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Back to Road Report Archive 2016

June 8-11, 2016: The Long Beach Coin & Currency Expo

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After just a quick 6 hour and 20 minute flight (seriously – I think I did it faster in an old DC-6 once) your author arrived in balmy SoCal for what figures to be an interesting LB Expo replete with buying and selling ops on the bourse floor, and some cool tokens and medals in the HA auction.

And we will be ready to go for all of it, first in the wholesale rooms, then at our usual Table #612 rght smack dab in front of the door with occasional mad dashes to the auction room, the PCGS and NGC tables and, of course, our usual scouring of the bouse floor in our search for cool coins.

With all of the action to be described in our Road Reports and, as always, posted right here each and every single morning of the show.

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

June 8th:  Day 1

After a fantastically restful sleep on Tuesday night, I had my usual breakfast-on-the-fly from the Hyatt coffee shop, schlepped 40 pounds of show supplies to the convention center and began the usual CRO pre-show routine:

  1. Drop off all our pent up grading at PCGS by filling out 32 submission forms as fast as possible and getting a severe hand cramp in the process.
  2. View coins being offered by many different dealers in the various wholesale rooms, sorting through more than 5,000 coins to find about 3 dozen that screamed CRO.
  3. View the Heritage lots for the US and Tokens auctions as fast as possible, identifying another few dozen coins to bid on.
  4. Eat a salad in the convention center lobby which was freshly served directly from a freezer.
  5. Retrieve my coins from security while being extremely thankful that did not have as much stuff as the guy just ahead of me who wheeled out a giant cart stacked about 5 feet high with bins and briefcases and listing to the left like a scene from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
  6. Join the huge crowd of dealers uncomfortably crammed into the small space between the still-locked bourse room doors and the bottom of escalator.

And then explode onto the bourse floor when said doors open, race to the CRO table and start setting up as quickly as possible.

Which is always more hectic and nerve-wracking than you might expect, re-arranging tables, sprawling inelegantly on the floor to plug in power strips, getting lamps to work, having an errant sign replaced and fixing a case with a broken lock, but ultimately getting everything done and ready for business faster than just about any other dealer, thanks mostly to our new tray display system and the fact that I don’t like to dawdle.

Because then I have time to race around the floor looking for cool NEWPs right when they are being put out, which I did successfully to the tune of about 30 coins of all shapes and sizes, in all categories, raw and slabbed, old-holdered and new, ranging in price from something like $195 to $22,000.

Circling back to the table between each to drop off coins, work with people at the table, sell a few coins and then repeat the cycle all over again.

Which I did until about 5 PM, when just in the midst of trying to buy a cool world coin they announced that the free beer and taquitos were now open for business, causing everyone to drop whatever they were doing and run to the front of the room, including the guy I was talking to.

But I followed him back there straight after like a stalker, bought said coin and also another one he had hiding in the back case and two others I had not seen the first time, which is the kind of perseverance it sometimes takes to get the cool stuff we seek.

After which I packed up and got ready for the Heritage auction starting at 6 PM, where I bought one coin before dropping everything at my hotel and heading to dinner with a dealer friend at a restaurant where every single other person present was a coin dealer (except for the waiter).

And then called it a night on the early side so I could be ready for what I expect to be a very busy Thursday here in Long Beach.

With all of the action described right here on Friday AM.


June 9th:  Day 2

Disaster averted on Thursday morning, as your author accidentally left his laptop charger at the show and thus was forced to crank out yesterday’s installment of the Road Report with the computer’s red 8% battery life symbol staring me in the face.  I like that sort of pressure to perform though, and managed to get done just as the screen went dark.

Though this meant that I’d have to figure bids and enter them on the HA site at the show, which is never a good idea, since you rarely get more than a couple of minutes of uninterrupted time behind the table, and I really don’t want to be that guy who is parked behind his table buried in a computer and shushing away paying customers as that’s not real good for business.  But I managed to get them all entered before the public came in and then embarked on another fine day of buying and selling numismatic items.

Including a very cool old-holdered Peace $1 and another wildly toned one at opposite ends of the room, more choice world coins in random dealer cases, but also some great things that simply walked up to the table and found us like they often do.

Sales were good too, about equally split between US and world, of every conceivable type and era, in all metals, PCGS and NGC, to collectors and dealers, new customers and old friends and neatly illustrating the full gamut of CRO activities in which we have something for pretty much everyone (unless you want cleaned and re-toned early type, AT Buffalo Nicks or stripped gold coins – we’re not going to be able to help you with that).

We also spent a few minutes advising a serious collector on grading his beloved set of early quarters, which were fun to see and on which I think we knew exactly how to proceed (i.e. what to reconsider, what to regrade, what to reholder first, what to cross as is, what tiers to use, etc.). So I’m hoping he took our advice and I’m anxious to see the results.

On a somber note, we were shocked to learn of the passing of a long time (and quite young) SoCal customer Brad Hoyt from his good friend who came to the show to inform those who knew him. This show won’t be quite the same without him as he was a fixture here for as long as I can remember and bought a lot of great things from CRO through the years. RIP Brad.

