ANA Rosemont Coin Show, August 2014

It’s that time again!  The American Numismatic Association‘s World’s Fair Of Money/gigantic coin show was held once again in Rosemont, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.  As one of the biggest shows of the year, it’s usually well attended by both the public and dealers alike — though it could be argued that this year it was too well attended.  The big drawing point for the show this year was the release of the Kennedy 50th Anniversary coins, but we’ll get to that later.  As always, I’ll start from the beginning …

 

The World’s Fair Of Money itself runs from Monday August 5th to Saturday August 9th,  with a PNG “Pre Show” that was held Saturday August 2nd to Monday August 5th.  As lovely as I’m sure the pre-show was, there was no way in hell I was going this time — my birthday was on Saturday August 2nd and as much as I love my life at the coin shop, I wasn’t going to spend that milestone in Chicago!

 

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Shelley and Mal represented for us at the pre-show, while Tyler, David Hunt and I flew out Monday morning to join them for the meat of the events.  I bought myself a first class upgrade as a birthday present, and happily ditched the boys once on the plane.  Several hours later, we found ourselves in a drizzling Chicago and made our way to the DoubleTree.

 

The view from my room that first rainy night.

The view from my room that first rainy night.

 

We took 10 minutes to throw our bags into our rooms, then headed right back downstairs to have dinner at Gibsons, a steakhouse right across from the convention center that’s conveniently attached to our hotel and the best restaurant in the immediate area.

The talk on Monday night was already centered around the release of the Kennedy’s.  Some dealers were already making plans to line up at the crack of dawn, despite the fact that the official statements by the ANA and US Mint said a line would not be allowed to form before 8am.

While we were at dinner it started to just POUR rain.  Tons of lightning, a lot of thunder, and more rain than I’ve ever seen come down at one time.  I felt like Forrest Gump in the deluge.

 

 

… before you start snickering at me, remember that I’m a Los Angeles girl, and water falling from the sky is a completely foreign concept.  And I mean it was POURING. A flash flood alert popped up on my phone, and coin dealers were calling and waiting for taxi’s to take them to a hotel half a block away rather than walk. It was a mini-monsoon out there.  As insane as the rain was while it lasted, it stopped abruptly sometime over the night, and the rest of the weather in Chicago was beautiful.

That night I ran into a bunch of friends outside the hotel [Tara and Crystal (Hamrick’s), Steven (Shcuch), Lucas Baldridge, and Tony Terranova Jr.], and snuck into the circle they’d formed without anyone noticing for about 15 seconds before one shrieked.  I received a lot of birthday well-wishes which both made me happy and surprised me; I didn’t think my little birthday would really track on anyone’s radar.

I called it an early night because I knew I had my work cut out for me Tuesday morning … in an unhappy coincidence, we had just gotten a brand new fancy system to go along with our fancy new website and I was the only one who had had any training on it what soever, and by “training” I mean “a 5 minute run-through that one time”.  So, not only did I have 3 days of backlog to get through, it was on a completely unfamiliar system that was going to be slow and awkward.  Somehow, I persevered.

Tuesday morning we awoke, and could hear a strange sound.  I went to the window and was met with about half of the line for the Kennedy’s that had apparently started forming around 5am.  I couldn’t believe it, but this was just to be the beginning of “The Kennedy Madness”.

Walking into the convention center  was a little different, as you really had to force your way past throngs of people.  There was also a really large police presence, and while it was nice to know they were there to do their job and keep everyone safe, the presence of so many of them seemed to alter the tone of the show a little bit.

I didn’t have to address my fears of working with our brand new system and the 3-day-preshow-backlog, as our computer conveniently decided not to work for the entire day!  I was off the hook for the moment, but that just meant there would be that much more to do tomorrow.

It was crazy busy throughout the day, and the show was just swamped with people — many of whom didn’t seem to care one iota about coins.  These would be “the place holders”, people paid by dealers big and small to buy the Kennedy gold coins for them, or solo treasure hunters just hoping to make a quick buck.  The combination of the great horde of people and the lack of functional computer system made everything even more hectic; the day flew buy in an absolute blur.


I’m going to pause for a moment here to talk about why I’m not going to talk about the Kennedy coins.  There have been volumes said already, and my personal experience with them was limited to marveling at the lines, and once walking up and down the line of 750 people looking for friends around 11pm.  I have very little to add to the discussion, and my personal opinion of what happened and how it happened in regards to the release is something that just doesn’t have a place here in the Coin Show Chronicles.

That being said, the spectacle of the lines themselves were something to behold, and I enlisted the aid of two friends and fellow CoinTalkers, Joe Ceravone aka Jaceravone Ryan aka TravIntiques to tell their stories.  Each wrote a piece about their experiences sleeping on the sidewalk for a chance to get their hands on gold, and they’re definitely worth a read!  Check out the Tales Of The Kennedy Madness.


