US Coins

ANA convention a modest success for marketplace

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. 

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