July 15-18, 2015: The Whitman Baltimore Expo
Welcome coin blog enthusiast to this pre-show, palate teasing, amuse-bouche edition of the RR designed to set the stage for the summer edition of the Baltimore Expo which we hope will be scorching.
And not merely meteorologically, with a bevvy of Stack’s-Bowers sales, some pent up demand (at least by us, since we haven’t been to a show where we could buy something for a month and a half), the promise of cool coins arriving at our table (literally – we’ve made deals to buy cool coins from several collectors and will take delivery here) and of course the usual, impromptu, spur-of-the-moment buying, selling, grading and schmoozing which usually takes place here at a real good clip.
And we’ll be here for every bit of it, from the moment the doors fling open on Thursday until they shut off the lights on Saturday evening, and will wax poetically about everything that happens right here in this spot every morning while most other dealers are still in bed (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Until tomorrow –
July 15th: Day 1
It was a bright and early start on Wednesday as team CRO landed in Baltimore before 8 AM, successfully negotiated baggage claim and the cab stand and strolled casually into our hotel at about 8:30.
From where we immediately headed out to drop off an impressively large pile of coins at PCGS for show grading at the Hilton (and not their usual location at the Sheraton) before walking back toward Stack’s-Bowers lot viewing at the convention center.
A process that proved to be largely unsatisfying, as the place was packed resulting in loooong waits between boxes. Still, we muddled through for several hours, got done about 80% of what we had hoped and marked off about a dozen U.S. type coins to bid on before breaking for a late lunch.
Which would immediately be interrupted by another dealer calling me back to the Hilton to see a coin and pick up some others, so I headed all the way back there before doing an about-face and returning to the Sheraton, eventually ate, and then went back to our hotel to review lots and enter bids on line, then answered emails, talked to a bunch of customers and made a couple of pretty decent sales before having a brief, pre-dinner siesta.
So by the time we headed out to Sullivans with some collector and dealer friends we were sufficiently rested and ready for several hours of fine numismatic dining which I hoped to finish in time to go view some world coins at the convention center.
Alas, we got back too late for that, and will have to add that to a to-do list which is now very long on what will surely be an extremely busy and hectic Thursday at dealer set up.
The results of which will be posted here in our Day 2 report in just about 24 hours from now.
July 16th: Day 2
Good news everyone, I discovered late last night that the people in the hotel room directly above mine were NOT hosting a series of loud parties and jumping on the bed repeatedly for several hours. It turns out that I actually have the good fortune to be in the room directly beneath the ‘Club Lounge’, and since that thing is open from 6 AM until late evening, I’m in a perfect spot to enjoy a lot of clomping around up there punctuated by the sounds of the staff hoisting and then dropping chairs and tables and heavy buffet stands, followed by some Grade A vacuuming, polishing and waxing (I think) into the wee hours.
It didn’t really matter though, since I was up and ready to go at my usual 4 AM, dashed off the blog, checked emails, texts, Facebook and chatroom messages (I really need more ways for people to contact me), updated the site, scoured the dozens and dozens of numismatic websites I have bookmarked, ate breakfast in the aforementioned lounge and then eventually made my way over to the convention center at 7:30.
From where I exploded onto the bourse floor crisply at 8, and began the tedious though well-practiced process of setting up the booth as quickly as possible. One step of which is to lie inelegantly flat on the floor to plug in the power strip, which is something I do not want to be doing when I’m 60. For now I am willing to tolerate it though.
Then spread out all the coins, including lots of our latest purchases, but not everything that is on the website. Just too many to bring to a show.
By 8:30 I had finished that and was ready for one of my most important objectives this AM, which was of course to race around the room like a crazy person looking for NEWPs, a few of which were being held for my arrival by various dealers, but most were of the random variety, on display or hidden in the back of familiar and unfamiliar dealers’ cases, representing all categories, and priced from just a couple of hundred bucks up the low-mid 5 figures.
And I have to be pleased with what I found, both in quantity and quality, including many raw pieces that will take time to wend their way through the wheels of grading, and others which will be ready for the next Early Bird list (speaking of which, that had been planned for July 21st, but I now realize we will not be able to get everything photographed by then and will need to delay the EB until we do. Sorry).
Anyway, after that NEWP haul I was back to handle business at the table which I would characterize as relatively modest, and about what I reasonably could have expected at this the smallest and least well attended of the three annual Baltimore Shows, held at a later-than-usual date close to the ANA in a city which some had decided weeks ago to avoid for security reasons.
