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April 25-28, 2018: The Central States Numismatic Society Convention in Schaumburg, IL



Frequent Traveler Tip #413:  It takes a lot less time to pack when you never completely unpack from the previous trip.

A #travelhack Team CRO took full advantage of, allowing us to effortlessly cruise to the airport for our flight back to Chicago, this time for the always exciting CSNS show.

Starting with an extended-play dealer set-up on Wednesday during which we fully intend to numismatically go berzerk (again), buying, selling, trading and intermittently lot viewing all in an elegant, convenient suburban location with free parking (unlike last week where some guy told us he paid $130 to leave his car at the Palmer House downtown).

A free perk we hope will drive (literally) crowds of midwestern (and beyond!) collectors to our deluxe table #703.

And if does, or even if it doesn’t, we will blog all about it right here in this space beginning on Thursday AM.

Until then, then.

April 25th:  Day 1

Loaded for bear, Team CRO arrived outside the bourse room at 7:45, stood in a frustrating registration line for about 15 minutes, ultimately secured our all-important credentials and then burst into the show at just after 8.

Where we would remain actively engaged in high level numismatic activities for the next, oh, 10 hours, including (but not limited to) the following:

Bought an old-holdered, gold-stickered early $5 from a dealer who always offers us great stuff.

Sold an R-6 Machin’s Mills ½p.

Bought an 1873-CC Trade $1.

Sold a rare Dime which never made the site.

Bought a wicked, old-holdered 20¢ Piece.

Sold a Camel Head NJ.

Bought a nice, original Nova Constellatio.

Got a deeply concerning phone call from PCGS Security in Newport Beach telling us that a package we shipped there yesterday had arrived damaged and they were going to refuse to accept it. With the images they sent revealing it had been “accordianed” and then apparently retaped by either a young child or a crazy person. After checking with our insurance company we asked PCGS to accept the package and verify the contents. Which we were unbelievably relieved to learn a few hours later were completely intact. Phew.

Made a deal for a big pile of raw colonials in ancient envelopes with prices written on them like “$3”, our second such deal in 2018!

Bought another superb anti-slavery item to add to the spectacular piece we bought at CCE.

Things we did not do on Wednesday: Bid on any auction lots, as we just did not see anything we had to have.

Things we did have to have: Dinner at Sam & Harry’s here at the hotel with some dealer friends, during which we shared as always a series of interesting, unusual and occasionally crazy stories about our coin experiences since we last dined together in Baltimore.

And then called it a relatively early night in anticipation of another full day of coin dealering on Thursday.

April 26th:  Day 2

Some random things people said to us at the show on Thursday and our reaction to them:

Comment: “This show is waaaay too long” – young vest pocket dealer .
CRO Reaction: We would agree that this show with a 9 AM Wednesday start to the dealer set up period could be shortened somewhat, following the tried and true schedule of either Baltimore, with its 8 AM set up on Thursday, or even Long Beach with its noon Wednesday set up, both of which seem to work pretty well.

Comment: “I don’t want to start upgrading my set before I have finished it.” – serious collector.
CRO Reaction: In our view a coin is either a keeper or it’s not. If you have a coin that you like and are satisfied with, then sure, we don’t recommend making incremental upgrades. But if what you currently have is just not up to snuff, we can’t see much reason just to hold onto it, especially if a long-term keeper example becomes available. Further – and this is the important part – if you are building any kind of challenging set, you really should take the opportunities as they come up, rather than trying to buy the coins in some sort of pre-arranged theoretical sequence that may not jibe with reality, and which may cause you to settle for whatever is available of certain types at certain times, while ignoring nice example of coins you planned to buy later.

Comment: “I was told you are an expert on Indian Peace Medals.” – visitor to the table.
CRO Reaction: Sorry – we have handled a couple of these through the years, but none recently and I am hardly an expert.

Comment:  “Do you still have that uncirculated 1803/2 $5 that you had last time?” – collector attendee.
CRO Reaction:  You mean last time as in last year at this show?  Um, no, we generally don’t have coins for more than a few months.  If you check out the website you can always see our current offerings, with many of those here at the show, in addition to some new acquisitions.
Interestingly, there are probably 50 dealers in this room who literally do have the same coins as last year, so the question really should not have been so surprising to us.

Comment: “I am 37 years old and still not married.” – dealer who stopped by the table.
CRO Reaction: In the past I would have told you that the astronauts on those old Gemini missions had better odds of meeting eligible women than a male attendee at a coin show, but that’s not really the case anymore. So clean yourself up and get in the game.

Comment: “I can’t believe NGC holdered that coin in your old black slab backward!” – loooong time industry professional.
CRO Reaction: It’s not backward – at that time, the front of the slab bore only the NGC logo, with the printed grade shown on the back.
As an aside, we find it interesting that a guy who has been in the industry this long had never even seen one of these before.

