January 30-February 2, 2019: The Long Beach Coin & Currency Expo
If this is Wednesday, we must be in Long Beach preparing to head over to the convention center to submit some coins for grading and then view the entire Heritage sale in the 3 hour window before dealer set-up kicks off at noon.
And despite the fact that it’s already been a looooooong week with a surprising amount of coin buying and selling, we are rarin’ to go at what we expect / hope will be another fine event here.
Of course, you never really know what will happen at these shows until you are in the middle of them, more so this time since we are just a couple of short weeks after the FUN show. A scheduling quirk which may well slow some of the other dealers (and collectors) here.
Team CRO, on the other hand, will look at this as an opportunity to go berserk (in a good way) and snag more than our fair share of cool coins in the auction and on the bourse floor.
And then blog all about all of it right here in this space each and every morning of this show.
January 30th: Day 1
Arriving at the convention center in style (i.e. in a lime green Prius), Team CRO raced to the nearest door, discovered it was locked, tried the next one (which was of course also locked) before finally entering the building on our 3rd attempt through an inconvenient door in the middle which faces the movie theatre. Limited access which I guess is necessary to control the massive crowds of coin collectors and dealers who will surely descend on the place over the next 3 days.
Anyway, once inside, we dove straight into it, viewing some wholesale lots at the tables near the (locked) door, then in the pre-show room, buying a few cool things before heading on over to the PCGS pre-show room to submit some pent up show grading. Which took about half an hour and resulted in your author suffering a mild case of submission form writers’ cramp before heading on to the Heritage lot viewing room.
Where I powered through the ~3500 lot sale, skipping the GSAs and any other oversized items, quickly eliminating most of the others and ultimately identifying a total of maybe 20 coins to bid on for our own account. But while that was typically super-efficient, I lingered for a looooong while over the lots on which we are representing customers, writing detailed notes on each and then (continuing today) giving them chapter and verse on each coin’s various attributes. Spoiler alert: Only a few of them are actually worth pursuing in our view.
Finishing with that around 11 and thus affording us an opportunity to schmooze with some dealer friends in the lobby, pick up some interesting industry scuttlebutt, pass around a few coins being offered by some vest pocket guys and eat a quick lunch before heading down to the bourse floor precisely at noon so we could start setting up like crazy. A process that went pretty smoothly today, was done in 30 minutes and allowed us to make our first 2 sales immediately after.
Which would turn out to be a harbinger of pretty solid activity all day, in all categories, to people we do a lot of business with and others we met here for the first time (including one large deal orchestrated from afar by the collector who traded it to us and then directed us to someone we could sell it to). And while that may sound unconventional, that’s actually the second time something like that has happened this week(!).
After which we toured the entire bourse multiple times as other dealers were in various stages of putting out their wares, picked off an interesting old holder coin here, a colonial there, some world coins near the snack bar and some cool US material, including some that walked up to our table during one of our frequent stops there.
Also seen on this day: a mega-coin crossover just achieved here by another dealer which I suspect will be featured on an upcoming PCGS magazine or calendar cover.
All adding up to a very interesting, entertaining, productive and pretty busy set-up day during which we walked our requisite 10,000 bourse steps before finally heading to dinner with some dealer friends at one of our regular LB haunts.
Getting back to the hotel just in time to research some coin prices and then do some work on our taxes, which is no way to end a day in my opinion, but really there was no other chance to do it.
Which at least means we do not have to worry about that on Thursday and instead can focus on the public (who we expect to be out in droves on Thursday), more wholesale activity and on the auction itself, the first session of which will begin crisply at 1 PM local time.
With whatever happens with all of that to then be described right here on Friday AM.
January 31st: Day 2
First order of business on Thursday: Pop back into the Heritage lot viewing room for one more look at two coins for customers, just to confirm what I thought I saw the first time.
Then we were off to the bourse floor for what would turn out to be one of the busier days we’ve had here in a while during which the following things happened:
- Sold coins to 11 different collector customers at the table.
- Finalized two deals by text.
- And one more by email.
- Were asked by 17 different people if we were glad to be out of the cold in New England and instead here in SoCal. Yes, yes we are.
- Met 3 people in person we had previously only known online.
- Lost and then found my iPhone twice during the day.
- Shipped another coin to a customer by FedEx from the premises using a copy of USA Today as packing material.
- Counted, collated, verified and delivered that XL consignment deal from yesterday.
- Ate lunch in 3 minutes while standing up.
- Viewed upcoming lots at S-B.
- Bought 8 coins on the floor from various dealers.
- Plus 6 more which walked up to the table.
- Saw a really cool toned Morgan at another dealer’s table, asked the price, expected him to say something around $750 and discovered I was wrong by a factor of 9.
- Submitted a bunch more coins for grading.
- Picked up the lots we bought at the Goldberg auction.
All the while managing to entirely avoid the heavy rain which started after we arrived in the morning and stopped before we left at 6:20 PM.
Allowing us to walk comfortably to La’Opera up the street for dinner with a collector friend, his wife and another dealer where we ate well, drank expertly and discussed many violent Netflix series.
Eventually making it back to the hotel at about 10 to discover that our room was completely gone (as in not there anymore), before realizing that actually someone had merely closed a security door sealing off that entire end of the hallway. Phew, that was a relief.
Then finally calling it a night in anticipation of what we hope will be an equally busy Friday here in LB with more of our regular local customers popping in and with them, we hope, more coins to buy. And sell. And trade. And grade.
