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ANA Convention in 1915

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Wanted to share some history today.


The 1915 ANA Convention was held in San Francisco in conjunction with the Panama-Pacific Exposition.


Here is an image of the attendee's:




Here are the convention notes (written by Edgar H. Adams):


The most interesting single feature of the Convention was the visit of the A. N. A. members to the United States Mint. The party gathered at the building, on 5th and Mission Streets, on Tuesday morning at 11 o'clock, and were greeted by Superintendent Shanahan, Chief Coiner Kearny, and others who did everything in their power to make the visitors feel at home.


There were present Dr. and Mrs. J. M. Henderson, Mr. and Mrs B. Max Mehl and little daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Albert H. Doyle of New Bedford, Mass.; Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Adams, and Messrs. H. O. Granberg, Fred Joy, F. J. Loer, I. Leland Steinman, A. Reimers, F. T. Huddart, Farran Zerbe, H. L. Hill, R. B. Moore, George C. Arnold, and A. C. Nygren.


After the photograph had been taken on the steps of the building the party started for an inspection of the mint, personally conducted by Superintendent Shanahan, who was accompanied by a number of his assistants. Superintendent Shanahan extended every facility to our members to get the best possible information regarding the detailed operation of this great money-making plant, and the chains which ordinarily prevent the usual visitor from getting too close to the various machines and their operators, were withdrawn in the case of the A. N. A. party, who were thus enabled to examine closely the progress of each step in the making of a coin and to obtain satisfactory explanations from those in charge.




Superintendent Shanahan first had a real "gold brick," of a value approximate to $8,000, brought out and handed to the party to enable them to get an idea of the character and weight of such a piece of the precious metal. Then he showed a very large ingot of gold, which ahd an actual value of $40,000, the weight of which was almost beyond the strength of an ordinary person to carry. The striking of a large order of copper-nickel one centavo pieces for the Philippines was in progress, and those present had an opportunity to see just how these pieces were made. The bar of metal was first introduced in a rolling machine, which rolled it out to a certian thickness; this was followed by its introduction to another machine, which rolled it to a still further reduced thickness, and so on until it became a long strip of shining metal. This was then transferred to the planchet-making machine, which cut something like 150 disks to the minute. The planchets were afterward passed through the various stages of annealing, milling, etc., until they reached the coining presses where they were quickly stamped between the powerful jaws of the machine and the finished coins dropped into a receptacle placed below, having all the appearance of gold pieces in their fresh, mint state.


In the gold melting room large quantities of Japanese gold pieces were being melted into huge gold bars, which are soon to be placed in the vaults, and against which gold certificates will be issued. This practice is made possible by a recent law which changed the former custom of stamping such gold into regular United States coins, and has caused a great saving and done away with much useless and costly work.


In order to give the visitors an idea of the contents of one of the vaults, Superintendent Shanahan opened the chief vault, into which the visitors entered, and found themselves surrounded by golden ingots with a total value of $158,000,000. This was supposed to be the largest deposit of a similar nature in one vault in the world. This sum by no means represents the total value of the contents of the Branch Mint, as superintendent Shanahan estimated that at the present time his establishment contains coins and buillion valued at $304,000,000.


Superintendent Shanahan replied courteously to all questions regarding the operations of the mint, and through his efforts made this visit the most memorable in the history of the A. N. A. Convention and elicited the liveliest gratitude of all those fortunate enough to be present.

The mint cabinet was next examined, which contains the collection of the Society of California Pioneers, notable among the pieces being the fifty-dollar golden ingot, or "slug," issued by F. D. Kohler at San Francisco as State Assayer of California in 1850.



More to follow.



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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

I used to have a print of that photo. It was made from a duplicate negative I had prepared from an original print held by the Pacific Coast Numismatic Society when I was its historian and chronicler. PCNS was the host club for the 1915 convention, and in fact it was established primarily for that purpose and will celebrate its centennial next year.


I later traded my dupe to Armand Champa for a print of the 1937 convention, because it featured the PCNS president at that time, Ernest Wernstrom. This was then donated to the society. Armand knew that the print I'd sent him was not an original, but he evidently failed to mark it as such. When his library was sold in a series of Bowers & Merena Auctions, there was eager bidding by parties who believed it to be an original, which is an extremely rare item. It was an unfortunate episode, and I believe that B&M later settled with the winning bidder on behalf of Armand's estate.

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Lee, that was an excellent article. I can only imagine how cool it was to be able to tour the mint at that time. I can't wait to read your follow up to this post!

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Thanks all for the nice comments.


Nice info Dave. Thanks for sharing.


Now, the rest of the notes:


Another notable feature was the presentation of a fine medal by the Panama-Pacific Exposition to the American Numismatic Association. This took place in the committee room of the Festival Hall at the Exposition, after a panoramic photograph had been taken of those present. President Moore of the Exposition was represented by Mr. Charles a. Vogelsang, On of the Exposition commissioners, who made the presentation. Mr. Vogelsang welcomed the visitors with a graceful speech, in which he outlined the purpose and results of the great international fair, and then presented the medal to Ex-President J.M. Henderson, who had been selected to receive it on behalf of the Association, and who replied to Mr. Vogelsang in a way that fully and satisfactorily expressed the sentiments of those present.




Mr. Zerbe's headquarters for the sale of the souvenir coins was located in the Liberal Arts Building, and was arranged in a very attractive manner. His personal collection of all sorts of money was displayed in such a way that it could be properly appreciated by the visitors. This was the Mecca of the visiting members, to whom Mr. Zerbe extended every courtesy. As a matter of fact, Mr. Zerbe deserves and has received the highest appreciation of everyone who has attended the 1915 Convention for his uniform kindness and courtesy, which did a great deal to make the meeting a success.



Farran Zerbe in 1907


There were no regular exhibits at the Convention this year for the reason that an adequate place could not be secured. This was a disappointment to a number of those in attendance, who had brought pieces to be shown, but nevertheless the time and conditions would not permit a proper exhibit. An extra effort will be made to have the greatest exhibit at the Baltimore Convention in 1916 that is on record.



All information which I have posted about this Convention has come from The Numismatist, October 1915, p.349-351.




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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

It's just bad timing. Zerbe died right before the ANA decided to create such an award. With more time to reflect, the award would likely have been named after founder Dr. Heath. Most longtime ANA members wish that it could be changed now, but that's not likely to happen at this late date.

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Very easy to change the award name:

1) motion placed before the ANA Board

2) majority agrees to change name.


Follow-up --

1) motion placed before the ANA Board

2) majority agrees to new name.


Zerbe's remains are trashed; new, artistically designed awards are prepared.


Years ago I suggested Eric Newman as the appropriate model of excellence, but my humble letter did not generate so much as a reply. (I'm certain others made the same suggestion long before....)



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