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CICF Weather Doesn’t Stop Panda
By Peter Anthony, World Coin News
May 09, 2013

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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The Windy City turned into the Rainy City for the 2013 Chicago International Coin Fair April 18-21. A massive storm front shut down O’Hare Airport, caused the Des Plaines River to flood and closed many roads. As a result the CICF got off to a leisurely start. Some tables sat sadly empty simply because dealers couldn’t get there. One outstanding Chinese coin dealer, Aaron Lancaster of Fort Collins, Colo., never did make it. He got hit with a double whammy of snow in Denver along with bad weather in Chicago.

Even so by the second day things picked up nicely; the rain stopped, most of the tables filled up with dealers, and determined numismatists navigated around road closures to attend. The Fair was certainly organized well enough under Scott Tappa’s able leadership, and it just kept going.

As a specialized world coin event the CICF attracts buyers and sellers from far and wide. That included buyers from as far away as China. It was interesting that from the start there was a great deal of interest in Panda coins. Dealers looked for them, visitors asked about them and everyone talked about them. Some of the dealers at the CICF with major inventories included Namchong coins, World Treasures, and Qian Min. According to these dealers business was very good despite of the weather. Namchong, who is based in Chicago and specializes in both Chinese and Korean coins, commented that this show was even better than last year’s for sales. Kent Ponterio of Stacks-Bowers described the show as “excellent.” As one modern Chinese coin dealer said, “I put the coins out and by the end of the show they were mostly gone.”

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One topic on everybody’s mind was the spectacular increase in the price of gold Pandas. The combination of rising coin and falling bullion prices is unusual, and people were uncertain of what to make of it. In the end the answer was that prices continued to climb due to limited supplies and strong demand. The strongest demand is for the less-than-1-ounce BU coins. Most people commented about how difficult it has become to find these coins and that once sold it is next to impossible to replace them. Prices reflect that reality. For instance, the bid price for one particular quarter ounce BU gold Panda reached $5,000. For anyone interested, more coverage of the Panda market can be found in China Pricepedia.

While the flavor of the day is gold Pandas there was plenty of interest in silver Pandas, and well-priced silver Chinese coins from other series including Inventions and Discoveries, Silk Road, and Asian Games. There was also good demand for Chinese paper money and older coins. One of the pleasures of a strictly world coin show is the opportunity to talk to so many interesting people. I sat in on a discussion about Shanghai history. Two collectors of Shanghai tokens compared notes on the presence of a U.S. Marine detachment stationed in the city prior to World War II. It turns out that one of the collectors has a baseball that is autographed by those Marines, a fascinating crossover between numismatic and sports memorabilia. Conversations like that are part of what makes this show so outstanding, and why I can hardly wait to go back next year. I hope you can join me.

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