ANA Summer Seminar, 2015
I’ve just returned from my third year in Colorado Springs for the annual ANA Summer Seminar where I took Intermediate Coin Grading. The ANA’s annual summer seminar is a one-of-a-kind numismatic educational experience unlike anything else out there. You get to live for a week on a small college campus surrounded by fellow Coin Nerds for 24 hours a day! The friends you make and the things overhead at the famous Lunar Lounge are just as valuable as the class room sessions.
Last year, I shared my notes from the class and received such an overwhelmingly positive response I knew I had to do it again this year. I took the same course as I did last year despite doing well the first time around because I wanted to be sure to have an incredibly strong foundation before moving on to the next level — and the fact that the three instructors, David McCarthy of Kagin’s, John Schuch Jr. of NGC, and Steve Feltner of Americana Rare Coins, are some of my best friends in coin-nerd-land had absolutely nothing to do with my decision. Read My 2015 Class Notes Here.
Armed with my trusty iPad, I attempted to jot down notes of funny/interesting things as they were happening but this year was so jam packed with events from beginning to end I hardly had time to keep up. I had many wonderful adventures this year, and I hope you enjoy hearing about them!
- I can’t believe I was up at 5:15am. Got out of the house on time and headed for LAX on a foggy Saturday morning.
- Finally arrive, run into Tony Terranova at the airport and we kill the half hour until the shuttle gets back together while he shows me adorable pics of his new puppy, Butters.
- Find my room, haul my giant bag up the stairs, and as I’m heading back out to see the sights the elevator door opens and there’s Steven Schuch & Jenny Gulde – who it turns out are staying next door with John Schuch & David McCarthy.
- I unpacked my suitcase and went through my ANA goodie bag.
- We end up skipping the opening banquet as we’re all exhausted. A group of us walk to Paninos for a late dinner when we realize we’re starving, and generally all pass out about 10pm.
SUNDAY, CLASS DAY 1
- Grabbed a quick breakfast in a cafeteria filled with now-familiar faces, run to class.
- John finds the youngest YN in the class is and assigns him the task of performing roll call each morning and after lunch. He happily accepts the job, and is genuinely excited. “Do I really get to do this for the whole week? This is the best achievement of my life.” He was totally serious.
- Jon Williams is no where to be found the morning of the first day of class. John Schuch attempts to look the door in the hopes that Williams would “bounce off it and cause a big scene when he finally shows up.” (we’re all three good friends, this was hilarious and not malicious). Instead, Jon bursts into the room at 9:10 without incident, and everyone applauds wildly.
We take turns going around the room briefly introducing ourselves.
- Jon Williams had best intro ever: “My name is Jon Williams, and I’m a late sleeper. I’m probably in the wrong business because I don’t particularly like coins ((sits down slooowly)).”
- The lunch line was hideously long, so we (Me, Jon Williams, John Schuch Jr., David McCarthy, Steve Feltner) went to a taco place a half block away all while cursing “those hockey kids”.
- Started grading coins pretty much immediately in class.
- One of the rounds of coins contained a pattern Morgan 50c, which I thought was stunning and amazing especially since I had literally just been talking about it a few days earlier on the PCGS forums in a thread in which McCarthy participated. After the round was over he asked me if I saw a coin I liked — he had brought it just for little old me!
- At 3:30 we didn’t have enough time for another group of coins so we essentially looked through the amazing stuff McCarthy brought – real rarities and really beautiful coins.
- McCarthy brought several intense coins including a Baldwin $20, a 1794 H10C, “my” Morgan 50c pattern, Pike’s Peak $10, Brechtler $5, etc.
- Sunday was Steve Feltner’s birthday, and a big group of us headed out to dinner. Steve Feltner, David McCarthy, Jenny (Gulde) Minzer, me, Jon Williams, Steven Schuck, Beth and Loranne. We ended up at the melting pot where we lingered for some three-and-a-half hours. Much fun was had by all. So. Much. Food.
- Steve broke one of his birthday shot glasses
- Steve found a “birthday moth”. Many pics ensued.
- I gave Steve his birthday present – I told him I wanted to help him build the numismatic library of his brand new storefront:
MONDAY, CLASS DAY 2
- By 9:09am, we were into our first round of grading.
- 5 of us in the class had been to dinner the night before, and in the quiet dark room every once in a while you’d hear someone just whisper as if in pain “Cheeeeeeeese …. So much cheese …”
- After class we headed back to the rooms where we relaxed for a while. Eventually more people showed up until we had a group of 6 or so (Beth, Loranne, Jenny, Steven Schuch, John, Jon, me) and Jenny eventually had the brilliant idea to bring a blanket out. We all sat in the shade in the grass playing Uno, which I hadn’t played since I was a kid.