Comment: “How can your two Oak Tree Shillings of the same variety weigh the same amount when they are so different in diameter?
CRO Reaction: Well let’s look at the edges and compare thickness, since the mint tolerances in the 17th century were not quite as precise as on more modern coins.  Still, we admit it’s kind of hard to believe how different they look.

Comment: “I’ll give you [low wholesale offer] for your [brand new coin].” – various other dealers
CRO Reaction: We sincerely appreciate any serious offer anyone wishes to make, but we are not looking to wholesale out our newest coins before they have even appeared on the website. After a coin has been listed on the site and if it remains unsold for several weeks, we will always be more flexible. 
So keep that in mind if you see something of interest that we have had for a little while.


April 27th:  Day 3

21 things we accomplished on Friday here in Schaumburg:

  • Went for a long walk before breakfast.
  • Saw a rabbit there.
  • Got the shower set to the right temperature without scalding myself or flooding the bathroom.
  • Drank a barely acceptable cup of coffee from the lobby shop.
  • Arrived at the show just as it opened.
  • Walked down the aisle just in time to overhear a well known dealer quoting me to a prominent industry bigwig, repeating a comment I once made about how it can be difficult for long-time dealers to get past the mental hurdle of buying coins today for double or triple the prices they brought years ago, but to me you are either participating in the market at the current levels, or you may as well be one of those guys wandering around the show wearing a vest adorned with 30 years of coin show ribbons grousing about the good old days.
  • Met with a bunch of local collectors at the table.
  • Took in trade a totally cool Capped Bust Half.
  • Sold a couple of French coins on the phone.
  • Looked through about 30 double row boxes from various sellers to find 2 coins of interest.
  • Picked up our auction lots.
  • Bought some fantastic Cap and Rays 8 Reales.
  • Sold a wicked Seated Dollar that never made the list.
  • Organized, arranged and submitted about 75 raw US coins for PCGS take home grading.
  • Consigned about 20 coins to various auctions.
  • Bought a couple of unc. Fugios.
  • Snagged a cool and unusual medal of a type I have never seen before and which I think has next week’s EAC show written a-l-l over it (but not literally).
  • Sold a commem for $135.
  • Met a relative for dinner in a nearby town.
  • Didn’t drink too much.
  • Went to bed at a civilized hour.

With more accomplishments to be accomplished on Saturday, and then described right here in our whirlwind final CSNS wrap-up to be posted from the comfort of home on Sunday AM.

April 28th:  And, in Conclusion

Now back in New England we thought we’d take the opportunity to discuss a few of the notable topics raised this week:

What is your assessment of the Central States Show in general?
We think it has a place on the show calendar and is well worth attending.  We have always done good business and enjoyed our time at CSNS, though we are aware that some other dealers don’t like the show, the venue, the business they’ve done and all sorts of other things. Equally, we know some collectors who like it very much and attend every year, while others complain about the location, the lack of things to do or restaurants in close proximity, even the $5 entrance fee. It seems to me that show organizers can’t win, since we attend a wide variety of large and small shows annually, in a variety of urban and suburban settings, and have yet to find one anywhere that drew universal praise. Having been in downtown Chicago and now suburban Schaumburg in consecutive weeks we can say we prefer the suburbs for price and convenience. And, based on late word received here, it appears that last week’s Chicago Coin Expo will be joining forces with CSNS next year in Schaumburg. If true, we think that will only help both of them.

What is the state of the market?

We reject the notion that one can make macro-level assessments of the market based on one show when dealing primarily in areas where the coins are hard to find and the presence of one additional collector or the completion of one additional deal can be the difference between a terrible show and an epic one. If, on the other hand, we were selling white Morgans or generic Saints we could quote up to the minute price changes with up and down arrows. Suffice it to say the show seemed reasonably well attended, we found enough new coins to buy and we sold many coins to collectors and dealers alike. If we have any complaint it is a hollow one, namely that we were disappointed that some of the new and interesting items we put in the cases were purchased by dealers and not collectors. Of course we could have avoided this by holding them back and offering them on the website which we likely would have done if not for the fact that we are in the midst of three consecutive shows and will not be doing an EB for a little while yet.

What was the impact of a lack of onsite show grading by PCGS and NGC?

We heard from a number of dealers on this topic with views ranging from “It killed this show for me” to “It makes absolutely no difference”. Our view is that the presence of onsite grading adds a certain dynamism to any show and can lead to increased business in several ways: 1) Producing ‘new’ coins which can be sold, 2) The euphoria borne of good results which can manifest itself in emboldened buying or deal creation and 3) Opportunities to submit coins on behalf of customers which they sometimes then wish to sell or trade. So of course we’d rather have onsite grading available to us than not, though we’d hardly say the lack of it kills a show.

And with that we’ll close the book on the Central States Show for 2018 and look forward to our next RR to be penned from the EAC Show in Traverse City in just a few short days from now.