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Back to Road Report Archive 2015

December 3-5, 2015: The Houston Money Show



Good morning coin enthusiast, and welcome to this the first Houston Show RR we’ve written since 2007 (that being the last time we attended this non-regularly scheduled CRO event through the years).  Why?  Not sure really, usually it’s been just a matter of unfortunate timing or a conflict with some other show or auction somewhere.

But this year we’re in like Flynn, starting with today’s wicked early flight and we hope culminating with some good selling, deluxe buying and epic schmoozing on the bourse floor over the next several days hopefully with lots of local customers we seldom get the chance to see in person.

The detailed results of which will be posted each and every day of the show right here in this space.

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

December 3rd:  Day 1

Wow, that guy is really organized” is not a phrase that could have been used to describe your author on Thursday morning here in Houston, since I misread the show schedule, thought it started at 1 PM and had planned a leisurely morning which would involve a late breakfast and a casual midday stroll over to the convention center for a little lot viewing before meandering onto the bourse floor.

Until I realized at 8:26 that dealer set up actually began in 34 minutes, forcing me to leap into CRO high gear, get dressed, get organized and get over there.

Which of course I did, allowing me to set up the booth like lightning, including a full display of coins each with the price clearly marked on the front of the slab (an experiment I figured I’d try here based on some recent posts in the PCGS chatroom).

And hey, two of the coins sold almost immediately to a local dealer, though I have no idea if the visible prices had anything to do with it. I suppose we can say with certainty that it didn’t prevent the sale.

After which I began scouring the floor and immediately noticed that at this show, unlike any other I can recall, you can drive your car right into the building creating an unusual scene which might portend a future of coin shows where customers can pull up to a McDonald’s Drive-Thru style window, order a Buffalo Nickel and some MS62 Saints, and be back on the road again post haste:

Alas I had to do it the old fashioned way, on foot, which still worked well enough for me to find some interesting coins on a bourse floor which contained some of the national dealers I know well, but also some local guys that I was happy to find here as I know from experience they can be a source of cool new coins that CRO website devotees probably have not seen before. Plus I enjoy the social interaction, such as with the nice dealer I met who asked me where I was from but then gave me a completely blank stare when I said “Boston”. Eventually I settled on “near New York” which seemed to satisfy him.

Meanwhile, back at the table, we had a steady stream of familiar and new faces, some decent sales, some serious tire kicking of expensive items, two (2) bona fide offers on the double printed $50 bill on our site, and one customer who studied a coin intently using a pair of those impressive Harry Bass-style magnifiers which protrude from the front of your glasses in exactly the same way as the little wings protrude from the front of the Wright Flyer:

Less impressive: The lunch options here, which included a Roast Beef sandwich which was the exact same unappetizing color as the home jerseys worn by the 1993 Minnesota Vikings:

Which explains why I had the pizza.

Then I was back at it, buying up a storm, including a few additional invoices from guys I had purchased from earlier in the day as they put out new stuff I had not seen before.

And then made a few more sales, submitted some world coins for grading and eventually called it a day, heading out to an elaborate Spanish dinner with some dealer friends during which we, according to our waiter, had set a new record for the amount of food ever ordered there. So that’s something we can all feel good about.

After which I headed back to the hotel and crashing immediately so that I could be rested and ready for what I expect to be a decent Friday here at the show.

More later –

December 4th:  Day 2

Oh yes, I was ready for Friday, dressed and out the door by 8:30 and thus with ample time to enjoy a coffee and an unevenly heated English muffin with egg that was ice cold in the center at the Starbucks in the lobby before arriving on the bourse floor promptly at 9.

First order of business: Stroll around the floor again peering in every dealer case (or at least the ones that did not have upside down chairs on them) looking for interesting coins to buy and having surprising success doing so, partly because a couple of the guys here put out some additional NEWPs that I had not seen before, and partly because there were a few tables I inexplicably missed on Thursday.

With about 3/4 of my haul being U.S. type of all kinds, all original, many with cool toning, lots of old holders and generally exactly the kinds of things we would hope to find when we get on an airplane and come to a place like this.

The balance were more world coins, mainly Mexico, but including all sorts of other Latin American issues, the majority of which were raw. So I sorted those all out and submitted them in a variety of different packages straight to the grading services to get that ball rolling.

And while that was all good, sales were frankly pretty slow on this day, with a decent crowd in the room that was unfortunately primarily of the schmoozing and tire kicking variety (at least at our table – I can’t speak for anyone else).

Then, moments after buying one last early copper from a guy I’ve know for years but haven’t bought anything from in at least a decade, we headed out for a pretty good Mexican dinner in town before returning to the hotel just in time to see that at least one of my Heritage bids was successful at exactly 62.5% of my max bid with a bunch more pending.

Which leaves only Saturday and our expectation of a quiet day, but you never know until you actually show up and so we will, bright and early (though this time after having instructed the Starbucks’ barista to nuke that thing a little longer).


December 5th:  Day 3

Well, I’m here at Houston’s wonderful William P. Hobby Airport comfortably seated at my gate and looking forward to getting home at about midnight. Which of course means there is ample time to crank out the final installment of this Houston RR starting, oh, right now:

Unexpectedly, today was in this author’s view the best attended day of the show, and without a doubt our biggest selling day. With coins sold to people who had been there since Thursday, but also to new customers that 1) We had not met before, and 2) Who had arrived for the very first time on this day.  That’s not a typical last day result for us as we travel to shows around the country, but it is perhaps how things are done in Houston.

And, if the flurry of activity at our next door neighbor’s table was any indication, our experience was not unusual. At least up until about 3 PM, when the place started to thin out dramatically.

Also unusual was my early morning buying binge on Saturday, where I snapped up 4 coins that I am positive are going to work out great, including one which I acquired in a scenario that dealers (or at least this dealer) refer to as the “reverse amateur” (a rare variant of the “standard amateur”):

Standard Amateur: Guy works up to our table at a show a few years ago, sees a coin, asks for a price, we quote “5750”, he pulls out three $20 bills and then we have to explain that it is actually five thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars.

Reverse Amateur: I see a coin (a rare and obscure world issue) in a dealers case here at the show, I ask for a price, he quotes “two and a half”, I assume he means $2,500, I say I’ll take it, I go back to my table to get the checkbook and return to be handed his invoice for $250. Without acknowledging that I was fully prepared to pay 10x as much, I did ask him enough questions to verify that this was not merely a typo, or oversight, and then was absolutely delighted to write that check.

Speaking of these sorts of situations, I did attempt to avoid all of them at our table by posting visible prices on every coin in our display here (something I and other dealers have historically avoided for security reasons). And I have to say that it did seem to make a noticeable difference as I made some retail and wholesale sales to guys who walked hurriedly by, did a double take and then bought something that I don’t think would have happened otherwise.

So in total we learned some useful things here, bought some great stuff for less than we were willing to pay, sold a lot of cool coins, saw some old and new friends, availed ourselves of some delicious Tex-Mex fare and had generally a real fine time at the Houston Money Show.

And now we have lots of paperwork to file, checks to cash, coins to sort and prep to do for our next Early Bird Notification which will probably go out on December 15th since we do not have photos of all the new stuff yet.

But none of that work is going to be done on Sunday since your exhausted author is now going to be officially off duty until Monday AM.

The End