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MidAmerica bourse buzzes

Commercial activity finds its pace at the 25th annual MidAmerica Coin Expo.

A collector turnout numbered at 1,312, from at least 32 different states, and a dealer bourse of 187 tables led to what several participants in the 25th Anniversary MidAmerica Coin Expo, in Rosemont, Ill., said was a ?buzz? of activity.

 The MidAmerica expo, held June 22-25 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, was sponsored by Numismatic News, in affiliation with F+W Publications.

"As the 25th annual convention, this was truly a special event," said convention chairman Kevin Foley. "It seemed to me to be absolutely beyond any doubt the most commercially active ever of the MidAmerica Coin Expos."

Foley noted that there was a record attendance for the Thursday, June 22, Professional Preview Day, with 140 non-tabled dealers and collectors from 19 different states purchasing early entry into the bourse. Included among these was a visitor from Turkey.

"In walking around the bourse floor during the Thursday Professional Preview, it had the feel of a show that was fully open to the public," Foley said. "There was an incredible buzz of activity in the air. And the show was active beyond all of my expectations."

American Numismatic Rarities, Wolfeboro, N.H., conducted the official show auction. The three-session, 2,906-lot sale of ?The Lake Michigan & Springdale Collections? featured U.S., world and Colonial coins as well as nearly 200 lots of Conder tokens. The auction, conducted at the nearby DoubleTree Hotel, realized $8,208,326.25, including the 15 percent buyer?s fee.

Interviewed on Saturday morning at the convention, dealer Robert Bruce of American Coin & Jewelry, Pensacola, Fla., characterized the expo as a "really strong show."

"The auctions have been great," Bruce said. "I bought some fantastic coins out of the auction. ANR did a wonderful job."

"Customers have been attending the show really well," he added. "There's a good buzz in the room."

He said his sales were especially strong in better Morgan and Peace dollars and that there is considerable interest in so-called dollars.

"I thought the public really showed up," said dealer Jack Beymer of Santa Rosa, Calif., who also mentioned the good buzz in the room.

"There are more people here than I think I've ever seen" at a MidAmerica Expo, Beymer said. Though most of his transactions were wholesale, he said his first sale was to ?a retail customer wanting to buy red Indian Head cents.?

"I had really a fantastic show, as I did last year," said Anthony Swiatek of Minerva Coin and Jewelry, Manhasset, N.Y. "I guess I was just lucky to have the right coins ? Charlotte gold, Carson City gold. These coins sold without a problem."

Though commemorative sales were slow, according to Swiatek, silver dollars in Mint State-66 and -67 were moving.

Not all of the dealers interviewed were pleased, however, with how their merchandise moved or the level of public participation.

Mike Schiller of Allouez Rare Coin Gallery, Green Bay, Wis., said the show was "average at best." Schiller said his sales, as of Saturday morning, were a little less than he had done at the prior year's expo.

"Considering what we had to sell, I thought we would do a lot better," he said. "We brought a lot of fresh merchandise and a lot of key dates. And when you can't even get somebody to look in the case, or to ask you to take something out, it's kind of tough to sell something."

Schiller's inventory at the show included complete sets of Indian Head cents, Lincoln cents and dollars.

"We pretty much specialize in collector coins," he said, "and I'm kind of looking for the collector. I haven't seen him."

Dealer Ray Harp of The Collector, Brighton, Mich., offered a similar assessment.

"It's been a little slow," he said of the bourse activity. "There's not quite as much traffic as there was last year."

Harp said most of his trading was dealer to dealer in collector coins. He was working the table with his father, Jerry.

John Bachman of Bach's Coin Box, Dover, Del., also thought public attendance was low. He did, however, have some good wholesale transactions.

"I do wholesale, but I can't live on that," Bachman said. "I need some percentage of public participation. I just can?t believe that Chicago can be that bad."

Others interviewed were more upbeat.

"Dealer to dealer trading was good and the retail sales haven't been bad," said Robert W. Adamek of Triple R Coins, Chicago. He and Robert Ropa, also of Triple R Coins, brought an array of certified and raw U.S. coins.

"I had a very good show," said John Krueger of Collector's Choice, Sun Prairie, Wis. He was working the Collector?s Choice table with Bob Curtis.

"The wholesale was great," Krueger said. "There were a lot of people here Friday. I thought it was a pretty good turnout. We did very well on coin sales."

Krueger added that everything from type coins to Lincoln cents was in demand.

"It seems like anything that was nice was going away," he said. "Bob did really well with toned dollars."

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