August 15-20, 2022: The ANA World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, IL
As if stuck in the super strong gravitational pull of a giant back hole (but in a good way), just about the entire numismatic world will be drawn to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center this week for another edition of the ‘Worlds Fair of Money’. Yay!
Including us, starting right now while it’s still dark out, schlepping our wares, hoping to avoid the summer travel mayhem we keep reading about, so that we can get to the show bright and early on Monday and set up for ‘Dealer Day’ (a concept invented to make an already long show that much longer). And then while MaryAnn runs the table, your author will slowly race down to the Loews Hotel at the other end of the block for some intensive CRO style lot viewing where I will sift through about 10,000 coins in order to find the 42 I like enough to bid on. Fortunately, and has been well documented here through the years, I am a fast viewer and thus well equipped for this assignment.
During which we will multi-task our way through wholesaling of the buying and selling variety as we dive directly into what is always an extreeeeemely intensive, flat out, sleep-deprived-but-highly-entertaining week of activity where we always meet old and new friends, see cool coins, sell well, buy up a storm and generally kinda go numismatically nuts.
How can you beat that? If you like coins, you just can’t. No.
So if you are in the area we hope you’ll stop by and see us at our command center at Table #1521 where we will have approximately 1.3 gazillion new coins which have never been on the website. As in not ever. Though that will not prevent us from buying every cool coin we see, so if you have something that seems like a CRO kinda coin for sale, please offer it to us.
But if you cannot be here in person, you can still follow along with all of the action in our daily RRs posted right here each and every morning of this show.
August 15th: Day 1
Monday started off just great (except for the part where we had to wake up at 3 AM), as our flight was on time and uneventful, our bags were the very first to appear on the luggage carousel, our cab driver was pleasant, we arrived at our Rosemont Hotel in minutes and our room was ready and waiting for us.
Where we ditched everything and then headed straight over to the convention center to begin setting up for Dealer Day.
And that went well too, except when I knocked over our back table, and we were given 2 lamps to illuminate 4 cases. Which is exactly why we choose to set up for these pre-show days, since it gives us a chance to resolve these kinds of issues and get all of our supplies in order before the other ~thousand dealers all show up and try to do the exact same thing.
And then we were ready with 4 full cases including tons of new coins in every category.
As described yesterday, my plan at that point was to whisk myself down to the Loews for lot viewing, but I first tried to take a quick look around and see if there were any interesting coins which I found in almost shocking abundance. Buying 5 colonials at my first stop, then 3 US coins from one dealer, then 3 from another dealer, then 3 world coins at my next stop which might be about the fastest 14 coins I’ve ever snapped up.
While selling 3 of our own coins during that same period.
And then heading out the door for the brisk walk in pleasant weather, waiting at multiple annoying cross walks, arriving at the Stack’s Bowers viewing room and then going through everything in the US and world sessions as efficiently as possible. Followed by the exact same process at Heritage.
Finishing up at about 4, grabbing a super late lunch on my way back to the show and then scouring the bourse looking for more cool stuff and adding one additional world coin to our early morning haul.
After which we headed out to dinner with a collector and dealer friend at a restaurant where I believe we knew 87.5% of the other diners and reveled in stimulating non-numismatic conversation.
Returning to our hotel just in time for your author to watch the series finale of Better Call Saul which I will not review lest I reveal any spoilers which might disappoint our readers.
All making for an excellent first day here at the ANA, with plenty more to come starting first thing on Tuesday AM.
August 16th: Day 2
After years of staying at generally mediocre hotels here in Rosemont, we decided to change things up for this show and, at least so far, I think we rally nailed it this time.
With one minor exception: Every 15 minutes all through the night the radiator in our room makes a noise that sounds exactly like when you press the C8 key on a piano one time with your pinky.
And while I would prefer that did not happen, it was not a “deal breaker” for CRO and so we will not be moving.
Instead, we availed ourselves of the hotel gym on Tuesday, then the fine restaurant before heading over to the show at about 9 AM.
Where we first encountered some wholesale activity which would reach a crescendo at just about the time the Early Birds would enter the room at 11.
And while that ramped up the activity a bit higher, it was nothing like the chaos that would ensue when the public entered the room at 1 PM.
Where we were pretty much flat out for the next 5 hours with a steady stream of collectors and dealers visiting the table buying, selling and working out trade deals, some of which were simple and easy while others were gigantic and complex.
So ideally you’d like to get a migraine headache while this is happening which your author did at about 3. But since this is the ANA show, I chose to totally ignore it and continue right on valuing a box of Walking Liberty Half dollars which included these:
Every proposed trade deal ended up working in some way, shape or form, often against all odds, occasionally requiring us to bring in some specialist or other to help value some unusual or esoteric items (something we do as needed to help get a deal done).
