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Coins Better be the Qualification
December 10, 2007

Looking for a career change? The position of American Numismatic Association executive director might just be the position for you. Then again, it might not.

The ANA posted the job on Friday. Candidates have until Jan. 11 to submit their applications and resumes.

All you have to do is straighten out an organization beset by lawsuits, alienated staff, bleeding finances and a board as much focused on 1968 as 2008.

Sound like the ideal job? Far from it.

The ANA's track record in finding someone to manage the organization has been less than stellar. It first took a turn toward professional management instead of hobby management in 1987 when it decided to hire a retiring director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing at the Atlanta convention.

Professional management is all well and good, but with each succeeding candidate, the hobby connection seems to have been lost in the shuffle.

The ANA board seems to realize this - at least partially. The press release says candidates for the positioin "must have considerable knowledge of and interest in the subject matter dealt with by the ANA or a similar hobby field."

What are we now, the hobby that dare not speak its name?

My view is the board has had its priorities precisely reversed. The single most important factor is actually being a hobbyist. Everything else can be taught.

The board's philosophy has been to ask for a glittering management resume and the hobby part can be taught.

Well, the last decade of experience seems to indicate that it cannot be taught. We hobbyists have been treated condescendingly and we know it. We don't like it. We are ANA members precisely because we are coin and paper money collectors and precisely because all other considerations are basically irrelevant.

The hobby qualification must be central in a new ANA executive director's background. Other qualifications are significant but any one of them is not absolutely essential, unless of course you think that the next Vatican conclave to elect a new Pope should focus solely on management skills.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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