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Journal entries from the founder of Legend Numismatics, Laura Sperber, help you stay current with the real happenings of numismatics. A former ANA Board Member, Laura has handled close to $1 billion worth of rare coins to date and has assembled many of the greatest collections ever. Her views and opinions are as "inside" as you can get. Warning: ALL her Hot Topics articles are pretty blunt!
Posted: August 19, 2017 08:21 PM EST| 2 Replies
THE ANA SHOW IS DONE
First, I want to make it clear I put 4+ years into trying my very best to help the ANA (2 as a Gov). I got no where. I screamed about them spending $750G on a web site and basically was told to sit down and shut up. I could not believe the status quo the board I was on had nor the desire for serious improvement from any group within the organization. Now, I feel things have reached catastrophic levels.
This was horrifying to read about the recent ANA show in Denver:
Total attendance: 8,638
General public: 4,196
ANA members: 2,909
Staff, volunteers and pages: 113
With numbers as disgraceful as that, its time to pack it in. This show was supposed to be the biggest numismatic event of the year. I don’t think on a bad day of a small comic-con held in a place like Kalmazoo would even have numbers that pathetic.
In the age of the internet, the ANA should be enjoying a six figure membership and 25-50,000 people attending its flagship show. The location really was NOT the issue-although it did not help. In my opinion a central location like Chicago where everyone can fly too serves a better purpose. Since the ANA insists on blowing its money on a Mid Winter Show (which no one attends) move that show around.
It took myself and Anthony Terranova donating funds for carpeting for 2 years before the show staff realized to fix up the look of the premium tables. I still am shocked when they claimed the premium table holders could not afford the extra $100.00 per show for the carpeting. That is how inept their thinking is. The show this year still looked like a partially stocked Costco Warehouse before it opened for a regular business day.
The ANA refuses to move forward or think about the 21st century. I have warned them many times they will lose their golden goose revenue of the auctions soon as there is becoming less of a reason to hold them at the show. People keep telling me change is coming-at this point it is impossible. The ANA has done NOTHING but waste away the last 10+ years as the internet world passed it by.
Having a horrible show is only the tip of the iceberg. The ANA has severe deep rooted problems it needs to quit being in denial about. They need to immediately realize how grave a position they are in and start changes now.
I gave the ANA TWO suggestions how they can survive and thrive.
#1 Become an online Numismatic University. I screamed about this while I was on the board. Being an online University that would reach millions of people and teach the world about coins. No question it would be a monster success if they had any idea of the right way to market the programs-with minimal expense. The revenue and collectors they could attract would be endless. Look at the billion dollar internet institutions-University of Phoenix, Devry, etc that grasped the concept. The ANA won’t do any thing with a place Ebay which is probably by far the biggest avenue stream of new collectors who crave education (or maybe Ebay feels the ANA is not a worthy organization and won’t work with them). Basically the ANA refuses to accept the internet. Its mind set is self destructive. Just go to the Newman Portal-its all free and its awesome. Plus, on occasion the grading services like to teach their own classes. I’d much rather learn from them-the people who do today’s grading. Just one more reason why today’s new collectors don’t care about the ANA-they have better options. I do speak to most of my new customers about the ANA. They ask why bother?
#2 My pet idea and biggest peeve. The greatest source of revenue is right in front of them waiting to happen. Create an open Registry Set program all collectors can participate in. Think about it, it would make them relevant to thousands of collectors instantly ( I think there are 100,000+ registry sets between PCGS and NGC). There would also be significant ad revenue and many other benefits. I mentioned this to a few people on the board-ONLY Don Kagin is trying to work on it. He has asked me to help but I have no time or energy to do so. One high up officer was moaning about possibly being sued if they do it? Or how can the ANA afford to do it? I was shocked. Wrong attitude dude. The money is there-or cut a few things. NGC should support something this big and meaningful for the good of the organization. I can not see how an ANA Registry would affect their business. Plus, they should loan the ANA their technical know how to get it off the ground. If they do not, it just proves again, they weren’t paying the ANA for support, it was for their own motives (IN MY OPINION). I know one top ANA official worries about how they would react. Why care? If you build the Registry program, the ANA will make far more then what NGC noes pays them. There is nothing more important in our world then the collectors themselves. An open Registry concept definately is one way to reach out and make the ANA IMMEDIATELY useful to a huge amount of collectors.
In addition, the ANA staff is poor in many ways. I do NOT blame Kim Kick, she is sort of handcuffed. The people who are in the trenches at the ANA either can not think forward or do not have the ability. They seem locked up in a 1970’s mode. The boards have been no more then rubber stampers who love to gab about nothing. The ANA is the #1 numismatic organization the US. Why are they not co branding/marketing with museums, banks, universities etc? Why are they shrinking so badly when the internet opened up the collecting world so big? When I was on the board I could not believe they made saving the Numismatist more important then the changing the organization. I saw little to NO effort to really market the ANA. My favorite dumbest suggestion I heard when I was on the board, was about something they did years ago to boost membership-have the dealers wives join. OMG!!!!!I’m still burning personally and wish they could sue the fool who lead them to blow $750G tp build the web site. At least he is long gone-but so is the $750G. Sorry, I can’t see the current board doing much of anything except being on thee wrong side of a US Mint Program.
Sadly, I know of 3 or 4 major dealers who are throwing the towel and won’t take big tables anymore (there actually was one who stopped taking a table and attended the show and laughed at everyone). Why spend $15,000.00+ to bring your staff to a show only to look at empty isles? Even smaller dealers simply can’t afford to go and loose money any more. What reason do I have for donating $10,000.00 for the ANA Show when every year it has been grossly deteriorating and the ANA is in denial that there is even a problem? My customers ask me what show to attend-I tell them the new #1 show-FUN.
Dealers right now are NOT feeling good about supporting this show anymore. Its NOT the market-that is an excuse. As tacky as this sounds, dealers are there to make money-it is their lively hood. Keep having pathetic and declining attendance and dealers not making money and I predict the ANA show will be OVER in just 5 years. YES 5 years (some think it is over now). If dealers could make money at the show, they would support it and attend no matter what the cost. The public would sense when a good show is happening and then they would be there. I’ve cried about improving the ANA show for years. Now that the position is open, they need to hire at the very least a world class show coordinator who has an open mind.
As you can see I am angry about the state of the ANA and the ANA show. I have done all I can to help-I have donated my time (which did take a physical toll) and donated money. At some point you have to cut your losses. If the ANA does not act fast and be serious about rebuilding and becoming relevant, there will be little left to organization-not just the ANA Show. I see little to no hope with the current board. Sorry to say that. I don’t want to hear wait, change is coming-I’ve waited for years now for change.
Someone has to tell it like it is. My arguments and opinions are backed up by facts.
FINAL COMMENT: the ANA needs to stop with the wasteful PNG Day. Time for the PNG to stop leaching. Yet again it was dead and affected the start of the show. Enough is enough. I can’t stand the PNG and refuse to join them. When they clean their house of the coin docs and work on serious issues that affect us all, then I will support them. Of course their answer always is-but we have no complaints against our members….BS if there ever was. Hey guys you should be embarrased by the Numismatic Consumer Alliance-they assist people who get ripped off by bad dealers (especially the elderly who get fleeced by telemarketers supplied by PNG members) and have one heck of a track record in recovering money. Yeah, the PNG sure does protect its members, they don’t seem to to care about anyone else, not even the public. They do NOT deserve to open the ANA show.
This article is the opinion of Laura Sperber, not Legend Numismatics or Legend Rare Coin Auctions.
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