The week-long juggernaut that is the American Numismatic Association
World’s Fair of Money is now over and the 2016 edition can be
characterized as a modest success for the rare coin market.
The U.S. Mint had no massive product launches and no single coins
cracked the $1 million mark at the various ANA auctions to draw
attention to the show.
The top lot was a 1792 Birch cent pattern — graded Mint State 61
Brown by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and the finer of two known — that
brought $517,000 at Heritage’s Platinum Night auction on Aug. 10. The
price was a bit less than the $564,000 that it sold for last year at
Heritage’s auction of the Partrick Collection in January. That price
is still strong considering the number of rare 1792 patterns that have
been offered at auction in the past several years, which have given
the false impression that these coins from the dawn of the
Philadelphia Mint are more common than they actually are.
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Attendance in Anaheim felt lighter than usual, with many collectors
from the East Coast and the Midwest skipping the show and local
collectors deciding that the thrice-yearly Long Beach Expos are good
enough for them.
Compounding the issue were California’s laws that create possible
tax implications for dealers who have too much business in the state.
Next year’s summer ANA convention will be in Denver, which has
historically been a strong venue for the ANA.
The Professional Numismatists Guild pre-show started on Aug. 8 with
the official ANA show taking place Aug. 9 to 13. Since leading
wholesale dealers often show up even before the pre-show to conduct
business, the most active coin buyers have a very long show to slog
through, which helps explain the general lack of enthusiasm on the
final day for market makers.
Beyond the bourse floor were thousands of lots offered by official
auctioneers Heritage Auctions and Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
What’s astounding about the ANA auctions is the pure diversity of
material offered, with strong collections of U.S. coins, world coins,
paper money, tokens, and medals changing hands. That the market can
absorb more than $50 million changing hands at auctions is a sign of
the continued resilience of rare coins.
Beyond the headline-grabbing rarities, there were dozens of
fascinating coins that could each merit its own story. One was a 1981
Lincoln cent obverse die impression struck into the center of a 1981
Kennedy half dollar, graded “Brilliant Uncirculated” by NGC. As
Heritage described, “A normally struck 1981-P Kennedy half dollar was
struck, face up, between a 1981 Lincoln cent obverse die and a hard,
blank surface. The result is a thimble-shaped piece with a sharply
struck cent obverse at the center, and a steep rim that retains a
recognizable, though distorted, half dollar design.” It was a unique
curiosity that found a new home at $8,225.