Demand for gold underpinned the commercial sector at the American Numismatic Association National Money Show held March 13-15 in Portland, Ore.
“My sales here were almost exclusively gold coins. I sold one or two other things,” said dealer Julian Leidman of Silver Spring, Md.
Leidman held up a 1908 Saint-Gaudens $20 from the Wells Fargo Nevada Hoard.
“The premiums are really high, 50 percent instead of 10 percent,” he said, referring to the coin.
In all, dealers saw a good crowd in Portland.
“Far more nonmembers than members were here,” he said. “A lot of them are unsophisticated numismatists (with) a lot of questions.”
Others commented on the packed aisles, too. Official attendance was pegged at 7,943.
“I was very pleased to see the long lines waiting to get in,” said former ANA president and Salt Lake City dealer Bob Campbell.
“It was better than I thought it would be,” Campbell said. “Ninety percent of all my sales were to dealers. Most dealers said the same thing to me. I’m pleased.”
He held up a Wass, Molitor gold $50 as something he had just bought for his own collection.
“I think the ANA did a wonderful job at bringing the people in,” said world coin dealer M. Louis “Mark” Teller.
For him, the economy was a dominant factor and “business was off compared to last year’s sales.”
And, he said, “There was nothing to buy.”
But as for what did sell: “I sold mostly gold coins.”
Teller also mentioned Indian and British coinage and high-quality European talers as good sellers.
Jon Lerner of Scarsdale Coins, Scarsdale, N.Y., said that “a lot of raw coins sold very well.” He explained that true collectors were spending serious cash on them.
“Slabbed coins were kind of quiet,” he added.
Lerner was also buying. He said at this show Bust coinage, paper money and silver 3-cent pieces stood out as purchases.
He gave show organizers a pat on the back.
“ANA did a great job with the kids,” Lerner said. “We had over 400 kids, which is a lot.” His table was a stop on the Treasure Trivia route.
At the Bowers and Merena table Kevin Foley said, “It was a typical ANA event, very well organized and well patronized with exceptionally good educational content.
Santa Rosa, Calif., dealer Jack Beymer was satisfied with thes how.
“I bought lots of good stuff,” Beymer said. “I bought a lovely 1871 Seated Liberty dollar in cameo proof.”
He also mentioned a set of early matte proof Buffaloes in Proof-65.
His wife Sondra liked the Treasure Trivia participants.
“I thought it was nice people brought their families,” she said. “It was so cute.”
Gold was cited among the areas of strenght by Mary Sauvain at the New World Rarities, Hauppage, N.Y., table.
“Its been a nice, steady show,” she reported.
Encino, Calif., error dealer Fred Weinberg said the market since January has been “surprisingly resilient.”
“The coin business seems to be to a degree bucking the trend of most retail business,” he noted.
As for the Portland show, it was “surprisingly busy.”
Col. Steve Ellsworth of Butternut Coins, Clifton, Va., said, “I think we had excellent traffic, lots of people. Buyers are being very selective.”
Of early coppers, an area in which he specializes, he said, “It’s hotter than a pistol. Sixty to70 percent of my business is early copper.”
Other areas of strength cited by Ellsworth included early type coins before the Civil War.
Monument, Colo., dealer Will Rossman of Atlas Coins and Currency, who had stopped by Ellsworth’s table, said, “I basically agree with Steve wholeheartedly. Collector coins are hot. Investor coins are not.”
Ellsworth also said the supply of gold coins was basically gone. “There isn’t any supply right now. The public isn’t bringing in any.”
While the market was the central focus of the dealer community, the show was attracting large numbers of the general public because local news broadcasts slated 11 morning segments during the show.
There was also a cheerleading competition in the next hall, which probably added a few extra attendees who might not otherwise have come to a coin show.
However, the biggest cheerleader for the coin market in the convention center undoubtedly was gold.