January 9-14, 2018: The New York International Numismatic Convention
January 9th: Day 1
Well, Tuesday morning certainly wasn’t dull, as we met what would turn out to be the most aggressive Uber driver I’ve ever encountered and not so much drove as careened to the airport leaving behind us a wake of rude gestures and beeping horns from other motorists.
And then proceeded to fly on time, serenely cab it into Manhattan and roll into the Grand Hyatt ready to embark on some intensive coin buying and selling which would be preceded by some intensive lot viewing for the myriad of auctions this week.
But note that lot viewing does not take place all at once – instead, each company operates in sequence, showing their lots, conducting their sales and then moving out of the way for the next groups.
So upon my arrival on Tuesday, Heritage was already complete, with CNG and The New York Sale (a joint effort of M&M Numismatics / Dmitry Markov / Ira and Larry Goldberg / Sovereign Rarities) on the clock.
So I viewed those in detail (including handling some trays of raw ancients much as it was probably done 100 years ago), ID’ing just a few coins of interest in sessions not exactly jibing with the CRO categories of most interest.
Then stealing aways for a quick visit to the J.P. Morgan Library and Museum just a few blocks from the hotel, part of a renewed CRO effort to experience some of the local sites when possible on our travels. Including a vist to Morgan’s office which reminded your author of his own (except for the bordello-red walls, stained glass windows, Botticelli painting and 30-foot ceiling brought over from Florence and then distressed by a local artist to make it look old. I do however have a little box just like that on my desk):
Anyway, we then snapped back into numismatics at the hotel by visting some wholesale rooms, where we came away with some totally unexpected and wickedly cool coins which are exactly the kinds of things we hope to find at a show like this.
Before finally heading out to dinner at an extremely authentic Singaporean dining experience at Chomp Chomp.
Getting back here at 10, answering some texts and emails and then collapsing after what has been an extreeeemely tiring several day stretch.
But we’ll need to recover quickly, since Wednesday marks the start of the aforementioned New York Sale, the last CNG auction session, and the start of Stack’s-Bowers and Spink lot viewing and with them hundreds of coins of potential interest to CRO.
Plus a few more wholesale deals, probably, and some more cool coins we haven’t yet seen, don’t yet know about but will probably own come 5 o’clock.
With everything we see, bid on, buy and sell to be described right here on Thursday AM.
January 10th: Day 2
I was genuinely excited to head to lot viewing on Wednesday, as it would be my first opportunity to peruse the extensive offering at Stack’s-Bowers, including many items of high interest to us in the “World Coins Used in Early America” category, as well as some seemingly nice Esoterica.
And apparently I was not the only one, since the room was full and the competition for coin boxes pretty tough all day long. Fortunately, the staff at S-B was up to the challenge, with viewing assistants and runners (i.e. the people who get the boxes of coins from the giant rolling racks) counting coins coming and going, making sure nothing went missing, and keeping things moving like clockwork.
Still, it took even a fast viewer like your author hours to pore through everything, as these can be challenging and complicated coins that need to be assessed with great care. Which I did more than once on some of the key pieces. But it was all worthwhile, as I can confirm that my initial impressions were pretty accurate, and there are plenty of things we will be bidding on.
This also served as an interesting contrast in lot viewing procedures, as I moved from Stack’s-Bowers over to Spink a few rooms down to view their sale this week. While S-B was operating with military-like precision, the staff at Spink just handed me a fistful of coins (literally) at a time. Now, I assume they have their own tried and true security measures (since they’ve been doing this since 1666), that part wasn’t obvious as I viewed in a casual, unhurried manner.
Or at least tried to, interrupted by the elderly gentlemen viewing next to me who tapped me on the shoulder at one point and showed me a picture on his phone and said quite unexpectedly “Look, a toothbrush fell onto the top of my air conditioner at home and it’s still there, stuck in the snow – there is only one apartment above us, so it must be theirs.” When I mentioned that it could also have fallen from a passing airplane he grabbed his phone and went back to lot viewing (so keep that line in mind if you find yourself needing a conversation-ender).
