What's Happening at the ANA?
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Barbara Gregory, the former editor-in chief of The Numismatist, retired from her long time position at the ANA earlier this year. In the September 29th issue of Numismatic News she wrote a viewpoint critical of the ANA. She wrote "I fear a few elected officials and appointees have used the current COVID-19 pandemic as a convenient excuse to essentially cripple and dismantle the Association, with utter disregard for its legacy of education and guidance." Those are very strong words from Ms. Gregory. The little I know is that the new ANA president said that the ANA's finances are in very bad shape and I believe he also made a controversial statement that the ANA's Board of Governors should not be elected from the general membership. Anyone know why Ms. Gregory would make her statement?

Edited by Tyrock

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Interesting and sad parting statement. Change and fiscal discipline are hard, but sometimes necessary. I hope that the ANA takes her words to heart in making their decisions.

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The reason for Barbara's departure is unknown to most of us.  Let's hope it was entirely her decision and not due to price cuts.  When an organization needs to "tighten" the finances, the folks at the top with the highest salary are usually the first to go.  I've experienced this personally twice. 

The ANA is a typical organization with internal "political factions."   In this instance, I'll guarantee that her departure was not a "political" decision!    

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2 hours ago, Tyrock said:

She wrote "I fear a few elected officials and appointees have used the current COVID-19 pandemic as a convenient excuse to essentially cripple and dismantle the Association, with utter disregard for its legacy of education and guidance." Those are very strong words from Ms. Gregory. The little I know is that the new ANA president said that the ANA's finances are in very bad shape and I believe he also made a controversial statement that the ANA's Board of Governors should not be elected from the general membership. Anyone know why Ms. Gregory would make this statement?

No, particularly since I am not a member.

But combine "disregard of education and guidance" with "finances are in very bad shape" sounds like the potential to go in the direction of becoming an industry financial shill.  That's what most important to both the buyers and sellers of the most expensive and prominent US coins anyway,  I also suspect it's what the "hobby's" financial promoters also want out of the ANA too.

No, I am not just a cynic. :)

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10 minutes ago, World Colonial said:

No, particularly since I am not a member.

But combine "disregard of education and guidance" with "finances are in very bad shape" sounds like the potential to go in the direction of becoming an industry financial shill.  That's what most important to both the buyers and sellers of the most expensive and prominent US coins anyway,  I also suspect it's what the "hobby's" financial promoters also want out of the ANA too.

No, I am not just a cynic. :)

What is an “industry financial shill” and why would the “hobby’s financial promoters” want that?

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2 hours ago, Tyrock said:

The little I know is that the new ANA president said that the ANA's finances are in very bad shape and I believe he also made a controversial statement that the ANA's Board of Governors should not be elected from the general membership. Anyone know why Ms. Gregory would make this statement?

I'd be interested in exactly WHAT she was referring to in her statement, yes.

And I find it hard to believe that an organization which has as it's leading members/associates some of the WEALTHIEST individuals in the country/world...doesn't have a foundation or endowment or rainy day fund to tide it over.

You would think some of the billionaire coin collectors would have wanted to make a legacy for themselves beyond just setting bidding records.

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22 minutes ago, World Colonial said:

But combine "disregard of education and guidance" with "finances are in very bad shape" sounds like the potential to go in the direction of becoming an industry financial shill. 

Not sure what you mean by that, but as I posted above...if she had seen this day coming and had wanted a foundation or endowment set up to help during times like we are currently experiencing, more power to her.  I'm jumping here....I'm not sure what she is upset about and I'm not sure what you mean by "industry financial shill" in regards to likely bad financial shape at the ANA.

I know a club I belong to has talked and talked about a foundation for YEARS.  We're finally doing it this year -- now we just need the $$$.  xD

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Let me try to stay out of the worst of the fray by sticking to what I know for certain. The current President, Steve Ellsworth of Butternut Coins, is a very strong Type A personality whose ideas are highly controversial. Some members, including many of the most active members, frankly hate his guts. He has done many highly controversial things, and the Board has shot him down on many more. In all my years as an active member, I've never seen any President on the losing side of so many 7-2 or 8-1 votes.

The ANA does have a MASSIVE endowment, but Steve and some others don't want it used for operations, ever. They want a balanced current year budget every year, allowing the endowment to grow ad infinitum. Educational programs have suffered, and that's supposed to be the ANA's mission, not a coin dealer marketing association. That's about as far as I want to go for now. I am planning to run for the Board of Governors.

