The views and opinions expressed here are our own, and represent what we feel is going on in the marketplace. Other dealers views may differ from the experiences they have in the niche they serve.
Sitting in Starbucks relaxing for a couple of hours before heading out for the flight back home. It's been 11 days in total including both the Heritage and Stack Bowers auctions along with the big show. I feel like a resident it's been such a stretch and it's been fun getting a few hours to explore Chicago!
Congratulations to the ANA first off for putting on a great show. The amount of work to manage a show covering 220,000 SF of space (2.4x the size of a Super Walmart for perspective), the largest bourse known is incredible. The ANA staff and volunteers clear down to the pages did a wonderful job over the past week. THANK YOU!
My only two complaints are it was hard to hear in the convention hall itself. The PA system most of the time was way too loud when it was used and the acoustics in the Hall were just plain poor. The only other slight complaint was the food at the Shed Aquarium outing was a 3 on a scale of 1-10. It was edible don't get me wrong but they could have done a much better job with it then they did. Minor complaints really but I do hope in two years they can do something to improve the sound situation in the building as it was hard to hear at times and I know everyone was bothered a bit by it.
The early auction put on by Heritage brought in a bit more then I expected, if I recall somewhere around $33MM in total. This was an impressive result when I consider the overall material available. There were certainly some nice coins and currency consigned including an impressive run of Proof Seated Halves, Proof Morgans and a lot of Barber material across all the series in nice AU-MS grades. I looked at a significant number of lots both at HA and Stacks Bowers. Stacks Bowers had an impressive catalogue including Dick Osburn's Seated Half Collection, the Chicago Barber Quarter Collection and others. My impression is their results probably reached $55MM or so. The combined then approaching nearly $90MM made this one of the strongest ANA auction results in the past 3-4 years.
I heard mixed reports from dealers on the floor. We were fortunate to bring some fresh coins to the show acquired just prior to flying out. It was a real scramble getting things together but having new fresh material paid off very well for us. We were fortunate to acquire a nice consignment of Barber Halves in VF-AU grades and another consignment of fresh coins that had been off the market for 20 years or so. This new material along with some other recent acquisitions did well.
Wholesale activity was good if you knew who was buying what. It was nice to see fresh coins available and we picked up a few pieces here and there, although some sold right away during the show. Always a good feeling though.
Retail was decent as well, although not as strong as I thought it might be. The economy continues to impact the marketplace for the middle class collector. But they are still in the market selectively adding to their sets or collections.
The upper most end of the market continued strong as record prices for nice original coins were achieved in auction and on the floor. And of course everyone has their eye on gold, silver et al. I don't know if it has been mentioned much but gold actually was higher then platinum and is now just a few dollars less. While it was all about gold in the days leading into the show, silver finally had its fun towards the end of the ANA. It will be interesting to watch how silver does relative to gold with the new Asian silver market live a couple of weeks ago if my recollection is correct. If a more open market in silver comes about, with the current price of gold I expect a lot of bullion investors to turn to silver. Volatility will likely remain for the next several months so hang on to your hat.
Another trend I have noticed over the past 3-4 months is some selling of gold/silver at these levels and using the proceeds to buy better quality coins. Certainly not a rush but it has been slowly and selectively happening which should bode well for the rare coin market over the next year or two.
Overall in my view the market continues to be that tri-level of activity. The upper end remains active and strong as those with money continue to buy top coins of quality. The next level of nice MS coins continues to be just so/so, reflecting continuing caution for the middle class collector although the move from bullion has improved this area since the Spring. VF-AU collector coins with nice originality seems to be very healthy and in demand. It's a pleasure seeing collectors working on their sets and it remains a huge challenge finding this type of material. It's no joke I probably look through 200+ coins before buying one I consider to be decent enough and "fairly" priced for my customers. Quality is in demand while cleaned junk is just that....
The other strong area of the market is bullion including scrap. Most brick and mortar dealers are making their living of this area now and that isn't changing any time soon.
Hot Series: Barber Quarters and Halves in VF-AU, MS Barber Quarters, Proof Morgans, Walkers, Mercury Dimes, quality early Type, common MS Large Gold and even Classic Commemoratives, nice to say. Not so Hot: Morgan and Peace Dollars, Seated Halves (I felt these should have done better), better date gold as the bullion component seems to continue to garner the attention while better date languishes. I expect this to change at some point though.
It was really great to meet so many folks this past week and to spend a few minutes talking with you at the show. These big shows are always a challenge and overall I am very pleased with the results. A big thank you to Mike and Dennis for helping it be successful. Thanks guys! The next round of shows takes off after Labor Day with Long Beach where we will be at table #550. Hope to see some of you there.