The ANA’s World’s Fair of Money has concluded and we made it home!
Warning: This is very long. So, if you don’t want to read these ramblings from the show, scroll down quickly to see the Highlights of this week's Coins We Love.
Overall, the week was successful and we had an enjoyable time. As most of you were not able to join us on the weeklong celebration of numismatics, I wanted to try to put together a synopsis of the week to give you a peek behind the curtain of an active dealer.
Sunday: We arrived around 9:30 am at the Pittsburgh airport. The choices for flying into Pittsburgh were rather limited, but there’s one direct flight from Norfolk every week and it just happened to be on the day that we needed. We stepped off the plane into what felt like the 1980s. The airport there is undergoing a major construction project, but the current floor tiles reminded me of my old middle school cafeteria, which was an interesting flashback. Upon arriving at the hotel, we had the opportunity to visit with and buy from early arrivals. For reasons beyond my understanding, some dealers accumulate better inventory throughout the year so they can sell it at the ANA. While we’re a fan of spreading out coins as they become available, this old-school ANA phenomenon is still popular, thus early arrival is necessary to get high-end, quality pieces. I believe that we viewed the inventory of 6-7 early birds before our first big appointment arrived in the late afternoon. These evening appointments did not disappoint! John Call and I rotated from room to room into the early morning hours taking advantage of our “first shot” with these folks. The coins were fresh, the prices were within reason, and the opportunities were there. I think we ended up buying 7-8 boxes of coins that evening (around 480 coins) with values ranging from $20-$100k. While the evening was fruitful, it didn’t make the 7:30 am wake-up call on Monday easy!
Monday: Today was the ANA’s second annual Dealer Day. This lower-traffic day was a great opportunity to set up our booth and get things ready for the week. While part of the team organized the tables, hung banners, and displayed the cases, the rest of us got to buying coins. We were pleased to sell a few coins early on in the day.
The lunch order of the day was a local joint called Primanti Bros which was famous for sandwiches. I guess I made a mistake by ordering a salad as it arrived with french fries on top of the salad! This was a first for me, but I do have to admit they were tasty.
By late afternoon, we were exhausted and happily wrapped up the day. One of the unexpected surprises for this summer’s trip was that my Atlanta Braves were in town taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates. So, I took the opportunity to head over to the baseball game with my son, Wes, who was along for the trip. We tried to go under the radar to enjoy the game and a hot dog, but lo and behold a pair of coin dealers came down and sat in the seats directly next to ours. I guess it truly can be a small world in the coin business. Unfortunately, the rain delayed the game and the Braves lost.
Tuesday: Tuesday was the regular set-up day for the show and the bourse filled itself with displays from World Mints, dealers, and early bird attendees. Around noon, the official ribbon cutting to open the show occurred and the floodgates opened for the public. While we would have loved for more folks to have attended, it turns out that Pittsburgh isn’t the easiest place for folks to reach. However, the attendees that did make it were active, truly interested in coins, and kept us on our toes for the week. Once again, we purchased a fair number of coins and had a successful day overall.
Wednesday: I had an 8 am National Coin and Bullion Association (NCBA) board meeting this morning to start my day. As the past chair of the organization, I’m really there for decoration and advice, but the group is in great hands. The work done by this group has proved fruitful for collectors and dealers in such an under-the-radar way that it really amazes me. With over 40 states not requiring sales tax on coins and precious metals, the NCBA is really the most valuable dealer group in the hobby. After a morning of buying and selling, Matthew had to hit the road and Jason arrived to help us manage the rest of the week. This was the first day we were able to display some of our first CACG-certified coins that are appearing in our upcoming weekly auctions.
