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Back to Road Report Archive 2012

January 30-February 4, 2012: The Long Beach Coin & Currency Expo



Good morning everyone –

And while it seems like ages since our last Road Report 3 days ago, we are again delighted to be back in the numismatic saddle and jetting off to yet another show, this one waaaaay across the country in sunny (I just checked the forecast) SoCal.

And this one should begin on a high note, as we’ll be meeting a couple of local customers for what we hope will be some exciting numismatic activity before the show, and then cruising directly from there into lot viewing before a lot of the competition has even picked up their luggage from baggage claim.

What are our expectations here, you ask?  Well, we don’t know.  In fact, we never know, which is why we always attend all of the shows just in case something spectacular walks in the door (like that Maryland Denarium several years ago).

And if it does (or even if doesn’t) you can read all about it right here in our Road Reports posted daily from the show (with our usual disclaimer that, given the time difference, our loyal east coast readers should not expect to see each day’s update the instant they wake up.  And we thank you in advance for not calling and emailing us to find out where it is).

OK?  OK!

January 30th:  Day 1

Nothing much happened on Tuesday other than me taking an extremely long flight from New England on an airplane that had one of those circa 1980’s entertainment systems with one, small, centrally located TV so that everyone is forced to watch ‘Dolphin Tale’ (which my daughter would have really enjoyed) and then a fascinating documentary about coffee (so if anyone has any questions about coffee, I am confident I can now answer them).

On a more positive note, we were on schedule, and my luggage arrived at the same time that I did.

Also, upon checking in, I was excited to discover that my hotel room had been recently renovated, which included the addition of this tasteful new lamp by the door:

And, no, that is not a real apple, and it is not removable (I know this because I tried to eat it shortly after unpacking).

Anyway, tomorrow I promise we will have fewer creepy lamp photos, and even more topical numismatic information.

January 31st:  Day 2

If this Long Beach show was a race, Dave and I would definitely be winning, since we arrived at the convention center waaay before anybody else (including the Heritage people, which explains why lot viewing was not open yet when we got here and we had to wait in the lobby for an hour until they were ready for us).

But once we started viewing, we were pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the coins in a number of series, including some that looked like well-selected, well-matched collections were being broken up (though that is just a guess on my part, since many were not specifically identified as such in the catalog).

So we stayed there for several hours, then went back to the hotel to research some prices and then enter some early ‘place-holder’ bids so we don’t get all wrapped up in other deals once the show starts and forget to bid on them like someone who shall remain nameless (your author) did at the FUN show.

And then the real fun (and the reason we arrived here a day earlier than usual) began, as we met up with a good customer friend, toured some scenic parts of Long Beach that we did not know existed (despite coming here for y-e-a-r-s), viewed some of the best coins we’ve ever seen (and we’ve seen a lot), compared two examples of a colonial issue to determine if one is a Specimen or Proof striking (which we believe it is), and then traded another rare colonial for a cool piece of proof gold (in one of our patented CRO mega-trades) all while experiencing some Grade-A deluxe guacamole and some extremely fine red wine.

After which we had a nice dinner, made our way back to the hotel quite late, checked emails, started typing this blog and then called it a day so as to be ready for an important IT meeting on Wednesday AM (which does not sound exciting, and probably will not be, though it is kind of a big deal for the business).

Do not worry though – only the most exciting parts of it will be discussed in tomorrow’s RR, with the balance of the space devoted to all of the magical things we are sure will happen at dealer set-up in the afternoon.

Until then –

February 1st:  Day 3

So as I’m leaving the hotel on Wednesday I noticed that the door to one of the other guest rooms on my floor was open and there, in plain view, was another one of those ‘Hand Holding Apple’ lamps, but this one had the fingers in a slightly different position than the one in my room, sort of like this:

Which immediately made me wonder if every room had a different hand in it, and what some of those might look like, and if any of them might be making obscene gestures or anything like that.

Unfortunately, I did not have time to investigate that further since we had to get to the exciting IT meeting noted yesterday, which we did, successfully, checking out some new innovations which will whisk CRO to the forefront of coin dealering inventory management, which is pretty important given the number of coins we are handling these days (a small percentage of which are on the website at any given time).

And then, just as I felt like we were making real progress, Dave casually mentioned to me something like “By the way, I saw that the Road Report page on our site is not loading properly, but I am sure you already knew that.”, which of course I did not know, and which then resulted in a several hour fire drill to figure out what was wrong and try to fix it before dealer set-up began at 2 o’clock.  Conclusions: One tiny bit of extraneous code in the text caused the site not to work for anyone viewing it on Internet Explorer (a number of whom had by then emailed me asking what the heck was wrong), but was just fine for anyone on a Mac (such as me, which is why I had no idea there was a problem).

