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Back to Road Report Archive 2014

August 4-9, 2014: The ANA World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, IL


August 4th:  Day 1

After months of anticipation, weeks of preparation, and hours of coin price tag sticker-ification (literally – I think we finished pricing everything at 2 o’clock Monday morning), we were 103% ready for the start of the ANA World’s Fair of Money 2014.

Which would begin with a whole lot of waiting, since dealer set-up did not start until 3 PM on this day and we got to the convention center promptly at 9.

So what did we do to occupy all of those hours in between? Why lot viewing, of course, at Heritage and Stack’s-Bowers, including U.S. and world coins and continuing until we were completely and totally all-coined out.

Which I believe is understandable, since we had already spent last Thursday – Saturday viewing and bidding on coins at the Lissner world auction at a hotel nearby before this whole ANA thing even started.

So when they finally flung open the bourse floor doors and let us in at 3, we were absolutely thrilled to explode onto the bourse floor, set up the CRO booth, plug in our lamps like crazy and gingerly hang the CRO banner without falling off the back table or knocking over the aluminum booth framing which frankly seemed even less sturdy than usual.

And then sell a bunch of cool, never-before-offered federal coins in a series of deals that ranged from real fast to a last one that took a couple of hours to finalize during a day which could best be characterized as a ‘good start’.

But only the start of a show that will now continue on for almost an entire week of buying, selling, schmoozing, wining (no H), dining, bidding, grading and possibly trading coins of all shapes, sizes and price points.

And we will be there for all of it at Table #716, remembering that the ANA is a marathon, not a sprint, and hopefully pacing ourselves appropriately to do a lot of business while still conserving enough energy to write the CRO blog every morning starting with this one right here.

More later.

August 5th:  Day 2

We were back at Table #716 bright and early-ish on Tuesday, just in time to try to sort out the day’s intertwined Stack’s-Bowers and Heritage auction schedules in which we were interested in a smattering of lots which would be (predictably) sold at about the same time in different rooms.

Sure, you’re thinking, why not just lob all of your bids onto the computer, go about your business on the bourse floor and let the chips fall where they may? Well, two reasons: 1) I never could successfully enter them on one of those auction sites, and 2) That’s a good way not to win any coins anyway, since there always seems to be someone else in the room to painfully nip you by one (or half of one) increment.

So instead I went to both auctions, jumping from room to room to bid with dexterity, then racing back to the bourse floor to make sure I didn’t miss too much at the table in the meantime.

And this year, I am more confident that I didn’t, since my daughter is acting in the roll of booth assistant / wing man (er, person) and will not let the deal of the century walk right by while your author is buying a nickel in aisle 1300 (which might have happened last year – we’ll never know).

I can say with certainty that this doubling of staff at the table resulted in some excellent sales throughout the day of the world, colonial and federal coin varieties, and allowed me to roam the floor like a Bison buying cool things that I might otherwise have missed.

I also received two unsolicited and very much appreciated bird-dog referrals from other dealers about some cool coin or other I really needed to go see, which I did swiftly, in one case buying a terrific world coin I doubt I’d have found on my own.

Finally returning to the table for a last nice sale at about 5:45 before heading out to dinner at Gibson’s with the regular group that has been meeting at the FUN Show for years, ate very well, discussed the highest legal bill ever amassed by a dog, and celebrated my daughter’s birthday with a giant chocolate moose (even though she was born in November).

And then called it a late night so we could get some rest in anticipation of doing it all again (except for the moose part) on Wednesday.


August 6th:  Day 3

Arriving at the convention center at about 8 AM on Wednesday we gracefully entered the building, once again elegantly stepped over some guy in a sleeping bag sprawled on the floor in the lobby waiting to buy some modern mint issues and headed back to our table for what figured to be another good day here at the show.

And indeed it was, with another steady stream of old and new customers coming to the table, perusing our wares and buying a coin (or two, or three, or in one delightful case seven).

Leaving us just enough time in between said sales to again scour the enormous bourse floor and find some neat federal and world coin NEWPs in the display cases of usual suspects we’ve done a lot of business with through the years, but also at tables manned by people I don’t recall ever seeing before in my life.

But wait, no colonials? Um, no – not a one. At least not so far. So if you have something cool please do run it over to us post haste.

After which we filled out a bunch of grading forms and completely emptied the CRO “coins to be graded” box (for now, anyway, since it tends to fill back up by the end of most shows).

Which all left precious little time to bid or follow Wednesday’s auctions, so we didn’t, hoping to pick that back up on Thursday when a number of coins of interest to us will be hitting the block.

And if we buy them, or even if we don’t, all of the action will be described right here first thing on Friday AM.

Until then –

August 7th:  Day 4

I have to say that after being here since last Thursday for the pre-auction, and then experiencing the initial blitz at the show on Monday and Tuesday, we didn’t know quite what to expect heading into Day 4.

Had we tried to guess, it is unlikely we would have come up with “busiest day at the show by far with over the top sales in all categories”, but that is exactly what happened starting early in the AM, continuing on until the very last minutes and including our two Pine Trees in MS63 and a whole bunch of federal coins like this:

And this:

And this:

So how good was it? Perhaps the best indication was that even my daughter thought it was a big deal, and I think we all know that 15 year-old girls are not easily impressed.

