William Shamhart ANA WORLD’S FAIR OF MONEY Coin Show Report 2014

By William Shamhart, Jr.Numismatic Americana ………..

Like many of the regular table holders at this year’s ANA show, I decided to skip the pre-show. Ten days in Rosemont, Illinois is WAY too long. So I showed up at the pre-show around noon on Monday thinking that I could go in and start conducting business. That didn’t happen. Seems the pre-show went to one way traffic around noon and even regular table holders couldn’t get in. Ugh…

The “official” set up time for the ANA was 3:00. And that’s what time they started letting dealers into the bourse.

For the second time in as many years I had one of those “super-booths”. Half was for me and my wears, and the other half was for my clients to showcase some of their coins. And just like last year we all had a blast. There were five different cases showing highlights from some really great collections.

shamhart_assay1) A wonderful exhibit of coins and paper money, all with the denomination of $1. From Colonials, Gobrecht dollars, gold commemoratives, and everything in between. A spectacular group!

2) An interesting grouping of coins, in which every one was housed in old PCGS “doily” holders or “black” NGC ones. This case caused quite a stir among the cult followers of “holder collectors”.

3) An incredible collection of Standing Liberty Quarters, which were painstakingly put together from a fine gentleman from the Bay area. Most of which were in old green label PCGS holders! Really cool…

4) The UNBELIEVABLE Seated Liberty Half Dollar date set of “Ray Levoi”. Although we exhibited some of the coins last year, many new additions were present and without a doubt this was one of the most viewed cases.

5) A newcomer to the club was a fine gentleman, and friend, who hails from the great state of Texas. The collection of type coins he displayed was simply stunning. If you’ve ever wondered where all the “Sham-wow” coins have gone, you needed look no further. In fact there were so many AMAZING pieces that it was sensory overload, and quite easy to be spellbound and stand there for hours. Think 1822 Bust Half Dollar in PCGS MS67. Or 1901-S Barber Quarter in PCGS MS68+ (yes, THAT coin). A collection that I am truly honored to have built.

So set up was from 3 until about 6. Just enough time to get the coins in the cases, shake a few hands, look at a couple dealers boxes, and make dinner plans. And like last year, Monday’s dinner was at Gibson’s right across the street (sometimes I feel like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”). Tom Bush and I had the pleasure of dining with a client/friend (and a friend of his who quickly became a friend of ours). Excellent meal and conversation to start off the show. And the first of many 16 ounce bone in filets. After dinner I spent a few hours getting my coins ready to submit to PCGS. Then a brief 6 hours of sleep and the start of another day in “coin geek heaven”.

On the way to the show Tuesday morning, around 7:30, I saw a line in front of the convention center full of a mixture of people. I remember thinking to myself “wow, that’s cool all those young numismatists waiting to get their example of the new Kennedy gold piece. But what are all those old (Asian) women doing in line so early?”

By now you’ve heard just what exactly was going on. Not just in Rosemont, but in Philadelphia, Denver, and Washington D.C. as well.

I’m not going to go on a rant here, but I’ll remind you of a similar incident many years ago. 60 Minutes did an episode on the Franklin Mint and their so-called limited edition coins. In my humble opinion that is exactly where this whole thing is headed. When that happens, not if, it’s going to take the modern segment of the coin industry decades to recover from the black eye it gets. If it ever does…

(If you don’t know what I talking about, Google Denver Mint and John F. Kennedy. Or go to www.pcgs.com and read the forums. It’s pretty much spelled out there.)

Tuesday is actually the first full day at the ANA, even though it was technically set up day. Early badge holders got in at 10 while the show officially opened to the public (ANA members) at noon. I was at my booth talking to another dealer when they let the early badge holders in and was immediately shocked by the mad rush of said “collectors”. A herd of them came RUNNING into the bourse, quickly passed my booth, and bee-lined for the Mint’s table. The great gold rush for JFK was afoot. It was pathetic. And scary. Think flash mob.

After the JFK incident things got down to regular business. Clients came by to say hello, dealers brought boxes of coins for me to look at, and we were besieged by a ton of questions from the public. Throughout the day there was a constant flow of collectors and dealers at the table, both buying and selling. Okay, mostly selling, or looking to sell. From my perspective the collectors in attendance were armed with specific want lists and didn’t fall prey to impulse buying. And unless you have an unlimited amount of money that’s the way it should be. Many a collector has a safe deposit box or home safe with more than one impulse buy in it. I’m not saying that a person shouldn’t buy a coin right then and there, on the spot if you will, when they see it. Quite the opposite. If you see a great coin, with fantastic eye appeal that fits in your collection, you should buy it. Learn to make a snap decision and pull the trigger. Why? Because the chances are that it won’t be there when you return. Murphy’s Law. But don’t buy the first coin on your want list that is sub-par. Or super cheap. Or one that you’ve never seen before. Do your research, learn about it. Believe me when I tell you that there are always cool coins, with really neat stories behind them, outside of your collecting parameters waiting to be bought.

