February 25-March 1, 2014: The ANA National Money Show in Atlanta, GA
Good morning coin collector, coin dealer, industry professional or random person that has accidentally stumbled upon this site and welcome to this the first installment of our Atlanta RR, this penned here in New England before we have even gotten on the darn plane.
But that doesn’t mean we have not been hard at work already sorting, collating, pricing, stacking, stapling and, of course, folding in preparation for what we hope to be a nice event in a city we have not visited in several years. Indeed, according to our archive of past Road Reports (all of which are viewable on this site dating back to 2005 – before that they are on rolls of parchment on an old dusty shelf like in that scene from the movie ‘Sahara’ where Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz discover a Civil War ironclad in Mali, West Africa), the last time we came here was in May of 2009, so there really ought to be some pent up local coin demand, right? For sure.
And if there is, or even if there isn’t, we will be reporting about it right here each and every day of this show, including images where possible, mirth where applicable, and liberally sprinkled with a CRO dose of biting numismatic commentary throughout.
So you might want to keep an eye out for that.
February 25th & 26th: Day 1 & 2
Did I ever mention that I am not very good at travel planning?
Sure, it seems easy, but it can be a real challenge, especially since I often book my flights and make my hotel reservations before I know the specific bourse hours or auction schedule at a show. And since I have juuuust a few other things to do each day, I don’t always catch it when my original plans need adjusting.
Which perhaps explains why I showed up here in Atlanta on Tuesday morning all set to do some lot viewing and wholesale business before I discovered that Heritage would not be here until Wednesday, and no one else had actually showed up yet.
So I enjoyed a productive day of working in my hotel room and then having an unplanned dinner with local relatives at a fantastic place called Pappadeaux before the rest of the numismatic world arrived starting on Tuesday night.
And so when I woke up on Wednesday AM, I was absolutely thrilled to see a few familiar faces at breakfast, hang out for a bit with a dealer friend and then roll right into the lot viewing room at close to noon. Where it was extremely crowded, with not one available seat, and another late-arriving dealer being told that there would be a “1 to 1.5 hour wait to get in” like in a fine restaurant. So of course it was good to get there early, just not too early.
Allowing me to view the thick sale at a comfortable pace, and see in hand a lot of the coins I had previously scouted out on line and discovering, as always, that some were a better than I expected, and others were truly awful.
I also saw a larger than normal group of ‘old friends’, i.e. coins in this sale that I have owned before through the years, including one that I have personally bought and sold 4 different times. Which of course makes me think of two things:
- If am experiencing this, then the old timers on the circuit must recognize nearly every coin in these catalogs, and
- I will be delighted to re-buy any coin I previously owned, because if I liked it and did well with it the first I owned it, I would expect to do so again.
Anyway, I finished up around 5:30, dropped my bags in the room and then met up with a dealer friend in the bar where we were quickly surrounded by other dealer friends who started buying us drinks and the rest became somewhat blurry after that.
So I am hoping to be feeling good on Thursday morning for the start of dealer set-up bright and early at 8 AM.
February 27th: Day 3
Normally on the first day of a show I would wake up early, write the RR (like now, for example), answer emails, listen to voice mails, go the gym, eat breakfast, go to the security room, get my stuff and then join the queue to enter the bourse right when it opens.
But since I had agreed to help another dealer print something complicated in the hotel business center on Thursday AM, I had to shift the whole thing back 30 minutes which is sort of a problem (since there is only so early you can wake up, especially if you might have had one too many shots of Fireball the night before).
Still, there I was, in the extremely brightly lit business center at 7:30 being as helpful as possible before rolling into the show at 8.
And once inside I discovered that our table was slightly closer to the door than it appeared on the map, lacked a hanging rod for the CRO banner (always an issue at these ANA shows), and was larger than I really need with room for 5 cases instead of our typical 3.
I was able to fill them though, with our varied assortment of U.S, colonial and world coins and a corner case with a couple of highfalutin coins in it (including a new Continental Dollar being unleashed here).
But while we were set and ready for action, there wasn’t a great deal going on in this early dealer-set-up phase of the show, which would be followed by the slightly more active period starting at 11 during which Early Bird attendees came in followed by the actual crowd which came in for the official start of the show at 1 (a large group I saw assembled in the lobby for the exciting ribbon cutting ceremony when I went out to get lunch at 12:30).
And I met up with a lot of other dealers and local collectors throughout, schmoozed prolifically, showed a number of coins, looked at many others, but ultimately made only a few sales.
I also managed to make several trips around the bourse floor to scout out interesting things to buy, picked up 3 federal coins and 2 world issues that circulated in early America and ID’d a few other things as possibilities that I might want to go buy later (but which might be gone when I go back which would be OK since I guess wasn’t all that excited about them).
After which I talked with Davd McCarthy of Kagin’s about the well-publicized Saddle Ridge hoard, saw in hand the amazing 1866-S No Motto $20 in its special gold label slab, toured the display of Georgia colonial currency, viewed some other Not For Sale coins at dealer tables, submitted some late grading (including one of the finest Fugios I have personally seen), finished up a couple of late deals, finalized and entered my Heritage bids for the evening session and then headed out to dinner where I tried to stay as far from that bar as possible so that no one could buy me any more drinks.
