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June 12-15, 2024: The Whitman Baltimore Expo

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June 12: Day 1

Good morning coin collector, coin dealer, industry professional or someone who just reads random internet blogs and welcome to our first RR from the summer 2024 Baltimore show.

Where we will describe what turned out to be a full day of productive numismatic activity on Wednesday.

Starting with our usual early flight (actually the earliest) to Baltimore, a quick trip to our hotel in the inner harbor to stash our luggage and then a beeline over to the convention center to visit the 20 or so dealers set up in the two wholesale rooms on the 3rd floor.

Where we met up with several dealers who had specifically set aside what they believed were CRO style coins for us, which is always a most welcome development, particularly when they are spot on in their assessments which was the case here.

Then we pored through boxes, ID’d a few more coins of high interest and of course vacuumed them up instantly too.

After which it was time for lot viewing at Stack’s-Bowers, which honestly did not take all that long since there were just a few pockets of coins that seemed CROish to us. So we looked at those extremely closely, made copious notes in tiny writing in the margins of the catalog, figured out what to bid on, and, maybe more importantly, what to avoid like the plague.

After which it was time for lunch, so we headed over to the Kona Grill which turned out to be surprisingly delicious, especially the spicy salad that comes with the chicken satay. I’m serious.

And then returned to the convention center, took up our usual position at a table outside the lot viewing room door and then met with a series of collector and dealer friends, picked up the latest numismatic scuttlebutt, found out about some potential upcoming deals and viewed a bunch more coins.

Of which we considered many, bought a few and thus added some good stuff to our expanding Baltimore NEWPs pile.

With the last acquisition an über-gem large cent right before it was time to join the queue in front of the bourse room door for the 5 PM start of dealer set up.

Where we rocketed to our regular table #442, started to set up the booth, had to swap out a case with a broken lock with the show staff (a not insignificant development, since we had earlier come to learn that it was actually a broken bourse case lock that contributed to the well publicized theft of the gold nugget in Long Beach last week). Hey, you can’t be too careful out there – or too efficient, since despite that delay we were still set up faster than most, allowing us to immediately sell a bunch of coins at the table in what turned out to be a fantastic set up period.

And then suddenly it was 7 PM and time to head to dinner in Fell’s Point with some dealer friends, which was a total hoot as usual.

Returning to our hotel on the early side where I fully intended to watch the NBA Finals, but instead immediately fell asleep after what had been by then a non-stop, action-packed 20 hour day.

So we should be well rested for tomorrow, where the doors open to dealers at 8, early birds arrive at 9, the public comes in at noon, and Team CRO tries to do as much buying, selling, trading and of course schmoozing as is numismatically possible.

And then blog all about it right here on Friday AM.

Until then, then –

June 13: Day 2

Thursday at the Whitman Expo brought with it the typically wide variety activities we’ve become accustomed to at this event as highlighted thusly:

We bought a cool, all original Capped Bust Half Dollar of a neat Redbook type that we have only ever owned once before.

We sold all of the wholesale coins we brought here (acquired as part of various deals over the last few months) in two large tranches on Thursday, which is great on many levels, not the least of which is that now we do not have to schlepp them home.

I learned how difficult it is to becomes a chess grand master from a customer who it turns out had previously played another one of our dealer friends long before they met each other in a numismatic context.

A guy came to the table, asked to see two coins and then proceeded to drop both of them by accident multiple times. For future reference, one of the best ways not to be shown any future coins at our table (or any other table, actually) is to do exactly that.

Total numbers of Morgan Dollars we acquired during the day: One – but it’s a very cool one.

It was good that someone casually mentioned that the vegetable soup at the snack bar had crab in it before I ate some, since of course your author is allergic to shellfish.

We sold a bunch more coins at the table, including some which had previously only been shown on Instagram. So if you are not following us on Instagram, you might want to start.

I tried to help a guy who came to the table with a giant backback filled with coins, and then immediately regretted it when he started dumping out sandwich bags of modern pocket change labeled with high prices based on what he had seen on Ebay. At least I was able to show him that his Sacagawea Cheerios Dollars were not Cheerios Dollars, since I have had that question before and had this graphic illustration at the ready:

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Another dealer showed us his group of exceptional collection coins, of which about 40% had come directly, or indirectly, from CRO. We like that.

You would think that after this many years, all dealers would have gotten the message that you should not put a sticker on the hologram on an old NGC Fatty slab, but alas there are apparently a few stragglers out there.

I was happy to see a few of our YN friends here, including some who truly “get it” and have become good customers / suppliers for us through the years.

After a dance that lasted a day and a half, we did successfully acquire a neat coin which had recently surfaced at the Albany, NY show from a dealer I have seen around for years and years, but had never met before this show. Hey, it’s always good to expand the network.

