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Back to Road Report Archive 2015

January 7-10, 2015: The FUN Show in Orlando, FL



Ladies and Gentleman: Welcome to your 2015 Numismatic Year!

And what better way to kick-off the new year than to attend the FUN Show in Orlando, where the weather is warm (at least so far), the wholesale activity has already been humming, the show grading has been submitted and the auction lots have been thoroughly viewed and vetted (and let me tell you, that was no mean feat considering that there are about 7,000 of them here to look at, many are complicated and time consuming and we’ve had to spend more time than usual re-grading, looking for hidden problems and figuring out what we like enough to actually bid on).

But ultimately we finished all of that in time to head to dinner with a large group which has been meeting on Tuesdays at the FUN show for y-e-a-r-s now, discussing all things numismatic, and eating things like this:

And then passing around show and tell items, like this:

And like this (note I apologize for the poor photography here, and for the weird blue light reflections on the 1795 Flowing Hair Dollar which I assure you aren’t on the actual coin):

After which I returned to the hotel to see that my son, who will be assisting at the table this year, had arrived, and then did some late night prep to be ready for the upcoming onslaught of auctions and the show itself (starting with dealer set-up Wednesday at 2 PM).

About which we’ll be blogging as usual, starting with this Prologue primer, and continuing all week, including highlights of bourse floor activities, snapshots of cool stuff we buy, biting grading commentary, exciting auction outcomes, and of course hoo-ha about my hotel room next door neighbor (who I believe is taking trombone lessons in there).

Anyway, check in here daily for what we believe is STILL, 9 years hence, the only daily, real time show report in the numismatic world.

More later –

January 7th: Day 1

After our well-documented late evening on Tuesday, I slept in all the way until 2:36 AM on Wednesday, struggled with the in room air conditioner for about 20 minutes, could not make it stop sounding like a jet engine and then eventually just gave up and figured I may as well do some work.

First order of business: Make sure every lot of interest in all of the various auctions (including those on site at Heritage, but also the world sales in New York held by Stack’s-Bowers and Goldberg and others) were on my watch list, track what time they would all be sold, and then do enough research to know what I’d pay for each of them.

Second: Write yesterday’s blog and include a picture of someone else’s appetizer at dinner so I could receive 42 emails telling me that 1) You can’t drink red wine with lobster (something I’m pretty sure I already knew, notwithstanding the fact that that wasn’t my lobster, and the red wine belonged to someone else at the table), and 2) Readers apparently already see enough food on other blogs and would prefer images of round or occasionally octagonal numismatic items instead.

Third: Visit the hotel gym, noting that it is the largest one I’ve encountered this side of Vegas.

Fourth: Get a coffee at the shop in the lobby the instant it opened at 7.

And then head over to the convention center at 8 to begin the start of the actual work day with, of course, more lot viewing, followed by badge and photo ID prep, lobby schmoozing (including in-depth discussions of the state of the coin market with some of the industry’s heaviest hitters), New York international phone bidding arranging, and then, finally, standing in the long queue to enter the show the instant the doors opened at 2 PM.

Where we raced to the CRO table, set everything up in about 15 minutes with the enormous help of my son and then went on a medium-sized buying spree in which the goal was to snag some good stuff before anyone else could see it. Including a very cool large cent bird dogged by another dealer for me which I appreciated enormously (since he could have very easily bought it himself and then sold it to me). Suffice it to say I owe him one for that.

Then back to the table to do a couple of deals, including selling this neatly toned Pillar which had never been on the list and which would never have been seen unless I posted this image right here:

But after a spate of buying, trading and selling, I realized that it was 5:30, and time to pack up for the 6 PM start of the evening’s Platinum Night auction (this featuring coins of less interest to CRO than what we’ll see on Thursday), so I popped in to watch just the beginning and then headed back to the hotel to have dinner with a client in a restaurant in which I believe I knew every single other person in there.

And then headed back to the room just in time to receive that phone bidding call from New York, bought one of the two lots I wanted, hung up and then immediately received a text from another dealer asking me to meet him in a different restaurant to discuss an unrelated deal. Which continued on until we were the last two non-employees left there and they finally asked us to leave.

So by the time I got back to the room for the final time on Wednesday, it was just after 12:30, and I had almost, but not quite, completed a 24-hour straight shot of numismatic activity which seems like a lot now that I think about it.

All of which will prepare us well for Thursday which might be even longer, starting with a full day at the show, followed by the sale of the Partrick Collection at 6 PM, likely continuing until late in the evening followed by the requisite schmoozing where everyone compares notes and discusses who bought what.