I’m not sure to what extent any of those three things will impact business here, though it did unquestionably dampen enthusiasm.
Still, we had a decent day with a series of relatively small sales bookended by two big ones, the last of which would take place just about 5 minutes before we packed up and headed to dinner with an old college buddy and his wife that I had not seen since 1995 but with whom I recently reconnected. Behold the power of Facebook.
But we didn’t stay out too late, getting back in time to get some deep REM sleep before gearing up for a Friday which might be busier, as it will include what I expect to be a similar level of floor activity with an added dose of coin auctions to keep us on our toes.
I actually expect to buy a bunch of coins in those, and if we do, or even if we don’t, we will report the results here tomorrow.
Until then –
July 17th: Day 3
Coin show surprise level on Friday: Pretty High, as an event we thought might be lackluster continued to be downright busy, with a steady procession of visitors to the table, nearly every single one of which either bought a coin, sold us a coin, did some kind of trade, or did some combination of the above.
Prompting your author to turn around at one point and tell able assistant (and son) Steven that we were (and I quote myself) “On a roll!”
Which I think prompts two questions:
- How come? My best guess is that while some would-be visitors may have stayed away from this Baltimore show for one reason or another (as enumerated here yesterday), the hearty group who did make the trip were here to do business. And business they did.
- What exactly were you selling and/or buying? Mostly mid-priced collector coins of the $500 to $5,000 variety, heavy on federal, but ultimately representing all categories, including old friends which had been on the site for a while, brand new coins we just listed, and even a few that had not seen the light of day before this show.
And while the table activity was quite strong, I took advantage of my intermittent chances to venture out onto the bourse floor and continued to find neat NEWPs of all kinds, mostly in that same popular price range.
We also got back most (but not all) of our show grading, including some stellar world coins acquired in a recent deal. With another 20 or so due to come back tomorrow unless they get “pended” (PCGS’s term for sending show grading back to the office for review by an expert in the category) which is something that happens to us with some frequency given the wacko material we are often sending in.
In all though, we can’t complain about anything except for the fact that we got swamped in both the S-B afternoon and evening auctions, with a lot of the cool old-holdered type coins in the Kaselitz collection selling for what seemed to me to be extremely strong prices (just like that kind of material always does anytime it is offered).
Oh well – can’t win ‘em all, I’m glad I did not stretch any further than we did, and we’re going to be quite content with the coins we bought on the floor here and the potential to add more on Saturday.
Details of which will be posted here on Sunday AM –
July 18th: Day 4
The good news on Saturday was the continuation of what turned out to be an excellent buying show, with your author deftly snagging cool NEWPs from the far corners of the room, from people who had earlier claimed (erroneously, it turned out) “I don’t have anything you would like”, from people who said they had coins they didn’t want to sell, from one guy who was in the midst of packing up to leave, from a dealer who routinely handles ‘schlock’, but this time had a great piece mixed in, and even one that I found close to home in the back corner of a case at the table right next door to me late on Saturday.
The majority of which were again U.S. coins, though there were some of the requisite Pillars and Portraits and such, and a Hard Times Token in there too.
But aside from all that buying, not too much happened in Baltimore on Saturday, as floor traffic pretty much evaporated by about 2 PM, and sales were sparse even before that. Which was at least better than the late grading results, as all of my remaining world submissions were pended back to the office, meaning they won’t be ready for the next EB. Hopefully we’ll get them by ANA.
Which was still better than our final auction results, which, after many combined hours of lot viewing, figuring, strategizing, calculating and planning yielded a grand total of nuttin’. Which frankly makes you question the viability of even participating. But of course I still will in the future, trying to identify the coins of interest as efficiently as possible, setting realistic limits, leaving bids on the computer, and avoiding getting caught up in the auction fever that runs rampant at these events. Seriously, on select items, people seem to be willing to pay nearly anything, certainly more than they would ever pay for the very same item if it appeared on the bourse floor or on a dealer site. On the other hand, it was nice to see the market humming if only in limited areas.
Still, all told, I’d have to call this a pretty good event for us, with more sales and certainly more buying than we could have reasonably expected.
With the next step being to organize the NEWPs for grading and/or photography, and then formulate them into the next EB as soon as we are ready. The date of which will be posted on our home page as soon as we know it.