This month numismatic eyes are on the American Numismatic
Association World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia, Aug. 7 to 11.
The massive show features a huge bourse floor full of dealers,
thousands of auction lots and hopefully a wide turn-out of collectors
ready to add coins to their collection. The show — along with the
official pre-show — also serves as a chance for dealers to restock
their inventories and get fresh coins to offer their clients.
A huge amount of money changes hands during this time period. In
2011, just the auctions around and during the big ANA show realized
more than $71 million across more than 16,000 lots. In 2010 the
auctions during and around ANA realized $60 million.
To fully participate in the action, dealers will have to spend a
lot of time in “The City of Brotherly Love.” Heritage starts things
off with auctions Aug. 2 to 5, including its Platinum Night auction
featuring almost 500 high-end rarities Aug. 3. Yet, when one considers
that dealers typically view the lots prior to the auctions, to fully
participate in the ANA auctions and show means substantial commitment
of resources — both time and money — for dealers.
Stack’s Bowers Galleries, the official ANA auctioneer, begins its
activities Aug. 4 with its pre-ANA auction, with the main event
starting on Aug. 7. By the time the firm’s final Internet only session
ends Aug. 14, coin buyers will have had nearly two weeks of almost
nonstop coin auctions.
Both auction houses are presenting a diverse group of coins; a
blend of the typical collector classics that dealers stock in
inventory and ultra-rarities in the six- and seven-figure range for
the advanced collector and investment crowd. Assuming that consignors
have reasonable expectations and the coins aren’t hampered by massive
reserves, the results of these auctions will provide a broad test of
the coin market and give useful evidence of where there is strength
and weakness across multiple market sectors.
Thousands of individual transactions are expected at dealer
tables, in closed hotel rooms and between collectors on the show
floor. On-site grading from major grading services will provide some
lucky submitters with upgrades, and provide an easy avenue for other,
fresh material to enter the market.
The coin market continues to show steady strength and one gets the
sense that coin buyers think that coins are a good store of wealth, at
least coins that are high quality for their grades. The market for
expensive coins seems to show few limits, especially when well-heeled
coin buyers consider the upside appreciation of a coin versus the
average 5-year certificate of deposit at a bank that is currently at
just over 1 percent.
While coins don’t pay interest, buyers find them much more fun to