Edited by VKurtB

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9 minutes ago, VKurtB said:

The ANA does have a MASSIVE endowment, but Steve and some others don't want it used for operations, ever. They want a balanced current year budget every year, allowing the endowment to grow ad infinitum. Educational programs have suffered, and that's supposed to be the ANA's mission, not a coin dealer marketing association. That's about as far as I want to go for now. I am planning to run for the Board of Governors.

Any endowment or foundation is required by law to pay out 4-5% of the principal yearly.  Rules are complex, but any additional withdrawls would seem well-matched for the current climate where revenue has probably dropped 80--90% from tutorials, etc.

IMO, marketing coin dealers interests is correlated with educational programs.  You're more likely to join something like ANA and take the courses at their big gatherings and what makes them big are the dealers.

JMHO.

Edited by GoldFinger1969

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7 minutes ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Any endowment or foundation is required by law to pay out 4-5% of the principal yearly.  Rules are complex, but any additional withdrawls would seem well-matched for the current climate where revenue has probably dropped 80--90% from tutorials, etc.

IMO, marketing coin dealers interests is correlated with educational programs.  You're more likely to join something like ANA and take the courses at their big gatherings and what makes them big are the dealers.

JMHO.

There has been for MANY years now a "death match" struggle between dealer interests and collector interests at the ANA. Dealers have won that death match in recent years. I have now been to well over 20 ANA shows, and if there weren't even a bourse there, it would be fine with me. I realize some like that most of all. It's just not what I go for.

Of the holdings in my collection, after excluding direct purchases from mints, maybe 2% have come from coin shows, while over 90% have come from live in-person auctions. Brick and mortar dealers are way less than 1%.

Edited by VKurtB

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3 minutes ago, VKurtB said:

There has been for MANY years now a "death match" struggle between dealer interests and collector interests at the ANA. Dealers have won that death match in recent years. I have now been to well over 20 ANA shows, and if there weren't even a bourse there, it would be fine with me. I realize some like that most of all. It's just not what I go for.

Understood.  Quite frankly, had there not been any dealers at FUN earlier this year, I would not have gone to it as my 1st big Coin Show.

Maybe in the future I won't be a buyer and have interest in walking the bourse (though I can't believe I wouldn't want to "window shop" xD).  But to me, it's definitely part of the ambience and fun.  And if it puts $$$ in the dealers pockets, great -- ultimately, the hobby is poorer if they all go out of business (or most of them do).  Yes, I buy online but I like going into a LCS or seeing some old friends at monthly, quarterly, or annual shows.

Edited by GoldFinger1969

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4 minutes ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Understood.  Quite frankly, had there not been any dealers at FUN earlier this year, I would not have gone to it as my 1st big Coin Show.

Maybe in the future I won't be a buyer and have interest in walking the bourse (though I can't believe I wouldn't want to "window shop" xD).  But to me, it's definitely part of the ambience and fun.  And if it puts $$$ in the dealers pockets, great -- ultimately, the hobby is poorer if they all go out of business (or most of them do).  Yes, I buy online but I like going into a LCS or seeing some old friends at monthly, quarterly, or annual shows.

I have completely stopped buying anything from anyone online unless I have a previous "face to face" relationship with them. Too many con-men.

Edited by VKurtB

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1 minute ago, VKurtB said:

I have completely stopped buying anything from anyone online unless I have a previous "face to face" relationship with them. Too many con-men.

By online I meant auctions like HA or GC.

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Just now, GoldFinger1969 said:

By online I meant auctions like HA or GC.

Oh, that. I'm mostly a S-B man. I have accounts at both HA and GC, but rarely use them.

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25 minutes ago, VKurtB said:

Oh, that. I'm mostly a S-B man. I have accounts at both HA and GC, but rarely use them.

Been meaning to get active at SB but reduced buying from job status and C-19 put that on hold.

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40 minutes ago, VKurtB said:

The ANA does have a MASSIVE endowment, but Steve and some others don't want it used for operations, ever. They want a balanced current year budget every year, allowing the endowment to grow ad infinitum. Educational programs have suffered, and that's supposed to be the ANA's mission, not a coin dealer marketing association. That's about as far as I want to go for now. I am planning to run for the Board of Governors.

Best I can tell, the ANA has an endowment of around $45 million. I would not call that MASSIVE on any scale. It appears that almost all of it is in stock in a private company. An extremely risky endowment.

Harvard has a $40 billion endowment. That is a MASSIVE endowment. 

