June 28-30, 2007: The Whitman Baltimore Expo
Let the typing commence:
Today began in a relaxed and leisurely way, starting with a harsh alarm clock ring at 3:45 AM, a trip over a misplaced suitcase, and a wild fifteen minute effort to shower, shave, get dressed, finish packing and jump into a cab.
Which I am pleased to announce that I did, successfully.
A short flight to Baltimore later and I was ready to stand in the newly arranged Whitman Registration line at the Convention Center (fully 40% less frustrating than the registration line at previous shows), get my newly minted bourse badge, and launch myself into the show like some kind of numismatic projectile. Or something like that.
It was 8:30 when I hit the floor, encountering a half-full room operating at a surprisingly low energy level. Hmmm. Apparently some east coast weather had wrought havoc with some of the attendees’ schedules, and a number of dealers didn’t arrive until later in the day. Others seemingly skipped the show altogether. Whatever the case, the bourse was not as robust as during the Spring (or last Fall’s) Baltimore show. But it was still bigger and better than most of our stops on the circuit.
Dave arrived a few minutes later, stopped to drop off a 50 pound collection (in weight, not English money) that we sold to another dealer and then joined me in setting up our table.
We finished that just in time to cruise the floor, search through nearly every single table and find what we could find – which, as it turns out, was not very much.
Over the course of the day, we sold 2 big coins, the aforementioned heavy collection, and a smattering of inexpensive pieces for a nice Thursday total. We also submitted a number of coins for grading during the ‘down-times’, schmoozed with collector friends and dealers alike, and saw some of the requisite cool coins which always seem to surface at this venue. And then we spent most of the later afternoon figuring a pretty good-sized deal and planning auction bids for the Bowers evening session.
We don’t yet know if the deal will come to fruition, but we are positive that our auction planning was effective. We ended up winning, among other things, the best coin in the colonial offering, the Virginia Penny in PCGS PF64. Now there’s a coin that doesn’t trade very often – and one which we weren’t going to let get away.
But perhaps most surprising thing of all this day was dinner, which in this case was relatively small, and healthy, and thus unlike most of the meals we have while traveling. Let’s all hope that’s the start of a new trend.
In the meantime, we look forward to Friday, and the attendance of ‘The Public’.
Friday at the Baltimore show turned out to be epic (or at least semi-epic), with strong, broad-based sales across many categories and price points to all sorts of buyers. We sold coins to other dealers, to collectors, by phone, by email and even one to a mail order customer via a letter sent to our office. And we gladly accepted them all.
But let’s begin at the beginning.
It was a moderately early start, as I woke up around 6:30, watched SportsCenter 50 times, jumped in a cab and got to the convention center at the crack of 8:30 – which was nearly ideal, accept that the show opened to dealers at 9:00, leaving a whole bunch of us to stew in the lobby for 30 minutes wishing we had read the schedule more carefully before we set our alarm clocks last night.
But that minor annoyance was forgotten as soon as the numismatic action got rolling.
We started by meeting a collector in the lobby to review a few coins before the show opened, then bought a few coins, then sold a ton, scoured the bourse floor, made 11 phone calls, sold 7 coins, picked up our Bowers auction purchases, sold a few more coins, etc. Interestingly, we sold 6 coins at more than $16,500 each, and 4 coins at less than $500 each. We’re not sure what this means exactly, other than that people seem to like coins of all shapes and sizes.
Somewhere in there we picked up our grading submissions (which were good), ate a bagel (which was also good), schmoozed with long-time friends and kept pecking away on the big deal we’ve been working on for months. Not sure if that’s headed to a positive conclusion or not, but we are giving it our best shot.
Another interesting element contributed to Friday’s excitement: Today was the last day for adding coins to Registry Sets in time for the “2007” rankings, and so we had a few frantic last minute orders for coins for a variety of clients in several series. And while we would never advise our clients to engage in a competitive coin acquisition race, the coin we sold were really choice and worth buying at any time – the fact that they contributed to Registry Sets was just an added bonus for the owners.
We ended the day at Pazo with Anaconda, Northeast and Andy Lustig during which we ended our consecutive streak of healthy, sensible meals at one. Oh well.
We’re not sure what Saturday will bring, but we are very excited to find out –
Saturday didn’t start well.
Upon checking out of my hotel, I had to admit to the incredibly attractive woman at the hotel reception desk that I had eaten a Pop-Tart from the min-bar in my room and that it should be added to the bill.
Now, I don’t care how you say it, it’s very, very hard to be cool when you have to admit that you ate a Pop-Tart. Heck, just saying the name sounds ridiculous. I figured I’d make a little joke out of it, which went over somewhat like the Hindenburg, only less successfully. Humiliated, I skulked off and tripped over my luggage just to complete the effect.
But after that minor hiccup, it was off to the show where we enjoyed another day best described as ‘a very good day’.
We bought some more, sold some more and, in total, had our best show of the year in the midst of what some people (though not us) describe as the ‘slow summer months’. We can’t explain it, but we aren’t complaining.
In addition to some seriously nifty selling and some adroit (believed to be the first use of this word in a Road Report) buying, we were 98% satisfied with the grades we received, delighted with the new contacts we made, pleased with the last minute efforts we engineered (with the help of PCGS President Ron Guth) to get a customer’s new purchase added to the database so he could place it in his Registry Set, encouraged by the possible new collections we are getting closer to buying, and generally ecstatic with the show in almost every conceivable way.
There was one downer though. We apparently missed out on buying one coin we have been chasing for a customer for literally months, as the owner evidently sold it to someone else. In numismatics, as in life, you can’t win ’em all.
We will be in high octane paperwork mode this coming week, then walking the floor at the currency show in Memphis, having some Summer FUN in West Palm Beach the following week and angling toward the big kahuna, the ANA in Milwaukee, in one month’s time.
Slow summer months? Ha.