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January 14-19, 2020: The New York International Numismatic Convention

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Good morning again Road Report reader and welcome to this first official post from the NYINC, even though we are not actually there yet, having returned home from lot viewing in NYC late Sunday, waking up again at 3 AM, getting organized, calling an Uber, having that driver show up on time where he then backed directly into our front lawn (as opposed to using the driveway like every other person who has ever come to our house).

Fortunately, his driving to the airport was more competent and where we are now patiently waiting at our gate for the flight back to La Guardia.

And yes, I am now very, very tired.

But we’ll be fully energized by the time we arrive, ready to view more lots, bid in more auctions and generally conduct as much world (and US, where possible) numismatic business as is possible over the next several days.

And then, as always, blog about it right here each and every morning where we plan to be showing cool pics of coins we buy, because if previous years are our guide, we expect a fantastic haul here.

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

January 14:  Day 1

CRO enjoyed an extremely productive day in NY on Tuesday, flew down in the AM uneventfully, arrived at the Grand Hyatt host hotel without incident, zipped through the check in line and were delighted to learn that our room was ready.  So far so good.

So we dropped our bags therein, casually peered out our window and saw this startling scene of a guy working away across the street while standing on a skinny ledge about 30 floors up:

After which I felt thankful that our job requires only some early morning alarm clocks and other minor inconveniences, but almost never a hardhat or death-defying aerial maneuver.

Anyway, we then had a quick lunch and then dove head first into the Stack’s Bowers sales, mowing down 3700+ lots in about 2 hours.

And while that seems like a very fast pace, it’s a little misleading, since only a few hundred of the coins contained in it were actually of potential CRO interest based on their country / type / denomination / condition, etc., and only a small subset of even those were worth very detailed scrutiny.

So by the time we were done, we were quite confident in our target lots with a few more days to maybe double check a few and then figure all of our bids before the live sessions start on Friday.

Then we were off to the various other lot viewing rooms checking out a few coins here, a few coins there in sessions which contained a much lower yield of target material.

Before returning back to Goldberg for a re-review of everything we had seen on Sunday.  And that we needed, since this sale contained a bunch of complicated coins in not that easy to see holders, so we took our time looking, comparing, doing side by sides and finally felt very confident in our assessments.

By then it was about 4:30, so I returned to the room to catch up on regular website work, answered a bunch of emails, talked to a local (Massachusetts) customer who had just inherited a collection which included (and I quoute) “some giant old pennies”.  Hey, that actually sounded kinda promising.

Then walked to dinner on 49th street in a cold, revitalizing mist.

Getting back at about 10:30 and instantly falling asleep after several days in a row without getting much so that we could be ready for what should be another productive day here with a bunch of wholesale opportunities.

And if there are, we intend to jump all over them, and then post about them liberally right here in this space in about 24 hours from now.


January 15:  Day 2

Wednesday here was our opportunity to catch up on all of that missed sleep over the last several days and wake up at a civilized hour – or at least it would have been if not for the typical NYC street noise, which on this day would begin at about 4 AM with what sounded like some Grade-A pile driving, followed by someone throwing approximately 700,000 aluminum cans into a steel dumpster from a height of 60 feet, and then a loud, long, high pitched whistle that could not possibly have served any useful purpose, except maybe to train a dog.

But once up we began our normal travel routine of blog writing, answering email, finishing next week’s Coin World ad moments before the deadline, getting a coffee in the lobby (since no hotel here ever has a Mr. Coffee in the room lest an irresponsible out of town guest shove a 220V plug into a 120V outlet and burn the place down) and then hit the gym where we observed the senior member of a well known auction house do about a thousand sit ups. Wow – that was impressive.

And then we were off to view about 15 double row boxes of coins, tokens and medals in a dealer’s wholesale room, buying our fair share, then having lunch at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central which almost certainly has not changed, one bit, since 1955. Highly recommended though.

Then we went back to view all of the lots at Spink, then some of the lots at Goldberg for the 2nd or 3rd time, after which we picked up our winnings from Heritage the other night (including this cool item):

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Then talked to a bunch of customers, figured out bids for the Goldberg session for stock and for customers, answered more email, sold a couple of coins off the website, bought a US coin blind based on an extremely trusted person’s recommendation and then had a leisurely coffee later than usual.

Eventually settling into the chandeliered Goldberg auction room at 7 PM where they proceeded to sell a bunch of coins in which we had little or no interest for the first hour before hitting the group we were actually there for, some lovely, choice, original Talers mostly of the Wildman variety. And then proceeded to buy every single nice one for a lot less than we expected.

Also nice here: When a dealer friend handed us a bottle of wine during the session, which is the sort of thing that sometimes happens at the NYINC, but never, ever at a standard issue U.S. show.

So we were feeling good when we headed out to a late dinner at a cool Mexican restaurant around the corner, getting back real late, but not so late that we won’t be ready for dealer set up and the first day of the show starting at 8 AM on Thursday.

