What Goes On at the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money?
By Mark Ferguson for CoinWeek – MFrarecoins.com
If you’ve never been to a summer ANA convention, or if you’ve never been to any coin show at all for that matter, I’d like to describe for you what goes on at the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money. This year the convention and coin show will be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, located near O’Hare Airport. The dates are from August 16th through the 20th. There is also an official “ANA/PNG Pre-Show” on August 14th and 15th in the same hall produced in conjunction with the Professional Numismatists Guild.
This is by far the largest coin show and convention in the world every year, and it truly is an international event. Several government mints from around the world set up booths, and many coin dealers from around the world attend this show. The convention moves around the country, but after next year, when it will be held in Philadelphia, it will remain in centrally located Chicago for the following three years. This important coin show sets the stage for a new trading season in coins. Summer has traditionally been a slower time in the coin market, and many dealers get their vacations in before the convention. Then, after the convention, the market begins to move into a more active phase, leading into the fall and winter trading seasons.
Collectors and dealers bring out some of the best coins on the market for this convention. Great multi-million dollar “trophy” rarities will be exhibited this year, such as “The King of American Coins,” the 1804 silver dollar; a 1913 Liberty nickel, one of just five known; the finest known example of a 1793 “Ameri.” Cent, possibly the first cent struck at the U.S. Mint, and more. The Smithsonian Institution will have an exhibit called, “Good as Gold: America’s Double Eagles,” and a Billion Dollar Display will be put on by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Additionally, private competitive and non-competitive exhibits will be displayed in an official ANA exhibit area.
The convention has a major coin auction, this year conducted by Stacks Bowers Galleries. And there is a pre-show auction conducted during the days prior to the convention by Heritage Auctions. During the past several years total sales at the auctions surrounding the World’s Fair of Money have regularly totaled about $50 million. In the past there have been two or three other firms conducting pre-convention auction sales also, but this year, because of mergers, the field has been narrowed down to these two behemoth firms.
Even more business is done privately on the “bourse floor,” as the coin show is often called. On the top end of the market some dealers literally do millions of dollars in business at this convention, earning higher profits during this week than many households earn after several years’ work. This is serious business, and dealers at this convention work very hard. There are private deals done off site, and leads are generated for coin deals that get done after the convention. Pre-convention marketing is also an important function for many dealers, as are special promotions.
In addition to U.S. coins being traded, there is U.S. currency traded, bullion, world coins and currency, and exonumia, such as tokens, medals, stock certificates, numismatic literature and more. There is so much at this show that some collectors only attend this one show during the year. Some collectors save up their money just for this one show. Collectors also bring their duplicates, upgrades, and other trading material to the ANA convention to sell.
There are also many seminars and workshops, specialized club meetings, tours, events, and banquets, put on by the American Numismatic Association and other groups at the convention. And privately, numismatic scholars meet to discuss research projects, publish books and journals, and examine coins and similar collectibles. New officers of the ANA are also sworn in during the week.
The association has worked hard during the last few years to produce increasingly more progressive conventions and coin shows, and to expand them. A good coin market has also helped their efforts. And now the ANA has a smartphone app for information about the World’s Fair of Money. You can get it by visiting www.worldsfairofmoney.com. Convention and show schedules, auction activities, dealer information, and local destinations are among the information available on the app. Informative videos will also be posted regularly throughout the convention.
After the coin show, by far the largest and most important show of the year, dealers will take their new purchases home to sell to customers. They will submit many of these new purchases to various grading services, and they will follow up on leads obtained at the show for future business. Collectors will go home thrilled with new acquisitions purchased, flush with cash from items they’ve sold, or sometimes disappointed about coins they’ve missed at auction, or coins that didn’t bring enough money. But in most cases, the positives should more abundant than the negatives. At any rate, everyone in attendance will probably go home pumped up about their experiences at the ANA convention.
So, there’s a ripple effect in the market after the show as all these activities by dealers and collectors play out. This coin show sets the tone for the coin market during the fall following the show. Right now the coin market is in an upward trend with increased activity and higher prices.
Because of these market conditions at this time, the general sentiment is that this year’s ANA show will be a high spirited show. This is what’s expected in the coin market during the fall as well. The market is expanding with new buyers looking at coins as alternatives to other investment classes that either aren’t working or are producing minimal returns.
Compete information about the convention can be found at the ANA’s website, www.money.org. If you go to this convention have a fun and productive time and stop by the CoinWeek booth to say high to whosever there at the time. If you don’t go to the convention there will be various websites, including CoinWeek.com, that will have up to date information and videos from the ANA coin show and convention. The internet will take you there!
Mark Ferguson was a coin grader for PCGS , a market analyst for Coin Values and has been a coin dealer for more than 40 years. He has written for the ANA, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin World, Numismatic News, , Coin Values, The Numismatist and currently has a weekly column on CoinWeek. Mark can be reached at Mark Ferguson Rare Coins ( www.mfrarecoins.com)