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Back to Road Report Archive 2011

April 27-April 30, 2011: The Central States Numismatic Society Convention in Rosemont, IL

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Prologue

We are delighted to be back in Chicago, and when we say Chicago, we of course mean Rosemont, Illinois, famous for a small cluster of hotels, a large, utterly non-descript convention center and for being sort of near Chicago (but not so close that it does not take at least an hour to get there during rush hour).

But that aside, we look forward to good things here, since the show has always been a very active one for us, we really do have a lot of cool stuff with us, and I am completely serious when I say that no one is a more aggressive buyer in our areas of specialty than we are (which we fully intend to prove once again at this show).

And whatever we do here will be described right here in this space every single day.

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

April 27:  Day 1

Excitedly, we stormed into the convention center on Wednesday morning and headed straight for the bourse floor for PNG day.  Though that proved to be harder than it sounded, since the convention center is a giant sprawling building which is certainly not cluttered up with a bunch signs telling you where to go.  So we ended up wandering aimlessly through some long corridors that all looked the same for about 20 minutes before finally stumbling into the coin show accidentally.

But once we were there, we got our badges and headed straight to our table in the high rent district (steps from the door and right next to Heritage, again) and began setting up like crazy.

And while we had only moderate expectations for PNG day (since by definition it is a limited attendance day with only 20% or so of the dealers present, and most of them rifling through boxes at their tables), it was about as active as I can recall for one of these, with a noticeable buzz in the air and some decent buying and selling activity taking place.  Such as at our table, where we sold a number of federal coins and a bunch of commems from two different deals we just acquired recently, and bought another half dozen or so federal and colonial pieces from several different dealers.

We also continued working on a mega-deal that has been going on, and on (and on) for some time now, as we have been trying extremely hard to make it work, and feel like we still might.

But besides that, we really did not see much in the way of especially interesting or spectacular coins on the floor – just mostly nice, regular things almost entirely of the mainstream federal variety (i.e. a gazillion Morgans).

We did, however, get to view some incredible things electronically, as David Akers stopped by the table for an impromptu show and tell session featuring some of the most amazing gold coins he’s ever seen (and believe us, he’s seen a lot).

And then we did some lot viewing, submitted some grading, talked with some collector and dealer friends and, eventually, called it a day, eschewing the PNG cocktail party and instead having dinner at Gibson’s down the street with (almost) every other coin dealer on the planet.

Tomorrow they will be opening the doors to dealers at 7:30 AM, which I believe is the earliest start to any coin show I have ever heard of, and is intended, I think, to give us time to set up prior to the “Professional Preview” guys (the ones paying $75 for the privilege) coming in at 9 AM, followed by the general public at 2 PM.  My prediction:  People in all three groups will complain about the schedule for some reason or other.  For us, it’s fine – we just need to know where to be, and when (and a few signs pointing us toward the show would be good too).

Anyway, we look forward to a lot of good stuff happening Thursday, and then describing it all right here in just about 24 hours from now.

EOM

April 28:  Day 2

As noted yesterday, the doors would be opening to dealers at the impressively early hour of 7:30 AM on Thursday, and so your author could be seen milling about the entrance at about 7:15.  Also milling:  About 200 other dealers, many of whom were not set up for PNG day and thus had giant carts with them piled high with coins, show cases and other numismatic paraphernalia.  And while normally a wheeled cart is a convenient way to haul a lot of heavy stuff around, it is not ideal when you have to wait on a steep ramp, which is where we were all standing waiting for the bourse doors to open.  Which meant that a number of these guys were straining to prevent some sort of runaway disaster in which a cart would careen out of control at 45 mph, which could have been very dangerous, but which would have made for a really exciting opening to a Road Report segment.

But that did not happen, we waited without incident, and then all screamed onto the floor at 7:28 to be ready for the next throng:  the Early Bird guys who would be let in at 9 AM.

And there was a decent crowd of them, including a lot of people we know who stopped by the table to schmooze, to buy something or to sell us something.

All of that was fun and pretty productive, as we started to see a ramp of activity into a slew of rapid-fire transactions reminiscent of the go-go days of 2006 and 2007, with mostly federal sales to many different dealers and collectors, and one expensive colonial thrown in for good measure.

At 1 PM, I headed up to the Heritage auction for what turned out to be a subdued colonial session in which we bought the 2 coins we really wanted, but let 2 others go that went for more than we wanted to pay.

Meanwhile, back at the table, Dave had sold a number of commemoratives from one of two different collections we are handling at the moment, indicating to me that the market in this category is always more active than a lot of people say it is.  My personal opinion (and this is not exactly a revelation) is that people just like really fresh, nice, pretty, coins regardless of category.

We also spent whatever spare time we had working on two different XL deals, either or both of which might or might not happen, though I’m guessing at least one will, hopefully before this show ends.

In the meantime, as Thursday wound down, we suddenly realized that the Heritage Platinum Night auction was starting in 5 minutes, so while Dave locked up the booth I ran upstairs to a less crowded auction room than you typically see at these events, watched a few items of interest go off and then headed to dinner with a customer-friend at the Hyatt where a fine time was had by all.

