2007 Milwaukee ANA Show Review

I went to this summer’s ANA Convention expecting a good but not great show. I left the show having had one of my better ANA’s in many years and I think most other dealers can honestly say the same. On the DWN grading scale, I’d have to give the 2007 ANA a solid A-. I decided not to do any of the pre-show activity. In my opinion, doing the extra three or four days leaves me too tired during the regular ANA week and this isn’t fair to my customers who are anxious to meet with me. Plus, to be perfectly honest, I just don’t have the unlimited energy I had when I was in my 30’s and could work for days at a time at an ANA level of intensity.

I arrived on Monday and attended the pre-PNG set-up for a few hours. My major goal for the week was to buy and I had decided to focus my energy on the bourse floor as opposed to the Heritage auction where I knew prices on the DWN-caliber material would be extremely high.

PNG day was Tuesday. I generally hate PNG day. It starts absurdly early (8 a.m.) and seeing other dealers in suits scares me. Plus I find this to be a generally lackluster day with little of interest going on. This year’s edition started slowly but it seemed to really pick-up steam after a few hours and by the end of the day, things were very active. I literally ran from table to table searching for interesting coins and was able to buy a number of really neat items. I had hoped to find at least one interesting deal and was disappointed that this didn’t really pan out but I was very pleased with what I did find; albeit one or two items at a time.

Wednesday was a little bit of a let down. There was not a very good turn-out as far as collectors went, so I continued to do quite a bit of wholesale business. I can’t recall a show where it was easier to sell nice coins than at this year’s ANA. And here’s something surprising: a number of formerly “dead” areas of the market are suddenly coming to life. There were numerous dealers looking for type coins, especially items like Proof-64 and better Liberty Seated silver, scarcer date Liberty Seated and Barber coins and even such perennially overlooked items as Liberty Nickels and Three Cent silvers.

What else was hot? Everyone (and I do mean everyone) was looking for coins that were either very pretty, very rare or very interesting. And early coins (i.e. those dated prior to 1835) were in huge demand. I bought and sold a number of interesting early gold coins; mostly in the $7,500 to $15,000 range.

Thursday was the best—and longest—day of the show. I started answering emails at 6:30 a.m. and didn’t finish until I left the Heritage Platinum Night sale at close to 11 p.m. I stayed busy the entire day meeting with clients, preparing coins for submission to PCGS/NGC, buying coins from other dealers, figuring bids, etc. I typically had two to four people at my table all day and I could definitely sense a real buzz in the room and from what I could tell, most other dealers were quite busy as well.

So what were some of the more interesting items that I bought and was able to bring home? A few include the following:

    An incredible original 1865 Proof set in an original presentation box, graded PR65 to PR67

    A glorious 1795 half dollar in NGC AU55

    A choice 1802 half dollar in PCGS EF45

    An Uncirculated 1861-D gold dollar (which is currently being graded at PCGS)

    An 1832 quarter eagle in choice original PCGS AU55

    A superb original 1844-C quarter eagle in PCGS MS61

    A select group of Carson City gold coinage

Some choice Liberty Head double eagles including a nice PCGS MS60 1861-S

One of the more interesting things that happened at the show involved a Midwestern investor/collector who brought a number of rare coins with him for sale. He placed his coins on display on Wednesday and there was a complete feeding frenzy as numerous dealers in upper-end coins descended on him. He sold well over $5 million in coins in two days including a number of very rare double eagles, choice early gold and a great group of choice early dollars. I was intrigued that this individual decided to forego the auction route and it didn’t seem to hurt him any as he got excellent prices for his coins.

Speaking of auctions, the Stack’s, Bowers & Merena and Heritage sales were all very strong. I attended only the Platinum Night session at Heritage and was amazed at the strength of the prices. I expect great coins to bring strong money at these sales but what surprises me these days is what the mediocre material sells for. As recently as two years ago, I could buy “product” at a Heritage sale and flip it to other dealers for a 15% profit the next day. Now, these same coins bring more than what I would sell them for. Clearly, auction prices now represent the new retail price levels for most series and I am convinced that, at least for me, I’d rather try my luck buying on the bourse floor.

My book “Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint” was given an award for “Extraordinary Merit” in the field of United States coin books by the Numismatic Literary Guild. I wasn’t able to receive my award in person (I was too busy working!) but had it in my case for the majority of the show.

All in all, it was a tiring but very rewarding ANA. I think the strength of this show will carry over into the late summer/early fall months and we will continue to see a good market for the immediate future.