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NNP Blog

Apr 03 2020

The Convention That Wasn't, and a Rare Photograph

Imagine you arrived at the ANA convention and everyone else had gone home or stayed there to begin with. This is precisely what happened in Philadelphia in October 1918. Cancelled at the last minute, a number of attendees arrived in a city shut down by the Spanish flu. The best account is given by Philadelphia dealer and convention chairman S. H. Chapman, who reported in the November 1918 Numismatist that the convention, scheduled for October 5-9, was cancelled by the city on October 3. Chapman did his best to notify attendees, who might have numbered around a hundred. Some could not be reached in time, and a small group arrived in Philadelphia expecting a convention.

Attendees made the best of a bad thing, and Chapman reported small social gatherings at the convention hotel. The tradition of a convention photograph was continued. Included in the photo were the Chapman brothers of Philadelphia, Mr. and Mrs. Howard R. Newcomb, and a handful of others, about a dozen total. A few of the attendees likely attended S. H. Chapman’s sale of the H. O. Granberg collection, which took place as scheduled, despite the Board of Health warning against “public assemblages.” Presumably many of the bids had already been received by mail.

The convention photograph was not published in The Numismatist, and the only example we could find appeared in the George Kolbe #91 sale, 6/2003, lot 670, there described as “sepia photograph; approximately 10 x 15.5cm.” Taking ANA convention photographs usually required a wide-angle lens, but the photographer’s job was considerably simplified in 1918. Can a reader provide an image?

Link to The Numismatist on the ANA site: https://www.money.org/subscriber-all-access 

Link to The Numismatist on Newman Portal: https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/publisherdetail/510969

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