Shockingly, and against all odds, the fix took me literally 30 seconds.  So, in the future, if anyone ever sees anything amiss on the site, please do let us know right away so we can drop everything and go fix it.

Anyway, with that stuff all behind us, we had time to view and re-view a few auction lots and then head straight to the bourse floor, or at least try to, since this year, unlike any other time we have ever been here, an overzealous convention center employee told us the crowd waiting outside the door to the bourse was “too large”, and therefore we had to wait in the upstairs lobby.  On a positive note, we assumed this meant that attendance would be good.

And after we finally got down there, it seems like it was, with some tables that had been empty in past years now occupied and, from our perspective, a decent buzz in the room. Including at another dealers table, where we quickly found half a dozen cool new world coins to buy.

Stuff was happening at our table, too, as we unveiled, for the first time, our new Libertas Americana Medal in MS64+ BN [PCGS], the best one we have seen on the market in y-e-a-r-s, and a bunch of cool new federal coins and colonial coins that have never been on the website or on an Early Bird. And some of them will never be, as we sold a bunch of new coins to several different dealers over the course of the afternoon.

All of which kept us pretty busy as the beer and Mexican food was set up in front of out table in a new tradition at this show and which we sampled just a little bit, instead saving our appetite for dinner with a dealer friend down the street.  But not at the Madison, our first stop, where we were told that they were “fully booked” despite the fact the restaurant was 3/4 empty.

A rebuff we quickly shook off as we headed across the street to La’ Opera, which was probably better anyway.

After which we walked past the convention center noticing that, unlike every other time we can recall being here, there were no auctions taking place this evening, since the slightly smaller offering will be sold starting on Thursday evening. The results of which will be described right here in this space in just about 24 hours from now (unless the site goes haywire again, which I certainly hope is not the case).

February 2nd:  Day 4

I am pleased to say that on Thursday I continued my perfect record of getting up before 4:30 every day this week, which again allowed ample time to answer email, tweak HA bids, scour Ebay, finalize the RR, update the site, and then, in what was for sure the highlight of the morning, spend an hour on the phone with some IT tech support person in Bangalore sorting out one more computer issue while most coin dealers were still sleeping.

So by the time I strolled onto the bourse floor at 8:30 or so, I was primed for some serious numismatic activity.

And that’s pretty much what we got during a fast-paced day that felt more like a Baltimore Show than a Long Beach, and about which I can make the following observations:

In years of being here, I have never seen PCGS busier than they were today, with people lined up to submit coins and non-stop activity at the table (which we could see very clearly, since we are literally directly across the aisle from them).

Business was excellent on a retail and wholesale basis, and in all categories, with the Libertas America medal mentioned in yesterday’s RR being one of our higher profile sales of the day (a fleeting iphone image provided here for your viewing pleasure since this piece will not be making its way to the inventory section of our site):

We were very happy with our purchases, too, adding some really spectacular federal coins on the floor of the small, medium and large variety (though, so far, nothing reeeaaally expensive, a situation which might well be rectified on Friday).

We got to participate in a fun (and ongoing) project to help a customer re-designate a colonial coin from MS to SP or PF, the results of which will be posted, in detail, tomorrow (if we get the coins back by then).

Dave spent several hours during the day working up an offer for a collection of early coins (the details of which I will not describe while discussions are still ongoing), though unless there are some ‘late game heroics’ here, it does not look like we will get together with the seller.

We submitted the last of our coins at the show, but as of the end of the day on Thursday, we had not received anything back (which is not that surprising given the volume they are handling here as described above).

And then at about ten to seven we raced upstairs to the Heritage auction, bought some coins, were outbid on others and then, just as quickly as we arrived, we zipped out to dinner at 555 with a group of other dealers and talked about all sorts of cool numismatic topics, including some inside info about the Damon Estate (a spectacular Hawaiian Collection auction a few years ago) by the guys who cataloged it.  And while I can’t go into great detail here, I will say that one of the more interesting tidbits was that some of the truly rare and valuable items in the collection had been discovered in envelopes marked “Worthless Coins”.  Seriously.

And on that serious note, it is time to sign off and start thinking about Friday.

February 3rd:  Day 5:

In what was a first (literally, ever) for your author, I complained about my breakfast at the hotel on Friday (since it had a bizarre, artificial taste) and they comped the whole thing for me, which I think explains why a lot of other people I dine with are always complaining about everything.

