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Back to Road Report Archive 2011

March 15-19, 2011: The ANA National Money Show in Sacramento, CA



Good morning everyone:

I am pleased to say that I am all packed, completely ready and just about to zoom to the airport for an entire frickin’ day of travel en route to the ANA Money Show in delightful Sacramento, CA.

And we have reasonably high expectations for this event, based partly on last year’s show (which was held in Fort Worth, and which turned out to be pretty decent), and the fact that business has been brisk for the last few months.  Plus we will have lots of new, fresh inventory at this show, and that always look particularly inviting when artfully displayed in a showcase (and believe me, it will be).

Also, we have our collective eye on a few things in the Heritage auction, and in total look to come away from this event having bought, sold and graded coins with almost (but not quite) reckless numismatic abandon.

And if we do, or even if we don’t, you can read about all of it right here in this space every morning – keeping in mind that your author is in the Pacific Time Zone this week, and so it’s possible that on some days the RR updates won’t be up on our site until 10 AM-ish for you guys in the east.  So do not panic if you don’t see them at the crack of dawn.

Until later –

March 15th:  Day 1

Sometime during the course of Tuesday I began to wonder if I had somehow screwed up my travel reservation, since it seemed absolutely inconceivable to me that the best way to get from New England to Sacramento was via Houston, and necessitated taking 2 separate 4 hours flights.

But then I remembered that Chris and Melissa from Stack’s (oops, I mean Stacks-Bowers) NH office were on the same flights with me, so I guess the conclusion is, yes, this is the best you can do.

And while it was a loooong trip, some good stuff did happen:

1.  I actually bought a coin during my layover in Houston (on the phone, not in the airport).

2.  The Asian noodle salad on the Hou-Sac flight was delicious.

3.  They did not lose my luggage.

And I am now resting comfortably at my hotel looking forward to lot viewing first thing tomorrow morning, followed by dealer set-up at 3 PM and the start of the show in earnest.

Oh – and if you are planning to attend, bring your umbrella – you’re going to need it.

March 16th:  Day 2

Actually Wednesday turned out to be a beautiful day here in California, with cool temperatures and unexpectedly blue skies undoubtedly caused by the fact that I was hauling a stupid umbrella around with me all day (which I seldom do).

In any case, it was nice, and we strolled comfortably to the convention center at about 10 AM and began the marathon process of viewing every single lot in the Heritage auction in one fell swoop. Which we both did, separately, taking copious notes and finding more things to bid on than either of us might have expected in the auctions to be held over the next several days.

Stopping only for lunch, and to make 63,000 phones calls (hyperbole), we finished up at about 2:30 and then stood out in the lobby with a few hundred other dealers trying to get our show badges organized.  And for a minute there it looked like we’d have an issue, but the staff was frankly wicked efficient and we burst onto the bourse floor literally seconds after it opened at 3 PM.

Where we set up quickly at a table steps from the door right next to Heritage and across from Stack’s-Bowers (i.e. the high rent district), and then tried to cram buying, selling and submitting grading into the scant 3 hour window we’d have before they kicked us all out at 6.

And it turned out to be just OK, as we sold 2 Federal coins, bought 4, submitted 4 colonials, pondered a few others, and had a couple of other dealers pondering some of our more expensive pieces, including 2 Continental Dollars (the first time we can recall having two in inventory at one time, due mostly to the fact that we rarely see one we like enough to buy, let alone two).

Then, all of a sudden, it was time to leave, so we headed out to a spectacular Japanese dinner with some goods friends from Stack’s-Bowers, during which we ate a lot of extremely spicy things, carried on, had a great time and strolled back to the hotel in lovely, cool, dry weather arriving just in time to answer emails, start writing this RR and get a good night’s sleep.

And that sleep will be important, because Thursday should be a fun but extreeeeeeeeeemely long day, with the official ribbon cutting ceremony early, the first full day of the show followed by the HA auction at night.

All of which will be described right here in about 24 hours from now.

March 17th:  Day 3

Early risers rejoice, the ANA has accommodated you by opening this show to the public at 9 AM each day (which might not sound early to regular people who go to work each day, but it actually is compared to most shows that start at 10).