My coworkers Tyler Roethe and David Hunt (Inland Empire Numismatics) joined the Kennedy Madness Tuesday morning, lining up at 5:30am — this was before any of us knew how bad it would get.  They made the 500 cut (something that wouldn’t’ve been possible the next day if you had lined up at 5:30am the same morning), yet it STILL took them 10 hours to actually get their coins.  We heard later that 2 of the US Mint’s 3 registers broke within the first hour.  But in the end, their perseverance paid off.

 

This is what all Madness was about.

This is what all the Madness was about.

 

Tuesday night we went out to the Rosewood Grill with a fairly large party, apparently big enough that we warranted our own private room (unasked for) —  or they knew we looked like trouble.  Our party-table included Mal, Shelley, Rob Chramosta (Times Past), his niece Cassie and her boyfriend Jason (who live locally and came for a visit), David Hunt, Larry Hanks, Ken, and little old me.

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Dinner was lovely, and we all decided to walk back as it turned out to be relatively close.  The walk probably took us some 15 minutes, and so we wandered as a big group of coin nerds cracking coin jokes the whole way back.

Wednesday itself was fairly uneventful — just busy busy busy, with the hordes still running rampant from the Kennedy Madness.  There was hardly a moment to look up, and I don’t think I got “lunch” until about 4pm.

We got the two Kennedy’s back from NGC that Tyler and David had acquired for us the day before, both Proof 70’s with the coveted First Day label.  I won’t even tell you how much we sold them for, it’s just part of the Madness.  Sometime during the day, a dealer-friend asked if I wanted to see a bunch of slabbed toned Kennedy’s he was shopping around, and I pretty much just said no.  I don’t even want to see another Kennedy for a while.

It quieted down pretty abruptly toward the end of the day, and I took the opportunity to wander the ANA displays.  There were a few coins I’d seen before, but that doesn’t stop them from being super cool.  I had actually taken more pics than this, but most of them ended up blurry and out of focus for some unknown reason.  So, below are the ones I salvaged on the ANA display:

I also wandered around to Heritage’s gigantic booth, which always has cool stuff to show.  I happened by right as they were adjusting the level of the shelves in the case — who ever set them up to what he thought was “eye level” must have been 6’6″.  Only a few things were back out when I was there, but they’re still pretty:

I made a point to get over to Joe Ceravone and John Call’s table (two CoinTalkers), and ended up spending a fair amount of time with them throughout the show!  Of course, I also had to get a picture of our first meeting!

 

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Thanks to a dealer-friend, Shelley, Mal and I were invited to the local-ish home of his mentor’s best friend, Dr. Sam Krengel and his wife, the lovely Karen Krengel.  We accepted the invitation not really knowing what to expect, and not knowing the huge treat that was in store for us.

IMG_9762We were welcomed into their beautiful home and found ourselves in a company totaling some 15 people.  We learned that we were to be part of a tasting menu dinner, a six course meal each served with a complementary wine from Mr. Krengel’s extensive collection.

But before we settled down at the table, it was tour time!  I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only one pulling out my phone to take some pictures, and all of these are used with their gracious permission.

 

 

 

I wish I could describe to you in a few sentences how enjoyable the night was, and how lovely each and every person was.  The food was incredible, and the wine divine.  I’m not normally one to post a lot about wine / post-show drinks / libations in general, but this wasn’t just “wine” — this was unbelievable wine.

All too soon, it was time to go and leave our new friends behind.  The good-byes stretched out a very long time … no one really wanted to end the evening!  Eventually we managed to pry ourselves away, and had about a 30 minute drive back to the hotel.

As we neared the hotel around 11 o’clock and rounded a corner, we saw it — the line.  I couldn’t believe it.  The line Tuesday morning I had thought insane, stretching most of the way down a Vegas-sized block, but this line put that line to shame AND it was the night before.  We never expected people to be camping out overnight, so this was quite a surprise (and reminded me of the Rose Bowl madness I have to deal with every year as a Pasadena native) and elicited many exclamations about the insane people willing to sleep on the streets for a Kennedy gold coin.  Then I remembered: I know some of the crazy people in that line!

I decided to investigate the front lines, and crossing the street to the convention center started at the front of the line and worked my way back, looking for familiar faces and anything humorous.  I found quite a few of each.

I walked the entire length of the line, all the way down just to see what was there.  The farther back you got, the more depressing it seemed — there were a lot of people “on the bubble” who were still going to spend the night on the street even though they were well past #500, hoping that some people would either get fed up and leave or not already have their credentials in hand when the morning came.  After the long walk back to the front of the convention center, I headed back up to my nice warm hotel room and my nice soft bed, leaving the people in the grips of the Kennedy Madness behind.