- It turns out they take Uno seriously. They wanted to play “high stakes Uno” with a $10 buy in, out at 300 points. We did a practice round first which must have lasted at least an hour. It was fun, but we were getting hungry.
- We head over to the cafeteria for food and just barely make it in before they close the doors on us. We ended up being the last people in there, and they didn’t seem to happy about it, but we didn’t know they’d changed the dinner schedule to end 30 minutes earlier than we expected.
- I’d gotten a text from Steve Feltner saying “come visit me!” So I went back to our main class room where he and David McCarthy were teaching a special grading seminar for the YNs. It was a real little seminar (they were doing some pretty solid advanced grading), and all the YNs looked like they were having a great time.
- I decided to take a little walking tour of the campus while I had time to grab some pics.
- I met back up with the group over on the picnic blanket, and we decided to go over to the Lunar Lounge area even though it was still light to use the tables and chairs there, beginning the Lunar Lounge portion a bit early. As they tend to do, more and more people came until there had to be about 30 people out there. We were still playing our game of Uno, and I won the first 3 rounds.
- I saw a guy named Brian (from APMEX) who sits next to me in class sitting alone so I yelled at him to come over, and we averaged him in at everyone’s score so he could play Uno with us. I asked him if he knew how to play (I had to be retaught, I hadn’t played since I was a small child), and shot me a look that said “Girl, please” as he threw down a +2 card. Uh oh.
- Eventually it got too dark for us to see (despite playing by candle light) so we called it quits and chatted/generally hung out with the rest of our fellow Lunar Lounge patrons .
- We shortly started playing music on our phones and singing along, and a YN ran and grabbed a portable speaker from his room. We killed Boni Jovi, Aerosmith, “I believe”, etc, and it was seriously good times and seriously funny.
TUESDAY, CLASS DAY 3
- The morning passed uneventfully, with a lot of grading and a lot of info.
After lunch we had visits from JD aka John Dannreuther and Ken Bursett, the first of which gave a talk on Master Coins / Proof coins.
- We took a break from grading to go visit the ANA’s Money Musem, and to see their “mini mint” in operation. Tiny was good enough to give us a demonstration of how it worked.
- After the demonstration I took the opportunity to wander through the Harry W Bass Jr. vault. I’ve been through before, but the coins in there are just unbelievable. Unfortunately, though I try my best the coins are very difficult to take pictures of (being behind 3” of plastic does that), and there’s so many that you can’t possibly hope to get them all. Nonetheless, I tried to do the best I could and show a wide assortment of coins.
- Came back to glass, continued to grade coins. We were given the option to stay about 45 minutes late to make up for the class time spent in the museum, and I opted to do so as did the majority of the class.
- A few of us stated to worry about the Final – there was a rumor going around that we were going to be given the final first thing in the morning rather than after lunch. Even though I had no fear of failing, you still want to do the best you can!
- That night we headed back to the Lunar Lounge once again, and finally managed to finish our marathon Uno game – I won!! It had come down to me and APMEX’s Pre-33 expert Jim Robinson in the end, and it took several rounds of just the two of us before I finally emerged the victor.
WEDNESDAY, CLASS DAY 3
- Sure enough, our suspicions were confirmed: the final was to be in the morning, not after lunch. We were told we would have one practice round beforehand, and then the final exam.
- The final comes and goes. I did quite well on the test and was generally pleased, but also annoyed with myself: I did the classic mistake of “correcting” three separate answers after 2 or 3 more coins had gone by – of course it was right the first time.
- Steve played Vitamin C’s “Graduation” while John handed out certificates.
- We broke from class a little early, heading back to the Lunar Lounge area with refreshments and cards. There were games of Uno & Gin going on everywhere you looked.
- Stayed a bit too late playing cards, headed to the pre-banquet reception and arrived about 15 minutes before it was time to head over to the actual banquet.
- The banquet was MC’d by Don Bonser who yet again did a fantastic job despite being “forced’ to wear Tiny’s overalls and hat.
- The instructors received special certificates and recognition, and several awards were given out as well.
- The ceremony moved along at a good clip, pausing to giving everyone the recognition they deserved but not drawing out in a huge all-night event. We broke while it was still light out, and after a brief rest in our rooms headed back down for the final night of the Lunar Lounge.
- The last night of the Lunar Lounge was the smallest one of the week, and understandably so – a lot of people had early flights, and a long day of travel ahead, myself included. Eventually it was time to say goodbye to friends both old and new.
- My flight out of Colorado Springs Airport went smoothly, and a few hours later I was back home in Pasadena.
- Welcome home cuddles!
This Summer Seminar was a fantastic experience, and I’m once again very grateful that I was able to attend this one-of-a-kind numismatic event.
Until next year, Colorado Springs!