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Back to Road Report Archive 2018

February 21-24, 2018: The Long Beach Coin & Currency Expo

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Greetings impatient Road Report reader and welcome to this eeeeaaarly first installment of the LB RR written from here in Mass before we even get on the frickin’ plane.

And if the last few extreeeeemely busy weeks in the office are any indication, it’s going to be an action-packed show with no shortage of buying, selling and trading opportunities.  Of which we fully expect to get our fair share from our command center at table #612, as close as you can get to the entrance without manning the information desk or opening your own auction house.

With every single thing that happens to be described in vivid detail right here in this spot each and every morning of this show (as always).

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

February 21st:  Day 1

Your author prides himself on being something of a “road warrior”, i.e. a guy who enjoys the numismatic-nomadic lifestyle, who is happy to jump on a plane at a moment’s notice, effortlessly cruises through time zones, relishes the idea of, for example, taking the redeye home from Long Beach this coming Saturday, arriving in New England at 5:30 AM and then going straight to our local show in Devens, etc.

So frankly I surprised even myself here in LB by so thoroughly botching our Wednesday schedule. How so? I am glad you asked:

I actually arrived here late on Tuesday evening (with a gaggle of other New England coin dealers on the same flight), made my way to our hotel and then planned out my Wednesday which would include some unhurried grading submissions, wholesale room visiting and extensive lot viewing followed by a relaxing dinner out with some friends.

Which would have worked great if we were in Baltimore, since dealer set up for that show is on Thursday morning. Here in LB, of course, the show starts Wednesday at noon, a small detail which had somehow eluded me despite the fact that I have been attending this show for about 15 years now. Hmmmmm.

Fortunately (and as has been documented here on this site ad nauseum) I am a fast lot viewer, and so I was able to compress time sort of like the Navigators in Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel “Dune” (but not David Lynch’s terrible movie adaptation of same) and actually get everything done by 11:45 so I could jump directly into the impatient queue waiting outside the bourse room door at 11:50. And then burst into the room at noon and start doing business like crazy as if that had been the plan all along.

Which consisted of (as I am sure everyone reading this could have predicted) first racing around the bourse floor trying to buy every cool CRO-style coin I could find before anyone else got to them.

And I was extremely successful in this effort, finding a lot of superb, original and often fantastically toned U.S. type coins in the right grades and price points from dealers literally all over the room.  With a couple more I didn’t buy but probably will if they are still there on Thursday.

In an around which we managed to sell a few things to a couple of other dealers (but not to collectors since they’ll all be here Thursday and Friday), schmooze with some people I had not seen since FUN, or even earlier, and checked out the Morgan display at the PCGS table and the epic Tyrant Collection display by Goldbergs.  I did not get to view the Ship of Gold display since that massive boat exhibit was not yet unfurled.

And then after a few last, late deals it was 6:48, so I packed up and headed back to my hotel so I could make it to that leisurely dinner at 7:30 with some dealer friends at a restaurant in which nearly every other person present was either a coin dealer or other industry professional.

Finishing up around 10 and then calling it a night after what had been an unplanned but ultimately successful day here at the show. With, we hope, more good stuff to follow on Thursday here in SoCal.

And if it does, or even if it doesn’t it, you can read all about right here just 24 hours from now.

Until then, then –

February 22nd:  Day 2

We were back on track on Thursday morning, as your author arrived at the convention center crisply at 8:45 AM, met up with a few other coin friends in the lobby and then eased on into the show just as they flung the doors open at 9 AM.

Clicking on the lights at table #612 before heading straight to another dealer’s table on the other side of the room to buy one of the “probably” coins I had seen yesterday (i.e. things I had considered and figured I’d go back and buy if they were still there).  In this case, having slept on it, I knew I had to get there ASAP before someone else snagged it.  And I have to say I was very fortunate that it was still there, since I doubt it would have survived the morning.

Which would turn out to be one of about 25 more coins purchased on this day from many different sources, including some which walked up to the table in 3 broad categories:

  • Coins we have owned before that we were delighted to buy back.
  • New coins offered to us by long-time CRO customers and dealers friends who had things they thought we would like.
  • Coins brought to us by people we had never met before who had been told by someone else in the room that whatever it was that they had looked like a “CRO coin” and they should offer it to us.

And I think we bought about 85% of all of those in what was by all accounts a pretty fantastic haul of cool coins.

With many of these coins ready for market, but some which will go from here to grading, or CAC, or in one notable case eBay (yes, we do sell some things there).

With all of this buying activity neatly offset by some pretty decent selling in all categories, with a couple of big coins now ‘in play’ which, if they do work out, would turn what has been a nice event into something grand.

We were also pleased to meet in person several customers we had heretofore only worked with by text, email or phone, which is always a nice benefit to traveling around the country at these various shows.  I have to admit, though, in most cases my mental image of what people will look like is consistently not even remotely close.  I guess that works both ways though.

Anyway, in and around all of that activity which your author was dropping off straggler grading submissions, following along with the Heritage auction, talking to other dealers and industry professionals and generally doing to everything possible to further our current and future business endeavors.

Which as you can imagine is kind of exhausting, so by the time 7 PM rolled around I was very happy to head to the bar at the Renaissance with some dealer friends followed by a delightful Thai dinner which at a relatively tame spice level 2 (on their 4 level mild to ‘Thai-spicy’ scale) was absolutely all your author could handle.  Quite good though.

After which I headed back to the hotel, watched the replay of the women’s gold medal winning hockey game and then collapsed in a heap after what had been another very productive but looooong day here in LB.

