By Jesse Robitaille
Mississauga once again played host to the 65th annual Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA) Convention this August, when hundreds of people gathered for the yearly celebration of Canadian numismatics.
The Aug. 7-11 show was “fairly successful,” according to show chair Bill O’Brien, president of the North York Coin Club (NYCC), which was this year’s host club.
“We had quite a few people through the doors all three days, so I think the dealers were happy, and half of the convention is keeping those guys happy,” said O’Brien, who added the NYCC also hosted the RCNA’s big show in 2014, when it was held at the same venue in the city just west of Toronto.
“We owe a lot to the work done by the 2014 organizing committee, and of course, to the volunteers this year.”
This year’s show also benefited from the shared knowledge of local numismatists, including RCNA President Henry Nienhuis as well as RCNA Executive Secretary Paul Johnson, both of who belong to the executive committee of the NYCC.
“Having Henry and Paul in the club as well as a lot of lifetime RCNA members, who have done this sort of thing before, is great for ideas and organizational skills from past years. It’s been an invaluable thing, and we hope to pass some of that on to Calgary, which will host next year’s convention,” he said, adding there were upwards of 30 volunteers helping out throughout the five-day show.
“Numismatics should be fun. We collect for fun, and we should always remember why we’re doing this,” said Nienhuis, echoing comments made by Governor General Julie Payette, who wrote in her welcome letter that the convention is a place where people “come together to share their passion and to enjoy the camaraderie that comes with a common interest in our monetary history.”
“The convention went quite smoothly,” added Nienhuis. “There were a number of very interesting tours that we had positive feedback on, and overall I think there was a respectable number of walk-ins.”
The lively attendance could be partly owed, Nienhuis said, to the RCNA’s “special promotion” of the MacCoin, a commemorative token with five varieties issued Aug. 2.
“We offered a free MacCoin to people coming to our show, and that was very successful,” he said, adding there was also a draw to win a complete five-token set. “I think attendees liked that.”
Another part of the show’s appeal was a coin-signing event with artist Anna Bucciarelli, the designer behind the Royal Canadian Mint’s 2018-dated “Celebration of Love” silver coin.
DEALERS, EXHIBITS & SEMINARS
The dealer response was “positive” throughout the three-day bourse, which was open to the public Aug. 9-11, Nienhuis said.
“I was able to do a poll of the dealers on Saturday morning, and they all said sales were reasonable.”
The exhibits were similarly well received.
“We had slightly fewer exhibits than we’ve had in the past, but that was more than subsidized by non-competitive exhibits, so there were quite a number of exhibits for the public to view on very interesting, historical aspects of numismatics.”
The two-day, eight-speaker educational symposium organized by RCNA Education Committee Chair Scott Douglas was also similarly well received by attendees.
“We saw the biggest numbers we’ve ever had,” said Douglas, who added there were routinely more than 50 people in attendance. “The feedback I was getting all weekend – not just from the RCNA executive, but the people that were attending – was great. They were all quite pleased with the subjects and the individuals speaking. I couldn’t be happier; I think it was the best one ever.”
At this year’s convention, Douglas received the highest award in Canadian numismatics, the J. Douglas Ferguson Award, which is presented to the living numismatist who has “greatly contributed to the advancement of numismatics in Canada.”
“It means a lot to me,” said Douglas, who’s also the president of the Ontario Numismatic Association. “I never necessarily aspired to win an award; everything I do, I do it because I like to do it – because that’s the only way it works.”
The 50th recipient of the Ferguson Award since 1969, Douglas added he “really admires” the past recipients.
“To include me on this list of individuals, who as far as I’m concerned shape the Canadian numismatic landscape today, is the ultimate appreciation.”
The connection between the RCNA and its U.S.-based counterpart, the American Numismatic Association (ANA), was highlighted by Clifford Mishler, a long-time friend and supporter of the Canadian numismatic community that spoke at the convention’s opening ceremony.
“This is really a mirror reflection, if you will, of what happened in 1954,” said Mishler, of Iola, Wisc.
“In 1954 – that’s 64 years ago – the first CNA Convention was held nearby in Toronto proper. It was held on the occasion of the Canadian National Exhibition, but more importantly, from the standpoint of the ANA and the then-Canadian Numismatic Association, it was a co-ordinated effort. The ANA met in Cleveland, and the following week the CNA met in Toronto.”
A recipient of the RCNA President’s Award in 2014 for his widespread promotion of the hobby, Mishler has attended numerous RCNA conventions since 1962, when the ANA and CNA gathered in Detroit for a joint convention.
“It’s unfortunate that in recent years both sides of the border have speculated on trying to do something jointly again, but it seems our governments and bureaucrats can’t make any kind of agreement on a way to make it convenient for us to do that.”
A former past president of the ANA, Mishler is also a former publisher of Krause Publications and was a consultant to Canadian Coin News 55 years ago, when it began publishing as Canada Coin News.
“Over the years, it has been my distinct pleasure to know a number of very prominent Canadian numismatists, including Doug Ferguson, Sheldon Carroll, Jim Charlton and John Pittman, who of course invaded Canada to be president of the CNA back in the early 1970,” said Mishler with a laugh.
2019 RCNA CONVENTION
Next year’s RCNA Convention will be held July 17-20 in Calgary, Alta.
“If you can plan it, make it a family vacation. It’s a great area of the country, and there will be fantastic tours,” said Nienhuis.
For more information about the RCNA, visit rcna.ca.