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Back to Road Report Archive 2017

April 25-29, 2017: The Central States Numismatic Society Convention in Schaumburg, IL

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Almost unbelievably, we’re off again on another adventure, this time to the pleasant, always successful, extremely enjoyable, totally self-contained (i.e. my accommodations and the show are under one extra-large roof at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center) Central States show.

And (just barely) we will be ready, having unpacked, repacked and resorted the CRO inventory into a suitable CSNS mix (including NEWPs that arrived in the office as recently as yesterday!) sure to delight our midwestern visitors.

Including, we hope, you too, if you are in the vicinity and can swing by our table this week.

But if you can’t, you can still follow along with all of the action right here every single day of the show, as usual.

April 25th:  Day 1

At my gate at the airport in Boston at 5:45 AM, in the lobby of the hotel here in Schaumburg at 9-something, in the PCGS submission room right after and comfortably seated at Heritage lot viewing by 10:30, your author was at his most efficient and productive here on Tuesday.

Even more so as I mowed down the ~6,000 auction lots over the next 5 hours, narrowing them down to a few dozen of high interest, noting same in my catalog, and then returning to my room to add them to my watch list and check the current bidding, which in some cases was already more than I would want to pay, while others were numismatically dormant.  So far.

How many will we actually win?  Of course at this point I have no idea, as it will depend on many factors, some of which have nothing to do with the actual coins themselves.  Such as how much we have sold and/or bought on the bourse floor up until that point, my overall enthusiasm level at the moment any individual coin is being auctioned, and what lots I have purchased at what price (if any) earlier in the same session, or may be saving up to buy later.  Let’s just say it’s complicated.

With luck we’ll buy a few cool ones to add to what we inevitably find here on the bourse starting when the doors fling open for dealer set up at 9 AM on Wednesday, continuing ALL DAY LONG and culminating with the aforementioned Heritage auction session #1 at 6PM which will run into the evening.

The results of all of which will be described here really early on Thursday AM.

April 26th:  Day 2

They do things a little differently here in Schaumburg.

While other shows have a few hour dealer set up period and then allow regular attendees in right after, at CSNS we have a full day set up on Wednesday starting at 8 AM for “convention sponsors” and 9 AM for us ‘regular’ dealers to be joined by the Early Bird / Professional Preview collectors (who shell out $125 each for the privilege) at noon.

So how does that work? It typically results in a looooong, quiet day on the bourse floor with very few collectors present and, as another dealer told me, “There is never any buzz on the floor at CSNS set up”. Unfortunately, I have to say I concur.

If they asked me (which they did not), I’d vote for letting all collectors in Wednesday at noon, or, even better, starting the show with dealer set up on Thursday AM like they do in Baltimore, with collectors entering at 10 or noon. That works very well.

But whatever the schedule is, we try to make the most of it, which on this day meant scouring the floor looking in dealer cases, taking advantage of the extra time to go through every last wholesale box and trying to find interesting coins for inventory, or the elusive coins on a few customer want lists.

And, in general, we did pretty well, buying about 20 coins for inventory, mostly U.S., but also some neat world coins just acquired by a Massachusetts dealer friend. As well as a nice, original XF early quarter we had been unsuccessfully seeking for about 6 months for a long time customer.

Sales were decent too, including some old-holdered type and one piece from the macabre display we first unleashed at EAC and continued here.

Then it was back to buying, with a cool gold CAC Buffalo helpfully birddogged by another dealer, followed by two interesting late-in-the-day commems from the far reaches of the room right before the closing bell.

Which left just a few late Heritage bids to enter in my room before meeting some dealer friends for dinner during which we discussed the biggest mistakes each of us had ever made in the coin business, the most compelling of which (and it wasn’t even close) involved the sale of an uzi by someone you would not expect to own one to a guy who really shouldn’t have one. Neither of which was me.

After which I called it a night, returning to the room to see what I bought at Heritage before turning in for what I expect to be a long and busy day on Thursday.


April 27th:  Day 3

After an impromptu early breakfast meeting in the hotel restaurant with a couple of dealer friends, your author strolled down to the adjacent convention center on Thursday for the first, full-fledged, collectors-included, let’s-all-do-business day of the show.

And CRO would be doubly ready, with able booth assistant (and nephew) Sam Agre waiting for me at the entrance for the 2nd year in a row.

With both of us charging onto the bourse floor precisely at nine, clicking on the lights at table 703 and non-verbally announcing ourselves ready for business.

And there would be a lot of it on this day, slow and steady, with visitor after local visitor coming to the table to variously buy a coin (or two, or in one case four) or sell us some. Never in crazy-busy fashion, but calmly, mostly one at a time, where we could talk coins, compare them and make deals in an unhurried, polite, midwestern fashion.

Including a lot of U.S. type, a bunch of colonials and quite a few world coins (in a room that was largely devoid of them, since the CCE world show was here just a few weeks ago, and, not surprisingly, none of those guys were set up at this event).

Which of course I knew since I took any opportunity to zip around the floor looking for interesting coins, finding another dozen or so out there, including some ‘as-is’ propositions, but also a few raw coins and slabbed pieces that will be off to CAC next week in preparation for another Early Bird sometime down the road.

