The History of The BNA

The following is an excerpt taken from the 1947 American Numismatic Association Convention held in Buffalo New York. The complete convention program and auction catalog can be viewed below.

The Start of The BNA

One winter day in the year 1926, Robert H. Lloyd encountered Mr. Fred H. Becker, in the store of Mr. John B. Aldred on Main Street, Buffalo. As Mr. Aldred was for many years the only coin dealer in the city, it became a meeting place of collectors of stamps & coins. Mr. Becker had compiled a list of residents of the Niagara Frontier who were interested in Numismatics, which compilation had been made possible by the cooperation of helpful dealers like B. Max Mehl, Barney Bluestone, B.G. Johnson, and S.H. Chapman. Together with the A.N.A. Directory. Interest was immediately aroused as to the possibility club and contacts were made to test the feasibility of an organization. Within a few months, a sufficient number showed their interest so that a preliminary meeting was called at  Mr. Aldred’s store. From this first gathering grew the idea of the charter meeting held on May 13, 1927. Signatures to the Constitution were obtained again on May 23 and June 24, at which time the charter was closed.

Several Rochester area men assisted in the formation of the new club. They came several times to the early meetings and brought exhibits to further the interest of the beginners. George J. Bauer and Paul  M. Lange are worthy of special mention here.

The BNA Hosts the 1930 ANA National Convention

Within three years the newly formed club was to the host to the 1930 Convention of the A.N.A. which was successful in every way. Financial success was paramount to a new club of small membership. The coming financial depression decimated the membership within a year, But interest and hard work persisted to lay the foundation of slow steady growth. The gains have not been made so much in terms of total membership as in the increased number of steady lifetime numismatists. These men were real solid collectors who had a vision of the club as a special and educational group, and whose regular attendance increased the average numbers at the meetings.

Coin Cabinet Started

Early in the life of the club, it was decided to start a cabinet of coins & medals. Because of the very large and extensive collections in the local Museums, it was determined to confine the cabinet to numismatic items of interest to the Niagara Frontier. Through the coming years, the cabinet had built a very respectable collection of obscure pieces in the usual fields of endeavor, namely tokens, medals, badges, and paper money. The cabinet solicited donations and was able to make modest purchases on occasions.

The BNA Issues Its Own Club Token

Having among its members a chemist and metallurgist in the person of the late  Nelson S. Hopkins of Williamsville, whose interest was mainly tokens and medals. It was natural that the club should strike its own specimen. Beginning in 1932 a club token of officers medal has been regularly issued. It was decided that the annual issues should be in contrasting metals, of even size and low in cost so as to have the widest range of appeal. Mr. Hopkins’ influence appears in the unusual metals that have been used on some issues. Magnesium used in 1934 was one of the few numismatic pieces struck in this metal. A number of alloys such as goldine, durigold, and nickel-silver make the series unusual. Since the publication of the story in the NUMISMATIST two years ago, a brass 1945 token and a bronze issue have been added. To commemorate this convention a nickel-silver piece mentioning the  A.N.A. has been struck.

Prominent BNA Members

Among the members of the BNA, we find some of the most prominent numismatists. Mr. Becker, now retired, sold in 1928 a choice collection of early dimes, reaching then, well into the three-figure mark. His cents & half dollars were the results of thirty years of careful collecting. Mr. E.A. Gilroy of Wayland, N.Y. past President and former member of the Board of Governors, A.N.A., was a most astute collector of coins and stamps, well informed, with a broad general interest in hobbies. Mr. George H. Blake, our number 13, has been lucky for the local group. For years, Treasurer of the A.N.A., he had visited Buffalo on many occasions and obtained at least two disciples of paper money in the club who were prominent in that field.

Member #24, the late Mr. Hopkins made a remarkable collection of Aviation Medals Besides making a study of the Civil War Tokens called “Copper Heads.” His Military decorations and orders were on display at a local museum for many years. Mr. Albert A. Grinnell of Detroit, Member # 30, was the outstanding collector of Federal Currency. Some of the items in his famous collection were garnered for him by his friends in the Queen City. Member #34, Mr. George J. Bauer of Rochester, past President of the A.N.A. (Buffalo 1930) had been termed  The Dean Of American Collectors. His display of Ancient Coins had been a prize winner on many occasions. Mr. Bauer won his first numismatic award at the Buffalo Fair & Exposition of 1888.

The Late Mr. Charles Markus of Iowa, Member # 39, was for several years President of the A.N.A. Member # 42 was none other than Stuart M. Mosher, our very efficient and capable editor of the NUMISMATIST. He was a past President of the BNA, wrote extensively for the local papers on Numismatics, and published a description of the known collection at The Buffalo Museum of Science. Member #58 was Mr. T. James Clarke of Jamestown, past President of the A.N.A.  a long-time promoter of Numismatics in this area. Mr. Clarke was an exhibitor at this Convention and his unusual displays were well known in the numismatic fraternity.

Mr. Jesse M. Taylor,  A.N.A. District Secretary made a very presentable collection of U.S. Pattern Coins. Mr. Franklin J. Herrick of Syracuse had the knack for building special collections and displaying them in the best fashion. Mr. J.D. Ferguson of Rock Island, Quebec, Past President of the A.N.A. compiled a compendium of the Dominion Notes. The Buffalo Numismatic Association thus holds among its members a body of men who have made a considerable contribution to the hobby. The BNA has thus made its mark in many years of growth, its usefulness to the A.N.A. in conventions and in publications for The Numismatist, it’s a contribution to the cabinet and in its badges & tokens, and in furthering the interest of many real students of the science. 

BNA 75th Anniversary Medal
BNA 75th Anniversary Medal