Satisfied with that outcome, I walked over to the convention center primed to steam into the show at precisely 8 AM when I discovered that they would not open the doors until 9.  Why the show needs to open at different times each day is beyond me, and apparently beyond the few dozen other dealers who were all hanging out in the convention center lobby with me looking at their watches.

So we all sat around chatting about the show during most everyone agreed on two broad themes:

  1. Some new restaurant in town named Michael’s is apparently spectacular and most of the other guys had eaten there (though admittedly they probably spend more on dinner than I do).
  2. Everyone had done very well so far at the show, with several people mentioning things like “This is my best Long Beach ever!“, or “The best since 2005!” and so on.  Comments with which we heartily agreed.

And that was before Friday, which turned out to be, well, a medium-sized blockbuster for us, during which we sold 69(!) coins.  And while the majority of that total was in one fell swoop, that’s still a pretty good result in our opinion.

Which might have made the 28 coins we bought seem like a pedestrian total in comparison if they weren’t so cool. 

A volume of activity which had us busy just about from start to finish beneath our tiny conforming-to-the-new-height-restrictions CRO banner:

This will require some tweaking for the next show, since this isn’t quite the look we were going for, and we were annoyed to discover that other dealers are still using their full-sized versions (as can be seen in the far distance).

And then I headed upstairs to the Heritage auction for the run of proof Morgans, some of which were quite nice while others had turned in the holders and looked utterly horrendous in hand.  Not that that affected the bidding  much, with most (but not all) of the coins selling for prices in line with the grades on the holders regardless of the quality level (or lack thereof).  Which meant that to me there were a few good deals here and a few that I do not believe will turn out well for the new owners.

After which a collector friend came to the table and showed us images of the rare colonial he had recently ripped while bidding online in a foreign auction where the coin had been mis-attributed and where apparently none of the other bidders (including some hot shot specialists who were there in person) had noticed.  Admittedly, we missed it too, having bid on that lot as though it were a common coin and not the condition census R-7 variety it turned out to be.  The moral of this story being that good deals are out there if you know where to look, and what to look for.

Anyway, our other major project of the day was to pick up the tons of coins we submitted for grading here, with the first batch trickling back in the afternoon and continuing right up until closing time with pretty good results for us.  Still a few to go, though, including some important ones.

And then, pretty much exhausted, we headed out to dinner at the same restaurant as the night before and talked coins until about 10 PM before finally heading back to the hotel where your author unceremoniously collapsed on the bed.

Saturday’s RR will be posted from the comfort of my couch back home and will, we hope, describe even more exciting buying and selling adventures that have not yet happened here in Long Beach.


February 4th:  Day 6

While we might have dreamed of some more high-level numismatic activity in LB on Saturday, our earlier-than-we-remembered-it-was flight schedule rendered that pretty much impossible. 

So in what turned out to be sort of a mad rush on Saturday morning, we dropped off some tokens and medals for grading at NGC, picked up our Heritage lots, sold two relatively inexpensive federal coins, memo’d one colonial coin to the dealer next to us, picked up our last straggler grades (or at least the ones that were ready, since a couple weren’t done and will have to be mailed back to us) and then started packing up like crazy so we could race to the airport and catch the last non-red-eye direct flights home.  

But when we got through that, and I was finally sitting calmly in the cab on the way to LAX, I had time to reflect on this event, read through all of our show invoices and conclude four things:

  1. We did about as well here as we’ve ever done at this show, significantly exceeding our expectations for this trip and, importantly, doing so across all categories and with a wide variety of different customers on a retail and wholesale basis.
  2. Based on our conversations with many other dealers, and what we saw with our own eyes, this show is alive and well, with pretty good attendance and a lot of activity on the floor.
  3. The retail coin market in general certainly seems to be humming right along, with lots of collectors buying all sorts of different things.
  4. When I read in a moving car I become extremely nauseated (Editor’s note:  Special thanks to sharp-eyed reader G.J. who pointed out that my original use of the word ‘nauseous’ in this spot was grammatically incorrect).

So, except for that last one, things were looking pretty good as I boarded my flight for the trip home, where I sat next to a guy from Bangladesh who proceeded to explain to me in great detail the rules of cricket, which he insisted were very simple but which made absolutely no sense to me (or, apparently, to the woman seated in front of us who kept turning around to look at him).

Thankfully, after a while he started to slow down, which gave me the opportunity to begin to lay out our next EB scheduled for Tuesday on which a lot of our cool NEWPs will be appearing.

Before that, however, we are going to be off-duty for the next 24 hours during which we might, possibly, catch a football game (no cricket though).