We sold a lot of cool coins, including some which are on our website, and some which are not.
We have sent everything in to grading that needed to go there, though I’m sure we’ll have more over the next several days.
We have a lot of neat NEWPs (in addition to the neat NEWPs that were already on display in our bourse cases), and a lot of coins in the back case. So if you come by and don’t see what you are looking for, ask us, we very well might have it.
We were utterly and completely exhausted as we headed out to dinner with our relatives in my old collegiate stomping ground in Evanston.
Getting back to the hotel real late and collapsing in a heap, but excited to ramp it all up and do pretty much exactly the same stuff tomorrow. Without the headache, I hope.
August 17th: Day 3
Another day at the ANA, another series of marathon cash and trade deals which had your author huddled at the back table under a lamp valuing boxes of US coins which were mostly not CRO quality or things we’d list on the website.
All of these coins did have a few things in common though: They had generally well defined values and were for the most part readily salable via other channels. And while we were not trying to buy these coins, we were happy to take them in trade toward coins in our cases or on our website which we proved about 6 times during the day.
Including helping a collector turn untoned Capped Bust Halves into a cool colonial, another convert a run of circ Indian Cents into choice old holdered gold and another trade raw Morgans for world coins, thus keeping the CRO wheels of commerce churning at a steady clip from 9 AM until 6 PM.
There were also plenty of other sales of the straight forward, no trade involved, I’d-like-to-buy-that-and-here-is-my-check variety in all categories. Including another cool colonial which had been on a collector want list for about 6 months and which we were delighted to finally find for him.
We also made a few more purchases of neat things around the room or that walked up to the table that are definitely, totally and without any doubt going to be on an upcoming Early Bird.
With our last deal of the day a big one through a partner on a wholesale basis, putting a cap on about the most successful commercial day we’ve ever had at an ANA, if not the most glamorous one.
But we’ll take the opportunities as they come and look forward to Thursday which may be more of the same, or may be utterly, totally and completely different.
To find out which it is, tune in tomorrow for the next installment of the RR.
August 18th: Day 4
Ah yes, the relaxing ANA show, which on Thursday would start for your author with some 5 AM emailing and blog writing, a quick trip to the gym, breakfast in the hotel lobby and then a jaunt back to the inconvenient Loews Hotel for a second look at a bunch of coins for stock and for customers.
Arriving back at the convention center at precisely 10:05 AM to find MaryAnn completing our first deal of the day in the form of a sale of a Pine Tree Shilling.
Which would become our SOP on an excellent day in which seemingly every 30 minutes or so a customer would come to the table, carefully consider a fairly expensive coin and, in nearly every case, buy it.
Never with a frenzied rush, or with multiple people vying to see coins all at once, just a totally civilized environment with time for one on one interaction culminating with a customer handing us a check or cash without your author ever having to value a box of wholesale coins or figure out trade parameters.
Though we did have one near miss in which a customer carefully considered a CBH just as an expert in the series happened to be standing there, so he helped fill in our knowledge gap and (rightfully) sang the coins praises. Alas the customer said he needed more time to think about it and walked away. With the coin remaining in our case about another 30 minutes until a second customer asked to see it and bought it right then and there. With the first customer returning another 30 minutes after that, asked to see it again and discovered disappointingly that he was too late. Illustrating once again that if you see something cool at these shows, best not to wait too long lest you miss the chance.
In any case, the unrushed pacing of the day allowed us the time to actually eat lunch, view a few exhibits and walk around the floor a bit to try to find a few more cool coins.
Which we did to the surprising tune of another dozen coins or so. Plus a totally cool one which a gentleman from Argentina walked up to the table and we bought in 30 seconds flat.
With our last sale of the day our 7th(!) Jacques Wiener architectural medal at this show, this the super deluxe Cordoba which was the finest example of any of these we have ever owned and a perfect fit for a customer who had been seeking that specific design. Hey, it was meant to be, I guess.
After which we packed up and headed to dinner with a group of collector and dealer friends at Gibsons where they could not possibly fit one single additional diner into that building but somehow manage to make it all work.
Returning to the hotel late and once again collapsing in a heap after another 17 hour, 17,000 step day here in Rosemont.
So of course we are excited to do it all again on Friday where we have no idea what will happen, but will look forward to finding out and then writing all about all of it here in just about 24 hours from now.
August 19th: Day 5
We’re getting pretty good at this ANA thing by this point, getting ourselves organized and out the door by 8, through breakfast by 8:30 and then over to the show before 9 to crank up the well-oiled CRO machine once again.
Where we again found a pretty busy bourse floor filled with collectors we had seen earlier in the show, but (as is often the case at these looooong shows) new waves of people who just arrived here on Thursday.
And with them a whole new round of buying and selling opportunities which we availed ourselves of to the tune of 5 more NEWPs, one more deluxe trade and the sale of a bunch more coins in the mid-4-figure range .
