April 22-27, 2014: The Central States Numismatic Society Convention in Schaumburg, IL
Greetings Road Report reader and welcome to this our first installment of the 2014 CSNS report, a very fine event held in a convenient semi-suburban location very close to the last show we attended not even two frickin’ weeks ago.
But this one will be completely different (except for the part about all of the other dealers being here, seeing a lot of good local customers and bidding in a huge Heritage auction). While that last one was wall to wall world coins, this one will be all things to all coin people, allowing us to display our full inventory in its full glory and buy and sell with alacrity in all categories.
And believe me when I say that there will be a lot of alacrity, since we have a lot of cool things to sell, and we are highly motivated to buy (perhaps as much as 7 or 8 on the patented CRO Motivation scale in which ‘A’ is the highest, but 7 or 8 is still very, very good too).
Also, my son will be with me, so if you see someone at the table who does not look like me, do not panic, it could very well be him. Thus freeing me up to race around the bourse floor, conduct some high powered business, see little bits of the auction and write even longer, more in-depth RR’s (if that is even possible) and then post them here every single day of the show while other dealers are still sleeping.
OK – let’s get started.
April 22nd: Day 1
Arriving at the Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center at about 12:30 on Tuesday, I bolted to the CSNS reception desk, obtained my deluxe show badge (on which is a picture of your author looking up, possibly at an airplane or butterfly), made my way to the lot viewing room and parked myself in a seat there for the next, oh, 5 hours or so.
Conclusion 1: It was pretty much SRO in there, a situation exacerbated by a few highfalutin viewers who arrive, reserve a chair, view a few lots, and then leave to go to lunch for 2 hours while their viewing space lies fallow.
Conclusion 2: To get a proper appreciation for the average quality of coins out there in holders, you really can’t beat the experience of lot viewing at a major auction, since you will invariably have to wade knee deep through extreeeeemely mediocre coins to find the few that you like.
Conclusion 2a: I think I could count in the dozens the coins that had ‘turned’ in the holders, since there is no way that some of these could have been graded this way originally.
Conclusion 3: The good coins here look incredibly good in comparison.
Conclusion 4: I came here with the express intent of buying a lot of coins, but found less than I wanted / needed.
And then I left for dinner, after which I went through every lot I had marked, checked the current bid, determined what I would pay, eliminated the ones that were already beyond that level and prepared for tomorrow’s auction which will begin at noon during the show when I do not have time to actually attend it.
Since I will presumably be hard at work on the bourse floor buying, selling and doing other things which will all be described here bright and early tomorrow AM.
More later –
April 23rd: Day 2
Wednesday would begin not with a stroll onto the bourse floor, or some frantic booth setting up. No, that would come much, much later, well after your author had gotten up extreeeeemely early so that he could finish entering a plethora of Heritage bids on his computer so that they would be ready for the noon start of the first auction session.
Since at that time CRO (like all other booth holders here) would be immersed in coin show business and unable to, for example, leave the table for 4 hours to go bid in an auction on the 2nd floor of the convention center.
So we try to work with the schedule we are given and figure out the best way to keep everybody happy, including customers who do not attend shows so that they can come to our table only to find a large sign which says “At the auction ‘til 4 PM, come back tomorrow.”
On the other hand, bidding in these auctions is an important component of our business, so we need to give that its proper attention as well even if it interferes with our leisurely breakfast or REM sleep.
Anyway, it all seemed to work out fine, allowing us to have a real fine day on the bourse during which we sold coins new and old, including something cool we had purchased literaly 30 minutes earlier, and a fantastic colonial which had been on the site longer than I ever would have predicted.
Buying proved auspicious as well, as we found some neat federal coins in a variety of dealer cases, snagged two colonials and almost bought a neat world coin which looked fantastic at arms length but significantly less so under a loupe.
And what about the auction? Well, we gave it the old college try, but so far, at least, anything really cool and interesting was extremely difficult to buy at anywhere close to realistic prices. And when I say realistic, I mean realistic for the high quality of the coins, way above any recent trades at that or even the next grade level(s). So if you are trying to buy anything like that here, you have to really, really want it.
A trend which would continue into the evening session, where your author had slightly more success in the colonials through half dollars buying about 15 coins (including the two I simply had to have), before calling it a day (er, night), eating a late dinner and finally going to bed at about 12:30.
So that I could be ready to do it all again on what should be an even longer day Thursday with what I expect to be more collector traffic at the show, and a later Platinum Night auction filled with cool coins on which CRO will be an active bidder.
The results of which will be described here in vivid detail on Friday AM.
April 24th: Day 3
So while I was conducting my usual CRO preparation for this show, I took the opportunity to look through last April’s invoices from CSNS and review what we sold and to whom, thinking I may see many of the same people again here in 2014.
But while last year featured some very fine sales in a wide variety of price points starting at a few hundred bucks, by mid-afternoon Thursday this year’s event had taken on a totally different complexion. How so? Well, the least expensive item we sold by then was $5,500, with 6 other sales each north of 5-figures.
How do we explain this? Can’t. Is it important to try? Don’t think so.
Every show is different, with different coins, attendees, auctions (if any), market conditions, competition, weather, circadian rhythms, sunspot activity, etc., and in our view the best thing we can do is to have a nice display featuring a wide variety of items that we ourselves like and would want to collect and hope that others feel the same. And this week, for whatever reason, people seem to be feeling the expensive stuff.
