This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Buyers were so eager to make purchases at the Chicago International Coin Fair April 14-17 that some were making offers for the ancient coin collection on public display at the American Numismatic Society’s table.
But who can blame them for the attempt? Quality coins are getting harder to come by.
Collector Mike Gasvoda said he had had a number of offers for coins in his multi-million dollar exhibit, “The Coinage of the Twelve Caesars, A Study in Portraiture.”
Kerry Wetterstrom, editor of The Celator, a magazine for ancients collectors, explained the phenomenon this way: “high-grade quality coins are bringing record prices across the board.” Upward price pressure is “even trickling down to average coins.”
Prices in some cases have gotten so high that some longtime collectors “are putting their collections on hold, selling or changing their interests,” Wetterstrom said.
“It is getting harder and harder for the dealers to replace their inventory,” he said.
No wonder some make offers for public exhibits.
“The world coin community is really strong right now and last week’s proceedings at CICF were as good an indication as any,” said convention chairman Scott Tappa after he returned to his office in Iola, Wis.
“We had dealers and collectors from around the world buying and selling material at a variety of price points. Heritage, with an assist from Gemini on the ancients session, put together another fantastic CICF sale that featured something for just about everyone.”
Prices realized were over $9.6 million for the combined sessions (see separate story).
One of the bidders attending the auction was James Ricks of Northeast Numismatics, Concord, Mass. He offered his observations April 16 from his firm’s bourse table.
“The auction was stronger than ever,” he said. As a consequence, he said, he bought fewer lots, “a good sign for the market.”
Ricks noted that a few of his good customers flew in just for the show. “They want to see everything in hand.”
And what coins are drawing a lot of interest?
“The market for Chinese and Chinese-related coins is hot to the point of insanity,” Ricks said.
As for the show overall, Ricks said that CICF “is the best place to browse if you are a generalist.”
Tappa said attendees came from 37 states and 12 countries (Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Venezuela, Israel, Switzerland and Australia.)
Don Fisher, Currency Unlimited, Decatur, Ill., called CICF a “fantastic show, one of the best foreign shows we’ve ever had in about 30 years.”
Kent Froseth of Minneapolis said, “We’ve had a good show. It’s hard to buy anything unless you get around to the tables in the first hour. There’s got to be a lot of happy dealers.”
A lot of business took place at CICF, said dealer Andy Lustig of Nyack, N.Y.
“Dealers and collectors are here to buy coins,” Lustig said. “It’s much easier to sell than to buy.”
With silver at $43 an ounce, it was a challenge “keeping sticker prices above melt,” said Jerry Koepp of Coins, Stamps ’n Stuff, Des Moines, Iowa.
Retail business was good for Marcel Haberling of Zurich, Switzerland.
“It was a pretty good show,” he said. “Better than last year.”
Buying coins was the focus for Daniel Frank Sedwick of Winter Park, Fla.
“This is always a good opportunity to buy, and we did buy a lot here,” he said. His sales were marginal, but he was also showing auction lots.
“Collectors came ready to buy,” said Catherine E. Bullowa of Philadelphia, Pa. Bullowa said that even though she has left the auction business, she still does six shows a year and keeps office hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We try to cater to the collector,” she said. She added that she was “enjoying the hobby and helping others enjoy the hobby. I’m a senior citizen, but my mind is young.” At CICF she said her mix of business was 50-50 U.S. and world coins.
For Wassem Alteir of Alteir NYC Corp, Brooklyn, this was just the second year in which he has taken a bourse table. He started in the antiquities business and expanded into coins. When asked how he had done at this year’s event, he replied, “very good. Better than last year.”
World paper money dealer Ian Marshall of Toronto, Canada, said, “I’m experimenting. I haven’t been here for 15 years.”
How did his experiment go?
“I can’t complain and there is a day to go yet,” he replied.
Book dealer John H. Burns of North Huntingdon, Pa., called the show “very good. It is always a good show. The people that come here for me are intelligent, they are literate, and they know they need the references.”
Kurt Braun of SAFE Collecting Supplies, Warminster, Pa., said the show was better than last year and his business on the day prior was very strong. He held up a custom burlwood case as one of the new products his clients were interested in.
At the Professional Coin Grading Service table Chris Thomas described his experience of the show as, “It’s been steady. Everybody’s been friendly.”
Can CICF improve on this year’s performance? We will have to wait until April 26-29, 2012, to find out.