Learning Experience: Numismatic Summer Camp

By Dr. Sol Taylor
"Making Cents"
The Signal
Saturday, July 24, 2005

he American Numismatic Association has held summer seminars at its Colorado College campus for the past 37 years. I recently returned from Session II; for the past few years, the demand has escalated to where they hold two separate week-long seminars. I taught a mini-seminar of two three-hour sessions in the evening. During the day I took an all-week seminar on U.S. tokens, conducted by leading token expert and dealer, David Schenkman.
    We examined hundreds of U.S. tokens from the "Hard Times" depression era (1837-44) to the mid-20th Century. Other sessions featured experts in military currency, counterfeit detection, coin grading, Western and territorial gold, coins in the classroom (just for teachers), African currency, the art of coinage, and 19th-century U.S. coinage.
    Several one-hour sessions were also included: cherrypicking the Lincoln cent, ethics in numismatics, detecting artificial coin toning, and others. A participant could easily fill more than 40 hours of class time in the six-day program. In addition, Wednesday evening, the young numismatists (YNs) held their annual auction. All funds go to the YN scholarship fund, which sponsors the youths each summer — some of whom have attended for 10 or more summers.
    The auction grossed more than $23,000 with 150 donated lots and some 50 consigned lots, which generated 20 percent of the bid price to the YN fund. Unlike regular coin auctions, there was no bidderıs fee, and the prices realized often were well over the "trends" values, since the proceeds went to the YN fund.
    The Gallery Mint, a private minting company, struck 2005 doubled-die Lincoln cents in pewter on a restored 19th-century screw press. Each seminar participant received a copy. Students in the coinage class had the opportunity to strike variations (mint errors) on the screw press. This was an actual press used to make coins before the steam press came into use in the 1830s.
    Coins were struck one-at-a-time and fed by hand. The fastest that one could produce coins would be a few hundred in a working day. With the steam press and conveyers, mints were able to generate tens of thousands of coins per day.
    Interest in the annual July seminars has grown each year, and classes often fill up by January. For information contact Gail Baker at ANA headquarters, 818 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903, or by e-mail at baker@money.org.
    I have been an instructor at the summer seminars five times since 1975. That first year, I was the grading instructor and had some 30 students. Todayıs sessions are usually limited to 15. For more information, contact me at SolTaylor2@aol.com.

    Dr. Sol Taylor of Sherman Oaks is president of the Society of Lincoln Cent Collectors and author of The Standard Guide to the Lincoln Cent. Click here for ordering information.