Saturday, July 1, 2017

7 Questions With Rodney Gillis of the American Numismatic Association

Rodney Gillis, a former Middle and High School teacher of 15 years, is currently the Executive Director of the ANA ( ). He helped with the proposal to have a commemorative dollar coin minted to honor the veterans of World War I and helped write the legislation for the coin. The legislation was signed into law and the coin will be minted at the start of 2018. He is the proud owner of a 1951 Buick Roadmaster. He is married (29 years) and has a Dachshund (Little Louie) and a Yellow Lab (Dixie).

1.      How and/or when did you get you hooked on history?
My mother encouraged me to read at an early age and I took an interest in the history of the presidents.

2.      What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?
I have a collection of stock certificates that includes the parent company of the Titanic. I also own an antique car that I have worked to keep as original as possible.

3.      How is/How was history a part of your professional life/career?
I was a history teacher for many years. As the Education Director of the American Numismatic Association, I am constantly looking for outreach opportunities to show that coins are really primary historical documents.

4.      Why is studying/knowing history important?
History plays an important role in the study of cultures. History also gives us an example as to how we should make decisions.

5.      What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?
My favorite period of history is the 1880s to the turn of the 20th century. So many innovations and interesting characters.

6.      How did you become a numismatist and what does your job as Education Director entail?
My brother and I were walking down a street in Puerto Rico and he pointed out a shiny object in the middle of the street. I picked it up and it was a very old U.S. coin. I started to collect soon after. As Education Director at the ANA, I teach classes on grading, travel to local schools to conduct classes, put education content on our website, answer coin questions from the public and administer programs designed to get youngsters involved in the hobby.

7.      How do coins and coin collecting reflect history and how can coins be used in history education?
Coins are really primary historical documents. Their design reflects the cultural icons of the country that produced them. It is always fun to imagine that a coin minted in a historically significant year was actually in someone’s pocket at a famous event.