If you only attend one coin show per year, the summer ANA is probably the biggest bang for your buck. Every major dealer in the United States attends this show as well as leading dealers from Europe, Japan and Latin America. The fact that this year’s edition is in the great city of Denver (which is generally a nice spot to be in mid-August) makes the 2006 convention a must-attend for the collector. If you have just 48 hours to “do the Denver ANA,” what is the best way to do this? My advice would be to arrive in Denver on the evening of Tuesday, August 15. Get a good night sleep because you are going to be a busy guy if you take the Winter Tour of the ANA bourse on Wednesday.
The show opens to the public on the morning of Wednesday, August 16th at 10 a.m. I’d suggest having a good breakfast and using the early morning to plan a strategy. You might want to go on the ANA’s website (www.money.org) and look at the map of the convention floor and the list of dealer’s tables. You’ll want to highlight your favorite dealer’s location but you should also consider visiting tables that contain coins that you don’t collect but which are of interest. As an example, I always like to visit the British dealers’ tables and look at their stock, even though I don’t collect these coins.
When the doors open, I’d recommend promptly going to your favorite dealer’s tables and asking what coins, if any, are available in your field of collecting. If you see something that is really interesting, I’d recommend making a quick decision. At a major show like ANA, you can’t really expect a dealer to put a coin on hold for you for more than an hour or two; especially not at the beginning of the show. Assuming you have a fixed amount to spend at the show, don’t be nervous if you spend your whole budget at the first table you go to; we can assume you went to the “best dealer” first and he is most likely to have exactly what you want.
I’d suggest you spend another three or four hours scanning tables and meeting dealers before breaking for lunch. Generally speaking, convention center food is awful and leaving the bourse for an hour to eat a good meal will prove to be an excellent strategy.
When you return to the convention (remember to save your badge!) I’d suggest you head over to the auction viewing lot area and spending a few hours looking at coins. Even if you aren’t going to bid in an auction, ANA auctions are a wonderful place to see exceptional coins and to study them. Just remember not to hog the lots as you may be sharing them with fellow viewers who are going to bid on them. One thing I would suggest you do is makes notes about the coins you like and the ones you don’t and then monitor them to see what they sell for later in the week.
I would then suggest finishing the day with another two or three hour promenade around the bourse floor. I’d recommend leaving around 6 p.m. (the show closes at 7 p.m.), heading back to your hotel and capping the night off with a good dinner in downtown Denver.
On Thursday the show opens to the public at 9 a.m. It’s a good idea to get there a bit after this as many dealers aren’t really up and running until 9:30 or even 10. I’d suggest spending the morning hitting the dealers you didn’t see yesterday and returning to the dealers you like. Ask to see any of the new purchases that they have ready for sale or ask them if any interesting coins are back from grading at PCGS and NGC and if these are available.
What if you haven’t purchased anything yet and you are starting to panic? At this point in time, an impulsive or forced purchase is just about the worse decision you can make. While it is likely that you will have already found something to buy, if you don’t spend your money at the ANA, it’s not a crime.
There is likely to be an auction session during the day or in the evening and it is interesting to attend, if only to see how the dynamic of live auctions work. You are not likely to see much in the way of compelling drama unless you have the good fortune to attend the sale of a major collection.
If at all possible, try and attend one of the lectures that the ANA schedules throughout the show. In the past, there have been numerous interesting subjects and many of the speakers are world-class experts.
Another thing I’d suggest you do at the show is look at the competitive exhibits. At last year’s ANA in San Francisco I was amazed at the quality of these exhibits and found myself spending time absorbing them nearly every day.
Assuming that you have a few hours left, I’d complete the day with another go-round the bourse floor and, perhaps, a final purchase or two.
The most important thing to realize about the ANA show is that it’s a remarkable opportunity for the beginning or expert collector to see coins he won’t be able to see anywhere else, make potentially valuable contacts and, most importantly, to come away with knowledge that will increase his ability and comfort level. It really is the Super Bowl of Numismatics and if you have a chance to attend this year, please don’t forget to stop by tables 523/525 and say “hi.”