We kept at it after hearing that news, buying and selling up until about 5:45 when it was time to get ready for the Heritage auction session and then head to dinner at the The Federal up the street before once again calling it an early night on my new “let’s try to get more than 4 hours of sleep” program which, so far this week, is working great.

So I will be rested and again ready for what figures to be an action packed Friday in Long Beach.

More later –

June 10th:  Day 3

We got right to it on Friday, first with some super fast lot viewing the moment Heritage opened the room at 9 (coincidentally the same time the bourse floor was opened to dealers, which from my perspective is not exactly ideal).

But I had to do it then because the auction would be starting at 10 (coincidentally the same time the bourse floor would open to the public, which was even less ideal).

So while many of the would-be buyers would be in the auction room bidding live, your author left bids on the computer and focused my attention on the show itself.  And I’d say that was a real good plan, except that I didn’t win any of the auction coins in a session in which there was less pre-bidding and more floor action than in a typical US session, where prices were harder to predict and thus one where being physically present in the auction room would have made a difference.

Oh well. It’s not like I had trouble finding cool coins to buy, as our total haul for this show passed the 60-coin mark around mid-morning.  With the highlight of Friday’s purchases being some spectacular world gold which is being photographed as we speak.

And while finding those coins was satisfying, it was not quite as much as locating two coins which had been on a customer’s want list for ages, and which I just stumbled upon in random dealer cases while on one of my many, many circuits of the room during the day.

Though I was back at the table in time to meet with a number of local collectors, including a few long-time customers who I did not expect to make it here this time.  But they did, with all buying coins of some sort or other, which when combined with the other activity made Friday our best selling day of the show by a considerable margin.

Interrupted (in a good way) by various grading submissions coming back, most of which were about as expected and will flow straight onto our next Early Bird on Tuesday.

So you might think it was all smooth sailing on this day, which was mostly the case, or was at least until a fracas broke out right in the main entry door and security tackled some guy who appeared to be making a run for it.  And I watched like everybody else with rapt attention, interrupted by some collector who strolled in front of me with a medium-sized lizard on his shoulder (the second person I’ve seen at this show with what is presumably a pet on their back, the other being that guy who walks around like a pirate with a bright green bird).

But by then the action was mostly over, the knocked-over bourse sign and easel repaired and folks again turning their attention to numismatic endeavors.

Including your author, who shortly thereafter bought a choice Elephant Token from perhaps the least likely guy on the bourse floor to have one.

But that’s the fun of a coin show for me, where you never know what you’ll find, or where, and an aggressive person who looks in every case repeatedly can make some hay on the bourse floor.

And then it was time for dinner with a couple of dealer friends as we strolled up the street to L’Opera for my usual Arrabiata, and then again called it a relatively early night to be ready for a Saturday which is likely to be hectic like most get-away days on the coin circuit.

Whatever happens on Saturday we will be there for every last second of it before flying home on a late flight and then reporting about everything that happened here in our last LB RR on Sunday morning.

Until then, then.

June 11th:  The Exciting Conclusion

Me: (speaking into the Jet Blue counter phone at LBO) “Hi, Super Steve?

Super Steve: “Yes?

Me: “Super Steve, this is John Agre – I was in your cab 20 minutes ago and I think I left my phone in the backseat.”

SS: (with unexpected enthusiasm) “Yes! Yes Mr. John! Yes you did!

Me: “How much do I have to pay you to drive it back to me here at the airport?

SS: “Whatever you think is fair Mr. John.”

And so concluded an episode which seemed fine to start, as I checked in at LBO, sailed through security and headed to my gate before realizing that aforementioned phone was nowhere to be found, and I had, in fact, not seen it since sitting in the back of that cab chatting away with the driver (who literally called himself Super Steve and had it printed on his business card) and using my phone case as a hard surface so I could write my name and cell number on a business card for him just in case I needed a ride to the ANA in Anaheim in August.

Now, I don’t usually get so cozy with the drivers on these trips, nor do I plan my cab rides 2 months in advance, but I have to tell you I am extremely glad that I did in this instance, and equally glad I had no small bills and had to give him a mega-tip when I got out.

Because he was back to the airport about 10 minutes after he hung up, handed me that phone and I was never so happy to tip a guy a second time.

Thus rescuing the end of what had been an excellent day to that point, with robust sales (for a Saturday) and more good buying, with the last acquisition a cool coin I have been chasing for months which walked up to the table at about 4:00 PM as I was packing up to go.

Plus every last one of my grading submissions came back which is not always the way it works out here, with some past world and esoteric submissions “pended” (PCGS parlance for coins which cannot be graded on site and which have to be sent to the office and finished next week). But not this time.

Which allowed me to have all of them imaged on site, giving us more ammo for Tuesday’s Early Bird (though frankly I’m not sure we needed it). Happy to have options though.

So really the only negative thing I can say about this show is that I didn’t buy nearly as many coins in the tokens auction as I expected.

On the other hand, I did see one more person here walking around with an animal on him (in this case another bird), making for a total of 3 in 3 days. So either a lot of people in SoCal walk around like this, or there is a strong correlation between coin show attendance and pet carrying, or possibly both.

And now, after a day which looked like it might end on a very low note until Super Steve came to the rescue, I look forward to getting some rest before starting to work on that EB in earnest.

The End