The 120th annual ANA World's Fair of Money Chicago convention is now history...
The 120th annual ANA World’s Fair of Money Chicago convention is now history. Always an impressive event, this installment was held at the spacious and centrally located Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Each of the ANA shows is a glorious chance for numismatic experts, authors, veteran dealers and novice collectors to rub elbows, exchange stories and buy, sell and trade the finest that numismatics has to offer. Opening day ceremonies commenced at around 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning. ANA dignitaries, Mint officials and politicians made brief statements to the crowd of attendees, vest pocket dealers and media all anxiously waiting to gain access to the bourse floor. Their comments included one impressive statistic, that this ANA bourse was the largest in history, spanning more area than (I guess I’ll forgive this analogy), two full size Wal–Mart stores. Although when the public first ventured in I guess it did rather resemble a major department store, opening for the day–after–Thanksgiving throng. The metals certainly did not offer any bargains during the show’s duration. Gold hovered around $1,780 per ounce on opening day and held firmly closing at a robust $1,853 at the show’s conclusion. Silver also performed admirably, trading at over $42 per ounce.
An organized, continued flow of numismatic faithful was observed. When I ventured out to get a good look at the floor traffic and engage in conversation with many of the collectors, I found myself pretty much in the geographic center of the convention hall. Amazingly, you really could not see one end of the hall to the other. All you could see were tables, lights, dealers and people. Taking a quick look at the main entrance, dealers and public alike were lined up several deep waiting to register and pick up their assigned badges and ribbons. According to an ANA source as of Thursday morning, dealer and public attendance already exceeded 6,500. The size and scope of this year’s convention cannot be underestimated. Business was brisk, coins were selling quite rapidly and most dealers that I talked to had no flak whatsoever selling key dates and established rarities that were problem free. Several dealers who just bought coins at auction found immediate homes for the purchases. Well known dealer and early copper specialist Greg Hannigan advised me that he was the proud purchaser of an NGC AU 53 Chain cent with periods. This Condition Census copper rarity immediately found a new home with one of his well known clients. Greg advised that coins like this Chain cent are still selling rapidly and he was pleased to say that the new owner was ecstatic with this Sheldon-4 variety and perhaps the 7th finest known of this particular early copper rarity. Early proof sets and early proof type coins in high grades were also hot ticket items. National Coin Broker of Hallandale Beach, Florida confirmed that they sold a 1888 7-piece proof set, pedigreed to the Boca Collection, housed in an NGC multi–coin holder. In this instance the collector just needed the Morgan dollar to complete his 1888 set. However, he was so taken by the beauty and the uniformity of this NGC collection, which included an 1888 Liberty Seated quarter graded NGC PF 67, an 1888 Liberty Seated half NGC PF 65 Cameo and the superb Morgan dollar graded PF 66 Cameo, that he just had to buy it! The east coast collector stated that high-end NGC proof coins such as those in the 1888 set are a superb investment at these levels. Of course bullion related material was being bought, sold and traded in massive quantities at the show. Major market makers were seen taking in bag after bag of silver and box after box of gold. Other wholesalers were selling significant quantities of the metals. Gold and Silver Eagles as well as generic $20 Liberty and Saints were hot commodities. The final day of the show on Saturday was quite busy especially considering the massive downpour and thunderstorm that occurred early in the day. Luckily the conditions cleared substantially around midday as not to deter the anxious collectors from entering the hall on the final day of the show.