Thursday was another day of coins coins coins.  Have I mentioned that I love my job??  Coins were bought, coins were sold, but the overall tempo of the show had slowed down a bit from the previous day.  Despite that, Thursday was probably my favorite day of the entire show for two reasons: I met an absolute ton of CoinTalkers and PCGS forum members, and dinner with friends that night turned into an impromptu birthday celebration.

The CoinTalkers:

  • I’d already spent a fair amount of time with Joe Ceravone (jaceravone), and really got to talk to him at length that day, as well as get to know John Call (C-B-D) a little better.
  • Frank Colletti (Treashunt) and Viper
  • Salty Sam
  • Rick Sear (ColonelJessup)
  • Ryan Stephenson (TravIntiques)
  • Mitch Ernst (CornHusker) and his son Sam (NotLogical), who I had also met at the ANA’s Summer Seminar
  • Jon Williams (Coinucopia) — he only sorta counts, as I made him join the forums a few weeks back.

IMG_9808A group of us decided to do dinner that night, and I didn’t expect it to become a birthday thing!  My birthday had been just a few days before, on Saturday August 2nd, and I was genuinely surprised anyone had even known about it.  The wonderful Tara Crosby even got me a present and little card!  We all walked down to McCormick & Schmick’s, and they did that thing where they told the waiter it was my birthday so he brought a piece of cake and sang to me and embarrassed the hell out of me.  These are good friends.

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Clockwise from left: Travis Hollon, Tara Crosby, me, Nina Ann Phan, David McCarthy, Lucas Baldridge, Emily Silver, Steven Schuch, Jon Williams, Parker Vogt.

 

Thanks again, guys!  I really felt the love, and couldn’t’ve been happier to get a “birthday week”!

Friday.  Almost back to the weekend.  The show was still busy, but more subdued and a lot less … well, circus-like.  Today instead of talking about the Kennedy coins themselves, all anyone wanted to talk about was how glad they were that The Madness was over.

By midday, it seemed that a lot of people were already checked out and pre-packing their tables to make the Saturday tear-down easier.  The Kennedy Madness appeared to have just sucked the life from everyone.  I broke away from the table around 3 o’clock and was able to just float around for a good hour, visiting with friends and looking at coins as I went.

Everyone was pretty wiped out by the time Friday night dinner rolled around, and far from everyone being all revved up and ready to party, a few of us decided to do dinner ‘only if it was low key’ and I was just fine with that.  My coworker Tyler, David McCarthy, Jon Williams, Tara Crosby and I decided to walk to a little Mexican joint about a half mile away.

Upon arrival, there was no chance we were getting in — the place was slammed, and there was an hour’s wait without a reservation.  So we about-faced and headed back the way we came, deciding on the Capital Grill mostly because it happened to be the next thing we came across.  A nice steak house, it was probably the better choice over the loud and boisterous little Mexican place … a blessing in disguise.   We had a 5 to 10 minute wait, so we headed to the bar to kill the time when I noticed a familiar face, Parker, grabbing an appetizer at the bar.  We twisted his arm, forcing him to come along with us for the hour he had before he abandoned us to see a movie.

All of the food was amazing, and I had what may have been the best lamb of the decade.  Afterwards, we wandered back toward the convention center and a few split off to go to bed super early.  It had just been one of those shows.  We met up with David Hunt, and I forcibly dragged him, David McCarthy, and Tyler to that “back” open area.  They all thought I was nuts, as none of them had ever been there before and the easiest way to access the place is to walk through a big long parking structure.  They kept quipping things like “Are you SURE there’s something at the end of this?” Yes.  Yes I am.

We hit the back of the structure, go up the steps, open then door, and — David Hunt immediately starts freaking out on me.  There were a lot of expletives, but the gist was “I’ve been coming here for years — why the hell didn’t anyone tell me this was here?!?!”  I should have taken more pics, but there’s a big green faux-grass field in the middle, with a ring of some 10 restaurants and bars around it (and even a comedy club).  One place, King’s, has a slew of pool tables and bowling lanes.  I only just noticed on this trip (of course on the last day of the last ANA in Rosemont) that there’s an indoor skydiving place tucked in there too.  I’d say “next time,” but … yeah, oh well.

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Finally, it was Saturday!  Shelley and I rolled in wearing our travel clothes, which basically means we looked like we were ready for yoga class.  Saturdays are usually “tying up loose ends” days.  A few checks are issued, a few checks are received, a few last minute deals are done, and there’s a lot visiting with friends and colleagues one last time.  All too soon, it was time to go.

This was a fantastic show all around: a lot of coins sold and more than a few purchased, and I’m pleased to say that several people went from acquaintances to real friends.

So long, Rosemont — it was fun while it lasted!

 

Picture-Points

Random funny/interesting pictures that I didn’t have a place for elsewhere taking the place of the Bullet Points.

 

 

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