Friday will be starting at the more civilized hour of 9:00 AM, which means that I will be on that steep ramp just outside the door at 8:45 so as to be one of the first guys in the room and not miss anything at all.

And whatever it is that I do not miss will be reported right here on Saturday AM.

April 29:  Day 3

Herewith we are delighted to present Friday’s top 10 most interesting events:

  1. We sold 41 Commemorative Half Dollars to a variety of different dealers and collectors all in a concentrated period of about 2 hours in the middle of the day, during which several dealers who never come to our table sprinted over and said something to the effect of “I heard you had a fresh commem deal?”.  Indicating once again that nothing gets people running to a table faster than a “fresh deal” (except maybe free food).
  2. Despite scouring the floor about 15 times, we found literally just a handful of things to buy in our target categories, possibly because a lot of the guys who we normally see with interesting early and esoteric material are not here this week (since a lot of them were here for the recent Chicago International Coin Fair and probably concluded that one show in this building was enough in a two week period).
  3. We gave out about a dozen CRO hats on Friday, with the three colors being selected at a roughly even clip (which is always a concern to me, and explains why we do not have “lime green”).
  4. Yes, we are still working on that big deal, and no we did not finalize anything yet.
  5. We picked up our auction lots in the mid-morning, and we’re pleased with the few things we bought.  We do wish there was more stuff that was in our wheelhouse, though, as an important prerequisite to selling coins is to buy them first.
  6. Colonial sales here have been skewed, as we sold 3 more higher end pieces on this day, which means that, since we got here, we have sold 6 of the most expensive pieces we had with us (including the rare Connecticut piece in our recent ad), but none (literally) of the inexpensive coins.  Of course, that could go the opposite way on Saturday.
  7. We got some grades back in the late afternoon and were generally pleased, though the coin we thought could come back 68 only 65’d.  Oh well.
  8. Dave went and checked out the type set being broken up at this show and saw some neat things, including the 1794 Large Cent in PCGS MS67 RB at half a mil+ which might be the 2nd best coin on the floor at this show.
  9. Sometime in the mid-afternoon I looked up and saw a very large man wearing a very small bare midriff shirt.  And while there is nothing wrong with that per se, I think this look worked better on Brittany Spears in 1999.
  10. While Dave had dinner with our friends from Stack’s-Bowers, I went out with some relatives during which we still managed to talk about coins, indicating to me that, deep down, people are genuinely fascinated by this stuff.

Saturday we’ll be here until late in the afternoon, and look forward to whatever additional buying and selling opportunities present themselves (and then writing all about them on Sunday morning).

Until then –

April 30:  Day 4

Saturday at this show was totally different and far more active than most of the events we attend would be an inaccurate opening to this RR, and so I will not write that.

Instead, I will say that it was pretty much par for the course here, with lean attendance and thus a lot of dealers vacating the premises starting early and a mass exodus beginning by early afternoon.  Or maybe it was the other way around, with the dealers leaving early and the public staying away because of it.  Actually, attendance began to wane at about 4 PM on Friday, prompting one of the dealers in our row to conclude that the show was about over at that point, so really I have no idea which is a cause and which is an effect.

I do know that we are glad we were here until late in the afternoon on Saturday, since we did some pretty nice buying, picking up about a dozen neat things individually from other dealers during the course of the day (including a superb gold coin), and a group of 7 extra-cool coins in one fell swoop from a long time customer who had just arrived today.

We did not, however, end up doing the big deal mentioned here a few times, and while that is not totally dead, I would say that it at least has an extremely bad stomach ache, and, if it was a junior high student, it would not go to school tomorrow (if tomorrow was a school day, but I think you get the point).  Which is quite disappointing, since I was trying desperately to make that work.  Alas, in numismatics, as in life, not everything does.

Sometime later I thought we were back on, though, as Dave came back to the table around noon and said “You are not going to believe what just happened!”.  And then the conversation went exactly like this:

Me:  Did we buy those coins!!!??!!!!!?!???!!
Dave:  No.

Me:  Oh.  Well, did [name of dealer who owes us money removed to avoid embarrassing anyone] drop off a big check??!!!??
Dave:  No.

Me:  Hmmmm.  Did we get some great grading results or something?!?
Dave:  No.

Me:  OK, I have no idea.  What happened?
Dave:  The concession stand downstairs has Sloppy Joes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, while I know based on past experience that the Sloppy Joes at this venue are actually quite delicious, this struck me as a tremendous let down, and so I did not go eat one.

Instead, I went to check out the superb father and son Seated Dollar set on display in the exhibition area.  And I am glad I did, since it was very cool, with a lot of great coins very well presented, and a got to look at them up close and in hand.

After which we finalized a few pending deals, picked up and wrote the last straggler checks, and then coasted to the finish, eventually packing up and heading out at about 4 PM to our respective flights home.

In total, this turned out to be a pretty good show, though with more sales than purchases, but do not worry, we still leave here with enough cool NEWPs and coins back from grading to deliver an extreeeeeeemely robust Early Bird on Tuesday which you will not want to miss.

In the meantime, though, your author will be officially off duty for the next 24 hours.

The End

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