June 27-30, 2012: The Whitman Baltimore Expo
Good morning coin enthusiast!
We are pleased to present this the first of five (5) reports from the Baltimore Show (though this one is being written from the airport in New England where your author is sitting at 4:48 AM waiting for one of the 11 restaurants in this Terminal to open and sell him a coffee).
I am hopeful this situation will eventually resolve itself (and it will need to) as I have a long day ahead of me which will include flying down to Baltimore, catching a cab to the hotel, schlepping a ton of stuff over to the convention center, lot viewing for the Stack’s-Bowers auction and meeting with several other dealers and collectors late into the evening to discuss various deals ranging from large to enormous.
After which CRO will be bidding like crazy in the various S-B sessions (as usual), then attacking the show with great enthusiasm, buying, selling, trading, grading and generally conducting as much numismatic activity as can be crammed into a 4-day event.
The details of which will be reported here daily, profusely illustrated, containing mildly entertaining anecdotes and, we promise, hard-hitting numismatic reporting which is virtually guaranteed to tick someone off – including in our next installment which will be posted, right here, on Thursday morning.
June 27th: Day 1
Q: How long does it take to view an entire 6,207 lot Stack’s-Bowers auction?
A: Well, it took me an hour and 45 minutes, though admittedly I do not dawdle, and I did gloss over lot #493 (the silver Daniel Van Voorhis Sugar Basket), and most of the group lots of Walking Liberty Half Dollars.
I did however view absolutely everything else, including the internet only session (a real snoozefest) and the high value coins (which included that PF69 High Relief that everyone is talking about on the internet).
And of that long list of coins, I circled about 50, plan to bid aggressively on perhaps 30 and expect that we will win darn near all of them, since if we like something enough to bid on it we aren’t usually shy with the numbers.
I also noted some items which seemed exciting in the auction descriptions, and even in some cases in the auction photos, but which I really did not like after viewing in hand and thus treated to the customary large ‘X” in my catalog (which I usually scribble like a 3 year-old for emphasis and to express my dismay).
After that efficient use of time, I had a nice lunch with a dealer friend I have not seen since the EAC show, and then strolled back to my hotel where I was informed that my deluxe Harbor View room (the only one available when I booked the thing weeks ago), which was not ready when I checked in at 7 AM, was now good to go.
And while Harbor View typically means that you can catch a glimpse of water if you crane your neck and peek between two other buildings, in this case it was the real deal, looking something like this (as photographed by your author through the filthy hotel room window):
And that would prove a soothing backdrop as I stayed there for a while making 42.5 phone calls, entering my bids on the computer and getting a lot done.
Which took me up until 4:30 or so, when I walked over to another hotel to meet up with a few other dealers to work on a mega-deal at which time I noticed that it was now about 90 degrees outside and extremely windy. I also noticed that I was the only one not wearing black and orange, since by that time droves of apparently devout fans were heading over to the Oriole game just a block from the hotel.
I did not join them, though, instead staying at that hotel for a while before heading to the convention center to get my show badge and lock up our stuff behind the table in a process that is expertly organized and very efficiently run by Whitman and bears no resemblance whatsoever to the abject chaos that used to take place during registration at this show years ago under the previous management. So that was nice.
And then it was off to dinner for more deal-talk until somewhat late in the evening, until your author flat ran out of gas.
So I called it a day in anticipation of a loooong Thursday, starting with dealer set-up at 8, the first auction session at 10, a full day at the show and then, when we are completely exhuasted, even more bidding in the evening.
All of which will be described right here tomorrow.
June 28th: Day 2
How did Thursday go, you ask?
Well, let’s see, the federal coin we most desperately wanted in the auction and were prepared to pay $12,500 for hammered to us at $6,500. And while that sounds fantaaaastic (and believe me, it was) we did not win many of the other coins we bid on, as prices on a lot of the most interesting pieces were pretty robust in our humble opinion, making the overall auction just OK from our perspective, with a relatively modest CRO haul of cool coins.
Thankfully, however, we did better on the bourse floor, with our most interesting NEWP being a lovely, original and very high-end Libertas Americana Medal in a never-before-seen type of oversized NGC MS64 holder that looks like those giant NGC Tome holders but much thinner:
This being the first Libertas in our inventory since we sold the last one we had in just a few hours at an LB show several months ago (and we do not expect to have this one too long either).
We picked up some neat federal coins too, as well as some nice colonials (of course) including an unusually choice, golden brown New Jersey No Coulter variety to add to our already comprehensive colonial assortment on display here containing all types and varieties ranging in price from about $500 up to around 6-figures.
Even so, sales during the day were on the quiet side during a day with a disjointed schedule (dealer set up at 8 AM, Early Birds arriving at 10, the show open to collectors en masse only at noon) that may have kept a lot of collector attendees away until Friday.