And we’ll be back at it Friday looking for more of the same good stuff, avoiding the bad stuff, and diligently checking the ingredients before diving into lunch.

EOM

June 14: Day 3

Q: Have we ever mentioned that coin shows can be unpredictable?
A: Um, yes, I think we have done so about 60,000 times in these RR’s through the years.

And we are going to do it again right now, since what happened Friday in Baltimore was something I did not see coming at all.

Namely that we would sell another giant pile of coins, including several to a person we have known for y-e-a-r-s, but who has to my knowledge never, ever bought a single coin from us before. Ever.

Which I believe can be explained in 5 ways:

  1. We brought a lot of very cool coins here, including many new items that were not on the site.
  2. Some of our competitors did not attend this show, allowing CRO to shine like an airport beacon visible from miles away.
  3. All that schmoozing on Wednesday can actually pay off, especially if you can use that time to compare notes, see who might be looking for what coins, and lay the ground work for deals to happen.
  4. As a few people who came to the table the other day mentioned, we were apparently in a better mood than many of the dealers in the room, and IMO, most people would prefer to do business with someone who is generally happy and appears to like their job than with someone who acts like they would rather be literally anywhere else.
  5. At least one of us is behind the CRO table every minute of the show, so no one who comes to see us will ever find the place empty and then have to wait around or come back later, which may seem obvious, but is something I encounter frequently when I am perusing the room looking for coins to buy.

Also totally unexpected: Three collectors who came to the table at various times on Thursday all said they would come back Friday, and then all three of them actually did return and buy a coin. In our experience, a lot of people who say they’ll return and may genuinely intend to do so do not end up coming back, so going 3 for 3 is truly not the way to bet.

And while sales were great, we also managed to find a bunch more cool things to buy in various dealer cases and collector boxes during the day, including two late gold CACs right before we closed up.

So we were feeling good as we walked along the harbor to the Lebanese restaurant in Fell’s Point for dinner. Then walked back afterward among tons of people out and about for Fleet Week, the Orioles game, some kind of concert behind the Pier 5 Hotel, paddle boating or just hanging around in one of the outdoor restaurants right on the water.

What will Saturday bring? We have absolutely no idea, but we’ll be here all day and we’ll look forward to finding out.

And then blogging all about all of it from the comfort of home on Sunday AM.

June 15: Day 4

After an excellent but kinda’ exhausting event in Baltimore, we are now back home and ready to hammer out the last installment of this RR starting right now:

Our positive selling vibe continued on Saturday, but only for the first 23 minutes when we sold a mid 4-figure item. After that we sold just two other much less expensive coins during the day. Though we did have two late-arriving collectors come to the table separately in the mid-afternoon both eyeballing different expensive items, which caused your author’s heart to flutter like a butterfly. Alas nothing concrete happened with those (at least not at the show).

We give the Lebanese restaurant in Fell’s Point a B, which is a not quite high enough grade to make our regular Baltimore rotation going forward.

A lady came to the table Saturday, asked if we were buying and then produced 2 modern commems. When I explained that we primarily deal in older coins like those seen in our cases, she looked at them, saw a coin dated 1942 and shouted “HOLY SCHMOLLY”. And then repeated that louder and more enthusiastically with every successively older coin she found – from 1912 to 1881 to 1859 to 1820 to 1795 to 1787 to 1652 and finally to 1576. That is a lot of HOLY SCHMOLLIES.

There were a series of Air Force flyovers for Fleet Week with jets screaming over the convention center on Friday and Saturday. And while the sounds were certainly impressive, your author never got to see even one single plane since of course I was constantly looking down at rare numismatic items.

While the gym at our hotel was not nearly as nice as some of the others on the circuit, they did have everything I use as I am STILL working my way back from the shoulder injury I incurred last March.

Our total NEWPs count here was 33 coins, which does not include anything we pick up in the auctions this week, and I think there will be plenty.

We handed off a bunch of coins to the grading services at this show, and if the results are anything like we’ve seen over the last few weeks, it will be a complete waste of time and money. But you never know, and of course if you have a bunch of raw coins it’s not like we have a choice.

Our flight home was uneventful right up until we landed, when the pilot jammed on the breaks with urgency the instant we touched down causing a bunch of debris and a giant package of Funyuns to rocket under our seats from somewhere in the back of the plane, startling the elderly passengers in the row in front of us who kept trying to hand them to me, but of course I do not even like Funyuns.

And now we’ll be in the office going through everything that came in while we were away, sorting NEWPs and then getting ready for our next EB which will go out one week from Tuesday on June 25.

So you might want to keep an eye out for that.