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Still Traveling, Mulling ANA Observations
August 10, 2009

My trip to the American Numismatic Association World's Fair of Monday has taken an unexpected turn. I am sitting here this morning in a La Quinta hotel in suburban Milwaukee. I arrived in my room at 3:30 a.m. after a delayed departure from Los Angeles International Airport.

It has been a short night, so if you find any typos, I hope you can cut me some slack.

One of the most interesting happenings at the ANA was the repeated runs on the supply of Ultra High Relief Saint-Gaudens gold $20s at the U.S. Mint booth. Long lines would form in the morning to buy them and before the day ended, the supply would be gone.

This isn't something you would think would occur for a product that has been available since January, but it did.

The increase in the order limit to 10 coins per person presented dealers with opportunities to assemble a large supply quickly. They were paying people a $60 per coin bounty for the pieces. Intrepid individuals could earn $600 for their time standing in line by simply walking from one side of the bourse to the other with their 10 pieces. Even ANA award winners were spotted in the line.

Why would dealers be assembling positions in this coins? As it was pointed out to me, the coins are still trading at a premium on the secondary market, but the first stop with the new supply is the grading services. Finding a few pieces in each 10-coin lot that make Proof-70 will add significantly to their value. The rest of the coins can be bulked out for a small profit.

Buying coins one at a time through the mail just didn't make this type of thing possible.

Another thought that was expressed to me by a hobby observer was that since a 10-coin transaction was almost $13,000, it was a quick way to do cash deals without filling out cash transaction forms. Was that a motive? I don't know.

Whatever the case, it was interesting to see the Mint booth being the most active spot on the bourse floor.

Now I will turn my attention once again to getting home.

Wish me luck.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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