Meaning we should have plenty to talk about in our next installment of the RR to be posted here on Friday AM.

Until then, then –

January 16:  Day 3

After all of the build up, the lot viewing, the schmoozing, the wining and dining, we were of course excited for the actual start of the show on Thursday. Leaping out of bed at 6, done with breakfast by 7, hitting the security room to retrieve our inventory at 7:45, riding the crowded elevator down to the show floor level right at 8, realizing I did not have my phone by 8:07, looking everywhere for it through 8:20, going back to the room and looking under the bed until 8:30, returning to the show without it by 8:45, retracing all prior steps that morning in a mad search until about 9:10, sending MaryAnn back to the room for a re-look by 9:30 and finally achieving success at about 9:45 when she found it inside my dob kit. No explanation for that, pretty sure I never put it in there.

Anyway, now fully contactable, we finished setting up our booth space next to the fine folks at NGC, and then began peering into dealer cases around the room looking for cool and interesting CRO-style coins. Of which we’d find quite a few on this day, some – like a couple of choice, original Portrait types – which were right in our wheelhouse, while others from a variety of eras and countries that just had the beautiful color and surfaces we seek. I.e. we took a few flyers.

With new acquisitions ranging from $60 for a neat token to the high 4-fgures for some rare and desirable Talers of types we’d always wanted to offer but had never found any that were sufficiently nice (until today).

While that was going on sales were robust, and varied, including among other things a CAR 8R sold to a Japanese dealer, a neat coin sold to a gal from NYC, and (slightly disappointingly since it means we can’t offer it on the site) the sale of that new Pine Tree Shilling we just acquired at the FUN show about a week ago.

With the pretty large crowd of serious collectors and motivated dealers moving through the room at a good clip and in a buying mood, including people we’ve known for years, but others we met for the first time on Thursday.  Some who had flown in from the other side of the world, some from down the street, others who had just driven in that day from a few hours away.

All adding up to an excellent and entertaining day on the bourse floor in which we bought about as well as expected, sold better than that, brokered a few deals of coins to other dealers had asked us to find things for them and generally had a great day overall.

With the activity continuing on until about 6:30, at which point we started to pack up and head to dinner on 23rd street with friends and family, including an impromptu celebration for your author’s son who found out just hours earlier that he had passed his HSK Chinese Proficiency exam. Hey, if you can’t brag about your children in your own blog, where can you do it?

Anyway, we’ll be back in action on Friday where we are looking forward to a full day of activity on the bourse followed by the first Stack’s-Bowers auction session which will be going off right when your author is at dinner with some dealer and collector friends, once again testing our numismatic stamina and ability to multi-task, which we’re pretty sure we can handle.

And if we can, or even if we can’t, we’ll be back to post all about it in our next installment on Saturday AM.

January 17:  Day 4

As a dealer friend reminded me, Friday here at the NYINC would be a very busy day as it would be the first time John Q. Public could enter the show without paying the $125 “Professional Preview” fee. And said dealer was absolutely right, as the room would be jam packed (literally, with barely room to squeeze down the aisles) from 10 AM until about 4:30 when things finally started to thin out.

In between which we sold coins in all categories, from Pillars and Portraits to German Talers to French Gold to U.S. colonial coins to (gasp) standard issue United States types coins, including straightforward transactions in which the buyer wrote us a check, a couple involving trades of some kind and one notable deal in which a non-English-speaking buyer bought a coin after a series of stilted exchanges, typed furiously into his calculator, paid us in a large pile of unsorted cash and left. Unfortunately, after we counted it again we realized that large pile of cash turned out to be too large, so MaryAnn chased him down, returned the excess and got to witness the shocked look on his face first hand.

Also on this day we continued our efforts to buy virtually every neatly toned raw coin we could find on the bourse floor that was in any way close to what we deal in (i.e. they were all old, and cool looking), but that totaled only 6 such coins as of end of day Friday. A few others would have qualified if not for a scratch here, or mark there rendering them non-CRO items.

Of course we also bought a bunch of cool toned coins in the Goldberg sale, picking those up at 1:30 and placing them all in the back case so we can plot our next move, which in several cases will begin with reholdering since these same-sized pieces were in a variety of thick, standard and oversized holders, and many of them were slightly worse for wear after lot viewing.

And we also bought some interesting pieces over the counter, including a couple of high end colonials from two different sources. I think if that had been the only thing that happened here we would have been glad we came, but of course it was merely a couple of blips in an excellent and action packed day.

Which would conclude with your author at a dinner with some collector, dealer and industry friends wielding a fork with my left hand, while attempting to bid discreetly with my right hand on the Stack’s-Bowers app as they plowed through their Session I just as the appetizers were served. That proved only moderately successful (the bidding, not the salad), as your author snagged one cool coin, but lost out on the superb Chilean Pillar 8 Real we wanted. Oh well.