But most satisfying of those sales was undoubtedly this one sold to a new customer in the afternoon:

Since that was the same coin a different customer wanted yesterday but was dismayed to see that it was not priced at Graysheet bid and told me so for a looong 23 minutes during which he rejected a different Saint in the same grade holder I was selling at exactly melt.

Anyway, counterbalancing that tsunami of sales were some neat but rather small purchases on the floor and in the auctions, meaning that up to this point we have sold about 13x more than we’ve bought here which is rarely the way things work out at these shows. Indeed, our typical business model is to buy at shows and sell off the website, but we are more than happy to go wherever the market wants to takes us.

Of course it’s not over yet, and everything might tip completely the other way on Friday and Saturday, but I’m really not getting that vibe.

Actually, by the end of the day I was so exhausted I was not really getting any vibe at all, so we left bids for the Heritage Platinum Night session and headed out for an early dinner and a good night’s sleep in anticipation of whatever it is that Friday brings us.

And whatever that is will be described here bright and early on Saturday AM.

More later –

August 8th:  Day 5

Friday started similarly to our well-documented numismatically gargantuan Thursday, with the sale of this cool 1856-O Half Dollar about 4 minutes after we arrived:

Followed by a smattering of MS65 silver dollars, a few colonials and a cool British coin that we had not planned to offer here.

But things slowed down considerably after that with fewer coin sales and more coin schmoozing into the later afternoon.

Which afforded me the opportunity to go out and find a few more neat federal coins to round out the next Early Bird, and to contemplate, consider but ultimately pass on a mega-world coin which the owner once described to me as ‘Ungodly’ (in a good way).  And I think he was right.

After which some of our show grading trickled back with results which could best be described as “These results are not very exciting”. Oh well, maybe the last ones due back tomorrow will be better.

Speaking of tomorrow, we’re looking forward to meeting a customer to look at a deal at 9 AM, and then hopefully buying and or selling a few more coins during the day before we officially, completely and with finality stick a fork in the ANA World’s Fair of Money 2014.

The final results of which will be posted right here from home on Sunday AM.


August 9th:  The Exciting Conclusion

First, I’d like to apologize for the un-CRO-like brevity of this week’s RR installments. We were battling a balky internet connection this week, and contending with some very early mornings and late nights at this show and just couldn’t crank out our usual daily treatise.

But even if we had written something long and extremely detailed, we would not have spent much`of it discussing the sale of the new Kennedy gold coins. Why not? I’m sorry, but I’m just not interested in them. I don’t want to collect them. I don’t want to list them. And I don’t want to speculate on them and/or try to make money by selling them to anyone at inflated prices which are sure to drop like a lead balloon in a month or two. Frankly I’d have been delighted to ignore the entire episode if not for the fact that the huge lines of people and activity at the show created a bit of a mess which disrupted other coin activities which I sure hope is not the case at future shows. I’m guessing it will be though.

On a more positive note, Saturday began a lot like Friday (i.e. we sold something minutes after arriving), but also a little like Thursday (in that it was a coin which had earlier been rejected by someone else). Namely this one:

I was originally thrilled to find that coin for a customer who had an AU58 on his want list, and then stunned (shocked actually) that he rejected it, since it is the nicest totally original example I’ve seen in about a year and a half, but not surprised that it sold to a dealer at this show since he saw it exactly as I did.

And then sold a few more coins in the AM of the medium-priced variety before the room began to seriously thin out at noon or so.

But I still made one more in-depth pass around the room looking for NEWPs yielding a few neat world coins I had not seen earlier (possibly because they were not there before), and then saw one of those bewildering coins we sometimes encounter at shows that we sold to a customer relatively recently but which was now sitting in another dealer’s case being offered at much less than we ourselves paid for it the first time around. I’m not sure how that happens, or why the coin was not offered back to us, but whatever the reason we always are very happy to buy it again from whoever happens to be selling it. Added bonus: We already have an image of it from before:

A transaction which I concluded just in time to get back to the table to pick up our final grading submission here which once again contained some seriously uninspiring results. Which was pretty disappointing, since I had been approached by several other dealers during the show (including two earlier on Saturday) to triumphantly show me the coins they had “made” here (i.e. the ones they had crossed or upgraded, or the previous ‘no grades’ that were now graded), and received another report of a good grading result from a different dealer via text.

But even without any assists from the grading services, we managed to have a show which was among our best ever on the selling side across all categories and price points, retail and wholesale alike. And based on the other similarly situated dealers I spoke to at the ANA, ours was not an atypical experience.

Though I can’t say that is attributable to a raging market overall, as a lot of the nice coins we followed closely in the Stack’s-Bowers and Heritage auctions ranged from somewhat soft to downright cheap in our humble opinion. I really cannot explain that, other than to say that the coin business can be somewhat mercurial at times, with auction prices influenced by all sorts of real and imagined circumstances, the sequence of lots, the presence of like items in the same sale, upcoming auctions of competing items (or rumors of same), the presence or absence of one extra bidder, etc., etc. Perhaps the single most important attribute influencing auction prices is freshness, which in my experience often trumps quality (and everything else).

And while I am positive that not every consignor was happy, it did afford bidders (including us) some pretty good buying opportunities to jump all over.

And so I leave Rosemont thrilled with the results overall, totally exhausted, absolutely delighted to have had my daughter with me to help (since I desperately needed it) and now seriously in need of a few days off which I will not be getting since of course our next Early Bird will got out on Tuesday at noon and I need to get started on that as soon as right now.

The End