Anyway, all this viewing, and then studying of the catalogs and the schedules and entering the lots online took pretty much all day.
Leaving me just a few minute break to answer email, make some calls and then go to dinner at a Japanese BBQ place 10 blocks up which was fantastic, and served the largest bottle of hot sake I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously, I did not know they made those ceramic bottles in that size.
After which we headed back to the hotel, ran into some old friends in the lobby and then called it a night so we could be well rested for dealer set up for the actual show which will begin as early as 8 AM on Thursday. With our next RR to contain details of what we buy and sell there, and less information about toothbrushes. Probably.
January 11th: Day 3
Excellent news coin blog reader:
With one full day of bourse floor activity now in the books, it is of course an appropriate time to describe some of the things you might encounter here at the New York International Numismatic Convention that you would not expect to find at a ‘regular’ coin show:
- Ancient coins as far as the eye can see.
- A dealer with a group of mundane-looking circulated coins in plastic flips in a jumble in his case on which he quoted me the following prices as I leafed through: “$80, $115, $30, $4,550 – that one’s rare.”
- PA announcements made in an elegant baritone with perfect diction.
- A gentlemen carrying an Elephant skin briefcase. Yes, this is true. Apparently it was purchased 40 years ago from a PanAm stewardess who exported pieces made from the hides of animals that died of natural causes.
- The deluxe high end jewelry store-style displays of Abifil of Milano being offered by the door.
- A procession of visitors to the table all speaking different languages, several of whom brought a written list of what they were seeking which contained coins and/or medals I have never heard of.
- What appears to my untrained eye to be a Tutankhamun death mask, though in wood, behind a dealer’s table.
- A mere smattering of US coins, including some $20 Libs, a CC $10 and a couple of raw Oregon commems.
- A dealer having the annual wine and cheese break at his table which included some delicious looking saucisson sec.
- Some epic world crowns scattered about the room, including at our table.
- Meeting a local customer late in the day in the hotel lobby and seeing that he arrived via bicycle.
Expecting more of the same (or, possibly, something completely different) on Friday. With whatever it is to be described right here on Saturday AM.
More later –
January 12th: Day 4
As I sit here writing this RR my head is still spinning (in a good way) after a Friday which was about as busy a day as I can recall at any recent show.
With a non-stop procession of collectors and dealers, including familiar faces and new friends, visiting the table from 10 to 4:30 or so, buying coins, selling us coins. working on trades to the extent that your author never really got to walk around the floor like I would at most shows.
To what do we attribute this massive influx? I think there are several factors:
- This mid-town location is extremely accessible and has drawn visitors from a good distance.
- No competing events.
- Even though it was a small portion of our offering, we have (or had, actually) more US coins with us than pretty much anyone else here, and got outsized attention because of it.
- Good falafel.
- The crowd here is almost entirely comprised of serious collectors (no surprise) and aggressive dealers (kinda surprised) all trying to add to their collections or do business.
So if this table-based action was the only thing I had to report here it would have been an excellent day. But of course there was also the small matter of the gargantuan Stack’s-Bowers auctions containing a nice mix of choice world coins of all types + the specialized collection of epic Colombian and Ecuadorian coins in the romantically-named Eldorado Collection.
The bids for which I of course figured while leaning on a piano in the lobby at 8 AM. I’d like to say I then sat through the sessions starting at 6:30 PM with rapt attention, but that wasn’t exactly possible, since they were held simultaneously in different rooms(!). A scheduling decision which seemed pretty strange to me, though apparently borne of the very tight timetable here at this show with the SPINK and Baldwins auctions still to come.