And then describe, right here, in about 24 hours from now.
February 1st: Day 3
Show tables: Let’s talk about them.
At my first LB show as a then-part time dealer in ~2002, I used to share a corner table in the waaaaay back of the room with 1. Former business partner Dave Wnuck (of course), 2. Gentleman Jim McGuigan, 3. Ron Iskowitz and 4. Ron’s wife (who spent each show playing solitaire on her laptop directly in the entrance to the booth so that you had to interrupt her anytime you wanted to enter or exit). Dave and I shared one bourse case, stood for the entire show, and generally got in each other’s way and/or tripped over lamp cords for 4 straight days.
From a business perspective it wasn’t exactly ideal, as only those hearty souls who were specifically looking for us would hike to the back of the room to find us. Most other attendees would either never make it that far, never knew we were there, or would only get there after they had sold all of their coins or spent all their money in the front of the room.
Fast forward to recent years and Team CRO is in the exact same sized table but now, of course, flying solo, right in the front of the room, just the 2 of us, each with our own chair, 4 display cases (and a 5th for back-up!), carefully organized anti-trip lamp cords and a NO SOLITAIRE, EVER business policy.
With many of these changes predictably beneficial, more comfortable and extreeeeemely business friendly, where our regular customers can readily find us, but where we also do a lot of business with collectors and dealers who stumble upon us by accident and end up buying or selling us something. All of which is great, of course.
In this spot we also get literally dozens of people asking us to ID something or other during the course of a show, do impromptu appraisals, provide a grading opinion (invariably for a coin pulled out of a sandwich bag), or offer us things that may not be in the CRO wheelhouse (tiny jade figurines, anyone?).
And while not many of these activities lead to actual business, we welcome all of it, since you never know what might walk in the door next, and if it is something great, there is at least a possibility we are going to get a shot at it (unlike those poor CRO-guys circa 2002 crammed into a tiny space behind Ron’s wife’s laptop).
With the full gamut of this activity strongly in evidence on Friday, as we must have looked at and evaluated 15 different coins (or coin groups) shown to us by collector-attendees, pointed out what old cleaning looks like, directed others to dealers who specialize in ancient coins, informed another guy that his gold coin was counterfeit, explained why an original example of an 8 Escudo in a PCGS 55 slab is worth more than a damaged raw one, etc.
On the other hand, we sold 3 coins to major dealers who happened to just be walking by, took a cool early coin on consignment, helped a collector submit some coins he had inherited from a relative (which we may well get to handle down the road) and bought some very nice, original type from another collector we’d never met before.
Which contributed to something of a buying bonanza on Friday, as we found a surprisingly large number of cool CRO-style coins from many different sources, some in display cases, others hidden behind tables and shown to us by dealers who all said something to the effect of “I think I may have something you’ll want”. And many of them did.
Also, late in the day, I returned to the “Factor of 9” table referenced in yesterday’s RR just to kick a few more tires and make sure I wasn’t hearing things. And while most of the coins were in fact priced at levels I could not get my head around, persistence paid off as one of the half dozen I looked at Friday was priced at about a third of what I would have paid. So of course I bought that one. Nothing else was really close though.
Not that we really needed more coins at that point anyway, as the NEWPs pile has now grown to about 55 coins here, including some pretty fancy early type. Always room for something great though . . .
With our last deal of the day the sale of a nice Pine Tree Shilling at about 5:50 PM to a California collector who had never heard of us before. Which is of course absolutely ideal from our perspective, since meeting new people and introducing them to the site is one of the things we hope will happen as we fly around the country.
And before we fly home we’ll be here all Saturday, optimistic that more interesting things will happen or more interesting coins will walk in the door. So if they do, we’ll be ready at table #612, and then write all about it in our final LB RR to be posted from home on Sunday AM.
Until then, then.
February 2nd: Day 4
After a good Wednesday, a great Thursday and an active Friday, we were thinking Saturday in LB might be pretty good too.
Alas the weather epically failed to cooperate, with a semi-monsoon hitting SoCal, flooding streets and causing local police to encourage drivers to stay off the roads. Many of them, it turned out, being numismatists and thus leading to a lightly attended last day at the Expo.
Still, a few especially adventurous (and soaking wet) souls made it to the show and to the CRO table, one of whom brought us an epic colonial featured in a 1955 auction catalog. And other collectors who were already in town and had been at the show earlier in the week came back for more, helping us generate a few more sales.
Buying remained pretty good too, including a few super secret coins from a dealer’s personal stash that we first saw on Wednesday but were only able to pry loose on Saturday.
We also received back most of our show grading during the day, with generally expected results. Which when added to our latest purchases brought our total number of new coins to a robust 74, providing (assuming no technological glitches) more than enough fodder in all categories for what we think will be an excellent Early Bird on Tuesday.
Actually, that total would have been even higher if not for the fact that our last couple of PCGS submissions came back at about 6:30 PM when Team CRO was already comfortably seated at our airport gate for the flight home. So those coins will have to be mailed back to us, photographed and slotted in to a future EB down the road.
And while we had some fears that the weather might delay our flight home (or heaven forbid even cancel it altogether), we actually left without a hitch, flew uneventfully overnight and arrived home earlier than scheduled. Allowing us to get some much needed rest before digging into EB prep on Sunday afternoon.
So with that we’ll close the book on this installment of the LB Expo and a continuation of what has been, so far, a very strong start to the 2019 numismatic year.