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February 28-March 1, 2024: The PCGS Members Only Show in Philadelphia



I believe it was in Orlando at the FUN show in January when we first realized that this PCGS event would be held in Philadelphia, and thus seemed like a good addition to the CRO travel schedule.

So we made a late request for a table, JoAnn Nino of PCGS came through for us in a big way and voilà, we had a table (which would turn out to be in position 1A facing the door). OK, that will work.

The last time we were here for a PCGS show was in October of 2017 and that turned out to be extreeeeemely productive for us. And I think there is a good chance this will be too, since we have plenty of coins to grade, a wicked display of inventory with us including a bunch of new, never before seen coins and a large checkbook with which to vacuum up every cool coin we see like a giant Hoover.

And if we do, or even if we don’t, you can read all about it in our RR posted right here in this space every morning of this show.


February 28: Day 1

Team CRO was up and out early on Tuesday, first circumnavigating this extraordinarily complicated hotel layout to find the well-stocked gym, then returning to the room to update the site, write the blog, get our supplies organized and eventually make our way to the 2nd floor for the start of the show.

Where we found the other attendees assembled in the hallway outside the Franklin Room at 8:55 patiently waiting for the doors to fling open.

Which they did crisply at 9 AM, allowing us all to politely file in, drop our bags at the table and dive directly into the impressive PCGS breakfast buffet which exceeded that served at nearly all of the fine hotels we’ve stayed at through the years while travelling the numismatic circuit.

Then set up the table, clicked on the lights and begin doing business immediately. And while it was never actually crowded in the room, it was sufficiently busy that your author ended up stuck there unable to peruse the room for about 2.5 hours as a procession of collectors and dealers came to the table, looked at coins, bought some, sold us others and did one trade.

In between which we filled out about 15 PCGS grading forms and submitted pretty much every coin that had been parked in the ‘To Be Graded’ box in our vault.

After which I finally did tour the room, bought a bunch of old holdered gold from several different sources, looked through a gazillion dealer boxes and snapped up every CRO-style coin we could find here.

Finishing just in time for the equally impressive lunch buffet, eating while figuring a world deal, answering a bunch of customer calls and was, generally speaking, super-productive coin dealer man for most of the afternoon.

Which would conclude with the purchase of a highfalutin copper coin just before we packed up to head to dinner with our friends from Greece whose son is in medical school here in the city.

Getting back semi-late and immediately crashing after a long, productive and entertaining day here at the show.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring, but we’re hoping to buy a few more coins, sell some cool stuff and, if we’re lucky, see the first of our grades start to trickle back.

And then blog all about all of it right here in this space on Friday.

February 29: Day 2

Let’s compile a list of the top 9 things that happened on Friday here in Philadelphia:

  1. Sold a bunch of expensive gold coins.
  2. Bought 4 more nice old holdered US coins on the floor that I swear were not here on Wednesday unless I just missed them, but I doubt that very much.
  3. Did not eat any of the corn pudding served as part of the lunch buffet.
  4. Got most of our grading back, including an upgrade on a coin I submitted purely as a set up piece (i.e. one intended to show that the like-graded coin after it was clearly undergraded). You’d be surprised how often that happens.
  5. Checked out a coin in a dealer’s case here that a long time customer had bird-dogged online, called him to discuss it and ended up splitting it with him.
  6. Helped half a dozen lost travelers navigate their way through this hotel/labyrinth during the course of the day, including one woman who was seriously distraught. This was our way of paying it forward since some other kind souls did it for us when we first checked in here.
  7. Went to the gym early in the AM and got to use the single stair climber machine there when the guy who had been on it stopped using it after less than 3 minutes.
  8. Had a fun dinner with my old college roommate at an Indian restaurant on Chestnut St., probably the mainstream cuisine we eat less than any other on the coin circuit.
  9. Got back to our room just in time to start getting caught up on several appraisal speadsheets we have in the queue (and it is a very, very long queue).

Tomorrow we’ll be back at it hoping to do more business, get our last grading, pick up all of our coins and then hightail it out of here in the evening so we can get home in time for a busy weekend.

Part of which will consist of writing the last blog from this show and posting it on Saturday AM.

Until then, then –

March 1: The Exciting Conclusion

Now back home let’s summarize the PCGS Members Only Show via a series of random CRObservations presented in no particular order:

We sold a lot more here than I would have expected.

I though the grading overall was decent, allowing us to list a bunch of coins at about the level we planned to when we bought them. But as always there were a few outliers, with some coins coming back well less than we expected, and a few that were way higher. While we’ll probably send the ones that we thought were too low back in again, we always consign coins in the “too high” category straight to auction.

A collector came to the table during the show and asked us to show him “all the coins we have that are less than price guide and thus will be a good investment”. I tried to explain that price guides are typically for average examples, and that anything especially choice or desirable will sell for more and may in fact be a much better investment, but I could see that we were not going to have a meeting of the minds anytime soon. So I referred him instead to other dealers in the room who might have had the kind of stuff he was seeking.

We saw a guy we last met at the NYINC show in January who had metal detected a well worn but recognizable 1793 Liberty Cap 1c in a New York farm field(!). He had been trying to get it authenticated without much luck, but my understanding is that the PCGS head grader came out and looked at it at this show, concluded that it was genuine and agreed to put it in a slab.

The breakfast and lunch buffets provided by PCGS (don’t forget the mid-afternoon snack!) are really fantastic and completely over the top. Still, that did not stop me from going to the Reading Market once to visit the Hatfield Deli where I got my once a year corned beef sandwich fix.

We bought a coin late Thursday, put it in the case and three dealers asked to see it on Friday. Seems like that one will be popular.

We were surprised, no shocked, actually dumbfounded by the number of people who came to this show who seemed to be complete novices. There were at least a half dozen people here brand new to coins, and many of them were submitting, or planned to submit, low grade, cleaned or common coins that were simply not worth grading. We explained that to anyone who asked us in advance, but some had already sent them in and we saw their disappointing results after the fact.

As always at any show, we picked up plenty of coin industry scuttlebutt here, almost none of which is suitable for an RR.

We got all of our grading results before we left, but missed picking up the last box by about 15 minutes when we had to head to head to the airport. So we’ll try to see if we can have that delivered to us by PCGS at the upcoming ANA show in Colorado.

From where our next Road Report will be written as soon as March 12.

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