So I entered my bids online even before the show opened, never thought about them again until the sessions started, occasionally peaked at the action on my handy S-B app, walked 15 blocks to dinner late at the Fig & Olive and did not actually know the outcomes of all of my bids until the morning.
Which turned out to be equal parts frustrating (since I let something go I probably coulda’ bought), successful (since I got some others for less than my max) and baffling (since I was not even remotely close on a few others I really thought I was going to win).
The good news is that we have a chance to do it all again on Saturday with another full day on the bourse floor, more simultaneous auctions in the evening and an appointment with that lot-figuring piano starting in just a few minutes.
Want to find out how we do? Check in here tomorrow at this time and you can read all about it.
January 13th: Day 5
First order of business on Saturday: Get in the queue behind a long line of others and pick up our auction lots from Stack’s-Bowers before returning to the show to start this train all over again.
And while it would have been perhaps overly-optimistic for someone to predict a reprise of Friday’s activity here on Saturday, it turns out that that imaginary prognosticator would have been spot-on, since we immediately dove back into some pretty much non-stop numismatic activity back at table #202.
Which again included sales of individual coins and groups, U.S. and world, in an environment where a lot of people seemed to be here specifically to buy coins.
Like a gentleman in the afternoon who walked up and literally said “I want to buy something, what can you sell me?”. A pillar dollar, as it turned out.
But it is what we bought on Saturday which should be the real story, including a wicked, totally original and beautifully lustrous Choice MS Capped Bust Quarter fresh from Europe which made the looooong trip directly into our back case here at the show (along with some other superb and unexpected American coins), plus the requisite eye-appealing world coins we knew we’d find here.
We also had a little bit of time here and there on this day to poke around the floor like a tourist looking for interesting things, and finding plenty, including this honking gold ingot shaped like a very big cookie which was recovered from the Luz shipwreck, sunk in 1752 off Montevideo:
From where it was eventually raised from the depths, carefully transported here so it could be displayed at World Numismatics’ table and then fondled by your author. Those big Roman numerals? The weight in ounces (45), of 20 (XX) karat gold.
Before eventually returning to the table to prepare for another round of evening auctions in which we again found plenty of things we wanted, entered our bids by proxy and then headed out to dinner at a Korean restaurant to unwind after another long and extremely productive day here in NYC.
With the final RR of our 2018 NYINC adventure to be penned from the comfort of home on Monday AM.
Until then, then –
January 14th: The Exciting Conclusion
I have to say that while we were certainly looking forward to this show and hoped it would be a good one, the end result exceeded our expectations in pretty much every way:
- We met many of new collectors from NY and the surrounding areas, several of whom were there specifically to look at U.S. coins and who we hope to see and talk to again soon in person or online.
- We saw many old friends and dealer colleagues, some for the first time since the Chicago Coin Expo last April.
- Our sales here exceeded those at the FUN show by a factor of 2.3 (and FUN was pretty good, too).
- We leave here with exactly 60 new coins, slabbed and raw, U.S. and world (no colonial though), ranging in price from $50 to the mid 5-figures. That included nearly every single choice piece in our areas of interest that we saw on the bourse floor.
- The auctions were successful too, where we sold quite a few coins and again bought most of our target lots in the various sessions.
And did all of this in a fantastic and (relatively) reasonably-priced mid-town Manhattan location surrounded by a million bars, restaurants, food carts, shops, museums and things to see and do. Plus our kids both go to school in the city so we got to see them too.
So the real question is what to do next year when, based on the current schedule, this show will be conflicting with the first Long Beach show of 2019? Our hope is that the dates change and we can do both, but in the absence of that we might have to get extreeeeemely creative and, for the first time in CRO history, find a way to manage two simultaneous shows on opposite coasts.
With whatever we decide to be communicated right here in our Events list on the home page as soon as we know it.
In the meantime, we’ll need to dive into our next Early Bird so we can send it out as scheduled at noon tomorrow.
And so, as we always say, you might want to keep an eye out for that.