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March 20-23, 2024: The Whitman Baltimore Expo

rrbaltimore

March 20: Day 1

Still feeling the effects of our extreeeeemely tiring Colorado adventure, Team CRO nevertheless got up super early on Wednesday, arrived in Baltimore by mid-morning, made our way to the convention center post haste and encountered a whole bunch of other dealers we saw as recently as Saturday who, not surprisingly, all looked about as run down as we were. Plus all the dealers who skipped out on the ANA and were thus fresh as a daisy.

And then interacted with a whole bunch of each in the pre-show wholesale rooms where we looked at hundreds (and hundreds) of coins and a bought a grand total of two (2) which seemed like pure CRO items.

After which we dove directly into lot viewing at Stack’s-Bowers, saw plenty of cool coins and medals, circled a whole bunch and then ripped out the relevant pages from our catalogs so I did not have to schlepp a bunch of giant books over to lunch at the Cosi café across the street.

Interestingly, we have been coming to Baltimore for years and years and never knew that place was there, so of course we were pleased to discover a good lunch option in a town where frankly that is rarity-7.

And then returned to the convention center, looked through lots of other dealer boxes, found 5 more cool coins to buy, viewed more auction lots and generally kept ourselves fully numismatically occupied until 4:45, at which time we joined the queue outside the bourse floor waiting  for dealer set up to begin at 5.

Then rocketed into the room, set up the table real fast, sold a bunch of coins to dealers milling about, found a few more cool ones in various cases around the room and generally did some very good business until about 7 PM when we flat ran out of gas.

So we packed up and then headed over to the Kona Grill for dinner with some collector and dealer friends primarily because it was very close, the food is decent enough and we did not have the energy to venture much further. With the added bonus of the manager coming out afterward to greet us with a long and mildly off-color joke, the first time that has ever happened to me in thousands of restaurant visits over the course of a lifetime, and I certainly hope the last time.

Returning to the hotel real late, watching the NHK sumo highlights from Osaka (of course) and then crashing after what had by then been a productive and thoroughly entertaining 19 hour day.

But rest assured that we’ll be ready for action early on Thursday for whatever comes our way. And based on what we’ve seen here so far, we expect that to be plenty.

EOM

March 21: Day 2

Thursday would begin with some familiar coin dealer math, as I figured we needed to be at the show precisely when it opened at 8 AM. Which meant we had to be back from the gym at 7. And thus done writing the blog at 6. So of course I’d have to wake up at 5. Fortunately, some dude screamed up Charles St. on a motorcycle at about 4:23 AM getting the party started a bit early.

So by the time we strolled into the show, we had been up for hours, were feeling super productive and were without a doubt ready for action. And that was good, since things started quickly with the sale of 2 mid-priced coins to a dealer who I am pretty sure has never bought anything from us before.

After which your author began the first of probably 20 circuits around the room during the day in which I looked in nearly every bourse case, found all sorts of interesting coins, studied them intently, realized a few were priced in low earth orbit, but bought nearly every other one, the last of which happened not 10 minutes before we left for the day.

In between which traffic at the table was robust, with familiar faces and new customers stopping by all day, carefully studying coins and buying plenty in all categories, including our final sale of the day – a Pine Tree Shilling – purchased by a buyer in sort of a numismatic frenzy.

But the most exciting transaction occurred around midday when another dealer with whom we do not do much business walked over a fantastic, high grade, old holdered early dollar thinking it might be for us. Spoiler alert: It totally was. I also think that transaction only happened based on a casual conversation I had with that dealer at the Philadelphia show a couple of weeks ago during which they realized we were probably the #1 buyer of coins like this.

As an aside, that is why we reject the notion of analyzing every coin show as though it is an independent event evaluated strictly based on its profit or loss. The reality is that these things all sort of string together, with contacts made or conversations had at one show potentially benefitting us down the line in ways that we cannot possibly imagine or predict. Once again reaffirming the CRO Philosophy that we need to be everywhere all the time, while proving that scheduling 5 shows in 6 weeks like in our current stretch is not only exhausting and dumb, it is actually kinda genius.