Overall, the day was quieter, but the table was consistently busy with collectors and dealers pacing the floor. The evening was proving to be quite busy for me though as I had a Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) reception on the bourse floor. It was great to see fellow members and to chat with our friend and the new Executive Director, John Feigenbaum. The PNG is lucky to have him on board as their leader. As some of you know, I serve as the Treasurer here, so I’ll get to work with John once again. After the event there, I missed a reception for the incoming President of the ANA as I couldn’t be in 2 places at once. Instead, I was attending the Gold Club dinner where Brian Kint, CFO of CAC Grading, was speaking about the newly established grading service. As a member of the collector-based club and as a Founding Member of CACG, I was asked to attend. Brian did a wonderful job speaking, gave out a few of the new Pennsylvania State Quarter Sample Slabs, and my guest (Wes) enjoyed one of the best steaks of his life at the Capital Grille. The evening ended with a gourmet milkshake across the street before the clock struck 10 and we went to bed.
Thursday: I had an informal PNG Board Breakfast where we caught up with some planning followed by an ANA Advisory Council Meeting. It was my first opportunity to attend this group that is led by past officers of the ANA. I never envisioned getting involved in the politics of the ANA, but as I am serving my first term as a Governor, I figured I would jump in head first. The rest of the day was rather standard show-wise. The neatest purchase of the day was a group of uncut currency sheets, a PCGS Rattler Box from the 1980s, and a fresh group of 8 09-S VDB Lincolns, all from the same collector! I was also finally able to take a brief walk across the bourse and as you can see from the photos below, this wasn’t something I could conquer in a short amount of time!
The evening ended with a great friend and customer of ours delivering us some fabulous burgers and ribs for an amazing dinner on the bourse. Thank you, Michael! After the bourse closed, the final installment of the Bass Collection auction occurred. There were a few highlights that we were watching for the Hansen Collection, so Wes and I enjoyed an hour or so following those highlights with our friend Allan and a group of YNs from the Witter Coin U (WCU) event. We walked away with several purchases that we’ll highlight in a week or 2. After the auction, a quick burger in the hotel restaurant was what was needed to close out the night.
Friday: The show typically skews more toward retail on Friday and Saturday as dealers start heading out the door. One of our favorite events is the YN Treasure Hunt as we enjoy helping young folks learn more about coins and giving them a free coin or two for their efforts. Honestly, that was one of the highlights of Friday. The day also included my first ANA Board Meeting and Open Forum as a guest. I hadn’t been sworn in yet, so, I wasn’t an official member, but I had the opportunity to sit in on the last meeting of the old board to see what is ahead.
The show was rather standard and as I mentioned, the foot traffic and attendance was rather low at this point. While we love buying and selling coins, we realize that a main focus of what we do is also to meet new folks and to maintain old friendships, so that was our goal for the slower day! The evening event was the ANA WFOM Banquet. I hadn’t attended one of these since maybe 1998. I was lucky to be seated with my friend, Lori Kraft (Whitman Baltimore Show Extraordinaire), her team from Whitman, Connor (a YN from WCU), and David Lange’s (the recently deceased numismatic author and scholar) fiancée and her family. The table of new friends was quite enjoyable and the food was tolerable. The highlight of the evening came as a bit of a surprise as the new Board of Governors for the ANA was inducted by the US Mint Director, Ventris Gibson. This was quite an honor, and the event was rather fun (though I did notice a few exhausted dealers taking naps in the back).
Saturday: Going home!
Our first board meeting for the ANA was held early in the morning. The day’s highlights were the young collectors who roamed the floor in search of Treasure Hunt answers and a few neat consignments that we picked up to close out the day. Returning to the Pittsburgh airport was an uneventful process, thankfully. It was not overly busy, but thankfully there was a Chick-Fil-A to score a few nuggets from before the trip home. Apparently, our flight was also one of the last ones to make it out of the state due to some weather delays, and we were happy to have made it home.
Review: The convention center was beautiful, the baseball was fun, security was top-notch, and the coins were amazing. To be honest, an ANA Convention can be held anywhere in the US and attract all of the dealer business in the world. However, the collector traffic was a bit light due to the location. Pittsburgh isn’t a major airline hub anymore, but there are worst places to have the event. However, the quality of the collector and the dedication of the attendees were admirable, and we had a decent show overall. I do long for the events to be held in more accessible locations in the coming years, but that has its own challenges.
We’ll take this event as a win and we’ll look forward to the future! Thanks for reading. We hope you enjoy the highlights below!
John Brush and Your Friends at DLRC
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