While I am a Life Member, I don't keep up with the day-to-day happenings at the ANA. I just hear stories of happenings and read things online. I would have a hard time donating to the ANA. I feel there is a lack of trust, openness, and competency there. I may be 100% off base, but that is what I feel as a casual observer. 

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I don’t know much about what’s going on at the ANA.  I last renewed for a three year membership in 2019, but ignore most of the politics and hubbub of the Organization.  I guess you’d say I am a passive member who finds the online availability of The Numismatist and the library borrowing membership rights well worth the cost of membership. 
 

The last drama I remember at the ANA was when Laura Sperber was on their Board.  She constantly complained but accomplished little of nothing as far as I remember.  No surprise there. 

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3 hours ago, gmarguli said:

Best I can tell, the ANA has an endowment of around $45 million. I would not call that MASSIVE on any scale. It appears that almost all of it is in stock in a private company. An extremely risky endowment.

All in 1 stock ?  In a PRIVATELY held company (in othe words, no market or public pricing) ?  That's what I would call an EXTREMELY RECKLESS endowment.  Didn't they ever hear of the word "diversification" ?

$45 MM should be able to generate about $2 MM in annual income/funding for ANA.  

 

Edited by GoldFinger1969

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1 hour ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Not sure what you mean by that, but as I posted above...if she had seen this day coming and had wanted a foundation or endowment set up to help during times like we are currently experiencing, more power to her.  I'm jumping here....I'm not sure what she is upset about and I'm not sure what you mean by "industry financial shill" in regards to likely bad financial shape at the ANA.

I know a club I belong to has talked and talked about a foundation for YEARS.  We're finally doing it this year -- now we just need the $$$.  xD

I'm talking about using the ANA to promote collecting as a business while mostly or entirely ignoring the hobby aspects which is what collecting is supposed to be about.  If collector hobbyists aren't going to support the ANA, then if it's going to last, it's going to get taken over by the financial promoters. 

I am partially speculating here, as I am not a member and could be completely wrong about it.

My assumption is that most of the endowment is previously donated collections.  I'd be surprised if it has much of a cash endowment but haven't looked at the financials and could be wrong about that also.

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The stock is a restricted gift. There are rules about how often it can be sold and how much. It is “Ben E. Keith” stock. A very huge amount of the ANA’s portfolio is in rare coins themselves. I previously knew they owned one of the 1913 Liberty nickels, but now I understand they own two of them. 2 of 5. They own at least one 1804 dollar, and several more ultra-rarities. Some very rare coins have been stolen by light fingered past museum staffers. Recoveries of some have been made, not all. There is talk that the Langbord Double Eagles may be distributed, and if they are, the ANA might be an obvious home for one. The ANA owns one of the unparalleled collections of the world. Most are also restricted gifts, which must be held for very long times. 

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20 minutes ago, JKK said:

I wonder if the Colonel follows this forum.

Full bird or Lt?

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4 minutes ago, Zebo said:

Full bird or Lt?

Full bird, retired. His personal demeanor fairly screams “I’m used to being heeded.” Right out of Central Casting. William Devane is a poseur. Steve is the genuine article. 

Edited by VKurtB

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45 minutes ago, brg5658 said:

I don’t know much about what’s going on at the ANA.  I last renewed for a three year membership in 2019, but ignore most of the politics and hubbub of the Organization.  I guess you’d say I am a passive member who finds the online availability of The Numismatist and the library borrowing membership rights well worth the cost of membership. 
 

The last drama I remember at the ANA was when Laura Sperber was on their Board.  She constantly complained but accomplished little of nothing as far as I remember.  No surprise there. 

I attended more Board meetings while Laura was on the Board than Laura did. 

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1 hour ago, gmarguli said:

Best I can tell, the ANA has an endowment of around $45 million. I would not call that MASSIVE on any scale. It appears that almost all of it is in stock in a private company. An extremely risky endowment.

Harvard has a $40 billion endowment. That is a MASSIVE endowment. 

While I am a Life Member, I don't keep up with the day-to-day happenings at the ANA. I just hear stories of happenings and read things online. I would have a hard time donating to the ANA. I feel there is a lack of trust, openness, and competency there. I may be 100% off base, but that is what I feel as a casual observer. 

The biggest problem is indeed openness. Things that have no logical reason to be discussed in Executive Session frequently are. I believe they have gotten “lawsuit shy”. They seem to get sued at the drop of a hat every time someone even suggests anything negative about anyone. They need a litigator as Chief Counsel, not a settlement attorney. Hollie is a great lady, but she needs to see the inside of a courtroom occasionally. You have to occasionally beat someone in court to discourage lawsuits. 

