?Day two at the World’s Fair of Money: Waiting in line for a potential payout

It’s not quite 2014, when police had to control traffic and people slept on sidewalks in hopes of cashing in on a coin show release, but the 2016 American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money has its own numismatic blockbuster release causing a rush of buyers.

As Coin World reported several weeks ago, Mish International Monetary Inc., in conjunction with Champion Hong Kong Auctions, coordinated the release of special show Panda medals, in this case marking the 125th anniversary of the ANA. The medals were struck in China and designed by a designer of the Chinese Panda coins.

In 2014, raucous crowds of would-be buyers waited in line for the John F. Kennedy gold 50-cent coin issued by the U.S. Mint. In that case, the coin was debuting at the show but was available also in the Mint’s other sales venues. Only 500 per day were to be available at the Chicago-area show.

After three days of hysteria and pandemonium over the release and potential immediate profits, which taxed the patience of the Rosemont, Ill., police, the ANA and the U.S. Mint suspended sales and essentially stopped issuing limited releases during ANA shows.

Here in Anaheim, the crowds are much smaller, and so far no police have been called out, but there are echoes of 2014.

Sales of the Panda medals began at 2 p.m. on the show’s opening day (Aug. 9). A total of 100 1-ounce silver examples of the medals became available to those who waited in line, for $100 each and $8 tax. Medal sales are limited to one per ANA member, and two for booth holders. All 100 of the medals were sold out within the hour.

On Aug. 10, 180 1-ounce silver medals were allotted for dealer sales, beginning at 9:15 a.m., with another sellout. By 2 p.m. Aug. 10, when another round of public sales began, there was palpable demand. The line contained between 30 and 40 buyers when sales began, and continued to grow until about 2:30, when some individuals verbally debated whether it made sense to join the line at such a late point in the process.

A few of the buyers in line reminisced about camping outside the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. Another spoke confidently about obtaining one medal each day (another 75 are available to the public today, Aug. 11), and his plans to keep all three, regardless of where prices go. Another mused that, as he was retired and on vacation, he was happy to make $20 that a dealer paid him to stand in line in his place.

At one point ANA officials and Positive Protection security staff came by to separate and control the line, but merely to clear the aisle; they didn’t stay long. Ronald Gillio politely asked those in line to maintain a comfortable distance from his booth so that would-be customers could browse his wares, unimpeded, while representatives of Hugh Wood Inc., an insurance firm for collectors, chatted up a few people in line, answering questions about their services.

Successful purchasers of the 1-ounce silver medals at the show will be entered in a drawing for the chance to buy one of the 12-ounce silver medals, for $888 each (a 1-ounce gold medal is also being made).

As this is being written, a few sellers have listed the 1-ounce silver medals (the only ones available so far) on eBay, with prices ranging from $289.95 to $599.95, but no verified sales are recorded there. Sales of the similar 2016 medal issued by Mish and Champion for the World Money Fair in Berlin (offered for 70 euros) soon soared to the $200 to $300 range, as issued, with higher prices for issues that were encapsulated and in “perfect” condition. Prices have settled somewhat, but there remains strong demand for these limited edition show Panda medals, a stark contrast to the gold Kennedy half dollar which lost its luster just a few months after its tumultuous release.