ANA World’s Fair of Money

Last week, coin and paper money collectors from around the United States and several foreign countries gathered in Philadelphia for one of the most important events on the numismatic calendar, the American Numismatic Association’s (ANA’s) World’s Fair of Money. The event is one of two annual events that the organization holds. This year’s event was held in Philadelphia, home of Independence Hall, where the US Constitution was debated and adopted. There could be no more fitting host for an event in which hobbyists seek out connections to the past.

As usual, the auctions were among the event’s highlights. This year, the auctions were hosted by Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Heritage Auctions, two of the leaders in the space. Perhaps the most exciting moment from these auctions was when the gavel fell on one of the five Liberty Head nickels in existence. One of just three that tis privately owned, the $.05 piece sold for about 90 million times its face value, fetching $4.56 million. The coin was previously part of the collection of Louis Eliasberg, who held the greatest coin collection in American history. Stack’s Bowers President Brian Kendrella called the sale “one for the history books.”

Coins weren’t the only high dollar auction items. Two 19th century notes sold for $1.02 million each. One was an 1861 $50 Interest Bearing note, a fantastic choice for Civil War buffs. That note has been dubbed “the Cat-Daddy of U.S. paper money.” The other was an 1880 Silver Certificate of Deposit, which is known as a “Black Back.”

The event wasn’t just about the coins and notes themselves that collectors, vendors, and other organizations brought to Philadelphia; it was also about making people better collectors. Collecting coins and paper money is a fascinating hobby, but it can also be a daunting one. There is always something to learn, not just for novice collectors but for those who have been collecting for decades as well. Several lectures and workshops helped collectors of all ages to learn more about their favorite hobby.

These sessions covered wide ranges of topics. Some of them covered specific events, such as the Treasures of the SS Central America. Others dealt with more of the logistics of coin collecting, such as eBay for the Coin Collector, which was led by David Schwager. There were even sessions on more obscure areas, such as Parthia: The Forgotten Empire, in which Douglas Mudd taught those who attended some of the ancient history of one of the world’s current hot spots. Those who took advantage of these sessions left finding themselves enriched not only in ways that can help them to enjoy collecting even more but also by learning about related areas of history, technology, and more.

Among the participating organizations in the event were several of the leading mints from around the world. The U.S. Department of the Treasury had the largest exhibit among them. The show provided collectors with the chance to see some of the U.S. Mint’s newest coins. Other mints that were represented include the Royal Canadian Mint, the Royal Australian Mint, the National Bank of Ukraine, the Austrian Mint, and China Gold Coin Inc.

The show was also an opportunity for participants to enjoy camaraderie with other collectors. Many of the attendees came from areas in which they had few, if any, fellow collectors with whom they could talk about their favorite hobby. At the exhibits and seminars, attendees were able to engage with thousands of others who shared their enthusiasm. Many organizations with specific interests also had meetings, including their annual meetings. Such groups included the Colonial Coin Collectors Club, the Token & Medal Society, and the Society of Bearded Numismatists.

The social aspects of the show extended well beyond that, though, by giving adult collectors the opportunity to share their favorite hobby with their children. One area of the show was set aside to get children excited about money. The Kids Zone had several activities for the youngest collectors and potential collectors.

One of the most popular youth attractions was the $100,000 bill with a hole in the center that let kids take pictures with their faces on it. There was also a table where kids could design their own coins and notes. This excited many of the kids and got their creative juices flowing. They also had the chance to play a treasure trivia game, roll elongated coins, and spin a wheel for prizes. Many of the youngest attendees surely thought that they were in for a dull event but ended up having a blast.

The ANA did another outstanding job of bringing collectors together, auctioning off some exceptional pieces, and giving people the opportunity to see some of the most valuable and popular coins on the planet. Smiling faces were in abundance in Philadelphia as people who were enthusiastic about coin and paper money collecting were able to share their hobby with thousands of others. If ever you have the opportunity, be sure to join in at one of these exciting events!