Edited by VKurtB

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1 hour ago, VKurtB said:

A very huge amount of the ANA’s portfolio is in rare coins themselves. I previously knew they owned one of the 1913 Liberty nickels, but now I understand they own two of them. 2 of 5. They own at least one 1804 dollar, and several more ultra-rarities. Some very rare coins have been stolen by light fingered past museum staffers. Recoveries of some have been made, not all. There is talk that the Langbord Double Eagles may be distributed, and if they are, the ANA might be an obvious home for one. The ANA owns one of the unparalleled collections of the world. Most are also restricted gifts, which must be held for very long times. 

Sounds like they need to learn the meaning of internal controls if they don't and implement better ones if inadequate..

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1 hour ago, VKurtB said:

Full bird, retired. His personal demeanor fairly screams “I’m used to being heeded.” Right out of Central Casting. William Devane is a poseur. Steve is the genuine article. 

The rare case where you and I agree. (I wasn't sure if he had the silver chickens or was just a light bird; thanks for that.) He's been around our part of the world enough for me to get that vibe. We haven't been introduced, so I don't know him except by observation.

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28 minutes ago, JKK said:

The rare case where you and I agree. (I wasn't sure if he had the silver chickens or was just a light bird; thanks for that.) He's been around our part of the world enough for me to get that vibe. We haven't been introduced, so I don't know him except by observation.

The essential “problem” or source of the disagreements on the Board, in my opinion, flows from one essential conflict. Steve is 100% “income fixated”. He seems to not even care about how the Association’s resources get spent. Money, money, money. Income, income, income. Every Board member is expected by Steve to be a “rain maker”. Most of the Board is more interested in how to get the most educational and programming “bang for their buck”. The ANA website, and what it should and should not be, is a microcosm, in that everyone has “the smartest idea in the room”. 
 

In my opinion, they have gone down the “gamification and social media” rat hole, appealing to the “kiddies” at the expense of the core membership’s needs. We need to find a balance. Let’s start with having Board agendas and minutes on the site BEFORE they become stale and pointless. And let’s concentrate on getting convention talks posted online.

 

By the way, if the association continues to be dealer dominated, you might never see another World's Fair of Money, after the "make-up" one in Pittsburgh in 2023, anywhere else other than the Chicago metro area.

Anaheim and Denver both stank from an attendance standpoint, and Philadelphia, while it set attendance records, bled red ink from the ridiculous union work rules. There is a severe lack of creativity in the Association with regard to site selection.

Edited by VKurtB

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22 minutes ago, VKurtB said:

The essential “problem” or source of the disagreements on the Board, in my opinion, flows from one essential conflict. Steve is 100% “income fixated”. He seems to not even care about how the Association’s resources get spent. Money, money, money. Income, income, income. Every Board member is expected by Steve to be a “rain maker”. Most of the Board is more interested in how to get the most educational and programming “bang for their buck”. The ANA website, and what it should and should not be, is a microcosm, in that everyone has “the smartest idea in the room”. 
 

In my opinion, they have gone down the “gamification and social media” rat hole, appealing to the “kiddies” at the expense of the core membership’s needs. We need to find a balance. Let’s start with having Board agendas and minutes on the site BEFORE they become stale and pointless. And let’s concentrate on getting convention talks posted online.

 

By the way, if the association continues to be dealer dominated, you might never see another World's Fair of Money, after the "make-up" one in Pittsburgh in 2023, anywhere else other than the Chicago metro area.

Anaheim and Denver both stank from an attendance standpoint, and Philadelphia, while it set attendance records, bled red ink from the ridiculous union work rules. There is a severe lack of creativity in the Association with regard to site selection.

I’d like to hear about the lack of creativity. I’m under the impression that for different reasons, there aren’t really very many practical viable options.

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6 minutes ago, MarkFeld said:

I’d like to hear about the lack of creativity. I’m under the impression that for different reasons, there aren’t really very many practical viable options.

If you mean by that, “not that many cities even want us”, that has been true in the recent past, but the long term impact of COVID on convention centers may be changing that, as some other industries learn that live conventions aren’t necessary any more for them. Based on what we do, we will always have a live in-person need. Us and Comicon, at least.

As it pertains to airport requirements, no one can compare with O’Hare, with the possible exception of Atlanta, which is just lovely in August. :roflmao: But even with O’Hare right there, dealers STILL leave the venue too early. 

Edited by VKurtB

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