The Chicago suburb of Rosemont again proved to be a popular site for the World’s Fair of Money, with many hobbyists lauding the show as the best in recent memory. The American Numismatic Association (ANA) sponsored the convention – considered the most important numismatic event of the year – at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Aug. 13-17.
“Rosemont exceeded all expectations thanks in part to the tremendous support provided by the Chicago Coin Club and its volunteers,” said newly installed ANA President Steven Ellsworth. “It was plain to see that hobbyists are again collecting in a serious way. Numerous dealers noted they had more activity and sales than ever.”
The event featured displays by government and private mints from around the world; expansive educational forums led by notable speakers sharing their numismatic expertise; exhibits of rare treasures from private collections and the ANA’s Money Museum; hundreds of dealers buying and selling coins, currency and related items in all price ranges; and major auctions by Heritage Auctions and Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
“It was one of the busiest shows I’ve ever had,” said Charmy Harker, also known as The Penny Lady. “I was thrilled with the number of collectors who were actively seeking pieces for their collections. I didn’t hear a single person say they had a bad show.”
“Collectors who attended the show took full advantage of a sold-out bourse,” said ANA Conventions Director Jennifer Ackerman. “The buzz on the floor was energizing.”
During the show’s opening ceremonies on Tuesday, Aug. 13, ANA President Gary Adkins welcomed special guests United States Mint Director David Ryder and Bureau of Engraving and Printing Director Leonard Olijar, each of whom addressed the large crowd waiting to enter the bourse floor. Opening festivities were made even more memorable by a flag procession, representing the eight countries with mints at the show. “It was great to see such a large representation of world mints,” said Ellsworth.
The show received national media exposure with the $1.3 million sale of an 1894-S Barber dime – one of just nine confirmed survivors from the original mintage of only 24 pieces. The certified branch mint Proof-63 (PCGS) coin is among the most legendary rarities in all of United States numismatics. It was presented in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction as part of the Horatio E. Morgan Collection.
A 1907 “Wire Rim” Indian Head eagle (gold $10) graded Mint State-68 (NGC) realized $432,000 during a Heritage Auctions session. The coin is one of fewer than 550 struck in 1907 with Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ original high-relief Indian Head design, which was modified that year to make it suitable for mass production. The specimen, which is one of the finest known, was from the collection of Joan Zieg Steinbrenner, the late widow of New York Yankee’s owner George Steinbrenner.
The Museum Showcase spotlighted several spectacular specimens, including the first public display of the recently discovered, fourth known example of an 1854-S half eagle (gold $5) on loan from Brian Hendelson and Classic Coin Company; and the first public display of the recently discovered 1942 high-relief Lincoln cent pattern, courtesy of David McCarthy. The Collector Exhibits area, always popular with show attendees, featured 51 competitive numismatic displays and five non-competitive exhibits.
United States Mint Director David Ryder and Royal Canadian Mint President & CEO Marie Lemay held a combined meet and greet/signing event on Wednesday, Aug. 14, to introduce collectors to their new joint product, Pride of Two Nations. The U.S. Mint also unveiled designs for the 2020-21 America the Beautiful Quarters® and provided numerous educational resources for collectors of all ages. The Bureau of Engraving & Printing showcased its Billion Dollar Exhibit featuring more than $1 billion worth of rare antique currency, including sheets of $100,000 notes.
“We’re thankful to the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the many collectors who shared their rare and historic numismatic treasures by displaying items at the World’s Fair of Money,” said Ellsworth. “The exhibits always are a huge draw, and collectors and the public alike love them.”
A plethora of free classes, workshops, lectures and family activities were offered during the five-day event – everything from “Coin Collecting Basics” and over a dozen “Money Talks” presentations to the Maynard Sundman/Littleton Coin Co. Lecture Series on “The Future of Money & Collecting.” Past ANA Presidents Jeff Garrett and Kenneth Bressett were the guests of honor at the ANA Legacy Series on Thursday, Aug. 15, where they shared details of their early years, challenges and crowning achievements with a packed room.