Also genius: Walking over to the bar at Morton’s with coin friends to wind down before heading to dinner at La Scala, an excellent Italian restaurant here in town that we had somehow managed to avoid on every single past visit to Baltimore for 20+ years.

After which we once again returned to the hotel real late, watched more sumo and then collapsed in a heap so that we could be sufficiently rested to do all of this all over again on Friday.

And then blog all about it right here on Saturday AM –

March 22: Day 3

Great news everyone, it’s time for a one of our patented Yin and Yang RR installments starting right now:

Yin: After perhaps one too many cocktails Thursday evening, your author was not exactly operating on all cylinders on Friday AM which for me typically manifests itself as a slight listing to the right.
Yang: Still made it to the show on time and was quickly cured by my old family remedy (i.e. a breakfast sandwich from the convention center snack bar).

Yin: I was honestly a bit disappointed with the show traffic Friday, as it paled in comparison to Thursday, and many local collectors we thought might make the trip have not appeared here. Yet.
Yang: We somehow managed to sell a whole bunch of stuff anyway, and got a couple of cool consignments to boot.

Yin: A number of people who looked at coins at the table and said they’d be back never reappeared.
Yang: Another guy actually did, buying a coin he had been considering, and then unexpectedly adding 2 more to the invoice.

Yin: I just could not eat the snack bar chili again.
Yang: The gyro is really pretty good too.

Yin: A lot of the coins on display in this room are pretty generic, uninteresting (to me) common coins in readily available grades.
Yang: There are some epic things too, including this superb, museum quality Washington Before Boston medal in silver being offered by a dealer friend:

WABeforeBoston

Yin: A collector considered an item in our case 3 or 4 times during the course of the day, but never pulled the trigger.
Yang: A different customer satisfyingly ordered it off the website.

Yin: The grading / stickering / crossing / reconsidering game has gotten extreeeeemely complicated lately, sort of like that 3-D chess they play on Star Trek, only more difficult.
Yang: At least every entity is here at the show and you can submit anything to any of them without packing any boxes or standing in line at the PO.

Yin: Our schedule has definitely caught up with us, as we were really dragging late in the afternoon, as were other dealers we know.
Yang: Hey, it still beats working.

And we get to do it all again on Saturday, where we will look to do whatever business can be done of the buying, selling, trading, and grading variety, or maybe laying the groundwork for another magical mystery future deal. It’s possible.

Whatever happens we will write all about it from the comfort of home on Sunday AM.

March 23: The Exciting Conclusion

While many of our dealer brethren had already up and left, Team CRO was scheduled to be in Baltimore all day Saturday based on our longstanding “In for a penny, in for a pound” approach to coin shows.

So we schlepped through a freezing rain from our hotel to the show, clicked on the lights and settled in for what figured to be a pretty slow day, though we were of course always hopeful for something big to happen.

And for a while there it seemed like that might be possible, as there was pretty good traffic on the floor, and at times we had 2 or 3 people at once looking at coins at the table.

Where we actually did some decent business, sold 3 coins, bought some ‘finished goods’ (CRO parlance for coins that are ready for the website) and also a few coins that we immediately sent off for grading or stickering, collected some last checks, wrote a few others, etc.

Continuing with this until about 1 PM, when MaryAnn casually mentioned to me that the rain storm in Baltimore was moving up the coast to Boston. Prompting me to take a quick look at the forecast and notice that it showed 40 mph winds at home precisely at the time we we’re scheduled to land in the evening. Gulp.

So faced with likely delays or a big fat cancellation, we immediately changed the flight, packed up in 20 minutes and hit the road in what turned out to be a genius traveler move, allowing us to get home without incident at a semi-civilized hour.

Where we can now unpack, collate, organize, update the inventory and generally get ourselves ready real fast for the next event on the schedule which will of course be held in New Hampshire starting on Thursday from where our next RR will be written.

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