The results of which will be posted right here on Friday AM.

Until then –

January 8th:  Day 2

Good morning coin collector, coin dealer, industry professional, general blog enthusiast or person who has stumbled upon this site accidentally while doing a Google search for “What red wine goes best with lobster?”, or “Best trombone lessons in Orlando” and welcome to this latest installment of the RR in which we detail an action packed Thursday here at the show.

Which would began hectically, with your author racing to lot viewing for one last look at the Partrick coins before the show opened, while our able assistant went straight to the bourse floor and manned the table.

Fortunately, no one else seemed to have that same last minute lot viewing strategy, and I was able to go through the boxes very efficiently, in order, pulling out the few coins of interest in each and confirming my earlier opinions.

And then slowly sprinting down the hall, bypassing the queue of collectors waiting for the show to open and heading straight for our table to find a collector already busy looking at some world coins in our cases.

Which would prove to be a very good start, with the sale of 6 coins right off the bat, including a few more that, like yesterday, hadn’t been on the site yet.

A delightful sales trend which would continue pretty steadily for most of the day, with many familiar and some new faces stopping by and buying a single coin or a bunch in all categories.

Between which we found time to buy quite a few on the floor too, including some nice federal type, some neat colonial paper money and another magnificent Pillar Dollar of the sort that often find there way to us (since we have made it known that we are enthusiastic buyers of the best of the best of these).

Activity which kept us busy until late in the afternoon but which was suddenly interrupted by a PA announcement by Stack’s-Bowers that coins from the first session of the Pogue collection were now on display at their table and available for viewing. Unfortunately, by then we didn’t have the time to go look, as we had to close up early and began our final preparations in earnest for the Patrick auction which would begin at 6 PM.

The most important part:  Finding a really good seat in the auction room, which I did at a table near the front thus allowing me to spread out and bid on the computer while simultaneously eating a tiny dinner without having to hold anything in my lap (as you often do if you get stuck in one of those chairs in the back).

And things went about as I expected, with some good deals, some head scratchers, an apparent spreading of the wealth across many bidders and with CRO getting our fair share while lamenting, as is usually the case, a couple that got away, that maybe we should have chased higher, but which we probably would not have won anyway.

We won’t go into full detail about the extremely entertaining auction scene and which coins sold for what, or our opinions of grading and so forth here – that will be in a hyper-detailed “The Partrick Sale Part I” Coin Commentary which will be posted on this site in the next week.

Anyway, with the auction finishing up at about 10:30, we headed over to the restaurant at the Hyatt and finally got to relax and have some fun after what was another veeeeery long and tiring day here in Orlando.

But of course we’ll be back at it on Friday, looking to buy and sell more cool coins on the floor, schmooze with more collectors, snag a few more at auction and then describe them right here in our next Road Report to be posted on Saturday AM.


January 9th:  Day 3

I felt a tremendous sense of relief when I woke up on Friday, since there would be much less auction pressure on this day. With just some widely scattered bids left on the book at Heritage and some international phone bidding scheduled for late in the evening, we could focus our daytime efforts like a numismatic laser beam on the bourse floor, buying and selling.

And we did well on the former, leaving no stone unturned in our search for cool coins, visiting tables in the outer fringes of the room near the neutral zone (that space between the last table and the snack bar where those guys in overalls were panning for gold in a little trough), finding a decent number of interesting, mid-priced federal coins and then buying every single one of them.

In between which we continued this show’s strong sales in all categories, capped off with another two large colonial deals in the afternoon, and two more pending which might happen before we leave. Honestly I did not expect retail to be this strong here (particularly based on what some of the other dealers were saying before the show), but I like to think that our efforts to find really cool coins all over the world and present things that other dealers don’t have had something to do with it.

Also interesting during this day was the additional note comparing we did with other dealers and collectors about Thursday’s Heritage auction, seeing how others graded various coins, and learning more about who bought (or tried to buy) which lots.  Invariably in these discussions everyone thinks the coins they bought were a “Great deal!“, while the ones that sold to others were in the category of “What were they thinking??!!??” which makes sense I guess, and is always entertaining.

But not as entertaining as finding out which ones are now available on the aftermarket, and who might be interested in the ones we acquired. A lot of flipping typically happens in the week after these sales, and we will likely be players in both directions.