So, in all, we had about 15 transactions of mostly moderately priced items, one interesting trade and a near miss on a choice large cent we tried to buy but couldn’t.
And while we discussed a few mega-transactions with a number of different collectors and dealers, we did not consummate any on Thursday. It’s possible one or two of them will work in the next several days or weeks, but you never know, and we have learned through the years not to assume anything will happen until it actually does.
What did happen was an extremely entertaining dinner at Sullivan’s with a couple of collector and dealer friends all shoe-horned into a very small private room where we ate well, had a few laughs and managed to squeeze in some entertaining (to me, anyway) golf talk before calling it a night on the early side so your author could keep tabs (successfully) on the auction lot mentioned in the first sentence of this RR.
Friday we look forward to seeing more collectors on the bourse floor, upping our wheeling and dealing quotient significantly and snagging a few more well selected auctions lots during Stack’s-Bowers Session 4 starting at 1 PM.
And if we win something, or if we do not, it will all be described right here on Saturday AM.
June 29th: Day 3
Well, things did start to start to heat up on Friday, both outside (where it was already about 90 degrees and unpleasant when I walked over to the show at 8:30 AM), and on the actual bourse floor (where collector activity at the table ratcheted up and we bought and sold waaaay more coins that on Thursday).
In no particular order we did a cash and trade deal for our silver Washington Funeral Medal, bought and then sold some neat gold type, picked up a long run of Peace Dollars, sold a high-end New Jersey 58-n to a good customer, added some choice Pillar and portrait coins, sold an early dollar, bought an unusually nice Virginia Halfpenny, sold our 55 Doubled Die, etc.
At some point in there we also picked up our Stack’s-Bowers auction winnings and then in short order made a deal to sell the most expensive coin from that group to a collector while another dealer pawed at it.
And while that may have sounded like a lot of activity (frankly it did to me while I was typing it), I would still characterize the show here as on the slower side so far – especially compared to the last Baltimore show a few months ago. We have not sold anything uber-expensive, and we were a bit disappointed not to find more sexy coins on the floor here, since we almost invariably do when we come to Baltimore.
Maybe that is not surprising, though, given the competing activities at this time of year and the fact that a lot of the people we normally see and do business with at this show are either in Colorado Springs at the ANA Summer Seminars, or are possibly water-skiing somewhere while Team CRO was slaving away behind the bourse table.
Until dinner time that is, when we let loose at the Kona Grill with a couple of collector / dealer friends, ate some shockingly spicy sushi and watched in abject horror as your author’s ceramic sake bottle leaked all over the table through no fault of his own. All was well, though, since they then comped me with a freebie.
And then I headed back to the hotel and checked in on the auction to see the 1907 St. Gaudens Ultra High Relief in PF69 High relief bring the not-quite-as-high-as-I-figured-it-would-be $2,760,000.
And then I collapsed after another extremely long day which will be repeated again on Saturday as we look to do some more business at the show, and then fly home from where our next RR will be posted here on Sunday AM.
Until then –
June 30th: Day 4
It would be interesting to begin this last installment of the Baltimore RR with a detailed description of the incredibly violent storm that ripped through Baltimore late Friday into early Saturday AM (described as a “Derecho” by the meteorologists on TV, the first time your author had ever heard that word in this context in his entire life), uprooting trees, flinging debris into the air and just about blowing out the hotel windows.
Unfortunately, I slept through it all and had no idea anything had happened until I woke up early Saturday, got on the elevator and ran into some lady who told me all about in an extremely animated fashion, including the use of vivid hand gestures to represent rain and wind and simulated thunder noises which I personally would have been uncomfortable making in front of a stranger.
Which all would have been merely interesting to me, had this same storm not imploded our shiny new Amazon server, causing this very website to go dark for 17 hours on Saturday, and forcing your author to then spend I don’t know how many hours on the phone trying (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) to fix it.
So by the time I walked over to the convention center at about 9 AM, I had already been hard at work for hours and needed a nap.
But there would be no time for that, as we had some nice activity right from the get-go, buying some extremely tasty copper on one hand, and selling some colonials and US type on the other.
All of which would pale in comparison to the mega Bechtler $5 we acquired later and which will have a place of prominence on Tuesday’s EB.
After which things wound down, as I finally bought one last coin I had pondered for 2 days, then packed up and headed to the airport for my 3:50 flight, leaving our table in Dave’s capable hands which he used to sell a couple more coins before heading out himself for his later flight.
Interestingly, or ironically, we’d end up meeting up again at the airport, as my own flight was delayed 5 hours for no apparent reason, rendering a long, tiring day even more so. And since the site was down, I couldn’t actually get any work done while I waited, so I used the time to instead reflect on a decent but not great show in which we sold more than our fair share of moderately priced items and bought some pretty cool coins in all categories to add to what is shaping up to be an extremely entertaining EB this Tuesday.
So you might want to keep an eye out for that.