The Michigan State Numismatic Society


By Dany Rothfeld


By Dany Rothfeld


A letter from Craig Whitford, sent to me in early November of 1999 contained an invitation to exhibit in the Max Brail memorial exhibit. This exhibit is an annual affair that takes place during the fall convention of our Michigan State Numismatic Society, in Detroit. Participation in this exhibit is by invitation only. It is a non-competitive exhibit, although technically the "winner" does receive an award, not in the form of a coin. The exhibit has to be educational, informative and also has to have eye appeal. Exhibits are judged by the Brail family, which also presents the award.

Apparently I misplaced Craig's letter. I found and opened it about a week before the MSNS Fall Show. At first, looking at the official MSNS envelope, I thought it was some information that was sent out to us Board members. I opened the envelope and started reading: "Dear Exhibitor, ...You are invited to participate in this special exhibition, which is by invitation only."

"Wow," I said to myself, "I made it to the big league this time." It felt good, although it added more to the pressure I was under, between the overload at work, situations at home, and working on some other new exhibits for the fall show.

I left a message on Craig's answering machine, thanking him for the invitation and saying that I will call back later with a decision. I could not pass on this invitation. I decided to go for it, even though I didn't think I had a chance of winning.

I decided to exhibit "The Gates of Jerusalem on Paper Money." I made some modifications, added hard backing to the bottom of the written material, spread it on the soft purple velvet material, to make sure that everything was in order. Everything had to click. It looked good. "The Gates of Jerusalem" exhibit of Israeli currency depicts six out of eight gates that surround the Old City of Jerusalem.

The day of the show came. I drove to Detroit on Friday to put the exhibits in place, because I knew I would not have any extra time on Saturday. It was a good decision. Some of the displays were set up already. I recognized a couple of them, possibly past "Best of Shows." I was not sure. The "big guns" were there, and here I was in the middle of all of that. I set up, stayed around for a while, talked to some friends and drove back home.

Saturday was a grueling day. There was a long board meeting stretching beyond noon, a short break for lunch and back to the exhibit area for judging. I spent about three more hours judging some 11 or 12 different exhibits, about 20 cases of good material. I was exhausted. I rested for a little bit, and then went to the main room. I chatted with friends, and looked for coins. I drove home around 8 pm.

The next morning, at the Sunday breakfast, I sat at the table with Judy Slate, Bob Sayer and Steve Roach. We chatted until breakfast was served. Breakfast was delicious as usual. The Hyatt Hotel's cooks know how to please the taste buds. When the awards were presented, our table was very busy, collecting six or seven awards divided between Steve Roach, Bob Seer and myself.

Then came Craig Whitford, standing there with Mrs. Brail and her son. He proceeded to talk about this years' winner. He said "... and for this year the winner is no stranger to exhibiting, a member of the Lansing Coin Club..." and I was thinking to myself, "Who could he or she be?" When I heard my name called, I could not believe it. I sat there for a little bit, stunned. What a great feeling. I felt very humble and very proud of winning this prestigious award. This year, the award is coming to Lansing, the home of it's conception. I came down to receive the award. It still did not sink in when I shook hands with Mrs. Braille, her son and Craig. Then the box was presented to me. What a beautiful thing. This award, a nice, dark colored, 12 inch long wooden box. On top of the box a silvery, metallic replica of the $5 Silver Certificate of the United States of America, series of 1899. In the middle of the certificate is featured an Indian chief. The precise identity of the Indian chief has been a matter of debate among collectors. The Friedberg reference notes say that this chief is Running Antelope , a member of the Oncpapa tribe of the Sioux Indians. Interestingly, I counted twenty-five fives written on the note (front) in different ways. They were in the form of words, letters and numbers. Inside is a soft, velvety type material that adds to the classiness of this box.

I am very fortunate to have this "piece" of Max. Max was a first class friend to all of us. The Lansing Coin Club, the rest of the Numismatic Society and all the other people who knew him. At the club meetings, he always had a good word to say, and an interesting story to tell. Max was known as "Mr. Numismatics". We all miss Max, but now I really have something that reminds me of him.

Later that day when I came back home, I looked up previous Mich-matist editions to see who the previous award recipients were. I compiled a distinguished name list:

1992- Martin Deliver

1993- Henry Dudzinsky

1994- Frank Passic

1995- Al Bobrofsky

1996- Richard Watts

1997- Steve Roach

1998-Richard & Pam Watts

1999- Dany Rothfeld.

I will always treasure this award, The Box. Thank you Max, and your family, as well.