The Heritage pre-ANA Chicago Signature sale certainly got things rolling in a positive direction as a phenomenal 26 lots surpassed the vaunted $100,000 level. The fabulous 1855-S $3 Indian Princess graded PF 64 Cameo by NGC broke the elite million dollar threshold, capturing an impressive $1,322,500! The fabulous and rare 1802 Draped Bust Half Dime, perhaps the finest known example in existence and NGC AU 50 specimen, realized $212,750. This fabulous coin’s last appearance was in May of 2001 then a part of the Long Beach signature sale claiming $64,400. A superb $20 Liberty 1864 graded NGC MS 64, the finest known specimen according to the population reports, thundered home to an imposing tune of $207,000. Once again true rarities and those only top of the condition census are realizing extraordinarily strong money. In total $31.4 million sold at this auction, which included a noteworthy 91% sell through rate:
- 1802 Draped Bust Half Dime NGC AU 50 $212,750
- 1855–S Arrows Liberty Seated Quarter NGC PF 64 $276,000
- 1855–S Arrows Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 65 $276,000
- 1892–S Morgan Dollar NGC MS 67 $184,000
- 1855–D Type II Gold Dollar NGC MS 64 $138,000
- 1855–S Three Dollar Princess NGC PF 64 Cameo $1,322,500
- 1798 Large Eagle, Large 8, 13 Star Reverse Draped Bust Half Eagle NGC MS 64 $155,250
- 1834 Plain 4 Capped Head Half Eagle NGC MS 65 $143,750
- 1796 Draped Bust Eagle NGC MS 62 $149,500
- 1799 Large Stars Obverse Draped Bust Eagle NGC MS 64 $126,500
- 1864 Type I Liberty $20 NGC MS 64+ $207,000
The host Stack’s Bowers sale is just concluding as I’m writing this. Per Brian Kendrella, Director of Operations of US Collectibles, the preliminary results for all sessions combined is a little over $40 million. “We are extremely happy with the results; it’s been great. I’ve been in Chicago for 12 days now and just wrapping things up and anxious to get home. We are quite pleased.” Amazingly, and reflecting the strength of this certified market, 38 lots easily eclipsed the six-figure threshold. Rare gold and early silver dollars led the way. Key dates, top condition and ultra rare gold were all blistering hot.
- 1855–S Arrows Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC MS 67 $115,000
- 1870–CC Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC MS 62 $172,500
- 1892–O Barber Half Dollar NGC SP 66 $120,750
- 1795 Two Leaves Flowing Hair Dollar plug NGC MS 61 $172,500
- 1797 10x6 Stars, Large Letters Draped Bust Silver Dollar Small Eagle NGC MS 65 $258,750
- 1879–O Morgan Dollar NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo $158,125
- 1877 J–1547 Half Union Pattern NGC PF 64 BN $184,000
- 1850 Baldwin & Co $10 Horseman NGC MS 64 $281,750
- 1796 Draped Bust Quarter Eagle No Stars NGC MS 60 $161,000
- 1796 Draped Bust Quarter Eagle Stars NGC MS 63 $287,500
- 1854–S Quarter Eagle NGC AU Details $201,250
- 1879 Flowing Hair $4 Stella NGC PF 66 Cameo $218,500
- 1821 Capped Bust Half Eagle NGC AU 55 $138,000
- 1795 13 Leaves Draped Bust Eagle NGC MS 62 $161,000
- 1795 9 Leaves Draped Bust Eagle NGC AU 58 $218,500
- 1898 Liberty $20 NGC PF 66 Cameo $126,500
- 1909 Saint–Gaudens $20 NGC PF 67 $132,250
For me, this was a non-stop event, having arrived in Chicago at approximately 6:00 a.m. on Monday. I checked into my hotel and proceeded to walk across the street to the spacious Hall F and observed and participated in dealer set up. Monday quickly rolled into Tuesday, which blitzed into Wednesday and before I knew it the show was wrapping up on Saturday. For me it seemed like one long day in Chicago, now mind you a very interesting and productive day. Other dealers that I talked to confirmed that they were feeling physically spent and likened it to a marathon. It was demanding, enjoyable as well as physically exhausting and taxing on many a checkbook yet overall Chicago was a great show. Personally I wish I had more time to visit the glorious exhibits and to converse with more vest pocket types. I did speak to numerous collectors and the majority shared a common thread, each were looking for the best coins for their collections that they could afford and many were willing to raise the ante a bit, feeling that rare coins would be one of their best allies to safeguard some of their paper assets. Most newcomers had a similar wish, to preserve capital and couldn’t think of anything better than to add quality coins to their collections and to gain knowledge about numismatics. After all this is what the ANA is all about. To be sure this was a great show. It went on seamlessly with no real problems and like everyone else within the numismatic community, we look forward to the next installment.
Jim Bisognani has written extensively on US coin market trends and values and was the market analyst and writer for a major pricing guide for many years. He currently resides in Southern California and frequently attends major coin shows and auctions.