The 2009 Portland Spring ANA Show

I’m guessing it’s been close to twenty years since there was a major coin show in a city in which I lived. That’s why I was really excited about this year’s Mid-Winter ANA being held in my home town of Portland, Oregon. Even if the show was crummy, I’d be able to sleep in my own bed. Plus, I could show off my Portland Expert status to friends and acquaintances and rattle off a list of obscure restaurants (Peruvian? Check. Malaysian? Do you want Northern or Southern?) without having to pull out a Zagat’s. Portland doesn’t have a reputation as a Great Coin Town and to be honest I had very little in the way of expectations for this show, other than it being well run. That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be quite good.

I have to give some kudos to the ANA. There were articles in the paper about the show, ads on TV; even my neighbors knew there was a coin show in town. This excellent publicity meant that the attendance would probably be good and it was. More on this in a second.

The first day of the show was devoted to wholesale trading and, for me, the action was a little less than my last few shows. The main reason for this was that I didn’t have much generic gold and generic gold remains incredibly hot.

This is a good time to go off on a mini-tangent. With the almost total focus of the gold market on generics right now, this seems like a good time for people who care about legitimately scarce and rare coins to be buying. I had a few dealers comment to me at the show that they are so focused on generics that they are slowing down their “real coin” business. That means less competition for me when I buy and I can focus on coins like New Orleans half eagles and Dahlonega quarter eagles when many of my usual competitors are busy making MS63 Liberty Head double eagles.

The second day of the show was when the public was let in and I was amazed at the stampede of collectors that came through the door around 10AM. Yes, there were sixteen hundred Boy Scouts and Brownies playing the Numismatic Trivia game but there were also real collectors with real want lists looking for real coins. Unlike the recent Long Beach show where I don’t think I could have sold a collector a Saint Gaudens double eagle for $16, I was able to sell a number of coins in Portland. More importantly, I met a lot of collectors from the Northwest who I either didn’t know or who I knew only through emailing.

The weekend was a bit less active but there were still collectors at the show on Saturday. For the first time since I had a fade haircut and wore a jacket with big shoulders, I stayed until closing on Sunday and was able to do some business until the bitter end.

I’d like to thank everyone who stopped by and chatted and everyone who bought coins. And, no, I will not recommend any more places to eat in Portland.

So, how does the market look now that we are in mid-March?

In my opinion, things continue to be better than I would have expected. No, the market isn’t “hot” (with the exception of generic gold). But nice coins are definitely selling, albeit at new levels. I would expect that with all the money dealers are making right now with their generic gold business, some of this will spill into rare coins. I also think that some of the new people buying MS62 and MS63 Saints and $20 Libs could possibly start buying rare coins in the coming weeks or months. I’m not extremely optimistic right now but I am less pessimistic than I was as recently as mid-January.

The end of March will see an interesting test of the market with the Baltimore show and a number of auctions all occurring. My guess is that Baltimore should be pretty active. I will be very curious to see how the auctions do.

I’ve mentioned generic gold a few times and before I close, I’d like to strongly suggest that if you own any, you might take some profits and sell out of a part of your position now; especially if you own double eagles. The premiums for these right now are as high as I can ever recall seeing. As an example, MS64 Liberty Head double eagles are now selling for $2,700-2,800 (or more, in some cases). Last year you had to beg people to buy them for $1,500. If I had a bunch of these put away right now (and I wish I had been smart enough to do so...) I would take some of my profits and move onto more undervalued areas.

If you do want to sell any generic gold, I would be happy to assist you. Please email me at DWN@ONT.COM and I can make offers on your coins and suggest a strategy for the coming months.