With the potential for more of the same here on Friday, we hope, so we can then describe it in our next RR on Saturday AM.


February 23rd:  Day 3

I had a good pre-show plan on Friday which would include working in the room until about 8:30 AM, and then bypassing the hotel restaurant and instead heading over to the show where I would grab breakfast at the convention center snack bar.

Unfortunately, this seemed to be some kind of revolutionary concept, since there was no coffee anywhere to be found, and the dining options at 9 AM included Doritos or a Chile Dog.

So I of course chose option C: Nothing.

And then dove straight into coin dealering activities starting with buying a Fugio at the table of a guy who pretty much only carries silver dollars, a wickedly toned Mercury dime from a local CA dealer I’d never met before, and then a beautiful Capped Bust H10¢ from a usual suspect whose entire silver inventory is pretty much always blast white.  Reminding us once again that you never know what you might find, or where, and you pretty much have to be everywhere all the time or you might miss something good.

Arriving back at the table just in time to sell our 1828 25¢ in what I think was a pretty good deal for the buyer, since that coin was a knockout that blows away most of the like-graded examples I’ve seen in recent years.

I thought this coin was actually sold to a dealer yesterday, but that potential buyer ultimately balked because he convinced himself that our coin – which I purchased at the NY International show in January and which had been graded at PCGS Paris – had just come from a February 18th GreatCollections auction despite the fact that that GC coin looked nothing like ours, was in an NGC holder and was not-CAC. Hey, I’m an efficient guy, but even I am not capable of changing a coin’s appearance, getting it regraded and then shipping it back and forth to CAC in NJ in 1 day so I could bring it to this show. Oh well, sometimes I just have to say no mas and realize that no amount of discussion is going to change someone’s mind.

Like the collector who came to the table and looked at the Massachusetts silver in our case at midday and, despite my best efforts to explain it, could not understand why our nice, original PCGS VF25 Shilling was worth much more than the off-center, 54.3 grain, VF Details Cleaned coin that sold in the auction here Thursday.  For those unfamiliar, a full weight Pine Tree Shilling should weigh no less than 65 grains, and those below that level have been excessively clipped and sell at steep discounts even if they are not cleaned and off-center.

Again, no mas.

So I was of course delighted to spend time with pretty much everyone else who came to the table on Friday. Including 2 long time customers who both volunteered to bring me lunch (since I was trapped at the table most of the day and hadn’t had anything since that spicy Pad Thai Thursday night). I really appreciated that.

I also appreciated doing some good business and placing some cool coins into collections which I did multiple times during the afternoon.

In and around adding to our now epic pile of NEWPs in the back case which is remarkable in two ways:

  1. It includes waaaaay more cool coins than one might have reasonably expected to find here.
  2. It includes a lot less from the aforementioned HA auction than I planned (since I was outbid on several coins I absolutely expected to win here). Hey, you never know.

With all of this activity winding down late in the afternoon and your author finally calling it a day so I could meet up with some dealer friends at our usual table at 555 down the street.

And then turning in early to be ready for what will surely be the longest most tiring day of all on Saturday, as we check out of the hotel, work a full day on the bourse, pick up all of our last grading (I hope) and then schlep across country and roll straight into Devens on Sunday.

So, don’t be surprised if the last installment of this LB RR is a juuuuust a little bit late.


February 24th:  Day 4

Let’s conclude this LB RR with some Random Observations from the Left Coast:

Whoever designed the display for the Tyrant Collection exhibit here at the show knew exactly what they were doing, since it was the most ‘viewer friendly’ set-up I’ve ever seen in numismatics. The fact that the coins were epic didn’t hurt either.

It’s never really a great idea to discuss religion at dinner.

The best purchase I made at this event seems like it is going to be one I saw on Thursday, but did not go back and buy until Friday. Of course, my opinion could easily change based on many factors, including hold period, eventual selling price, other grading results, etc.

Speaking of grading results, sometimes I think it is better just to take a bunch of random coins and arbitrarily submit them for grade/regrade/cross, since my own such submissions quite often work out better than the ones I have carefully planned, organized and agonized over.

Never assume the Convention Center snack bar will be offering anything that you might actually want to eat.

Maybe I could have been more aggressive on a couple of auction lots.

I think I mentioned once that I would buy every nice U.S. coin in an NGC Black slab or PCGS Regency holder. I now need to qualify that statement as follows: I will try to buy every such coin that is priced at less than $900,000, since this epic 1904-O $10 once retained by coiner W.J. Brophy being offered by David Hall Rare Coins was just a bit too much for me to purchase on spec. at that level:

I appreciate the convenience of the connected-to-the-Convention-Center-Hyatt Regency more than ever after having been forced to stay up the street at the Westin this time.

The public really, really digs the S.S. Central America Ship of Gold exhibits, with a throng of viewers lined up in front of the display most of the time.

Action begets action. I wish I could take credit for that elegant phrase, but I can’t – it was uttered by another dealer on Saturday. I sure do agree with the sentiment though, and in my experience, it was as true this week as ever:

  • Bought a coin from a dealer who then told me he had something else similar in the back case. So I bought that too.
  • Took a coin on consignment and then sold it to a new customer who, based on that initial contact then bought 2 other coins here and sold me another.
  • Made a California contact on eBay last year who now offers me a bunch of cool coins every time I come to this show.

With none of this stuff happening if I don’t step up and do something. Action begets action.

Which is precisely why we decided to go straight from LB to Devens on Sunday, hoping we can beget some more cool coins at the local level.

And then write all about it in our next RR to be penned in just a few short hours from now.