Philadelphia’s reputation as the “City of Brotherly Love” was unmistakable at the 2018 World’s Fair of Money®. The American Numismatic Association-sponsored event welcomed 9,939 people at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Aug. 14-18, and by all accounts the show was one of the most successful in recent memory.
“Philadelphia, birthplace of our Constitution and coinage, lived up to all expectations,” says ANA President Gary Adkins. “We had record crowds. The bourse and auctions were very lively, and the many seminars, talks and meetings held during the convention were extremely well attended. I think you can safely say the City of Brotherly Love proved a great backdrop for what might well have been our best World’s Fair of Money in the last few years.”
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 collectors and the American Numismatic Association’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.
The show created an international buzz with the sale of the finest-known example of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel, which was conducted by Stack’s Bowers Galleries before a standing-room only crowd for $4.56 million – becoming one of the five most valuable coins sold at auction. The Proof 66 specimen is one of five known pieces, all of which were struck without authorization at the Philadelphia Mint. Of the other four known examples, one was on display in the show’s Museum Showcase from the ANA’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo.
A recently discovered fourth example of an 1854-S Coronet “No Motto” gold $5 (half eagle) realized $2.16 million during a Heritage Auctions session. The piece reportedly was in the possession of an unnamed New England collector whose numismatic acquaintances believed the coin had to be counterfeit because of the rarity of genuine examples. Numismatic Guaranty Corp., the ANA’s official grading service, certified the find as genuine and graded it Extremely Fine-45.
The United States Mint displayed three 1933 double eagle $20 gold coins. The display featured two of the ten pieces recovered by the government in 2004, which were the subject of 11 years of litigation. Also on display was a previously undisclosed specimen that was voluntarily surrendered to the government by a private citizen. The only 1933-dated double eagles to leave the Mint lawfully are two specimens provided to the Smithsonian Institution for preservation in the National Numismatic Collection.
The Museum Showcase spotlighted several spectacular specimens, including an 1861 Confederate half dollar, historical documents signed by Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and one of two known 1861-P Paquet double eagles. The Collector Exhibits area, always popular with show attendees, featured 53 competitive and non-competitive numismatic displays. “We’re thankful to the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and those collectors who shared their rare and historic numismatic treasures by displaying these items at the World’s Fair of Money,” says Adkins. “The exhibits always are a huge draw and collectors and the public alike love them.”
ANA President Adkins officiated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday morning, Aug. 14, and welcomed special guests U.S. Mint Director David Ryder and Bureau of Engraving and Printing Director Leonard Olijar. Opening day festivities were made even more memorable by a kick-off event that evening at the Museum of the American Revolution, which welcomed a crowd of more than 300. “The kick-off celebration at the museum set the tone for the entire week,” says ANA Executive Director Kim Kiick. “It was a stellar event and the amazing immersive experiences were enjoyed by all.”
Attendance at the show was strongest on Saturday, Aug. 5, when 1,955 people turned out for free family day admission. Hundreds of young people converged on the Kids Zone, where they could see their faces on a $100,000 bill, design their own coin or note, make an elongated coin, spin a wheel for a chance to win numismatic prizes or grab some high-flying bucks inside the “Cash Tornado.” ANA Education Director Rod Gillis reported that nearly 200 kids participated in the Treasure Trivia game as they explored the bourse floor in search of answers to trivia questions. “Coin Collecting 101,” a free class for those interested in numismatics, attracted dozens of attendees, as did Gillis’ “Money Talks” presentation, “Strategies to Dispose of Your Collection.”
Complete Attendance Totals for the 2018 World’s Fair of Money
- Total attendance: 9,939
- General public: 4,742
- ANA members: 3,743
- Table-holders/dealers: 1,373
- Staff, volunteers and pages: 81
Total daily attendance
- Tuesday: 3,259 (returning visitors such as table-holders, staff, volunteers and weekly pass holders are counted in first-day attendance only)
- Wednesday: 1,444
- Thursday: 1,640
- Friday: 1,641
- Saturday: 1,955
The 2019 World’s Fair of Money will be held in Rosemont, Ill. (Chicago), Aug. 13-17, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.