I am sure I am not the only one who returned from the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association annual convention in Winnipeg with a good feeling. In the interest of fairness, I should point out that one of the highlights for me was being installed as president of Canada’s national coin club. It is a challenging and humbling experience, knowing that I am walking in the footsteps of some of Canada’s numismatic greats. It means that for the next two years, I will be wearing two hats, as a numismatic journalist, and as an association president.
I do not see a particular conflict; I have always been a supporter of the RCNA, and organized coin collecting, and have written many editorials to that effect. I also noted it was my 23rd consecutive RCNA convention. I’d be tempted to brag, but I saw people in Winnipeg who have done all those, plus a few more before I came on the scene. Many of them I now view as friends. In fact, that is one of my common comments over the years in favour of coming “out of the closet” and joining organized collecting.
While much of coin collecting is about grading, history, the minting process, and the buying and selling of coins to meet a collecting goal, the fellowship that comes from associating with other collectors is a very tangible benefit as well. For one thing, a lot of coin collectors really are fun people who love to hang out and tell a few jokes, while comparing coins. Even more important for the new collector is the wealth of knowledge and experience that established collectors have. Drop by a local club, or hit a few shows, and you will start to make friends. The next thing you know you will start learning about grading coins, mintages, and obscure varieties that don’t appear in any of the standard references.
Even more important, these are people who will understand your somewhat unnatural obsession with coins. When you talk to the non-collector about coins, it always boils down to a question of what’s it worth. When you talk to the collector, it is most often about the beauty of the coin. The RCNA convention, since it is planned around events, offers one of the best opportunities for social interaction of the year. But there were other highlights worth mentioning. Just as many of those attending did, I had a tour of the Winnipeg Mint facility. It was the first time I had been through in a number of years, and the number of changes was quite remarkable.
The new plating line is impressive, as is the striking floor, which now has a few more presses than last time I was there, and the die making plant. I even had a somewhat limited peek at the coin DNA program. The folks there do an incredible job, and I was impressed that literally every person I came in contact with seemed genuinely friendly and happy. Another highlight was introducing our new publisher, Mike Walsh, to his first RCNA convention. Introducing is a rather strong word, since he hit the ground running and made friends with dealers and collectors in no time at all.