Which meant that I was a bit rushed on Thursday morning, answering emails, gabbing away on the phone, getting organized and rushing out the door at 8:45, getting halfway to the convention center, realizing I forgot my case keys and umbrella, turning around, going back to the hotel, getting them, and then finally arriving at the convention center at about 9:15, where I was immediately berated by another dealer who insisted that we had scheduled an 8:30 AM meeting the previous evening (which is never a good way to start a day).

But we said our apologies (even though we were not convinced such a meeting was ever planned), made do, and then proceeded to buy and sell coins at a not unimpressive clip for the next, oh, 10 hours.

What did we buy, you ask?  Some of everything – including whatever neat colonials we found in not-the-usual-suspect dealer cases, deluxe copper, several really choice early (and I mean really early) silver coins, a smattering of gold, a couple of Pillars, some unusual esoteric items and one token that Dave proudly showed me and to which I responded with appropriate enthusiasm even though I had absolutely no idea what it was.

On the selling side, it was a pretty good day both on a retail and wholesale basis, as we sold, among other things, a couple of pieces of Mass copper, some of our other colonial NEWPs, lots of federal and a neat token with a witch on it that your author had seriously considered keeping for himself.

It should also be noted that our Buy a Coin Get a Hat promo was in high gear during the day, except for one person who declined the hat because he insisted his head was too large to wear one.  I was not convinced that was the case, but since our company policy specifically prohibits us from measuring anyone’s head on the bourse floor, we had to take his word for it.

Somewhere in there we also graded some coins, but the few things we submitted received the numismatic equivalent of a cold slap in the face, though that will not deter us from taking our face back over to the grading table again today and giving it another go.

Also, we had an opportunity to talk to Chris Napolitano, the newly minted President of Stack’s-Bowers, and hear about a lot of the cool new developments taking place there.  Afterward both Dave and I felt that they were going to impress a lot of people in the coming months.

And then we bought a couple of more things late in the day, sold one coin just as we were packing up and then headed upstairs to the Heritage auction where we bought some colonials, watched others sell for waaaay more than we expected, snagged a couple of federal coins, and then headed over to PF Chang’s where your author’s Beef a la Sichuan was considerably spicier than it usually is (which is a good thing).

And then we called it a day and went back to the hotel, where I typed for hours and then fell asleep directly in my Heritage catalog as I was planning tomorrow’s bids.

But do not worry, we will be ready when the auctions start, and we will describe the results right here on Saturday morning.


March 18th:  Day 4

Leaving the hotel on Friday AM, your author (who is a very observant person) immediately noticed that it was all of a sudden overcast, wicked cold and very, very windy, so much so that it nearly ripped my CRO hat off (heaven forbid) as we made our way to the convention center.

But we arrived unscathed just as they opened and quickly got set up for what we hoped would be another active day on the bourse.

And while we were busy doing things all day, and it was certainly never dull, it did not seem like there were many new serious collector attendees that had not already stopped by the table Thursday.  That was disappointing.

Still, we managed to sell quite a few more coins both on a retail and wholesale basis, mostly in the few hundred to few thousand dollar price range.

I also had one of those classic coin dealer moments, when a gentlemen stopped by the table, wanted to see a fairly expensive colonial coin, studied it from every angle, asked myriad good questions about its origin and significance and rarity, confirmed that the price was “fifty-seven-fifty”, called a collector friend of his, described the item, discussed it with him for a while, seemed enthusiastic and finally said to me “Will you take $50?”.  When I told him the actual price was $5,750, and that I therefore could not take $50, we both had a good laugh about it and he continued on down the aisle.  I’m not sure what the moral is here other than to say that if your author (who is a very observant person) had had any indication at all that the collector didn’t understand the price I’d have clarified it a lot sooner than that.

Anyway, I then walked the floor a few more times, added a couple of late acquisitions to our robust new purchases box and noticed some of the things Dave had bought earlier that I had not seen yet.  Some pretty cool coins there, and enough of them to indicate that we probably have been net buyers at this show (though I will not know for sure until we do the detailed analysis).

And that does not include the couple of additional pieces we are still pondering and/or negotiating, or anything else new that might show up on Saturday, and I kind of get the feeling that something will walk in the door, based partly on gut feel, and partly on other dealers who have told us that at the last Sacramento show in 1999 the weekend traffic was, and I quote, “fantastic, with people lined up around the block waiting to get in” (frankly that’s hard to picture, but you never know).

