More than 800 visitors, which included 89 non-collector youth and families, attended the annual fall three-day show of the Albuquerque, N.M., Coin Club (ACC), held Nov. 15-17 at the Marriott Pyramid Hotel in North Albuquerque, according to the club.
Paid admission on Friday alone, from the 12:30 p.m. public opening to the closing at 5:30 p.m., topped the 200 mark – “a first in over 50 years,” Kathy O’Neill, ACC treasurer noted.
Sales on the 55-dealer bourse floor were brisk all three days especially for mid-range grade type collector coins. Gold and silver bullion items saw very little interest. Paper money and ancients fared so-so, according to the club.
“Collector coins did very well,” said Chick McCormack of Colorado. “For some unknown reason, Standing Liberty quarters in Good to Very Fine condition went like hot cakes. One collector purchased over $1,000 of these coins. You never know what’s going to move!”
Neil of Crown Jewels & Coins, New Mexico, remarked: “Raw ‘CC’ Morgans were so-so. Hammered bronze world coins were the hot item along with selected diamond jewelry pieces.
Richard Horst of Colorado commented, “On Friday just after the show opened, I had a $10,000 sale of fine high-grade U.S. paper money. This made my show.”
“All in all, for our second show held in the new Marriott North venue, the dealers were very pleased with sales,” said Rod Frechette, bourse chair. “The club did a lot of online and radio bits PR about the show. Credit goes to Phil Vitale for the radio and TV spots. Over 85 percent of the dealers turned in to me their applications before departing for our Spring 2020 show – a first.”
Frechette and Phil Vitale, club president, credited the large youth and family attendance to the free, fun, interactive and hands-on introduction to the money hobby activities in “The Coin Experience Learning Area” hosted by Walt Ostromecki, American Numismatic Association past president and youth numismatic educator.
A President Abraham Lincoln look-alike also appeared from time to time, talked/posed with youngsters and handed out cents bearing his portrait.
“One of our primary efforts as a club is to attract youngsters into the hobby of numismatics,” said Frechette. “We continue to ask Walt [for the fourth year] to come and help us with this goal at our fall show by handling the educational outreach programs [for youth, families and non-collectors]. He has a vast wealth of numismatic knowledge and strategies to passionately share the fun world of money with others. His attention-captivating approach as an educator with both kids and adults is a wonder to behold. He generates excitement by sharing many a fascinating story behind coins and collecting.”
Vitale added, “He comes on his own dime, provides eye-catching numismatic displays to elicit curiosity and interaction, graciously provides all sorts of coin and paper money giveaways for the youth and family activities, handles the Scouts’ BSA Coin Collecting Merit Badge requirements, and lastly doubles as ANA resource rep and membership solicitor. He’s a great all-in-one numismatic hobby educator resource – one of the people that make a difference for our hobby!”
What kind of activities are conducted in the Coin Experience Area?
• It was the starting and concluding point for a 12-stop youth coin treasure hunt. Some of the coins each youth treasure-hunter went home with were: a 2017-P Lincoln cent (often given out by President Lincoln himself), a 35 percent silver War nickel, a silver Mercury dime and an uncirculated S-mint Idaho America the Beautiful quarter.
• A world currency-country match where youth earned world currency for each correct match
• An America the Beautiful quarter trivia challenge where youth earned a “P” or “S” mint uncirculated quarter for each correct answer
• A coloring design contest for kids age 7 and under. Design winners went away with a 2019-dated Kennedy half or a 2019 Sacagawea $1 coin
• A Penny Search where youngsters and family members as a team looked through a large pile of cents for dates/mintmarks and inserted them into a folder
ACC YN Andrew Mitchell, 14, assisted Ostromecki with the treasure hunt program on Saturday, which saw the participation of nearly 50. In addition to the coin treasures found on the hunt, all youngsters and families who participated or just stopped by to learn and have fun in the Coin Experience Area received ANA youth coin hobby enrichment programs such as Coins for A’s, the Dollar Project, Ancient Coin Program and the Grading Game. Also included were $5 of ACC “coin bucks,” which could be used to buy coins from dealers inside the show.
In addition to the educational outreach activities and bourse, the show also hosted its first on-site silent auction featuring an array of coins, paper money, medals and books. Bill DeWeese, ACC past president, handled the auction process, which accepted bids from the general public and coin club members. A French Republic 10-francs gold coin received the most bidding attention and sold for an undisclosed final “high” bid.
On display was an exhibit of Military Challenge Coins from ACC member Kathy O’Neill, Army Captain (Ret.). Both she and her late husband assembled the collection over many years while in the military, and she keeps adding to it all the time. It was there as a tribute to all current service personnel and veterans. It garnered a lot of attention and “wows” from viewers.
Ostromecki took the opportunity to ask ACC President Vitale, why the ACC has grown and thrived since it was founded in May of 1953 while other clubs in New Mexico faded away.
Vitale responded, “The members and officer leaders who stepped forward, of course. But, numismatic education and direct communication with fellow collectors – especially new collectors to the hobby – are the primary reasons.”
He went on to say, “People come to a coin club meeting to learn and hone their numismatic skills whether it be grading, counterfeit detection or numismatic history in general. They don’t come primarily out of tradition or social reasons, something so many other clubs today focus on. Clubs were founded to educate, nurture and grow hobbyists who collect coins for many different reasons.
“I’ve been to many a club meeting across the country where so much time is devoted to mundane business, reading/correcting minutes, treasurer’s reports, old and new business, pizza parties or bingo, etc. without any focus on enhancing education! As I looked around the room, I could see why this is so. The attendance membership base is all over 55. These social clubs are ‘catering to that base,’ which is mainly focused on socializing, period. Our business meeting is conducted by the officers an hour before the meeting so we can focus on learning rather than just a good time. And these social clubs wonder why they are not growing, getting new members and slowly dying.”
The next ACC spring coin show is slated to be held March 20-22 at the Marriott Pyramid North Hotel in Albuquerque. For more details, visit www.abqcc.org, call (505) 379-5207 or write ACC, P.O. Box 11602, Albuquerque, NM 87192.