By this time the show was in full swing and my table staff was all present. I was there, as was Tom Bush and C.J. If you’ll recall from last year’s ANA show report, C.J. is a very talented YN who I met at the ANA’s summer seminar several years ago. Sharp, polite, and very adept at grading, this young man is going to make his mark in our hobby.

A little after noon a trio of friends/clients came in from Texas. These guys are great. True coin geeks at heart. In fact one of the first things we did was to start negotiations on a complete set of proof three cent silvers. It took awhile, but we finally got the deal done and the coins became a well deserved addition to “The Ottoman Collection”.

Shortly thereafter, we were joined at the table by the owner of the “Ray Levoi” collections. We talked and laughed for a few, and then he went about the task of scoping out the bourse, only to come back just in time to join us for dinner at…Gibson’s of course. Two boys from Arkansas, A Texan, one from Kansas, another from Missouri, and one from New Jersey (not me, I’m the one from Missouri) all enjoyed a phenomenal meal swapping stories about coins and life. It was great!

Wednesday morning was like the above mentioned “Groundhog Day” movie. I stepped off the curb across from the convention center only to see another MASSIVE line of people that snaked around the building. It always amazes me that the U.S. Mint can sell millions of coins to the public a year, yet virtually none of those buyers make the transition to that of the classic collector. I just don’t get it.

Shrugging the scene off, I got to the show and down to business just like I do at every major one. By this time we started to get coins back from PCGS and get them ready for sale. And as usual the staff from PCGS did a great job. From the huge line of people submitting, to receiving the coins, grading them, and promptly getting the back to the bourse floor these guys and gals made it look easy. Believe me it is FAR from easy. Thanks to Don Willis, David Talk, and the entire staff from Newport Beach.

One of the cool things that PCGS does at shows occasionally is showcase some of their client’s registry sets at their table. I had the honor of being asked by B.J. Searls if I would loan them my Assay Medal collection for the ANA and upcoming Long Beach show. All I can say is…”Wow!!” The presentation along with the brochure they produced was amazing. Many of the visitors in Rosemont came by and complimented me on the set. But I think the real congratulations go to B.J. and her staff. They did a wonderful job. Thanks!

By now the show was in full swing and there was a constant flow of collectors and dealers coming by the table. It’s always great to see everybody and to occasionally get to put a face with a voice known only over the phone. Before we knew it, it was time for dinner at…Capital Grille! What a welcome change from the fabulous Gibson’s. (At times I feel like a member of ancient Rome’s privileged society, eating decadently with no inhibitions. It’s great but you know it can’t last).

Thursday was essentially the same as Tuesday and Wednesday. A constant line of people at the table asking questions, showing me coins they just bought, looking to sell coins they brought, and looking for coins to add to their cabinet. The ten hour day seemed like a short 45 minutes and it was again time for dinner with a great group of friends (clients and dealers). At…Capital Grille! And their rendition of the 16 oz bone in filet!

Friday started with us getting back a BOAT LOAD of coins from PCGS and preparing them for sale. Which leads me to this point I’d like to make; if you’re at a show and stop at a table that handles the kind of coins you like, don’t forget to go back to that table on a regular basis during the show. Dealers are constantly buying coins and taking in coins in trade for something they’re selling. Chances are they’ll get something that fits your parameters after your first stop, and unless they know you’re looking for that particular piece you might never know it. Don’t worry about annoying them…they’re there to sell coins.

This is the point where I’d normally tell you about the really cool coins that I sold and the outstanding ones I bought, but seeing as this show report has taken me four days to write (off and on, as I really do suffer writer’s block) I think it’s time to wind it down and get busy writing descriptions. What, you thought that was a thing of the past? Haha!!

Keep in mind that none of the business I did, whether buying or selling, getting to display the coins from my client’s cabinets, or having PCGS showcase my Assay Medals would have been possible without one thing…relationships. They are the keystone of my business and the most valuable asset I have.

So sit back and take a look at my NEWPS. And if you see anything of interest, send me an email or call me.

Remember…I love to talk coins.

Bill

Editors Note: We would also like to pass on our condolences to Bill on the passing of his mother on August 2nd.

About the Author:

I am known within the industry for having a “great eye” for both beauty and technical aspects of coins. It is through this trait that John Albanese enlisted me to put together Numismatic Guarantee Corporation’s (NGC) grading set back in 1987 as well as becoming one of NGC’s first graders. And twenty years later, with the inception of Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC), I was again recruited to be one of three graders. My love of coins has led me to appreciate all coins, in their natural state, with a serious distaste for “coin doctoring” and fraudulent practices. Website: Numismaticamericana.com

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