By Jeff Garrett for NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation) ……
In the next few weeks, everyone in my company will be making plans for the upcoming World’s Fair of Money that will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from August 8-12, 2023. The show is put on by the American Numismatic Association (ANA), with the organization holding the annual convention since the early part of the last century.
The ANA World’s Fair of Money is by far the most important rare coin convention held each year in the United States. Dealers and Mints from around the world attend to display their wares. Nearly 10,000 collectors are expected to attend the 2023 Pittsburgh edition of this important convention.
This year’s World’s Fair of Money should also see more international players on the bourse floor. When the show is in Rosemont, Illinois, many of the world dealers and Mints meet in downtown Chicago, which somewhat diminishes the show. I look forward to seeing many familiar faces from my travels to coins shows in Europe. Of further interest to the international crowd will be the annual Coin of The Year (COTY) awards ceremony, which will be held at the ANA World’s Fair of Money for the first time. The annual award event usually takes place in Berlin, Germany.
There will also be thousands of rare coins and currency sold at auction in the week following the show. This year’s sales will likely exceed $75 million. This includes coins from the Harry S. Bass Collection that will be sold during the show. Live auctions of major collections are becoming a thing of the past. The Pittsburgh auction will be a unique opportunity if you have not seen one in person.
One activity that is always highly recommended for dealers and collectors attending the World’s Fair of Money is to examine auction lots. The summer ANA convention traditionally is among the largest, rare coin auctions of the year. I have stated many times in my past articles the educational value of examining auction lots. There is no better way for the average collector or dealer to understand the nuances of coin grading than to look at lots of rare coins. Seeing why some coins of the same grade bring different prices is very enlightening. In recent years, auction prices have become one of the major factors when considering coin values.
Educational Opportunities for All
The summer convention is an important educational opportunity for dealers and collectors alike. Starting on Sunday, August 6, there will be two great classes for those interested in expanding their numismatic skills: Fundamentals of Grading US Coins and Counterfeit Detection: Classic Fakes and Chinese Made Counterfeits.
These amazing classes are usually only available for those attending the annual ANA Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs. Therefore, these two seminars are an excellent opportunity for dealers attending the upcoming ANA show, and as continuing education for those sending employees. These classes usually fill up before the event starts, and I encourage those interested to register well in advance.
There will also be another dozen or more Money Talks presentations during the course of the convention. These are short educational talks presented by some of the greatest experts in the world on a variety of subjects. These events are free to attend, and a complete list can be found on money.org.
Many national collector clubs also hold their annual meetings during the ANA. There will be meetings for everything from Bust Half Dollar collectors to Civil War Token collectors. You can check the convention program for times and places of the lectures and meetings. These annual events are an important networking opportunity for any dealer specializing in these segments of the market. Many are by invitation only, so be sure to find out if you can attend before showing up.
The “Greatest Show on Earth”
Collectors and dealers will also be able to see one of the largest exhibit areas ever offered at a rare coin convention. Dozens of collectors will have competitive displays of rare coins and currency. This part of the convention is very educational and highly recommended. It is a great opportunity to see passionate collecting at its best. Exhibitors are highly competitive, and some will go all out in pursuit of “best of show.” I have also found these exhibits very informative from a dealer’s perspective, having come up with several great marketing ideas after seeing the many themes presented.
Of special interest this year in the exhibit area will be selections from the world famous Tyrant Collection. This year’s exhibit will feature about 300 of the finest English coins from his collection. The exhibit will include over $30 million dollars’ worth of coins, including the never-issued 1937 coins of King Edward VIII.
The summer ANA show is also an amazing opportunity for rare coin fellowship. Many clubs and numismatic organizations hold breakfast or dinner meetings. These events are a great place to meet others with similar interests. Later in the week, the ANA will also host an awards banquet. Most rare coin dealers do not attend the Friday night awards banquet. I can tell you from experience, they are missing a great event. The ANA banquet is a special opportunity to meet some of the greatest numismatic luminaries in the business.
The main reason the ANA is the “Greatest Show on Earth” is the incredible bourse. There will be hundreds of millions of dollars in rare coins and currency for sale. Everything, including tokens, medals, currency, US coins, world coins, ancient coins and numismatic books will be offered for sale. Many dealers save special material for the ANA convention and some of the largest numismatic transactions of the year take place at these shows. There will probably be several seven figure deals trade hands.
A Family Tradition
My own personal experience with ANA conventions goes back to 1974. I lived in Florida at the time and because of the close proximity, I was able to attend the 1974 Miami ANA show. A local dealer, Ed French, allowed me to tag along for the ride. It was truly an eye-opening experience for a 16-year-old from Tampa.
I still remember seeing the legendary dealer Abe Kosoff, standing in a white summer suit, with two showcases holding one coin each. One held a 1907 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle, the other a Gem Syracuse Decadrachm. I think my budget for the show was $50. I somehow managed to make it last all week! My experience at the 1974 ANA show had a tremendous impact on my decision to be a rare coins dealer. I loved the excitement, and I have not missed an ANA show since. This year’s show will be my 49th in a row.
I have very fond memories of nearly every summer ANA that I have attended. For years my family has made a tradition of spending eight to nine days in the convention city exploring all it has to offer. My daughter Morgan is attending her 28th ANA convention in a row — not bad for someone who has recently turned 28! The summer ANA convention is an excellent opportunity for families to share a memorable week together.
The internet has had a profound impact on numismatics. Collectors around the world can conduct business and study rare coins on their computers or phone. These are all positive, but there is nothing like attending a major rare coin convention. They are inspirational and exciting. Make plans to attend this year’s World’s Fair of Money if at all possible. Complete information about the show can be found at money.org. Abe Kosoff is no longer around, but there will be plenty of other legends to meet in person.
For those that do attend the ANA World’s Fair of Money, you have plenty to look forward to. Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) and Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) representatives will be in attendance and accepting submissions, providing on-site grading and free one-on-one consultations with David Camire, President of Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS) and NGC Finalizer. Additionally, NGC will feature a grading contest, attendees have the opportunity to meet renowned artist and coin designer Jody Clark and Limited-Edition art prints featuring the artwork of NGC signer Miley Tucker-Frost will be distributed at the show!
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