Including a fantastic emerald green and golden toned unc. pillar dollar just acquired by us that would have looked pretty good on an Early Bird, but which will now be a mere mention in this RR. We sold colonials and US too, mostly in that similar price range.
That has been a hallmark of this show and something we did not see coming, with most of our sales at higher price points than we usually encounter. Which is of course just fine by us, though it does seem kinda strange that the $500 to $3,000 category was less favored here than the fancier stuff. No idea why.
We also got back nearly all of our show grading on Thursday, later than we would have liked, but in time to put some in the cases and add to the line up for the next EB.
And then your author made one more trip down to lot viewing at the Loews to accommodate some last minute auction repping requests, got back around 4:30, made a few more sales and then we eventually packed up and headed to the bar at the Double Tree with some collector and dealer friends.
Where the conversation over a cocktail was pretty much totally about coins, including a collector explaining that his interest in Massachusetts silver coins was partly based on the Pine Tree Riot of 1772.
I felt way smarter after that drink.
After which took maybe the world’s least scenic walk through parking lots and alongside highway ramps to dinner at Carmine’s where I saw the largest plate of Chicken Parmesan I have ever encountered. Seriously, all 7 of us could have shared that and been just fine, so if you go there keep that in mind.
And then discussed coins, and auctions, and grading, and then eventually arrived at the topic of singing and ended with a discussion about dancing which one of our party described (with hand gestures) as “good for your heart (physically), but also good for your heart (emotionally)”. Which I thought was an extremely memorable if totally unexpected line.
Once again returning to the hotel late, entering auction lots into my computer and finally turning in around midnight so we could be rested and ready for what figures to be an even longer and more tiring day on Saturday.
Which we will then summarize from the comfort of home in our last RR of this show on Sunday AM (unless we get delayed leaving here, in which case it might be later).
Until then, then –
August 20th: The Exciting Conclusion
Finally back home, let’s recap the 2022 WFOM through our patented series of random observations presented in no particular order:
We did buy a lot of neat coins here, but I’d say the number of cool things we snagged out of random bourse cases was much less than we expected and much less than at any major show I can ever recall. Seems like there is more and more competition for the coins we used to vacuum up in the past, and/or many sellers are now putting a lot of their cool stuff directly on Ebay or into GC or the like.
On the other hand, we were offered a ton of coins at the table by collectors and dealers all show, and we bought a lot of them.
I do not recall a week of more glorious ANA weather, since usually it’s hot as heck here. Or pouring. Or one time snowing. But this week was perfect. Except, of course, when we tried to fly home . . .
We brought 10 items in oversized slabs to this show and sold 8 of them. I find that very surprising since in our experience those items tend to sell better online than in person. But we are glad we brought them, and delighted we did not have to schlepp them all home.
Either I have forgotten just how enormous the portions served in midwest restaurants are, or the new restaurants are trying to outdo the old ones. Whatever the case, it is just about obscene.
There was a healthy buzz of activity on the bourse floor pretty much start to finish here, and business was excellent. And while the market has been strong, I really did not know what to expect and was very happy to see it turn out as it did.
Having said that, our sales surprised me in one way: Our average transaction value was much higher than at past shows, as most people were focused on more expensive coins. Not complaining though.
The waitress in the restaurant at our hotel told me I look like “Kennedy”. I was afraid to ask which one.
We tried something slightly different here, mixing in about 50 new, never before offered coins into our show display. And that worked in the sense that we sold many of them, but I’m not sure some people even noticed some of the others. Still, that is preferable to me than to have a dedicated area of NEWPs since that is tantamount to labelling all the other coins OLDs – which is the same reason we do not ID new coins on the website. We also thought about setting up a dedicated case labeled “Our Next EB” and putting the 51 coins out in sequence, but I hate to put things out that are not actually for sale (or, in that case, not for sale yet). I bet that would have attracted a lot of attention though.
We had a grand total of about 10 minutes to check out the exhibits here which is of course a shame since there was a lot of cool stuff to see.
We are delighted, no thrilled, actually overjoyed that the next ANA WFOM will be in Pittsburgh just to inject some variety into our lives.
Predictably, and as hinted at earlier, the weather was uncooperative on Saturday, and so after we were notified 3 times that our evening flight home was delayed 20 minutes then 40 minutes then 60 minutes, we decided to bag it and reschedule for Sunday morning rather than risk sitting around O’Hare all night only to be delayed 11 more times and ultimately cancelled. Which made our ANA experience one day longer, got us back to New England around Sunday noon and delayed this installment of the RR a bit for which we apologize.
But now back home we can unwind, unpack, reorganize and turn our attention to this week’s auctions which we expect will keep us juuuuust a little bit busy.