In between which I’d return to the table for more of the same activity which gradually increased in pace during the day. With our busiest period coming between 5 and 6 sufficient to tip us just over the 6-figure mark here, a respectable total for us at a CSNS event with two full days to go.

Springboarding us into the Heritage Platinum Night auction which started at 6, with your author bidding from the table at the outset, then rudely continuing during dinner at the hotel restaurant where we have been eating every meal and gradually working our way through each and every appetizer and entree on the menu. By Saturday, I’m confident we’ll have tried them all.

But on this day we had to eat and run, with a dealer friend racing back to the live auction for his late lots of interest, while I went up to my room to bid on some last gold while watching the tail end of the NFL draft.

Where I was about as successful as, say, the San Francisco 49ers, picking up some cool pieces, but missing out on some of the highfalutin ones I was chasing here. Not that I really expected to win them, since nearly every person I encountered at the show starting on Tuesday mentioned the same few auction lots, suggesting the competition would be fierce. It was.

We’re happy with what we got though, and pleased we stuck to our strategy without succumbing to auction fever, doing something crazy like the Chicago Bears or accidentally hitting the bid button and purchasing the wrong lot (any of which can ruin your whole evening).

At that point, mine would be over, as I went to bed in anticipation of a very early start on Friday where I’ll be heading out to see local relatives before returning just as the show opens (I hope) to do it all again (I hope).

We everything that happens to be described right here on Saturday AM.

April 28th:  Day 4

What’s the absolute best way to start a Friday at a coin show? I’m not positive, but I suspect that it is not to discover that you have no hot water in your hotel bathroom and then take a shower anyway, get into an Uber at 6:20 AM and drive 40 minutes to a relative’s house so you can haul 8 heavy boxes of stuff to a UPS store.

But that’s what I did on this day, arriving back at the convention center at 8:45 as if nothing had happened.

And then continuing our efforts to buy and sell cool coins at the show, which proved to be somewhat of a challenge on a day that was initially not as busy as we had hoped.

Still, we did find another half dozen or so interesting coins (very) widely scattered around the floor, sold a few coins at the table and generally made do until late afternoon when all of a sudden (in what has become a pattern here) business picked up dramatically, and we had some bigger sales to collector customers.

Curiously (or maybe not), some dealer friends reported the exact some phenomenon but on an even larger scale, indicating that midwesterners prefer not to do their collecting too early. I guess.

With any free time during the day filled with retrieving mediocre grading, entering auction bids, picking up checks and/or writing them and shooting the breeze with collectors and dealers who stopped by the table, all while continuing to ponder 3 big deals we could make here, maybe should, but haven’t yet. Though here, in the quiet solitude of my hotel room (interrupted only by the guy across the hall honking like Felix Unger), I’m thinking I’m going to go for it when the show opens on Saturday.

Which at the very least should make for interesting blog fodder when our next installment of the RR appears here on Sunday AM.

April 29th:  Day 5

It’s time to summarize the CSNS show via a series of random observations:

I know this is not a unanimous view, but I really like the Renaissance hotel and show venue – it’s convenient, and easy and, most importantly, a good place to conduct coin business.

There is no question that the kinds of coins we are seeking are becoming less frequent at shows and auctions. Yes, we did buy some great things here (including 2 of the things first mentioned in yesterday’s blog), but I think it is safe to say that, moving forward, we’re going to have to work harder and cast a wider net to find them. So that’s what we’ll do.

Most of the coins in the auction that we liked the most and considered most original, aesthetic and appealing were unfortunately issues that we do not specialize in and/or have found historically hard to sell – e.g. expensive better dates or varieties, as opposed to the choice type coins we typically focus on.

Grading here was pretty frustrating in that we submitted a number of hand-selected small groups and individual coins that we consider quite choice but which were generally very conservatively graded, while it sometimes seems that other guys just take a big box of random coins, figuratively throw it at the wall and get a few lucky grades in the process.

I think it was very, very close to snowing in Chicagoland on Saturday.

Perhaps I need to whine more. Upon checkout of the hotel I was asked how my stay was and I informed the young lady at the desk that it was delightful except for the fact that there was no hot water at all on Friday morning. Her response: “Sorry about that. We hope to see you again soon!”. Consider the jarring juxtaposition of this unsatisfying experience vs dinner at the hotel restaurant on Thursday, when a fellow dealer asked that two mixed drinks be removed from the bill because they were (and I quote) “so obnoxiously overpriced”. Now, I did not disagree with his assessment, but that seemed like a pretty bold approach. Of course it worked.

Speaking of juxtapositions, I always find it interesting to hear some dealers talking about the great deals they found or sales they made, while others are lamenting their poor performance at the show. Personally, I think it is what you make it, an optimistic outlook is always helpful, but you simply must be able to adapt to a dynamic market.

I really enjoyed working with my nephew Sam at this show, and actually think he might be a natural at this. Time will tell.

But in the meantime, we’ll be taking some time off on Sunday before diving into our next Early Bird scheduled to go out on Tuesday at noon.

So you might want to keep an eye out for that –