So we’ll go with the flow, buy the same mix of price points we always do and assume that, over time, all will balance out and more closely follow our historical sales patterns which features an average transaction value of about $2,300.
And if it does, we will be well positioned, having added a lot of very cool new coins during the day in the colonial, federal and world categories creating a log jam of boxes on our back table. A pile added to during the evening’s Platinum Night auction, where we bought selectively in a session which featured some very interesting coins and others we really wanted to like, but didn’t.
After which we called it another late night, knowing that Friday might be just as busy in a show that so far has been extremely productive commercially even though we are only at the halfway mark.
Creating great promise for a Friday in which we figure to see even more local collectors, buy more cool coins and, you would expect, sell some less expensive coins somewhere along the way.
And if we do, or even if we don’t, we will write about it here in this space tomorrow.
April 25th: Day 4
Breaking news everyone: We did sell a few coins for less than $5,500 on Friday, so whatever strange (and delightful!) trend we had going there has ended.
Business marched on, though, with excellent sales in all areas culminating with an over the shoulder transaction with the guys at the table directly behind us at about 4:30 PM.
Which this author always finds to be an interesting phenomenon at a show, where we often do deals (buying and selling) with the people in adjacent booths in the numismatic equivalent of dating the girl next door, or becoming lifelong friends with the person randomly assigned to the dorm room next to yours.
Such as here, where we bought 3 cool coins from the aforementioned dealer behind us, sold them 2 others, and have something good brewing with the dealer to our left.
The long distance stuff was working, too, as we found a few more interesting coins in the far corners of the room, had two good orders come in through the website during the afternoon, and a third during dinner where I sold a dime while everyone else was ordering appetizers.
So from a commercial perspective, this show has been quite a success based at least partly on our table location which is smack dab in front of the door and all but ‘unmissable’ (though I did have a couple of people inexplicably tell me they “couldn’t find us”, which I believe says more about their orienteering skills than anything else).
Oh yes, we also got our first show grades back and, so far, the results were exactly what I had hoped for, indicating possibly good things to follow on Saturday. Either that or our orders will all have been “pended”, meaning they need to go back to the office to be finished, which is something not uncommon when you submit esoteric colonial or world coins at a show. Trust me, I know.
Regardless, I don’t think we have much to complain about at a show which so far has been very good and which might well be considered extra-fantastic by end of day Saturday.
An evaluation we will make in our next RR to be posted from home on Sunday AM.
Until then –
April 26th: And in Conclusion
Let’s recap the just-ended CSNS show with one of our patented CRO Yin and Yang lists:
Yin: When we entered the show on Wednesday I immediately noticed that the Coin Rarities Online booth sign was spelled wrong, prompting snide remarks from the first 5 people who happened by (one of whom has never spoken to me before about anything):
Yang: Before I could even whine about it like a child, a show employee arrived up at the table, said he was here to fix an error and placed this new, much bolder and correctly spelled sign in its place, thus indicating to me that the organizers are really on the ball, had actually checked all of this stuff on their own and were committed to making it right. I like that.
Yin: This is sort of a neither / nor venue, well off the beaten track, not exactly near the airport and not especially popular with many of the dealers.
Yang: The Renaissance Hotel venue is fantastic, and gives dealers and attendees a chance to visit the Chicago area without ever having to go to Rosemont, itself a real fine place but one that we already visit plenty during the year (including at the CICF show two weeks ago, and the ANA coming up in August).
Yin: A heard some of the dealers complaining about attendance here, and saying not much was happening.
Yang: It was all good from my perspective, with a strong local turn out, and plenty of other people who had made the trip from considerable distances. Heck, I even met a guy who was in from my hometown of Weston, MA. Of course, I like to get a primo table near the door so I can see what’s happening; those in the 1900 row may have had a different experience.
Yin: Hotdog from the bourse floor concession stand.
Yang: Blueberry and goat cheese salad from the hotel restaurant.
Yin: Much of the Saturday crowd was typically tire-kicking, illustrating once again why a lot of the dealers leave early.
Yang: Business overall was pretty darn good, with a lot of action at the table up from dealer set-up on Wednesday through Friday afternoon.
Yin: Another mega-Heritage auction held partly during show hours certainly kept some people (and their money) off the bourse floor.
Yang: The sale was world-class, with a lot of great coins across all categories which certainly drew a crowd of its own, many of whom probably would not have attended this show otherwise.
Yin: I noticed here on Saturday, for the first time ever, that there is a PCGS $65 ‘Show Economy’ grading tier which of course I would have used hundreds of times in the past on coins instead of shipping them to the office, getting them back weeks later, and paying shipping cost in the process.
Yang: The stuff I did submit here came back fast and graded right, so maybe I should just shut up lest I jinx something.
Yin: Went to pick up my Heritage winnings on Saturday and discovered the coins were already packed up, meaning mine would have to be shipped to me.
Yang: I’m not sure I could have fit another box in my bag anyway, since we managed to buy 50-something other coins here in yet another strong buying show.
Yin: Already exhausted, we have to sort this mountain of paperwork, reorganize the coins and jump on another plane for the EAC show starting in a few days.
Yang: I’m taking Monday off.
Which means I should be well-rested and ready to write the next installment of the Road Report from Colorado Springs in just a couple of days from now.