EAC 2011: A Big Thank You To All My New Friends

This past week my wife, Wendy, and I traveled to Portland, OR for the 2011 Early American Coppers Convention. This was the first opportunity we have had in the last 8 years to vacation together sans children. I had some misgivings that Wendy would enjoy an outing that was primarily a coin convention since she really has no interest in coins. But through the efforts of so many fellow members, and the wonderful hospitality extended to us both, we look forward to next year’s convention in Buffalo, NY with equal anticipation, if nothing more than to reconnect with our new friends.

We arrived Monday evening and had a quick, easy ride on Portland’s Max Light Rail to the Doubletree Hilton Hotel. Let me just say that I have never slept better in any hotel in my life! With a few days to go until the convention, Wendy and I headed downtown on Tuesday for a leisurely self guided tour of the city’s various pubs and eateries (once again thanks to Max Light Rail). Davis Street Tavern was the first stop, Kell’s Irish Pub, Powell’s Book Store (pack light, you’re hauling home some books!), and then on to Henry’s Tavern. Hats off to Kell’s! Fish and chips, lamb stew, shepherd’s pie, beer I can’t get in PA, ’nuff said!

Wednesday featured an outstanding 9 mile hike through Silver Falls State Park courtesy of Jerry Bobbe. Harry and Phyllis Salyards struck up a conversation with us on the bus and never hesitated to stop and talk with us throughout our trip. I lost count of all the waterfalls but I’ll never forget the lunch of pastrami sandwiches and the most amazing trail mix ever, eaten in a cave behind an enormous waterfall. Thanks Jerry, Larry, and Ricky for shepherding us slow computer geeks out of the ravine and up 271 steps!

Thursday was kicked off by a grading and counterfeit detection seminar by Steve Carr and Doug Bird. Wendy sat this one out but I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn about EAC grading and actually grade and compare 31 Half and Large Cents. I sat next to Bill Eckberg, the Region 8 administrator, who was very friendly and forthcoming with his information. At the kickoff reception that night, Wendy and I met Brad and Dee Vries. Brad, who had several coins consigned to the Saturday auction, showed us a refrigerator magnet he made out of a damaged 1794 Large Cent. How cool?

Friday was spent on the bourse lusting after coins I had no chance of owning (yet). I met too many big names to list but every one of them had time for my questions. Jack Robinson, you are a gentleman. I was  short a little cash to purchase the new CQR, yet you said, “Go ahead, I’m sure I’ll catch you.”, and then you threw in two back issues just for reference! And Jack Beymer, back in 1977 or so you were my first mail order purchase, a 1868 three cent nickel, and yet you treated me like an old friend!

Out of all the educational seminars, I only managed to attend one. Buell Ish, from the Colonial Coin Collectors Club, gave a great talk on how to form an interesting New Jersey type collection. The seminar was well attended and Buell stuck around afterwards to speak with any individuals who had questions or comments. Buell also moderated the CCCC meeting Saturday morning, a small meeting but very enjoyable. His seminar will probably be the topic of another upcoming post (with permission of course).

It was also Friday that I set my sights on several coins at the lot viewing for the Saturday auction. 12 coins met my criteria but my wallet didn’t meet theirs! That evening Wendy and I attended the EAC dinner in honor of author John Wright. John’s stories entertained and educated us all, even Wendy and the other wives who tolerate us self proclaimed numismatists, a better term for the obsessive compulsive basket cases we really are!

Saturday Rob Norvich and his wife Nikki treated us to a waterfall tour (by bus) located in the Columbia River Gorge. One word describes Oregon’s forests: primeval. At any time you fully expect a Velociraptor to step out onto the trail. It’s amazing. And once again everyone on the tour treated us like old friends, even though this was our first EAC convention.

The Saturday night auction was exciting to say the least. Out of those 12 lots I had marked in my catalog, I ended up with 3. Lot #7, a 1786 NJ copper, quickly fell into my hands, followed by a beautiful 1834 Half Cent, and a 1800/79 Large Cent in VG. Look for future posts about the history of these coins here!

Sunday arrived and the convention came to an end. I caught John Wright and his wife Mabel after the Annual Meeting and purchased a copy of John’s book from him. We exchanged email addresses and John took a look at my acquisitions from the previous night. After looking at my 1800/79 Large Cent John told me I have a good eye. Coming from John, I couldn’t have asked for a greater compliment!

A special thanks to Bim Gander and his wife Cindy. Bim, who organized the convention and now serves as the club’s VP, met me in the elevator Tuesday night and made it a point to inquire numerous times as to how Wendy and I were enjoying ourselves throughout the week. I look forward to becoming more involved with this wonderful club in the future and hope that our experiences serve to drive more interested souls to join EAC.

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