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My Ambassadorial Experience

September 1st, 2007

I cannot say why but it feels like an unusually long time since we were last together.    I cannot say personally that the last month has been a slow one, actually quite the opposite.  These last few weeks have been so full that I haven’t had much time to be flexible.   Maybe that is part of my problem at the moment.  I haven’t had time to do anything other than what I have had to do.  With one glaring minor exception I haven’t had the time to play with my collection nor add anything to it.  Such rest and relaxation opportunities haven’t been on my plate of late.  (I enjoyed writing that last sentence)

This last week it was my privilege to host a seven member delegation from the Ivory Coast.  We spent most of a week together in meetings further developing a partnership which began last March when a group from the United States went to Ivory Coast.  The primary emphasis of this partnership deals with Nothing but Nets a malaria fighting campaign emphasized by the United Nations Foundation and several other such agencies.  Any of you with a few extra charitable dollars and a heart to share can do some wonderful work by purchasing a treated mosquito net to be used in Africa.  For more information and a place to donate please see nothingbutnets.net.    This is a fantastic program which addresses the biggest killer in Africa today.  The cost is within the range of anybody.  I hope you’ll be willing to help.

Making things more interesting in the time since we were last together was a brief trip to I made to New York City.  I’m on a committee which is busy transforming a long standing mission program of the United Methodist Church.  We met for just a couple of days.  It was at the end of this meeting that I was able to do a little personal collector shopping.  I took a half a day in Manhattan and hit a couple of the usual spots.  I ventured for the first time into Champion Stamps and took at look at their inventory of world bank notes.  There were some interesting items and I purchased a couple of nice pieces of paper money from the early Castro era.

My final stop before heading to the airport was at Stack’s.  When I walked in I noted several familiar faces at the counter, dealers in Ancient coins who were glancing through the merchandise.  After taking my seat, a “Mr. Franklin” came to greet me.  I asked to see their stock of Obsolete, Confederate and Fractional Banknotes.  After several minutes of looking “Mr. Franklin” came out with, are you ready for this, four notes.  In the whole of Stack’s, America’s oldest continuously operated coin company there were only four notes in my collecting area.  Sort of put it all into perspective.  Even when I have time there isn’t much to look at these days and prices are rising on just about every type of numismatic material.

I had some time to reflect as I made my taxi ride to La Guardia Airport.  I asked myself; what is the cause of the interest in numismatic material?  Is it historical?  Is it artistic?  Is it the ability to acquire something different and rare?  Is it the desire, albeit risky, to own something that has a growth potential?  All of these questions and more are possibilities.  I hope the answer is at least a little simpler.  Perhaps people are interested because collecting is a great opportunity to broaden one’s horizons and to see the events of human history, to help touch and feel the past, to travel the world without traveling so far, and for a moment to get a glimpse of the vast nature of our world and beyond.

This current interest means that we who are involved in the sharing of the numismatic world need to be focused on helping those who come to us not only learn but also come to an appreciate of the uniqueness of the numismatic creation.  A great time to do this is just ahead.  On September 20th we’ll meet once again.  Yes, to me it does seem like a very long time since we have last been together.  As we gather we’ll do what we usually do; we’ll greet like minded friends, we’ll exchange stories of recent conquests, we’ll listen intently to the material shared at show and tell and at program time, and we’ll do something for the future, we’ll encourage each other and we’ll be particularly open to those who come seeking a place to learn.

Please remember also that one of the best gifts we can give to the Houston area community is just a head as well.  The Money Show isn’t so far off.  We’ll have many unique chances to tell the numismatic story at this event.  I hope you are already signed up and are planning to offer yourself as a volunteer.

I don’t know if I’ll see you next Thursday or not.  Life is certainly interesting.  I’ll be hosting, at least earlier in the day the Honorable Ambassador from the Ivory Coast to the United States.  It’s a great honor.  GHCC will be more fun.  I just might see you then and for all I know the Ambassador may be a numismatist.
Regards and God Bless,
Richard Laster