lima, Peru. At first simple gold and silver bars were smelted, then later rough coins or “cobs” were minted. The term cob comes from the Spanish word cabodebaro, which means end of the bar. A silver bar was made and cut into slices or “cobs” of varying values of eight, four and two reales, and one real; real is Spanish for royal. So now we know who the silver belonged to; the King. Along with ownership being established, a new coinage was born in the Americas.
This became very important for the rest of Colonial America, as there was so much gold and silver produced that the rest of the colonies of necessity were forced to base their exchange rates on Spanish coinage for centuries to come. The coins were easily identifiable with the distinctive Jerusalem Cross design, the mint marks and moneyer, and dates on each coin.
The moneyer was the person responsible for the fineness of the minting process of the metal, and making sure the King got his fifth of all the bullion. If the coinage was found to be less than it should have been, the moneyer answered with his life, same too for counterfeiters. That being said, there is ample evidence that some found ways to benefit personally from engineering the shipments for personal gain. Bullion and other New World riches have been found in Spanish wrecks that have helped fill in the picture of how the goods were transported, as well as how deception was possible.
The Portuguese too had colonies that benefited from the riches found in the Americas and were major player on the world scene with extensive holdings in Asia. They denominated their coinage in reis, also meaning royal.
The Dutch merchantmen of the would find their way to the New World and establish New Amsterdam, which would later become New York when the English forced them out. So too did the Dutch bring their monetary system and industry with them.
The French carved out an extensive North American empire in the south, Louisiana. In the north Canada was their oyster. They too brought their monetary system with them, and their coins and tokens circulated in most colonies.
Into the colonies poured colonists and adventurers from all over the Old World to begin life in the New World. With them came their skills and saved cash. Polish glassmakers, German blacksmiths, English merchants, French trappers and Portuguese explorers were key to the success of North and South American colonies, and spawned new countries in the largest melting pot of people and ideas the world had ever seen.
John and Erik took us on a whirlwind tour of the coins, medals, currency, and other valuable items used in the colonies to create what would become a totally new system of government as well as giving us an insight to contemporary life in the colonies. With accuracy and humor John and Erik demystified the term we so casually use when we say “colonial currency,” not just what we see in the “Red Book” under “colonial.” Sorry Ken Bressett, no offense meant!
[Larry has some images of coins from the seminar as well as from his own collection to illustrate the fun he had, the numismatic items he saw and handled, and the friends old and new he shared his experience with for an unforgettable week.]
A word about scholarships, the real nut of this missive: I purposely took a class in something I wanted to learn more about outside of my numismatic specialties. That’s what scholarship is all about, learning more to share more with others as well as seeing the interconnection of numismatics. I urge you to apply to your local club and/or regional and national clubs for the monetary scholarships they offer to attend the ANA’s Summer Seminar, which I guarantee will turn into a personal numismatic renaissance.
Here are a few sources of scholarship dollars:
There is money out there for the taking, go and grab some and enjoy an experience you will never forget!