A midst an incessant barrage of negative sentiments towards domestic coin shows lately, word comes back from Schaumburg, Illinois that the annual Central States Numismatic Society Convention was, well… not so bad. Prior to the event, this year’s CSNS had all the indicators of being another reheat of last night’s take-out.
For starters, the show is located about 30 minutes from anything else in Chicago, especially O’Hare Airport. Second, most dealers have complained that they would prefer the “good old days” when CSNS would rotate the show among various midwest cities like Columbus, Milwaukee, downtown Chicago, and so on. While we love to travel, we don’t prefer to see the same suburb over and over again. A little variety in the surrounding can do wonders for the attendees of a convention. Third, as reported, metal prices are in a bit of a funk and there is little demand in shops currently for these important cash-flow generating sales. It also never helps that Central States comes on the heels of tax day, historically a weak period in the sales calendar for retailers.
For all this, you could understand our expectations for a lackluster CSNS show, especially given the trend that most national shows haven’t generated a lot of enthusiasm. However, a strange thing happened in Schaumburg. Dealers generally showed up in strong numbers because the calendar was perfect and everyone needed a show to attend to make something happen. Collectors also showed up—in greater numbers than usual. John Brush, President of David Lawrence Rare Coins, reported that he and Gary Adkins often found themselves with “8-9 people queued up at their booth.” So much so, that they missed spending quality time with long-term clients seeking their attention.
On the auction front, Heritage posted a $32.5 million series of sales (see the May 12 Greysheet cover story). This figure is a significant 16% improvement over last year’s $28 million take-in. Jim Halperin, Co-founder at Heritage Auctions, is equally optimistic about the current market stating that “the coin market is showing signs of increasing strength, and our Platinum night drew premier bids across the board.” For those who know Jim, these are words not to be taken lightly. Heritage is a strong barometer of the overall health of the rare coin business and if they see growth, other dealers are feeling the same.
It’s not all rosy across the board, of course. We heard from numerous other dealers on both sides of the fence at the show. Many concurred that the show was better than expected, but others were unhappy as well. We remain in a very challenging market, but if you are not starting to see some improvements over last year, it may be time to review your inventory and shift to more popular items. If you really want a change of pace, we encourage you to look at the modern China market, as reported in our new Goldsheet.