What a Great Week that Was!

I left New Hampshire on Friday, August 1, headed for Illinois to spend the weekend with friends. Then on Monday afternoon, August 4, I arrived at the Stephens Convention Center in Chicago to begin a weeklong immersion in the World’s Fair of Money, perhaps more familiarly known as the American Numismatic Association summer convention. I have been going to these since 1955, which makes the last one my 60th. I don’t think anyone has ever attended that many. Here’s hoping that quite a few more are in store for me down the line.


I had the good fortune of participating in a number of educational programs, talking with dozens if not hundreds of people, and engaging in other activities. What with our spectacular auction, the programs I was involved in, and meetings, I did not have a chance to make the rounds of the dealers’ bourse until Friday afternoon.


As always, looking around the convention is a very nice experience. I believe that there were more dealers than ever before — with hundreds of people set up. The reports I heard generally suggested that perhaps for United States coins in various categories activity was perhaps a six on a scale of ten — lots of enthusiasm but also many times when dealers were idle. Tokens and medals seemed to be quite a bit different, often with people waiting to be served. I hasten to say that there is a difference here: What with certified coins, an alert buyer can survey a table full of United States copper, nickel, silver and gold coins in a few minutes to see if anything is of interest. On the other hand, a specialist in tokens and medals has to sit down, look through boxes and albums, and take perhaps a half hour or more.


Our auction was dynamic with much enthusiasm. As has been the case for a long time, by far the largest number of bids came from the Internet. It used to be that the auction room itself was the only source of action. No longer. In this category I recall our sale of the Dice-Hicks Collection of Hard Times tokens in 2008. I was in the audience when I received a call from one of our company executives. “How many people are there?” he asked. My reply, “There were nine, but one went to the men’s room and now there are only eight.” This caused a little bit of worry until I hastened to say that bids were streaming in from all directions on the Internet, and that the prices realized were averaging two to three times the pre-sale estimates!


The Internet makes each sale truly international. At the ANA convention and elsewhere it is easy enough for remote bidders to participate from Hong Kong, Moscow, Zurich, Topeka or just about anywhere else on the map. Moreover, Internet bidding requires no particular preparation or effort, other than establishing credit. It seems to be a win-win situation for all involved.


Last week marked the third year in a row that the World’s Fair of Money was held in Rosemont, Illinois. Next year it will be there as well, a very nice venue, easy to get to from just about anywhere. In 2016 the scene moves to Anaheim, California, and as I write these words I am not up to date on later places. Generally, if a convention is located in, say, Baltimore, Maryland — which seems to be the all-time favorite for most collectors and dealers — a radius of 500 miles will encompass probably 75% of the active numismatists in the United States. Also, it makes driving to the convention possible. While this might be ideal, ANA members in other places like to be able to travel easily to shows, resulting over the years in conventions from San Diego to Seattle on the West Coast, various places in the Midwest, and also activity on the East Coast.


I am looking forward to the next three Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expos in Baltimore, the next coming up at the end of October, extending into November, then in March and June of 2015. The next show promises to be particularly interesting, what with the Colonial Coin Collectors Club also having its annual convention there. Auctions are being planned for all of these events and consignments are welcomed.


Here is wishing you a very nice rest of the summer. I will see you in this column next week.

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