June 25-28, 2014: The Whitman Baltimore Expo
June 25th: Day 1
Landing in Baltimore bright and early on Wednesday morning, I hurriedly grabbed my bag and jumped into a cab which I had no way of knowing would be driven by one of those guys who is either flooring it or jamming on the brakes continuously for the entire ride. Seriously – if you drive for a living, wouldn’t you expect to be better at it than that?
At least we got to my hotel quickly, where I stashed my stuff and then headed straight to the 2nd floor of the Sheraton Hotel where PCGS would be set up to receive pre-show submissions.
And while they were not actually there when I arrived, the room was open and all the supplies were there, which gave me all the time I needed to get organized, fill out 42 forms and submit everything by about 10 AM.
Just as I received a text telling me that I had to come to the Hilton “immediately if not sooner” to look at two wholesale deals, so I hightailed it all the way through the convention center to the other side, found said deals, bought a bunch of fresh coins, and then headed back to the convention center for Stack’s-Bowers lot viewing.
Where I found a few unexpectedly good things to bid on, then talked to a few other dealers right up until my hotel called to say my room was ready.
So I headed straight over, got the key, had lunch and then worked in the room until I got a call from another dealer with new coins to show me. So it was back to the convention center again to pore through those, buy another batch and then schmooze with a different group of dealers until about 5.
Then back to the room again until going to dinner at Pazo with two other dealer friends where we discussed the state of the industry, kitchen renovations, new acquisitions and tastes in modern art while sampling their menu which is of course completely different than the last time I was there (since they’ve been continuously changing that for years now).
Finally getting back to the room at about 10 after what was a loooong, tiring and pretty productive day culminating with the typing of this RR.
Which I will need to end here in order to get some rest and be ready for what figures to be an extreeeemely busy Thursday starting with dealer set up bright and early at 8 AM.
The results of which will be described here in about 24 hours from now.
June 26th: Day 2
It was with great anticipation that I awoke on Thursday morning, fired up the in-room coffee pot and unfortunately produced what might have been the worst coffee ever brewed at a coin show.
But since I was running behind schedule, I drank it anyway, raced over to the convention center and joined the queue waiting to file in to what many of us expected to be a real fine show.
And it was almost from the start, as I sold a bunch of federal coins just as I was putting them in the cases, then exploded across the room and bought 3 groups of world coins from 3 different dealers, then snagged a high end Pillar Dollar from a collector who had brought it just to offer me.
As an aside, I always appreciate it when collectors or other dealers call me in advance of a show and say “Hey, I might have something for you”. So when they do, I try extremely hard to buy it if we are at all close on price, since I really want to encourage people to do this, and I honestly believe I am the high buyer of a wide range of colonial, federal and world coins of the sort often featured on this site. So if you have something like that, call me for a no muss no fuss instant check.
And then, after a very auspicious start, I went back to the table and made a deluxe sale of three cool colonials to a specialist collector, followed by a bunch of one-off federal and world coins to various collectors and dealers who stopped by the table during the afternoon.
Interspersed with forays around the room to look other coins, of which I found a few scattered in a wide variety of obvious and extremely obscure places.
Which all sounds terrific, and was. In fact, the only negative thing I can report would be the grading, which I found to be very harsh here (at least so far), on some coins that I thought were considerably nicer than did the grading services. Oh well.
Just a minor disappointment which was quickly forgotten over dinner with a big group of collector and dealer friends at Sullivan’s which ran until 10 or so.
After which I came back to the room, watched the end of the NBA draft while figuring Stack’s bids, carefully crafted this blog and then called it a night so as to be ready, again, for what figures to be another busy day on Friday.
June 27th: Day 3
There were many things to be thankful for on Friday:
Like when I woke up feeling extremely tired, checked the clock, realized it was only 1:48 AM and knew that I could sleep for another 4 hours.
And that my hotel is just steps from the convention center, so I didn’t have to hoof it through the city in unpleasantly humid weather to get to the show.
When I arrived just as it opened at 9 AM I found someone already waiting for me at my table so they could buy a coin they saw Thursday. This is what numismatists call a ‘good start’.
And the cool, early half dollar I saw in another dealers case earlier in the show, regretted not snapping up then and which I feared would be gone by now was still there when I ran over to check at 9:10.
That the grading which was so unfavorable on Thursday was downright fair on Friday.
At least half a dozen people who came by during the day, looked at a coin, said some version of “I want to look around some more but I may come back for that one” actually did return to buy said items.
That our “We By Colonials” ads seem to be working, since people (collectors and dealers aike) were walking coins up to to the CRO table throughout the day. And while not everything was of the best quality, enough of it was and we bought those straight away.
The new pop top coin we just received back from PCGS and which seemed perfect for one our long time customers actually was, as we consummated a straightforward cash and trade deal for it just before closing time.
The Stack’s-Bowers team was extremely accommodating, helping me place a last second bid for the evening session as we headed out for dinner.
That Morton’s new revamped menu was fan-tastic, as confirmed by the two other dealers at the table who both ordered the exact same thing I did. So if you go there, we all heartily recommend the Ahi Tuna Tower and the Chicken Christopher.
And that we are scheduled to be here pretty much all day Saturday to continue what has been, so far, an absolutely stellar Baltimore Expo.
June 28th: The Exciting Conclusion
Now back home in New England I’ve had some time to digest the events of the last few days and take stock of exactly what we sold, bought, traded, considered, passed on, bid on, won, lost, etc.
Allowing me to now say with certainty that this was the best and busiest summer Baltimore show I have personally attended in years, with business being done literally from the moment I arrived on Thursday morning right up until we left late Saturday afternoon.
Actually, it continued on a little bit after that, as we received an order by email while en route to the airport from a collector who was at the show earlier in the day, and then one more from a different collector who bought two coins and pondered another on Saturday morning before calling to say he wanted the third one in the evening.
And while I know that not every dealer had the same experience (since I talked to many of them at the show), I would be surprised if any could say that it was not crowded and active here. Indeed, as I stood at the PCGS table along the back wall at about 1 PM on Saturday the room I was taken by how many people were still there and the amount of numismatic activity going on around the room.
With the great majority of it collector driven and seemingly there to buy, as a continuous stream of people came to the table throughout the 3 days and bought coins they had not specifically been looking for or even known about before arriving as evidenced by the fact that we sold a lot of new coins in Baltimore which had never appeared on the website.
Like this one, for example:
And this poorly photographed one, too (the only mint state Pillar 4 Reales we’ve ever had a chance to buy):
And a cool, mint state CC Trade Dollar which I am kicking myself for not photographing before we sold it.
In total representing a very wide range of price points from a few hundred dollars into the mid five-figures, in exactly the kind of colonial, federal and world issue mix we strive to offer.
If I had any complaint here it was about harsh grading early in the show, and the fact that we bought a bit less than we wanted / needed overall. But it was not through lack of effort, as I scoured the bourse for interesting coins any time I could get out from behind the table and snapped up most anything that seemed like a CRO coin.
But do not fear, we have plenty of NEWPs from previous weeks, and coins back from grading and/or CAC which will look very nice on our next Early Bird to be held on Tuesday July 8th.
So you might want to keep and eye out for that.