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ALAN WEINBERG'S 2008 BALTIMORE ANA DIARY
Alan V. Weinberg's been on the road for nearly two weeks. On his return home he filed the following late-night report on his experiences at last week's American Numismatic Association convention in Baltimore. -EditorI've just returned from both the Baltimore ANA and the biannual APIC (political collectibles) in Las Vegas. I'll cover just a few tidbits of the ANA that weren't covered by the excellent review in last Sunday's John Reich Society email. That highlighted the superb presentation by Dave Perkins and photographer Rory Rea of their visit and photography with Eric Newman. I was mesmerized at that seminar - which was fully attended at 8 AM just prior to the bourse opening !
I speculated two weeks ago that it seemed to me to be ironic that the Australian "Charlotte 1788" hand-engraved silver medal that auctioned by Noble Coins in Australia for precisely $750,000 AUS plus the buyer's fee to the Australian National Maritime Museum was precisely the Noble auction catalogue estimate and also the amount that Noble and consignor Dr Chapman had spoken of to the media for weeks preceding the auction. I wondered if that wasn't just the reserve.
I raised this subject in a conversation at the Baltimore ANA with an Aussie dealer who claimed to have attended the sale . He took umbrage and claimed that the winning bidder and the two immediate underbidders were all museums! I momentarily accepted that until it dawned on me that museums traditionally have very limited funds and it is highly unlikely that three museums would be bidding in the rarified atmosphere of $500,000+ AUS dollars. Hmmm.
Another E-Sylum reader wrote prior to the ANA about Alan's speculation. Whenever a lot goes to "the book" speculation fills the vacuum. The reader also took umbrage and noted that reserve prices are a normal part of the auction business that bidders are well aware of. -EditorI exhibited two display cases of my Massachusetts colonial silver coinage, a specialty of mine since my high school days, at the Baltimore ANA and, as with previous exhibits, it was extremely rewarding in terms of the number of viewers and the comments forthcoming. Tony Terranova exhibited his personal collection of colonial silver coinage of Maryland including the finest known "rings" shilling and the finest Standish Barry "thruppence" . What delight!
The entire exhibit area was so educational, interesting and unusual in the material. Those of you who could not tear yourself away from the bourse to view the exhibits really missed out. And those of you who keep your treasures in the dark and don't exhibit them are really missing out. Down thru numismatic history, virtually all the advanced collectors exhibited their finest material.
I noticed a very substantial increase in the number of dealers offering medals, tokens, political buttons and other interesting ephemera on the ANA bourse. Evidently many dealers are getting tired of slabbed Morgans, generic gold coins and the like. And this unusual material was selling well, much of it within the financial reach of many collectors and most of it "raw" so collectors can fondle their acquisitions.
There was a near disaster on the bourse floor when a top heavy Whitman book case and video monitor fell over on top of a seven months pregnant female Whitman employee. Dr Robert Hesselgesser of early Bust dollar collecting prominence was fortuitously just across the aisle and rushed to her aid, stopping the bleeding and keeping the pressing crowd at bay. An ambulance was summoned and I heard that only a few stitches and some rest was necessary. It could have been a lot worse.
I wandered the bourse floor endlessly from setup to Saturday afternoon (when I departed for the APIC in Vegas) and I overheard and engaged in many conversations. Not one dealer said he was having a slow show and one oldtime dealer who never missed an ANA in many decades told me this was his 2nd best ANA ever and he specializes in exotic collectible coinage. It seems the economy and air fares and vehicle fuel haven't intimidated the bulk of serious collectors yet.
Dr. George Fuld, who has contributed so much to numismatic research, is currently working on a photographic census article on all known Getz 1792 and 1797 George Washington colonial patterns. I was able to "corral" seven different specimens at the ANA which were photographed in color in Baltimore by Tom Mulvaney, courtesy of Dennis Tucker at Whitman, for the forthcoming Fuld article.
Among the genuinely rare goodies available on the floor for actual purchase were the 2nd finest known choice Unc Norweb-Hain-Milas 1792 silver center cent pattern, a choice Unc 1792 ornamented edge Peter Getz George Washington "half dollar" ex Garrett-JHU-Roper-Milas, a silver 1797 George Washington Peter Getz Masonic silver "half dollar" ex-Garrett-JHU-Anton and an assortment of rare early American medals filling two cases at Tony Terranova's corner booth - at the end of the show these two cases were almost empty! Coins getting too expensive? Yes!
An entirely enjoyable, educational and inspiring five days in Baltimore. This is what the hobby is all about.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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