Featured Chicago ANA Show Report

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Tom B, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. Tom B

    Tom B TomB Everywhere Else

    This is likely the first show report that I have ever written prior to coming home, but the events of the last week seemed too important to wait until my travel plans allowed me to get settled. Please also note that this is probably the first show report where I complain loudly and note that these complaints are my opinions only and may or may not echo the opinions, feelings or sentiments of other dealers or collectors. This is especially important to keep in mind since I share table space on the Numismatic Americana table at larger shows even though Thomas Bush Numismatics and Numismatic Americana are two independent proprietorships.

    Before I write about the show, I will write about the gold JFK sales that took place during the show. Truly, this is why the current show report is being written so soon after the show and not later after all other work is completed. At this time I am still in a state of disbelief that the decision makers within the ANA and the US Mint could allow such a circus to take place as was seen at the ANA Show. I am ignorant as to the process by which the ANA allowed the US Mint to sell the gold JFK coins at the ANA Show, but those decision makers (US Mint and/or ANA) who thought this would be a good idea appeared to display a profound lack of understanding of numismatic market forces. Beyond market forces, issues of security and access arise that make me believe those who gave the green light to this idea should possibly be removed from their positions or should at least have their responsibility as a decision maker suspended or removed permanently.

    Tuesday morning, the day the show was to open to the public, I walked from my hotel to the convention center. As I walked I could see a long line of people against the outer wall of the convention center as well as people pushed up against the entrance doors; this was at 7:30 AM when the public was allowed in at 10:00 AM. Instead of making my way through this group I decided to use the enclosed, elevated walkways that connect several of the hotels to the convention center. This requires one to walk above a parking lot, across a six-lane road and then deep into the convention center before making a hard turn toward the escalators and stairs that might lead to the interior entrance. I like using these tubes in the event of inclement weather and they might also allow a certain sense of security. I made the long walk only to find the last set of doors was locked, possibly to keep those who wanted JFK gold out from getting early access to the convention center. It was inconvenient, but more importantly it was disturbing in that a dealer might have had significant value on his/her person and could have been dead-ended by the locked doors. That was not a well thought plan and, with no signs advising anyone of the locked doors, it might have worked as a trap. I retraced my path, walked across the street and eventually arrived at the entrance doors where security promptly recognized me and started to push folks out of the way to allow me to enter. Essentially, before the show was even opened to the public, I had a bad taste about this process.

    When the JFK gold buyers were finally allowed onto the bourse there appeared to be a hurried or mad rush toward the US Mint area, which was in the back of the hall. I was set up directly across from the main entrance and the site of people dashing toward the booth was confusing and disturbing. It reminded me somewhat of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. More immediately and concerning to me, it also reminded me of a flash mob that might tip tables over and remove items. That evening after dinner I was walking to my hotel only to see a line of approximately 100-people in length already formed and growing against the side of the convention center. By Wednesday morning that line of folks had grown many hundreds in length and I heard multiple reports from dealers who were woken up between 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM due to the use of bull horns from the police department as they attempted to control the occasionally unruly crowd. What I did experience, and did not like seeing, were many printed sheets of paper plastered all over the entrances to the hotel that stated “NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS” as it seems many of the folks in line also made a dash into the nearby hotels to use the facilities.

    The afternoon frenzy continued on Thursday and then we were treated at the table to various folks who were offering JFK gold for sale as a private auction, to folks who were requesting to buy JFK gold, and to scores of leaflets regarding JFK gold dropped by the hired help of booth holders that covered up our coins. The experience of the first days of the show was not optimal. Thankfully, by the close of the bourse on Thursday there were signs up stating that JFK gold coinage sales were discontinued.

    Please note that in the above listing of events that I may have typed the incorrect day once or twice, but I had not taken notes in real time so by this point the early days of the show run together.

