2015_open1

By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek….

With the cutting of the ribbon at 9:45 this morning, the American Numismatic Association (ANA) kicked off its annual celebration of coin collecting, the 2015 World’s Fair of Money. The venue is a familiar one – the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, in Rosemont, Illinois. Rosemont is a suburb of Chicago and a $10 cab ride from O’Hare International Airport.

2015_open2Representing CoinWeek, I am joined by Executive Producer David Lisot and Assistant Editor Hubert Walker. The three of us will have plenty to do as we talk to dealers, clubs, and collectors. We will be filming a number of educational programs and informative CoinWeek show segments, as well as writing down our thoughts about this year’s event. Be sure to check back in throughout the week and in the weeks to come as CoinWeek processes what is likely to be hundreds of hours of footage. We promise to bring to you our very best.

Having arrived early on Monday, I took a quick stroll around the show site and was greeted by many familiar faces. Most dealers seem pretty laid back – almost resigned to the fact that it’s going to be a busy week but not expecting anything out of the ordinary. This is in stark contrast to what was going on last year about this time, when the U.S. Mint’s dual-dated gold Kennedy half dollar Proof brought considerable commotion and controversy to the proceedings.

2015_open3On the eve of that product’s launch, most table holders thought that they would have the opportunity to pick up a couple of coins and turning a tidy profit. Some even brought their significant others to stand in line as proxies. Little did they know that this level of preparation and planning would prove to be woefully inadequate in the face of an aggressive and highly-organized purchasing operation conducted by some of the industry’s most powerful wholesalers.

Before the show even opened, a line of people – many of whom were paid stand-ins – surrounded the venue. The carnival atmosphere continued for two more days, until the Mint and the ANA had had enough.

Many of us look back at last year’s show and remember the halls teeming with non-collectors perched out on folding chairs, biding their time so that someone else could make a mint selling the latest shiny gold widget.

Yet for their part, the shill buyers did their best to behave and their “intrusion” into “our” hobby, as inconvenient as it might have been to some, was more or less uneventful.

2015_open4As for this year, don’t expect a repeat.

The U.S. Mint did launch another gold novelty coin almost two weeks ago–the 2015 American Liberty High Relief one-ounce 24-karat Proof–but they will not be offering it for sale at the ANA show. Special show labels for the coin are available from NGC and PCGS as long as you bring them to the show and submit them for grading. As we reported earlier, NGC will actually “Show Label” any U.S. Mint product sold and submitted at the show.

On Friday, I asked NGC spokesperson Max Spiegel if the company’s program would include coins sold by the world mints at the show. While open to the idea, Spiegel was reluctant to change corporate policy at the last minute. I spoke to the benefits of this idea in the latest CoinWeek Weekly Report.

So what will the story of the 2015 ANA World’s Fair of Money be? We’ll have to wait to find out. But don’t worry; our notebooks, cameras, laptops and comfortable shoes are at the ready.

On with the show!

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