Returning to the hotel at another civilized hour where we answered email, updated the website to reflect the days events and then turned in so we could be ready for a Saturday which we hope is as productive on the bourse, more productive in the auctions and culminates with a New York Numismatic Club Dinner at a Turkish Restaurant downtown.

So that should all be fun, and provide more rich fodder for our next installment of the RR to be posted right here on Sunday AM –

January 18:  Day 5

Saturday in NY was notable for several reasons, including the fact that we did NOT begin the day by packing up and checking out of the hotel like we have on Saturday at every other major coin show over the last several years (since these are always the get away days where we work all day and then head home at night). Except here at the NYINC, where it was just another work day with Team CRO at the table just as the show opened at 9, ready to do business again in whatever form that would take.

And on this day it would begin with the sale of another bunch of world coins, from a relatively affordable mid-grade Pillar extracted from a box in our back case to a mid 4-figure Taler we had by then owned for a grand total of about 22 hours.

Then meeting a good colonial customer at the table to talk Vermont Coppers, part of which was discouraging him from making repeated incremental upgrades (since that is about the most expensive way to collect) and instead holding out for the right coins that you’ll want to keep long term. Kind of an anti-sales pitch if you will, but one that we happen to believe in.

Next buying a medium-sized group of cool world coins which included two more neatly toned Talers to add to what is now a pretty impressive assortment of same amassed here.

Then entering a few flyer bids in a sealed bid auction being conducted by another dealer right here on the floor.

After which we submitted some more straggler grading to both services.

Followed by more floor scouring seeking cool coins, during which we considered a lovely, old toned, raw 1500s Half Taler before deciding it was just too low grade to work for us.   Neat though.

Returning to the table just in time to buy a few more lovely US coins and sell three others.

Before chatting with a collector we last saw here in 2018, almost selling him a few conders with extremely weird themes but ultimately having a rare near miss at this show.

Not missed here: Tooling through a collectors epic box of extreeeeeemely CRO-style US coins, including things like this:

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And this:

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Alas none of these were for sale. Maybe that’s for the best though, since I very well might well have injured myself trying to write the check too fast.

With our last act of the day double checking our Stack’s-Bowers bids for their evening session, seeing that our few target lots were already bid at super-high levels, briefly considering chasing them even higher, thinking better of it and then heading out to the New York Numismatic Club Social Dinner with a variety of collector and dealer friends.

Which turned out to be great, with plenty of good food and coin camaraderie ending at about 10 PM, at which point we grabbed the 6 train uptown, shared an elevator with what I swear were the same drunken revelers I encountered in Vegas in December and then called it a relatively early night so we could be ready for what will be our actual and true get away day here on Sunday.

Before describing everything that happens in our final installment of this show to be posted bright and early on Monday AM.

More later –

January 19:  Day 6

Wow. That was exciting.

Now back home after just about 2 full weeks on the road starting at FUN, our collective numismatic head is still spinning after a NYINC show that was by any and every measure epic, with sales continuing right up until (and during) we were packing up to leave on Sunday afternoon at 2 PM.

And while we remarked earlier in the week that everyone who came to this show seemed to be in a buying mood, that seemed to hold true even for people who weren’t actually planning to come here, including a father and his young numismatic savant son from Texas who just happened to be staying in the Grand Hyatt, saw the NYINC sign and stopped in to check it out – eventually finding us, impressing us with their knowledge and leaving with a choice Fugio.

Amazingly, that wasn’t the only family team we saw late Sunday, as we sold some choice type to a father and young daughter who also impressed us with their knowledge, enthusiasm and taste level. Which when added to what happened here earlier in the day and all week, exceeded our total from the strong FUN show the prior week (interestingly, the same held true in 2018, so what at the time seemed like happy accident can perhaps now be better described as a trend).

And frankly we needed every one of those sales to give us room to haul home the huge pile of cool NEWPs we acquired on the floor, from show attendees and in the various auctions here, including the SPINK session which started at 9 AM on Sunday, finished at about 1 PM and was sharply punctuated by the auctioneer smashing down an actual and very loud old-school gavel after every lot (including the bunch that we won).

Perfect timing (or close to it) though, since we just managed to skate in there and pick up our winnings literally as we headed home.

And now the real fun begins, as we’ll be catching up on 2 week’s worth of office activities, shipping coins sold off the site, sending NEWPs out for photography and grading, picking up other coins graded or shipped to us while we were away and generally working non-stop all week.

All while compiling our next EB which will be a little more difficult than usual, since the Sunday ending of this show cost us one day normally used for EB prep, and the fact that a lot of our NEWPs are not imaged yet.

But we’re confident we’ll make do with another richly varied list that will go out, as always, at noon on Tuesday.  So you might want to keep an eye out for that –