And then, after a full day of activity, my son and I closed up shop and headed to dinner with a gaggle of dealer friends, had a fun-filled evening and then returned to the hotel so I could wait, with frankly baited breath, to be called by Stack’s-Bowers at about 11:30 so I could phone bid on a couple of lots of great interest in their New York sale.

I’m pleased to report that that went off without a hitch, allowing me to snag both of those plus two others that happened to be going off at around the same time.

After which I went to bed in anticipation of a Saturday which we will be busy for us, with, we hope, more buying and selling, and then some auction consigning, take home-grade submitting, and then finally packing up and heading out for some intense football watching which will likely involve beer drinking and possibly some yelling at the TV intermittently for 6 and a half hours.

Followed by some additional blog writing which will recap Saturday’s numismatic results here along with some overall observations about this show and the broader market.

More later –

January 10th:  Day 4

Normally a Saturday on the coin circuit is ‘get away day’, where we check out of our hotel, schlepp all of our stuff to the show, work until late afternoon at the table, pack everything up in a 30 minute frenzy, race to catch the flight, fight the crowds, eat dinner standing up in a crappy airport bar, get home, pet the dog and then collapse in exhaustion.

But due to a quirk in the schedule (the NFL playoff schedule, that is) we decided to leave Sunday AM, allowing us to continue coin dealering with minimal schlepping Saturday, catch the Patriot game afterward at the hotel over an unhurried dinner, and then fly out calmly in the morning.

Now, back home, I have to say that that turned out to be a really good decision, since we were again focused and ready to take advantage of a full, undistracted day on the bourse floor.

And there was plenty to do, since a robust crowd continued to roam the aisles, including actual buyers who actually visited our table throughout the day, looked at coins, and actually bought a bunch of them, again in all categories.

Among those deals were a cash and trade deal, the sale of a matched group of world coins, a colonial sold to the person who was the underbidder in the auction where we bought it, others consumated in a deal noted as pending yesterday, a long-time customer who picked out 4 neat OGH federal coins, a first-time customer seeking blast white gem world crowns who selected one from a group of such pieces that we acquired less than one week ago because they were wild even though that is not our usual fare, and finally culminating with the last deal of the day after we had already packed everything up and were literally heading to the door.

Which when added to all of the other sales here, wholesale and retail, equaled a whole bunch of SOLD signs on the website and an inventory significantly smaller than where we started, which was good, since we needed to make a lot of room for all the new purchases we made through Friday on the floor here, and those acquired in the FUN and NY auctions.

A total which we were able to increase again on Saturday, including one exceptional piece in an ‘off brand’ holder that we found hiding in plain sight, where it apparently had been for the entire show, where everyone else either missed it, ignored it or dismissed it (or maybe they did see it but just didn’t pull the trigger). Whatever the case, we were very delighted to buy it.

I was also happy to finally get to view some of the interesting exhibits here on one of may last tours of the road, including this neat “The Colors of Large Cents” display by collector, dealer, friend and New England neighbor Pierre Fricke:

With this piece fourth from the left on the bottom my personal favorite:

How cool is that?

Also cool: Leaving that exhibit area, casually peaking into a nearby case at a table I have not previously visited, where I would frankly not have expected to find our kind of coins, and seeing something totally cool right there in front of me.

So I bought that too, then returned to the table for the aforementioned packing up so that my son and I could get back to the hotel in time to see that New England was already down by 14 and frankly looking like the 2009 team all over again.

But that ended on a high note for us, just like this show, and though we haven’t added up all the invoices, it seems like this might have been one of the best FUN shows we’ve ever had in every way.  And based on the other dealers I spoke to here (all like-minded dealers who sell nice coins to collectors), most everyone had done pretty well too.  I cannot speak to the experience of the guys who do primarily wholesale business and deal in sort of ‘commodity’ coins, since most of those guys left earlier.

I will say that one trend I did observe was heartening to me, and that was the increase in interest in the colonial area which seems to have been spurred by the Newman, Patrick and upcoming Kendall Collection offerings.  Sometimes dealers lament that a plethora of auctions will siphon money off the bourse floor, but I’ve always felt that a lot of cool new coins coming to market in one specialty was good for everyone involved, collectors and dealers alike, and the opportunity to acquire seldom seen issues would bring new players into the segment.  At least based on what I saw this week, that is the case.

Anyway, now that we’re back home and well-rested, it’s time to start work on our Early Bird which will include some of the new coins in a list we think will be well worth viewing.

So you might want to keep an eye out for that on Tuesday at noon east coast time.

The End