January 28-31, 2015: The Long Beach Coin & Currency Expo
I’m not a meterologist, but I have concluded after carefully analyzing a decades worth of weather data that the absolute best way to predict a blizzard in New England is to look at the schedule and check the dates of the year’s first Long Beach Expo. If the show starts on a Wednesday, you can be extremely confident that it will snow like crazy that Tuesday, cancelling all flights and forcing you to be on hold with Delta Airlines for 4 hours during which you will be told that they are “Experiencing longer than usual wait times” 633 times.
But we ALWAYS find a way to get here anyway, since of course the LB Expo has enjoyed a coin show renaissance in recent years and has become one of our favorite stops on the circuit.
And we will be there for all of it (knock on wood, fingers crossed, etc.) to buy, sell, trade, grade, schmooze and generally revel in all things numismatic. And then blog about them, right here, every morning (noting once again that we’ll be on Pacific time this week, and so early rising east coasters may have to wait a few hours to see what’s happening).
More later –
January 28th: Day 1
CRObservations from Wednesday:
Unexpected blizzard benefit: Since I got here earlier than planned, I had more time for pre-show schmoozing during which I spoke to other dealers and learned some surprising information about who had bought what in previous auctions which did not jibe with what I had earlier heard and might-maybe-possibly lead to some business opportunities down the road.
This is the best show on the circuit in terms of getting everything ready for dealers so we can just stroll in and get set up ASAP, which I did in nearly record time on Wednesday at noon.
Best I could tell, only 3 east coast dealers who were scheduled to be here failed to make it due to said snow. Unfortunately, one of them was an outfit that typically buys from me on a wholesale basis at this show, and so of course that did not happen here on Wednesday.
Most disappointing delay: The Pogue coins, which I am told will be on display at the Stack’s-Bowers table starting on Thursday at which time I hope to get a chance to go check them out.
I scored a free chicken sandwich for lunch.
Not much happened on the sales side, though I expect a very different complexion when the show opens to collectors on Thursday.
I didn’t find anything epic to buy on the floor on Wednesday, just a few neat toned pieces scattered about the room from dealers who were slowly filling their cases during the course of the afternoon requiring your author to visit and revisit them until I was sure I had seen everything.
I ended up leaving slightly early to have a meeting with another dealer which ended up with us at the hotel with an industry bigwig talking about the market until 9 or so at which time we had to scramble to find someplace to eat since this large, popular and crowded hotel, amazingly, does not have a single restaurant in it that serves dinner. I still can’t believe that.
What I can believe: Thursday promises to be a good day during which we look forward to getting reacquainted with a lot of our west coast friends that we last saw at this show waaaay back in September of 2014.
January 29th: Day 2
One of my favorite things about attending a coin show is the sense of wonder, as in “I wonder what I am going to find on the bourse floor?”, or “I wonder what fabulous coins are going to walk up to the table?“, or “I wonder why that man has a parrot on his shoulder?”.
But today we are going to focus on a single, wondrous example of that middle one since to me it represented that intricate combination of careful planning, hard work, relationship building, serendipity and complete dumb luck which goes into most successful coin deals.
With our story beginning waaaaay back at lot viewing on Tuesday morning here in Long Beach, when another dealer (with whom I always kibitz but seldom do any business at all) approached your author and said “Hey, I have a coin you might want!”. Now, this is something I am told at least 47 times at every coin show, with the majority turning out to be things I don’t buy, some being coins I don’t recognize at all, and a few being things that are so far beyond the scope of what we normally handle that I assume the owner had me confused with someone else. And even though I doubted this was one going to end any better, I was of course going to look at it anyway, since you never know what might happen and you never want to miss anything great.
So I said “Sure, I’d love to see it”.
Fast forwarding to Thursday, I ran into that same dealer who handed me the item, a colonial of a popular type (so far so good), and said I should take it back to my table, take a closer look and see what I thought. So I did, studying it carefully under a loupe for a few minutes before concluding, unfortunately, that it wasn’t quite good enough for the website. Not a big surprise there.
So when I later informed the owner that it wouldn’t be for me, he said just hold onto it for a while and he’d swing by later to pick it up.
Which he did at about 6 PM just as I was packing up to leave. At which time he mentioned, almost as an afterthought, that he might have something else for me, and despite me being almost positive that whatever it was wasn’t going to work either, I looked at that too.
And there it was – a superb, totally original, highly collectible, smooth, golden brown, XF example of a colonial issue seldom seen as such:
Since most of them fall into two main categories:
- Corroded / damaged / impaired / repaired / graffitied (but sometimes in a graded slab anyway), or
- AU or better, but often dark, or spotted or with other distractions.
But this one was really ideal, so of course I bought it, thinking how fortunate we were to even see it at all, knowing that would not have happened if not for the presence of that other coin we didn’t end up buying.
So, whenever anyone says “Hey, I have a coin you might want!“, the correct response is always “Sure, I’d love to see it.”
January 30th: Day 3
It was what numismatists call a full day on Friday here in Long Beach, with your author up and working on auction bids at the hotel starting at 4:56 AM local time and concluding with evaluating coins in the very same room until about 11 PM.
In between was action packed too, with some high-powered blog writing and breakfast eating, followed by some pretty steady sales at table #614 in all categories, including a run on silver dollars (who knew?), a nice mix of world coins, and colonial coin (and currency!) activity centered mostly around the moderate price points of a few hundred to ~$5,000.
But most of the action on this day was on the buying side, as we scoured the bourse floor and found a lot of neat things in all categories from national dealers, vest-pocket guys, local dealers in the waaaay back of the room and pretty much everyone and everywhere in between.
Including some nice old-holdered federal coins which will be appearing on the next Early Bird list and some raw world coins, tokens and medals which will enter our grading pipeline and may not come out the other end for months. Literally.
That grading lag works out OK though, since other coins we submitted months ago are now ready to go in our continuous process of buying coins, grading them, photographing them and then listing them on the site with long, highly detailed, fact-filled and occasionally amusing descriptions unlike what nearly any other dealer is doing (or frankly has done since those fantastic old Bowers and Ruddy Rare Coin Reviews in the 1970’s that I used to study incessantly as a kid).
But I digress, and now need to refocus on Saturday during which I expect to buy more, sell more, pick up auction winnings, pick up our last grading and then high tail it out of here at the end of the day before the next blizzard hits New England.
More later –
January 31st: Day 4
Would you believe me if I told you that Saturday was the busiest day of the show (by far)?
Well you should because it was.
For whatever reason, a great many of the attendees actually came on Saturday this year, which is not usually the case, nor is it recommended, since by then many of the other dealers are already loooong gone, having taken a late flight Friday or early Saturday, leaving their booths sad and empty.
But of course that worked out really well for us since we here all day in a far less competitive environment.
Which explains why we were busy at the table selling coins of all types to new customers and old friends alike, buying coins that walked up to the table (including one we saw for the first time about a year ago here and have tried to buy ever since), discussed deals, made deals and generally accomplished enough to convince us to never to leave this show (or any show, frankly) early.
If we had, we’d have missed all sorts of good things, and we would not have been here at 5:50 PM to pick up our last grades in the very last Pelican case of coins graded at this show (literally) and brought to the PCGS table where a few of us were assembled not-all-that-patiently waiting for our coins.
After which we went out for a final dinner with a few other late-staying dealer friends before heading to the airport and a redeye flight home.
From where your author is now finalizing this blog just in time to start working on our next Early Bird which will go out on Tuesday at noon east coast time.
So you might want to keep an eye out for that.