By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com
You’ve no doubt read a dozen ANA Show Reports already and I swore I’d never write one again. But I did want to give some thoughts about the recently-concluded ANA show in Rosemont as I think a good understanding of what happened there is essential to understanding the market.
I had a very good show. Not a “great” show or an “all-time” one as I’ve read a few people write. But I can summarize the show with two statements. First, I wrote so many invoices (from buying and selling) that I ran out of them on Thursday and had to creatively make new ones on a Xerox machine. I’ve only run out of invoices one other time in 30+ years of going to coin shows.
Secondly, I generally don’t put my new purchases out in the case at shows and offer them for sale. I figure that they will sell on my website when I get back home and that giving everyone an equal “shot” ay my newps is the fair thing to do. I made the decision to put them all out in my cases on Wednesday because, quite frankly, they were selling so well. By Friday morning, I had sold so many new purchases at the show that I decided to quietly put many of them away in the safe so I could come home with good coins to sell on the site.
The show itself was an epic. I was there for eight days and I know some dealers were there for 10 or 11. By Thursday, most of the dealers were absolutely exhausted (I know I was) and it proved to me that, as a collector, if you come too late to an ANA show you might as well not come at all.
It was huge as well. I don’t know if it was the biggest convention hall I’ve ever been in for a coin show but I know I walked an average of six or seven miles a day and that there were nooks and crannies of the room that, by Friday, I still had not made it to.
In fact, the room was so huge that it was difficult to figure how crowded the room actually was. My impression was that the show was “fantastic” from a wholesale standpoint but only “good” from a retail standpoint. I sold quite a few interesting gold coins to collectors at the show but it tended to be to pre-existing clients and mostly coins under $5,000.
I had a feeling that there would be good buying opportunities for dealers at the ANA and I was not disappointed. I spent the most at this show that I have at an ANA since 2006 and I loved what I was able to buy. As usual, I bought coins in small groups; one here and one there. Very few dealers had “deals” or collections to break up; the days of the ANA show being THE source for great coins is over. Today, many of the fresh coins find theirway to auction.
There were two massive auctions in conjunction with the show. The Heritage sale was held prior to the regular ANA and it was more interesting for non-gold than gold. That said, prices were extremely strong and most dealers I spoke to had the same success rate with their bids: they generally bought less than a quarter of the lots that they bid on and what they did buy was invariably at their absolute top bid.
I thought the Stack’s-Bowers sale was going to be a better opportunity to buy in for a number of reasons. The sale was huge and I thought it was possible that some coins would fall through the cracks. There were a ton of fresh coins including many that had been off the market since the early to mid-1980′s. Most importantly, Stack’s-Bowers doesn’t have the retail bidding that Heritage has (yet) and I figured that I might not have to compete with end users on every last coin.
Prices in the Stack’s-Bowers sale ran the gamut. There were some good deals, some coins sold for the “right” price and a number of the really high end, really fresh coins brought a fortune. I do think that Stack’s-Bowers made a real statement to Heritage regarding their viability as a competitor. The auction business needs competition and two strong companies is better, in the long run, than just one.
I’ve been a big supporter of CAC since it began (disclosure notice: I am a shareholder in the company) and I noticed more collectors asking for CAC approved coins than I can remember. Amongst dealers, CAC still has a mixed reaction. Honestly, it seems to me that the dealers who are real connoisseurs sell CAC coins and the dealers who don’t have a good eye don’t bother. I have the feeling that after a dealer has sent fifty coins to CAC for stickering and had a 15% or lower success rate, he or she probably just gives up. It takes a really good eye to have a 50% or 75% success rate.
One thing that disappointed me about the show was the lack of interesting fresh material from the public that I was offered. Perhaps all the great gold coins went somewhere else but this wasn’t a show where I was able to buy Proof gold coins or cherry, original branch mint gold as I have in many of the past ANA events.
While I hated the fact that we were trapped in the suburbs for a week, Rosemont is clearly a good location given the fact that it is convenient to nearly every location (except Portland, of course…). It helped that the weather was gorgeous, and my hotel was lovely. However, I ate so often at Gibson’s across from the convention that I was on a first-name basis with the waiters by Thursday.
I finished the show with a nice event: the bi-annual meeting of the 20th century Gold Coin collector’s club. (Held, of course, at Gibson’s…) I generally don’t go for numismatic schmoozing but this is a great group of collectors and dealers and interacting with everyone there is a blast. The featured speaker was dealer Kevin Lipton who told his numismatic life-story, in progress, from the 1970′s to the present. Kevin is exactly the same age as I am and grew up in the same part of the country, so it was fun listening to him tell stories about shows on the east coast back in the day.
If we had a chance to get together at the ANA show, thanks. I saw so many people and had so many conversations that its all a blur at this point. A quick note: I have posted many new purchases from the show on my website and invite you to take a look at what I bought; they can be found at www.raregoldcoins.com.