    What I find astonishing is that this was not an unpredictable turn of events for this sale. The RP Buffalo coins sold at last year’s ANA Show generated tremendous lines with enormous waiting times and those who had the patience and inclination to weather the lines were financially rewarded, if I recall correctly. Further, the HOF gold released in conjunction with the spring Baltimore show also drew folks by the hundreds, but by that time the US Mint and/or show organizers had formed a better plan for people moving. Those coins have done well, but the coins that have truly kept their enhanced value best are those pieces certified by one of the TPGs with the special label that indicates the coin was purchased at the show. It is this special label, in my opinion, that generates the greatest premium for all of these issues. However, I do not fault the TPGs for this episode since the TPGs are for-profit companies that are simply answering the demand of the market. The leaders and/or decision makers at the US Mint and the ANA, though, are a different story.

    These two organizations should have been aware of the recent history of the RP Buffalo gold and the HOF coins and they should have realized, as most anyone familiar with the market would have realized, that by releasing an extremely limited number of JFK gold they were creating a made-to-order TPG rarity that was certain to garner a premium and create gamesmanship. The implementation of the US Mint-ANA plan was deeply flawed and showed a stunning lack of insight regarding modern numismatics and recent history.

    I have attended many ANA shows and some have been better than others from a financial or personal perspective. One thing I have never witnessed, until now, is the breaking of the covenant of trust and security between the ANA and the dealers who support the show and collectors who attend the show. The ANA Show, which is the flagship event on the ANA calendar, should be about education, relationships and the sharing of collecting passion; instead, it was reduced to greed, chaos and anger.

    The show itself was quite busy with lots of folks looking and some even buying. Early in the show I was able to purchase a small group of outstanding, lightly circulated Barber coinage as well as some better date classic type coins in mid-circulated grades. These coins started to disappear from inventory more or less as soon as I produced them and, by late Wednesday, I was down to nearly no retained show purchases. Therefore, I went out and concentrated on buying nice type with the intention of bringing those coins home for my web clients and advance notice email clients. I was largely successful in that endeavor. In my experience, this show was not great for selling coins at a large profit, but it was good for business and for changing inventory. Some specific points-

    1) Relatively little PCGS OGH coinage remains and the inventory of those pieces appear to have dropped quite a bit in the last year or two. Might it be that the Reconsideration service encourage more submissions and of these coins and, hence, greater destruction of the holder?

    2) The men’s room near our table had five (?) stalls in it and three either had broken doors that did not close properly or were out of service with tape over them. I did not use these facilities, but the convention center should not allow that condition to continue.

    3) Lots of Boy Scouts attended on Saturday and I wonder if it was for a badge requirement. They seemed eager to learn.

    4) It seemed like forever and a day that Reeded Edge half dollars were ignored, but now there is a client base asking for them and other dealers told the same story.

    5) Gem type that looked “right” was scarce, indeed.

    6) More buyers, both dealers and collectors, appear to be tacitly acknowledging at least a dual price structure when it comes to really nice, original, accurately graded and problem-free coinage. This bodes well for me.

    7) Attractively toned anything was in short supply.

    8) Sadly, David Weygant passed away on August 4. He and his integrity, sense of humor and friendship will be missed greatly by his many friends and colleagues on the bourse. Rest In Peace, my friend.

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  3. bkozak33

    bkozak33 Collector

    thank you. nice report
  4. ldhair

    ldhair Clean Supporter

    Thanks Tom. It's great to here someone I trust, tell the story.
  5. eddiespin

    eddiespin Fast Eddie

    Emphasis supplied, of course. You mean greed. You're too diplomatic. ;)
  6. geekpryde

    geekpryde Husband and Father Moderator

    Great write up Tom.

    That mad-house atmosphere is very bad for security and could easily have gotten out of hand. From what I have read elsewhere (Gerry Fortin), there were a ton of people that were line-holders and should not have been at a coin convention at all. Clogging up the isles with non-coin people who were hired-guns seems like a good way to have some nice coins go "missing".

    I hope some good comes from this disaster, and that is they DONT do these kinds of releases in this fashion again. Seems like all the dealers I trust and respect thinks this was amateur hour for the ANA. Someone should be held accountable, but they are too busy being sued probably to deal with accountability.