Late in the day we finalized our Heritage bids for the evening session, picked up a couple of straggler grades, tweaked the website (sharp-eyed readers may have already noticed the difference in the header on our home page) and then went out for an absolutely spectacular dinner with a dealer friend and ANA Executive Director Larry Shepard at a place called Ella’s during which we discussed embezzlement, bad doctor visits (and I mean really, really bad), and your author ate fried olives for the first time in his life.

Followed by a walk home in a miserable freezing ran that at least availed me of the opportunity to finally use my umbrella, which I regret calling stupid in an earlier RR, since at that point I was thoroughly delighted to have it with me.

And that’s when the day got especially interesting, as we slogged back to the hotel and Dave tripped on a broken curb, stumbled, landed just right (or just wrong, actually) and, as he later self-diagnosed at the hotel, dislocated his left shoulder (which is of course the one he uses for grading).  He later told me that he was able to knock it back into the socket using the same maneuver that Mel Gibson employed in Lethal Weapon 2 (right before he slams that guy’s head in a car door).  Kidding aside, that was pretty awful, especially since neither of us had that much to drink at dinner.  So, if you see Dave on Saturday, ask him how is feeling, but do not give him your usual greeting of the hard punch in the shoulder (at least not the left one).

Our next RR will be written from the comfort of home on Sunday, and will include details of some amazing and unexpected thing that just walked up to the table on Saturday and that we bought in two seconds flat (well, a guy can hope, can’t he?).

March 19th:  The Exciting Conclusion

First off, we’d like to thank everyone who expressed their concern for Dave after his minor mishap on Friday evening (which by the way is now being called the ‘Sacramento Sidewalk Face-Plant’).  Actually, he looked just fine on Saturday morning, though he informs me that he will be taking a week off from his normal powerlifting regime “just to be safe“.

Anyway, Saturday morning was a lot like Friday night, which is to say that the weather was cold, damp, windy and pretty awful.  Which was made all the better by the fact that we had to haul all our bags from the hotel the 4 blocks to the show in it, dodging a rough looking crowd of panhandlers in the process (which is one of the nice perks of staying at a less expensive hotel farther from the show venue).

But we made it, and quickly got 11 things done:

  1. We bought a lovely raw Elephant Token on the floor that we had first seen on Friday.
  2. Wrote a check for 3 federal coins we had bought earlier in the show.
  3. Finalized a deal to sell a few colonials we had been working on since set-up on Wednesday.
  4. Consigned something cool to Stack’s-Bowers.
  5. Had fun showing a boy scout troup a a bunch of cool coins they had only seen in books before then.
  6. Sent a few coins out on memo to two other dealers for their customers.
  7. Bought two new World coins.
  8. Briefly considered having an EB on Tuesday, but then realized that with us leaving for Baltimore the following Tuesday, there really was not enough time to do it.
  9. Packed everything up.
  10. Picked up all the lots we won at Heritage.
  11. Cabbed it to the airport.

And that was it.

In all, and after sifting through all of the invoices we wrote at this show, we can officially conclude that this little adventure turned out to be pretty good, as we were able to buy and sell a lot of nice and interesting coins, memo others out and make some new contacts.  On the other hand, we received an email from a collector friend last night who described this show as (and I quote) “the worst coin show I have attended of ANY kind in 56 years“, so I guess it is a matter of your perspective, and possibly your specific interests.  For us, there was definitely more than enough activity to justify the loooong cross country trip.

Speaking of which, my trip home looked like it was going to be even longer, as my flight leaving Sacramento was delayed such that I would miss my connection in San Francisco, forcing me to camp out at SFO like an idiot for 8 hours and then catch the red-eye home.  But I lucked out, just barely making my earlier flight and allowing me to get home just after midnight east coast time.

And while we are delighted to be home, this week is going to be busy, as we’ll need to finish up the pending deals from the show, ship out a zillion coins, finalize our taxes, walk the floor at the Bay State Show this coming weekend and be ready to leave for the Baltimore show and auctions a week from Tuesday.

From where our next RR will be written on Tuesday, March 29th, so you might want to keep an eye out for that.