And that worked great, meaning that I will be rested and ready for action first things on Friday where I hope that business will be picking up.
February 28th: Day 4
Let me tell you why I felt so great on Friday AM:
No, it was not merely because I was not hung over (though that would have been a good reason too).
Or that I had an especially good feeling about business at the show on this day.
Rather it was because I had actually read the show schedule in advance and knew that there would be free breakfast there (described as “Dealer Coffee Break Provided by Silver Towne”), unlike past events when I’d go to the hotel restaurant, eat something awful and then discover that I could have had something delicious (and deliciously free) at the show.
So by the time I finished that, I was fully prepared for the onslaught of business to begin.
Unfortunately, I’m still waiting for that some 20 hours later here in my hotel room, since there was very modest show traffic and just a handful of transactions here on Friday.
And a quick chat with other like-minded dealers (i.e. though of us who actually put coins out and try to sell nice things to collectors) revealed that this was a common theme, as most of us had registered sales in the 4 or maybe low (L-O-W) 5 figures here so far, and in many cases not enough to cover the cost of attending this event (which is a relatively expensive one by dealer standards – much more than say a Baltimore or Long Beach show).
Why is it so slow here? I don’t know. An historic answer, and that generally given by most of the long-time dealers on the circuit, is that “Atlanta is not a good coin town”. An excuse I find somewhat hard to believe, though of course Whitman did eventually give up on this city after their 2009 show and so maybe there is something to that.
In any case, I tried to make the best of it, and had better luck buying things on the floor than I would have expected, including a very interesting 4-coin haul from a dealer I have known for years but up until Friday had never purchased from before. And another 5 from a usual suspect. Plus another half dozen I found scattered around the floor one at a time. Not to mention a cool proof Trade $1 I got back in a cash and trade deal from a long-time local customer that I had never before met in person. So that was good.
After which I tooled around the bourse floor looking for NEWPs and checking out the old, rusty tin cans from the Saddle Ridge Hoard:
And the stuff that was in them:
Eventually, though, things wound down and I packed up and headed out to dinner with a local collector friend and another collector/dealer I had never met before, drove some 20 minutes to a highly recommended restaurant not near the convention center, walked in and were seated directly next to another dealer and collector I know. Which just goes to show you two things:
- There is virtually no distance you can travel from a show for dinner and not run into someone you know, and
- If there is a good restaurant anywhere near a show, these guys are going to find it.
And we ate and drank well, talked coins and finally made it back to the hotel at a reasonably civilized hour so I could be ready for a Saturday where I am frankly not expecting much in the way of business. I will be at the show for the duration, though, and so if there is something to be done, I’m going to do it.
I also look forward to picking up my auction winnings so far, and, with luck, getting back my show grading back in time to photograph and list some of it on Tuesday’s EB.
Until tomorrow –
March 1st: Day 5
At the last show it was a surprise. I guess now it is a trend.
I refer, of course, to the fact that the last day here in Atlanta, just like in Long Beach a few weeks ago, turned out to be the busiest day of the show (and not by just a little bit).
From the time the doors opened to the public at 10 until around 2 or 3 in the afternoon it was downright busy here, with a lot of local (or semi-local) collectors stopping by the table, asking to look at lots of coins, buying some, offering to sell me others, trying to make trades and generally doing all of the kinds of things we as dealers hope that people will be doing at a coin show.
I guess the question is where were all of these people on Thursday and Friday? I really don’t know, but my personal theory is that maybe this venue (the Cobb Galleria) is not easy to get to during workweek traffic? Or maybe Atlantans are too busy working to attend a show during business hours? Or maybe the local publicity didn’t ‘take’ until those endless stories of the Saddle Ridge Hoard hit the local news?
Whatever it was, I was very pleased and surprised with the day’s results.
But that wasn’t the only surprise for CRO on Saturday at the show:
- For the first time ever, someone came up to the table and asked “Do you have any Hungarian coins?” And amazingly the answer was yes!
- I bought maybe the best coin I found at this show, raw, in the case of yet another dealer who pretty much never has anything I want.
- All of my grading was finished, mostly acceptably so, and returned to me before noon.
- A collector came to the table, inquired about a coin, offered about 60% of my asking price, left when I declined, returned about 20 minutes later and quickly bought it for my ask without so much as a tiny counter-offer.
- I made my last deal of the day at about 3:30 (30 minutes before the show officially closed), and well after most of the other dealers were long gone.
After which I packed up, headed out and had a fantastic dinner at a sushi restaurant called One Flew South in the Delta E Terminal with a couple of dealer friends.
If you ever pass through there I highly recommend it, though note it is a bit of a weird subculture where all of the other diners act like they know you, including the lady that just walked up to our table, pointed at a sake bottle and said “I’d like to taste that.” without so much as a “pardon me“, “forgive me for intruding” or a “please“. So of course we complied anyway lest everyone else in the restaurant turn on us and/or expel us from this seemingly tight-knit dining community.
And then I flew home uneventfully, arrived quite late, wrote this RR and began working on our next Early Bird scheduled for this coming Tuesday and which is going to be, in my admittedly biased view, quite a good one.
So you might want to keep an eye out for that.