    Good news about some NEWPS for the email list and your site.
  7. jwitten

    jwitten Well-Known Member

    I am wondering about the mad dash to the Mint booth that you describe. I was a part of the jkf gold buyers the first day, and they only let small groups of about 20 in at a time though a side door, behind most of the booths, then directly led us to the mint booth. Nothing about it was a mad dash. Maybe it was a dash of the non gold buyers who rushed to the mint to buy the clads?
  8. josh's coins

    josh's coins Well-Known Member

    note to self avoid the ana chicago show.
  9. Tom B

    Tom B TomB Everywhere Else

    We were set up at table 117, which faces the main entry point to the show and we were directly behind the Heritage cluster of tables. From our vantage point, there were a group of more than 20-people who were rushing in the direction of the US Mint. This is not where you were let onto the bourse.
  10. brg5658

    brg5658 The Horse Coin Guy

    Tom a very nice write up. I'm so sad to hear of David's passing. Thanks for posting his obituary link.

    I always look forward to your show reports, as I know you have rock-solid integrity and I can read your words for what they are. I'm sorry you (and others at the ANA show) had to deal with the JFK circus.
  11. saltysam-1

    saltysam-1 Junior Member

    Do you plan to share your concern with the ANA or the Mint? Removing these decision makers would be good for the hobby, the ANA and the Treasury Department. At least embarrass them into doing something to correct their grave error. I hope the Rosemont Police Department back bills them for their additional time and manpower. I can't think of another time the police had to be on duty overnight at the convention center.
  12. Joe2007

    Joe2007 Well-Known Member

    Excellent report! Thank you.

    Do you feel that the Gold Kennedy fiasco hurt sales for dealers of Classic U.S. coins such as yourself? Surely some collectors decided not to attend due to the news media reports.
  13. V. Kurt Bellman

    V. Kurt Bellman Yes, I'm blunt! Get over your "feeeeelings".

    I'm sorry Tom, you're only half correct. The blame for the mess you correctly described is 100% in the lap of the United States Mint, with only ANA's lack of resources to blame for being unable to avoid it. ANA knew on MONDAY that a debacle was imminent, but they were powerless to stop it. It was the Mint's idea, plan, and execution that nearly led to a disaster.

    Who the heck am I? A past President of the Red Rose Coin Club of Lancaster, PA, a Money Talks speaker at ANA's 2011, 2013, and 2014 shows, the Volunteer/Ambassador Chairman for ANA 2012 at Philly, and a National Volunteer for the ANA. Everyone working at or for the ANA, from Walt Ostromecki, to Kim Kiick, to Rhonda Scurek, to well, ME was scared to death about Tuesday's opening during the week preceding the show. The U.S. Mint takes ZERO advice; they are the self-assigned "experts" that often come pre-packaged with that "we are the government, we know what we're doing" attitude.

    Some facts:
    1) The show opened at 10AM for everybody on Day 1, except for table holding dealers. Yes, a ridiculous number of "street urchins" had dealer credentials thanks to the gold-buying mega-dealers.
    2) The sales of the gold JFK half began one hour later, at 11AM. Sales also started at the Philadelphia and Denver mints at the same instant (Noon EDT and 10AM MDT). Also the sales counter at the D.C. Headquarters began at noon local time.
    3) The "zoos" at Philly, Denver, and Washington were FAR FAR worse, and they sold far fewer coins successfully.
    4) PCGS has metaphorical "blood on their hands" by incentivizing not only Rosemont purchasers looking for the show slabs, but also fly-ins from D.C., Philly, and Denver adding untold hundreds more to the zoo.
    5) NGC, to their credit, required a Rosemont receipt to get the show slab - no fly-ins.
    6) Do we REALLY have to discuss who is ignorant of numismatic supply and demand market forces? The Baseball HOF initial under supply proves the idiots are at the Mint.

    Bottom line? My assessment is the order of responsibility here was 1) the United States Mint, 2) PCGS, 3) NGC, 4) mega-dealers such as SilverTowne and 5 or 6 others, and LASTLY the ANA.

    Did I mentioned I had the umm, "pleasure"(?) of working security for the queue on all three days in one way or another? If you thought it was ugly on the bourse floor, you should have seen the melee in the corridor for the meeting rooms just outside! It was like a refugee camp on the border of a war-torn country.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  14. Tom B

    Tom B TomB Everywhere Else

    Thank you for taking the time to post. As I wrote in my post, I am ignorant of the process with which the ANA interacts with the US Mint, which was why I wrote about decision makers at the "US Mint and/or ANA". I had not realized how autonomous or heavy-handed the US Mint might be while having a booth at the ANA. Given that history, might it be worth debating whether or not the US Mint may rent booths at future ANA shows?

