By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek……….
It’s Monday morning, and I’ve just returned from a three-day trip to the outskirts of Atlanta, where I joined CoinWeek co-founder and industry video-archivist David Lisot for my first American Numismatic event, the ANA National Money Show.
As many of you who are familiar with CoinWeek know, David travels across the country and around the world to interview key figures and personalities in the numismatic industry. The last time I had met David was at the 2013 Whitman Baltimore Expo, although he did interview me once at that same show the year before.
The show was held at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel, a 14-story modern facility with multiple conference halls, an indoor shopping area, and easy access to a host of restaurants and area attractions. The site was a short 25 minute drive to Georgia’s numismatically-notable Stone Mountain Park.
The 2014 National Money Show was the first industry event I attended as Content Manager of CoinWeek.com, which is also to say that it was the first coin show that I’ve ever attended as an “official” member of the numismatic media.
In my opinion, the media plays an important role at coin conventions. Not only do we archive the proceedings, preserving the memory of these shows for future generations, but, as David Lisot likes to put it, we also “cast the net to bring the fish into the hobby.”
Occasionally, when that net gets cast, it’s not just the numismatic media that excites the imagination of collectors. Sometimes it’s the media-at-large that is drawn in and mesmerized by the magic of a once-in-a-lifetime “coin” event.
Such was the case with the recently revealed 1,400 gold coin “Saddle Ridge Hoard”, a large accumulation of U.S. gold coins discovered in decaying tin cans buried for more than a hundred years and discovered by a pair of California home-owners.
When I arrived to the show an hour before it officially opened, I got to watch the filming of CoinWeek’s interview with David J. McCarthy, Senior Numismatist at Kagin’s Inc.. Kagin’s is handling the sale of the Saddle Ridge coins, which is being done through Kagin’s corporate site and amazon.com.
Not more than 15 minutes after we wrapped up, a throng of reporters from the networks swarmed around Kagin’s booth and its display of several rows of newly graded PCGS Saddle Ridge gold double eagles.
The other “big” industry story was PCGS’s announcement that it and its parent company, Collectors’ Universe, had graded 50 million collectible items. The 50 millionth piece was an 1888-O Morgan dollar, fully brilliant, that earned the grade MS-66+.
I attended the opening half hour of the ANA’s public Board of Governors meeting, filming part of the proceedings. Two of the Governors were not present: Expectant father Jeff Swindling was excused to be with his wife, and Governor Laura Sperber was absent due to illness.
Before the meeting came to order, ANA President Walter Ostromecki, Jr. and ANA Executive Director Kim Kiick awarded YN Intern Cole Schenewerk with a certificate of appreciation for his six-month participation as both an ANA Intern and an honorary YN Member on the Board of Governors (in 2011 CoinWeek published Cole's piece on America's First Bank Robbery, definitely check it out).
At the CoinWeek booth, I met with numerous readers and show visitors. Many asked us where they could find the Saddle Ridge Gold, while a few asked us to appraise coins they’d brought with them (no, we don’t do that). For the most part, the attendees were charming, highly interested in numismatics, and having a good time.
CoinWeek contributor (and 2012 recipient of the ANA’s Harry J. Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award) Patrick A. Heller stopped by the booth. Heller is the owner of Liberty Coin Service of Lansing, Michigan. He writes primarily about the gold market. While visiting, Heller shared his excitement with us about a piece he was preparing for The Numismatist. As a numismatic writer, I can tell you that it’s always exciting to have a piece published in the hobby’s most important monthly periodical, so I certainly share his enthusiasm.
I’ve worked with Tucker for more than two years as a Red Book Pricing Contributor. Tucker shared with us information about several upcoming Whitman projects, including a new Encyclopedia of Mexican Money (November 2014) by Don and Lois Baily, and Q. David Bowers’ multi-volume Whitman Encyclopedia on Obsolete Paper Money, the first volume of which will be released June 24th.
Speaking of Bowers, Stacks Bowers recently published a 376-page work entitled U.S. Liberty Head $20 Double Eagles: The Gilded Age of Coinage. I have a review copy of the book and will tell you what I think of it this Friday. The attractive volume is being offered through May 1st at an introductory price of $35 (plus $10 shipping and handling), and can be purchased here.
I also got to talk briefly to the legendary cherry-picker Bill Fivaz. As a member of the Ike Group, I sent Fivaz about a dozen unpublished Eisenhower dollar varieties last year, in hopes that many (if not all) of them would find their way into the upcoming Sixth Edition of The Cherrypicker’s Guide. Fivaz shared with me that several new Ike dollars would make it into the next edition, the first volume of which is set for a 2015 release.
Do you remember our interview with young coin designer Cassie McFarland? Well, I had the good fortune of being one of the first people outside of the U.S. Mint to actually handle the upcoming 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative coins, which were on display at the U.S. Mint booth. The coins, despite their uniform design in all product types (half dollar, dollar, and gold $5) are attractive, novel, and fun to look at.
The bowl-shaped design required special packaging. We wonder if it will also require special gaskets or holders on the part of the grading services. Rumor has it that some examples of the coin are already in the wild, possibly in order to answer that exact question.
Now that I’m home, it’s interesting to reflect on the show and realize that it was only three days long. The ANA tries hard to put on a great show, especially from a presentation and educational standpoint. To the ANA and our hosts at the Georgia Numismatic Association, thank you for your hospitality and good luck in 2014.
The calendar now turns to March. My next show will be the Whitman Baltimore Expo. If you live in the area and can attend, I’d love to see you.
On behalf of David Lisot, Scott Purvis, and the rest of the CoinWeek staff,