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Long live ANA auctions

Stack’s Bowers American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money convention auction results arrived yesterday after Numismatic News went to press.

The firm reported $21 million in sales across the U.S. coin, world coin and paper money fields. This exceeded the firm’s 2015 ANA results of $20.5 million.

Heritage Auctions notched sales of about $38 million at its 2016 ANA auctions. This was down from approximately $46 million at the 2015 ANA event.

Both firms in the last 12 months had huge independent sales of name collections. For Stack’s Bowers it was the Pogue Collection and for Heritage it was Gardner.

Naturally, these name sales rivet collector attention when they happen. Their results show off the work of the best numismatists of this generation.

They will live on in memory for a very long time.

An added financial bonus to the auction firms from these independent name collection sales is there are no payments to be made to a coin organization for the right to conduct the sales.

This does not mean we are seeing some sort of new trend. On the contrary, truly historical top-drawer collections do not come along often enough to make them the bedrock portion of an auction firm’s business plan.

It is the major convention auctions that can be relied on year in and year out to generate sales. This fact alone assures their continuation.

But with Internet bidding growing in importance, the value of convention auctions to firms, it can be argued, is declining.

However, results from Anaheim, Calif., where the ANA auctions were held this year can not be held up as having deep meaning.

Only if there had been no Gardner auctions or Pogue sales could we start making significant inferences.

As it stands, we should simply be grateful that auctions continue to be an important part of the ANA schedule. They hold collector attention. They provide a reliable means for many collectors and dealers to sell their coins.

Long live the official ANA auctions in this changing numismatic world of ours.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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