    My initial reaction was also to be angry at the TPGs (PCGS and NGC), but I backed off that reaction by realizing these are for-profit companies in competition with one another for submission dollars. This puts them in a different class than the ANA or the US Mint. The ANA might have been able to change the series of events by prohibiting the US Mint from renting a booth or by putting other restrictions in place while the US Mint, of course, might have done any number of things. However, PCGS and NGC are at the end of the chain, even if their special labels fuel the actions of others, and they require the ANA, US Mint, rented hands and larger dealers to each do their parts before either PCGS or NGC can enter the mix.

    I, too, would definitely list the US Mint as the primary cause of the events followed by an undefined stew of the rest of your list. Thank you again for adding to the discussion.
    geekpryde likes this.
  15. josh's coins

    josh's coins Well-Known Member

    Thought your picture looked familiar. I must have seen you somewhere as I'm not that far from lancaster.
  16. V. Kurt Bellman

    V. Kurt Bellman Yes, I'm blunt! Get over your "feeeeelings".

    For what it's worth, the ANA has now told the United States Mint in no uncertain terms, "NEVER AGAIN". The mint will always be welcome, but not for Day 1 releases. The rumor mill has it that the initial plan was for the 4-coin silver JFK set to be released at the November Baltimore Whitman show, but that plan has now been scrapped.

    The HOPE was that this kind of release would boost attendance by collectors. Instead it boosts attendance by professional waiters-in-line, many of whom smell really bad.

    Josh, I'm about halfway 'twixt Lancaster and Reading, near the PA turnpike, and a Franklin & Marshall grad.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
    geekpryde likes this.
  17. pauliswilling

    pauliswilling New Member

    Anyone who is past ANA or even current will not take responsibility,just like the last ANA show in Shaumburg,Il Where a fairly large dealer bought a large group of silver off me over 2 days and on the 2nd day paid me with a 600 dollar check that he intentionally put a stop payment on. This person is a ANA member,I reported it to all the people in charge(up the chain of command) and thus far have not just felt completley ignored but had another ANA member not want to allow me in the next show due to the member who ripped me off being set up again(funny how they want to kick out the customer who got had). I am a 100 percent disabled vet and most always get a ride from a collector friend to get to shows due to the huge pain I am in. About the only time I get out of the house is to go to a show. The last show I get RIPPED OFF by ANA member dealers then at the Rosemont show had NO CHANCE as a disabled Vet to get a coin because the customer's in front of me were all"Bribed" by ANA dealers for purchases of their coins and or tickets. After all this I have decided to boycott the coin and NOT buy one AND will probably BOYCOTT myslef from attending other shows where I go for the only pleasure I have to be absolutely destroyed by GREED!
  18. V. Kurt Bellman

    V. Kurt Bellman Yes, I'm blunt! Get over your "feeeeelings".

    The ANA has never run a show in Shaumburg, IL. Perhaps you're thinking of the Central States Numismatic Society. The dealer you describe is likely, but not necessarily an ANA member. Are you? If you are, the ANA has a mediation service.

    I personally observed at least 10 people confined to wheelchairs get the gold JFK at Rosemont this past week. I find that amazing, but it is true. I also witnessed a normally abled young man (20-ish) get to the point where he would get into the building after waiting all night, fall ill, and be taken away in an ambulance. A VERY high number of purchasers were non-English-speaking Asians.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  19. josh's coins

    josh's coins Well-Known Member

    So a Dealer screws you over $600 and then they want to kick you out of the next show? the right thing is to give you your money back and put that dealer behind bars.
  20. pauliswilling

    pauliswilling New Member

    Yes the central states show.
  21. pauliswilling

    pauliswilling New Member

    I even reported it as criminal and they claimed I have to sue in small claims,after all the paperwork I have already had to file I said forget it. It makes you want to quit collecting.
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