2015 ANA World's Fair Of Money

Posted on 8/13/2015

There is considerable buzz on the bourse floor as the ANA World's Fair of Money is underway.

Last year, the ANA World’s Fair of Money show was held in Rosemont, Illinois, and was dominated by the US Mint’s distribution of the Kennedy gold coin. Long lines formed from the start of the show and the scene resembled a sold out sporting event instead of a coin show. Several thousands of people clawed and scratched for an opportunity to purchase one of the coins so they could flip them for a quick profit. Many laughingly now refer to the event as the “great coin riots” of 2014. Calm eventually prevailed, but many were quite upset that the show's focus became a modern mint issue and not the inventory of the 500 plus dealers in attendance. The show was successful in the end, but had to overcome the headwinds of a major distraction.

This week the ANA is once again conducting the World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Illinois. This time the focus is solidly on vintage rare coins. The ANA show has been held in the Chicago area for four of the last five years. Rosemont is located near O’Hare International Airport, and its central location makes for a manageable drive for a large number of collectors and dealers. Tuesday was the first day of the convention and there was a considerable “buzz” on the bourse floor. Nearly every table had someone looking at coins or currency. As many know, the market for some portions of the rare coin market has been relatively soft in recent months. Add to this the declining precious metals prices, and it’s of little surprise that concern for the rare coin market was widespread.

Nearly everyone I spoke with this week feels that the market for rare coins is alive and well. Anyone with fresh and attractive merchandise is doing quite well. The ANA show is special for just that reason. Quite a few rare coin dealers save prime merchandise for this one convention. There are even a few old timers that only attend this one show each year. Everyone is excited to see what shows up at the ANA show. There is usually something rare and exotic that surfaces and creates a stir. The ANA show also features a museum showcase from its collection plus special exhibits from private collectors. This year has a very interesting exhibit on “Coins of the Bible.” I personally spent nearly an hour yesterday learning about this interesting specialty.

This edition of the ANA World’s Fair of Money is very special for me personally. It is my 42nd ANA convention in a row, and this Friday night I will be sworn in as President of the ANA. I have very fond memories of nearly every summer ANA that I have attended. For years my family has made a tradition of spending 8 to 9 days in the convention city exploring all it has to offer. Tonight my wife, daughter, and two young interns are attending a Cubs game downtown. My daughter Morgan is attending her 20th ANA convention in a row—not bad for someone who just turned 20! The summer ANA convention is an excellent opportunity for families to share a memorable week together.

The stated mission of the ANA is numismatic education, and the summer ANA show is one of the best places for members to take advantage of the opportunity. Before the show even starts, members can learn more about grading by enrolling in one of the seminars offered. During the week there are dozens of numismatic theater presentations on just about any subject you can imagine. There are talks for absolute beginners, and there are offerings for even the most advanced numismatist. The biggest problem is trying to figure out how to spend your time.

Another activity that is highly recommended for serious collectors is to examine auction lots. The summer ANA show traditionally is among the largest rare coin auctions of the year. This year Heritage and Stack’s Bowers are both conducting sales and the offerings are quite impressive. I have stated many times in my articles the educational value of examining auction lots. There is no better way for the average collector to understand the nuances of coin grading than to look at lots of rare coins. Seeing why some coins of the same grade bring different prices is very enlightening. One of my favorite offerings at auction this year is a complete set of Proof Liberty Half Eagles, 1858-1907. The set was originally assembled by the famed collector Ed Trompeter decades ago and is being offered individually for the first time. The set contains an amazing number of extremely rare coins, most of which are in Gem condition. Proof United States gold coins are often referred to as the “caviar” of numismatics. This offering is completely over the top and will probably not occur again in our lifetime.

Another opportunity for collectors who rarely visit a show is to stop by the NGC booth and say hello. The friendly staff will be happy to answer any questions and there is usually an interesting display of rare coins or currency. Next year’s convention will be held in Anaheim, California. It will be an excellent chance for collectors on the west coast to attend the organization’s annual convention. Start making plans now, it may become an annual tradition for your family!

Questions about the rare coin market? Send them to wmr@ngccoin.com.

Jeff Garrett bio

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