During my tenure on the ANA Board of Governors, including my time as president from 2015 to 2017, the American Numismatic Association (ANA) has struggled to secure funding for its educational mission. Annual membership dues barely covered the cost of producing and shipping the ANA’s monthly publication, The Numismatist. Funding for other pillars of the organization, such as the Ed Rochette Money Museum and the Dwight D. Manley Numismatic Library, needed to be found elsewhere.
The COVID-19 crisis has made these tight budgets even tighter, with spending now far outweighing annual income. Luckily, the ANA board can and did vote to use a significant sum of its investments to avoid slashing the educational mission of the organization.
Most large companies and non-profits try to avoid major changes. It can be especially difficult for an organization like the ANA that has had the same member services for over 125 years. But like most organizations across the country, the COVID-19 crisis has forced the ANA to re-invent itself.
Several years ago, the ANA board made the wise decision to spend over $600,000 to upgrade its website and database management systems. This has greatly improved the ANA website, Money.org, and its online educational materials. The virtual tours of the Money Museum exhibits are better than what many nationally known history museums offer.
However, the ANA still needed to find a way to monetize its online investments to continue building its online presence. The ANA does not sell coins or garner online subscription income, and their online advertising revenue is relatively small, so most of the money the ANA spends on its website has had very little return on investment (ROI).
The ANA has struggled with its approach to online numismatic education for years. Some leaders supported offering college-level classes, and others wanted to start more modestly. The IT and Education committees conducted endless meetings on the subject of online numismatic education, many of which I sat in on. The estimated costs were astronomical and hard to justify for an organization that was already losing more than it was making each year. To the chagrin of many, online numismatic education became stuck in the mud.
However, after the 2020 ANA Summer Seminar was canceled due to safety precautions at Colorado College and concerns about the health of members, the ANA was forced to reconsider. The Summer Seminar has been one of the most beloved traditions of the ANA and the numismatic community since its inception in the early 1970s, and its cancelation left one of the biggest holes in the numismatic calendar this year.
One of the ANA’s greatest developments in years has been the widespread adaptation of Zoom. It is just what the doctor ordered to cure the ANA’s online education dilemma. Instead of investing hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars that would be nearly impossible to recover, the Zoom platform comes at a manageable fee and allows the ANA to connect with hundreds of individuals at once.
The ANA Summer Seminar was replaced with Webinars that were hugely successful. Over 400 people signed up for some of the live events with thousands more watching the recorded classes after the seminar. Most of the reviews have been outstanding, and the ANA webinars have become a new and important pillar of the ANA educational offerings.
Initially, the ANA webinars were free to attend and watch online; however, a nominal fee will be charged for some webinars starting in January to help offset the staff time needed to host classes. The small fee is one of the best numismatic bargains around. I have preached for many years that numismatic education is the key to becoming a successful collector. The knowledge you gain from these classes will pay dividends for years to come.
Below are the upcoming live events that you should consider attending. You can watch these from the comfort of your home or office and avoid spending thousands of dollars traveling to a convention. These classes are also great to share with others of similar interests. My wife Mary Lynn and I have watched a few, and even after 45 years as a numismatics enthusiast, it was a learning experience.
ANA eLearning Academy 2021 Courses
Enjoy live online courses and lectures from fellow collectors and professional numismatists. Webinars are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. Register now — space is limited! Explore the ANA’s recorded webinars here.
A Numismatic Journey through Egyptian Islamic History
This presentation is an overview of Egyptian Islamic history based on a journey through gold Islamic coins minted in Egypt. The journey begins in 170 AH (786 CE) and ends at the fall of the Ottoman Empire and their rule of Egypt during World War I in 1335 AH (1916 CE). This represents approximately 1,200 years of the most interesting times for Egypt and the Mediterranean basin. We will look at gold coins and relate them to the socio-economic events occurring in Egypt and the Mediterranean during that period.
- Instructor: Gamal Amer, Ph.D.
- When: January 11, 2021 | 11-12:00 PM MST
- Cost: $5.95
Detection of Counterfeit Slabs
How is a PCGS slab composed? How is an NGC slab composed? What does a counterfeit slab look like? Where would I find these fakes? All this and more in Detection of Counterfeit Slabs with Isaiah Hageman.
- Instructor: Isaiah Hageman
- When: January 13, 2021 | 5-6:00 PM MST
- Cost: $5.95
Euro Coins – Cutting-Edge, Continuous, Cultural Contributors
This talk focuses on the imagery of the current Euro coins. Even though all its banknotes have the same design across the Euro-zone; the coins have one nation-specific side. Their designs offer a sneak-peek into European diversity. And even though the coins are lower in economic value; they are higher in value for their contribution towards identity, history, heritage & culture. In recent times money is metamorphosing into an e-avatar, but banknotes and coins (especially in the Eurozone) are still very prevalent. The lowest denomination of the banknotes is 5 euros; coins are still needed for your daily shot of caffeine!
- Instructor: Rukmini Dahanukar
- When: January 15, 2021 | 11-12 PM MST
- Cost: $5.95
The Story of Siege Money
Sieges punctuate history with accounts of bravery as well as dreadful acts of cruelty…always in the name of justice, often in the name of God. Soldiers who engaged in siege warfare were generally mercenaries and demanded payment for their services. During extended periods of strife, the coin of the realm simply ran out and had to be substituted with something else necessitating the creation of siege money. This talk is designed to familiarize the collector with what siege money is, how it was made, and show the many forms that it takes.
- Instructor: Lawrence Korchnak
- When: January 21, 2021 | 4-5:00 PM MST
- Cost: $5.95
Parthia: The Forgotten Empire
Parthia was an empire occupying the region of modern-day Iran and Iraq for over 400 years, yet is almost forgotten today. Learn more about this fascinating empire through its coinage.
- Instructor: Doug Mudd
- When: January 28, 2021 | 1-2:00 PM MST
- Cost: $5.95