The busiest day of the week was Saturday, Aug. 17, when 1,609 people took advantage of free family day. Hundreds of youngsters converged on the Young Collectors Corner and Kids Zone to learn about coin collecting, see their faces on a $100,000 bill and design their own coins or notes. ANA Education Director Rod Gillis noted that the Treasure Trivia game was particularly popular as kids could explore the bourse floor in search of answers to numismatic trivia questions and receive prizes in exchange.
According to ANA Executive Director Kim Kiick, the Chicago World’s Fair of Money represented all of what makes numismatics so special. “The sense of community was just extraordinary at this show,” she said. “Hobbyists made the most of the educational programming, the bourse and the fellowship opportunities.”
The event welcomed 8,184 people, reflected as follows:
- General public: 3,579
- ANA members: 3,271
- Table-holders/dealers: 1,216
- Staff, volunteers and pages: 118
Presidential Awards & Philanthropy Awards
Adkins presented seven Presidential Awards at the show. During the opening ceremonies, he bestowed awards on the Austrian Mint in honor of their 825th anniversary, the Royal Australian Mint for their continued support of the ANA and the hobby, and Spink in recognition of more than 350 years of numismatic excellence. On Thursday, Aug. 15, during the ANA Member & Awards Celebration, Matthew deRoma, Paul Hybert and Blenda Brush were honored with Presidential Awards for their dedicated service to the hobby. Barbara Gregory, editor-in-chief of The Numismatist, was presented the final Presidential Award during the ANA Banquet on Friday, Aug. 16 for her long and distinguished service to the Association.
Three benefactors were honored for their financial support of the Association. Those receiving ANA Philanthropy Awards included Chester Krause, David Sundman and Anthony Terranova.
New ANA Board of Governors Installed
The World’s Fair of Money also saw the installation of the newly elected ANA Board of Governors on Friday, Aug. 16. Voting members of the Association chose a new president, Col. Steve Ellsworth (ret.), and Vice President Dr. Ralph W. Ross, as well as five new board members: Clifford Mishler, Mary Lynn Garrett, Shanna Schmidt, Michael Ellis and Muriel Eymery, who join Greg Lyon and Paul Montgomery for a two- year term. Outgoing president Gary Adkins will serve as a non-voting, ex-officio member of the board for the 2019-21 term. The ANA thanked departing board members Brian Hendelson, John Highfill, Dr. Donald Kagin and Thomas Uram for their service.
ANA Board of Governors Meetings
The ANA Board of Governors met in open session on Friday, Aug. 16, and with the newly installed board members on Saturday, Aug 17. Highlights of the open sessions include:
- A donation of $15,000 to support the nonprofit Anti-Counterfeiting Educational Foundation (ACEF), which continues to work with law enforcement, policy makers and the collecting public to stop counterfeiters.
- Support of U.S. Congressional Bill H.R. 3757 to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint up to 500,000 commemorative Morgan and/or Peace silver dollars in 2021, identical in design to the original coins, in uncirculated and proof qualities. The board voted to create a committee of five participants to oversee the financial management of the 40% in surcharge proceeds that is designated to the American Numismatic Association for numismatic education, should the legislation pass. (Collectors can learn more about the legislation here.)
- Support for a Memorandum of Understanding to explore forming a task force with the Museum of American Finance (MoAF) and the ANA’s Money Museum on a joint facility.
- Selection of the Metropolitan Coin Club as co-host with the Georgia Numismatic Association for the 2020 Atlanta National Money Show®.
- Approval of 2019-2021 corporate and special officers, ANA national coordinator, Audit Committee and presidential committees.
- Discussion of the 2020 budget process.
- Authorization for Election Service Corporation to destroy all print and electronic ballots from the 2019 Board of Governors election on or after Feb. 16, 2020, in accordance with ANA bylaws.
The next ANA convention is the 2020 National Money Show in Atlanta, Feb. 27-29. The 2020 World’s Fair of Money will be held in Pittsburgh, Aug. 4-8.
Additional information on the American Numismatic Association can be found on their website.
If you want to know what happened on the ground at the venue, the aforementioned Penny Lady wrote an extensive blog post, documenting her visit and included lots of photos.