Alan V. Weinberg submitted the following thoughts on the just-concluded American Numismatic Association convention in Portland, OR. -Editor I've just hours ago returned from the Portland ANA. I usually do not attend the Spring ANA shows as they're too often in obscure places without a large collector base within a few hours driving distance. But the Portland summer ANA about 10 years ago was a humdinger, surprising many naysayers at the time. And it was a mere $214 flight from LAX - so why not?
Well, the show was fabulous - particularly in view of the modest expectations of many - with one of the heaviest public attendances I've ever seen at any ANA or for that matter any coin show. Hoards of people and not just lookie-loos, both on Friday and Saturday. A light drizzle in Portland helped the attendance and the bourse was a sell-out. You never saw so many people at a collectibles show - you had to turn sideways at times, return to a bourse table or exhibit later, due to crowds!
I roamed the bourse floor constantly and did not hear a single negative or mediocre comment. I did hear that the public was not spending big money and many were buying modern material or bullion-based coins. But I do know a beautiful and mark-free Wass Molitor $50 changed hands on the floor, going to a prominent collector/dealer for his own collection at $65K. I examined the coin- very atypical for this always bruised and marked up gold piece.
CoinRaritiesOnline (Dave Wnuck/John Agre) commented that they were quite surprised to have a very active show with numerous mid-range coins selling. I know that collector/dealer Bill McKivor of the Copper Corner had one heck of a show with the most fascinating and diverse atypical numismatic material I can recall seeing at a bourse table. His table was a constant "beehive" of real collectors with many buying sizable quantities of tokens and medals. John Kraljevich's table was at times so busy you couldn't find a space to squeeze into. Even with the economy in the doldrums, people were spending money and were clearly fascinated by the material on the bourse floor and in the exhibits. There was a significant juvenile attendance too.
The exhibits were quite impressive with Jerry Bobbe's single case exhibit of Spence Condors in Gem red and red-brown prooflike gems eliciting an involuntary "Oh my gosh!" as I walked up to it. Among the exhibits were a genuine 1804 dollar, a Gem Unc 1849 Oregon $10 gold, and two 1913 nickels. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing had a separate huge exhibit which was a hit with high attendance.
I examined at length the new 2009 hi-relief double-thick $20 (three of them) - just slabbed MS69 and 70. Ya know what?- there was a discernible difference in quality between the 69 and 70.
Dave Wnuck loaned me his just-released Whitman-published Dave Bowers Colonial Coin Encyclopedia. Real eye and mind "candy" although I thought it needed a sturdier binding given its projected heavy use by collectors. But a beautiful book and the numerous plates...!
The Oregon show staff that put together the show did a tremendous job all around. I know some of them and know them to be serious collectors. Bravo! I went home late Saturday, feeling fulfilled, happy and assured of a healthy continuance for our hobby, regardless of the economy. Years ago, I'd heard the Northwest had a solid core of collectors. Must be true.
Great news for the hobby - it's always a great feeling to see crowds of people enjoying a show. -Editor
Wayne Homren, Editor
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