By Jim Bisognani for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation….
Stacks Bowers & Heritage Provide Auction Muscle In Midwest; Be Sure To Take Notes — I Used To Have A Photographic Memory But Even That Is Prone To Malfunction
Well my fine collector and dealer friends, as this report goes to press it is one week before the ANA World’s Fair of Money. Last-minute itineraries and agendas are being logged in and the rapid migration to the granddaddy of all coin shows is in full swing. Once again, the Midwest has the honor of holding this royal numismatic event as greater Chicago and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center will hold court in Rosemont, Illinois, August 11-15. Major exhibits, world-class coins and hundreds of dealers are all under one superb venue. For those that like the excitement of auction, two superb events await as Stack’s Bowers (August 12-18) and Heritage (August 12-16) find both firms offering up a splendid bounty of numismatic fare.
US and world coins, rarities and spectacularly preserved specimens are up for bid as you read this, so go ahead and get some pre-bidding under your belts before the scepter of the great numismatic hall deflects your attention. I know for me at least when you get on the bourse floor you can very easily get carried away by the multitude of numismatic offerings and meeting up with collector and dealer friends.
I think most collectors will admit more than a bit of childlike enthusiasm accompanies them through the door as you enter the bourse of the ANA. This is especially true for first timers to the show.
For many “Coindexters” the bright shiny luster and deep mirror reflections emitted from those superb coins on display in row after row of dealer’s cases is just too mesmerizing. Much like moths being attracted to the flame, so are the eyes of the coin aficionados directed to dealers’ well stocked showcases.
It truly is very easy to get sidetracked from the collector’s mission at hand once you step foot on the floor. So a word of advice, take notes about coins that catch your eye and be sure to write down dealer table numbers associated with your favorite coin or coins. I have seen many collectors and even dealers running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to locate a coin or coins which they had seen earlier but are now in a quandary as to where they are because they didn’t write down the table number! I used to have a photographic memory but even that is prone to malfunction…so take notes!
One collector, John E. from my home state of New Hampshire, will be attending his first ANA show. “I am so excited to be at the show. I have been involved with collecting for nearly ten years and have been assembling some pretty nice US type sets.”
The Claremont, New Hampshire native went on to tell me that most of his purchases to date had been online, competing with other collectors and dealers at major auction.
“So far I’ve been pretty lucky. I have gotten some great coins but it’s time for me to actually make my appearance at a major show and travel up and down the aisles on the floor and pick up some needed type coins for my set.” John said that the primary piece he will be hunting for is the Draped Bust, Large Eagle Half Dollar, the “king” of US type for certain! “I’m looking for a nice extremely fine/AU coin to reside in my collection. I already scoured the auction catalogs and none are scheduled by either auction company, so I will have to find one on the floor.”
Of course a major event like this attracts serious collectors and aficionados for all types of coin series and other specialties. Bob, who hails from Kentucky, advised me that he’s excited about the prospects of good bullion-related deals at the show this year.
“I was at the show last year and the show was upstaged by that blasted gold Kennedy Half Dollar… Everyone’s attention was on that coin. It actually made it rough for some of us to get in and enjoy looking at and buying the coins that we were there to see.” The Bluegrass Stater went on to say, “gold is down about 15% from what it was at the show last year; it was trading around $1,300 bucks an ounce I recollect. But for me, silver is a great deal. I know a lot of people have been buying it and it goes up and down when speculators run up the price and then dump it onto the market, but at around $14.50 an ounce it’s a great time to buy, in my book estimation. I will be busy picking up nice borderline Uncirculated Morgan Dollars and I may even put together a full Silver Eagle set.”
I also spoke to a few dealers to get their take on what to expect at the 2015 ANA World’s Fair of Money.
A New England dealer friend of mine, Charlie Hertan, owner of Charles Hertan Numismatics of Florence, MA, advised me that heading into the big show, “The wholesale market has gained some momentum with surprisingly active Summer FUN and Baltimore shows. While the market remains very price sensitive, the right coins at the right levels are trading briskly. I am finding untapped opportunities in the raw collector coin market as well.”
Brian Hodge of LMRC voiced, “I think it’s going to be a great show. I’m actually really low on inventory and haven’t been able to source a lot of exceptional coins so I hope it presents a good buying opportunity. The auctions are also less overwhelming than they’ve been, so I think the great coins should hit numbers they deserve. There were so many extraordinary collections offered out in 2014 by the auction companies that I think what used to be really rare all of a sudden seemed common. I’m hoping the show reinvigorates dealers and collectors and keeps the flame burning through the fall.”
Well-known president of Great Collections, Ian Russell, said, “A year has flown by! I am expecting a very strong ANA from all angles. We will be displaying highlights from future auctions including our NGC-graded Chinese collection of Unicorns. We’ll also have a 1907 Proof High Relief on display. The show should certainly be the most well-attended of the year. Market seems stronger than a few months ago, despite the warm weather.”
I also had a chance to catch up with the dealer, writer and numismatic hero to so many of today’s coin collectors and dealers, Dave Bowers. Mr. Bowers reflected on past ANA’s and what to expect this time around in the greater Windy City.
“Having gone to ANA conventions since I was a teenager in 1955, I can say that all have been good. As I am not tuned into the latest fad, most of my contacts and business involves advanced numismatists, usually quite experienced, and many of them clients and friends for decades. At the same time, I appreciate the younger set—rarer at shows now than they used to be—and I always take the time to chat.”
As for this installment, Dave opined, “I expect that the Chicago show will be dynamic with regard to traditional numismatic series. It always has been for me. As to whether a lot of members of the public will come in and buy coins is always problematic. The sleepiest shows in the past two decades have been San Francisco (the low point) and Los Angeles. The recent Chicago events have been quite good—with a central location, great airport connections, and nice hotels and amenities. I look forward to seeing many old friends and making some new ones.”
Dave also relayed, “I am going to be part of several educational programs, and I invite readers to check the convention schedule and attend, and introduce themselves.”
If you can make it to the show, enjoy the comradery, the excitement and the coins! Please take time to learn about a new series or two and take time to view the extraordinary ANA exhibits. And by all means, I wholeheartedly recommend taking in the several educational programs that Mr. Bowers will be a part of! All four scheduled events will be held in Room 6 of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on Wednesday, August 12, and Thursday, August 13—check your schedules!
Until next time, happy collecting!
Jim Bisognani has written extensively on US coin market trends and values and was the market analyst and writer for a major pricing guide for many years. He frequently attends major coin shows and auctions.