May 11-13, 2011: The Early American Coppers Convention in Portland, OR
Just when we finally have (almost) all of those post Central States show loose ends tied up, it’s time to hit the road again, this time for a looooong cross-country trek to scenic Portland, Oregon for the always entertaining EAC Convention.
And this year’s show should be a hoot, with what we expect to be a good crowd of collectors from the Pacific Northwest who we don’t often see ‘back east’, and with them (we hope) a lot of cool new coins we haven’t seen before either.
Likewise, we’ll have a lot of cool new stuff with us, too, for what numismatists call a ‘perfect storm’ of buying and selling opportunities for all.
There should also be storms of the ‘regular’ variety, since it’s supposed to rain everyday we’re out there. But that’s OK, since I am not expecting more than an hour or two of outdoor time in Portland.
Which means we’ll have plenty of time for blog writing, recapping everything that happens as it happens in our Road Reports posted daily from the show.
May 11th: Day 1
Do you know how long it took to fly here from New England? I do (since I just spent most of Wednesday doing it), though I believe the answer can be best be expressed not in hours, or miles, but in how tired I was when I arrived.
Which was tired enough to wander through baggage claim, think that I heard someone paging me on the airport PA system, find a white courtesy telephone (why are these things always white?), ask what they wanted and have the operator tell me that the page was actually for someone named Marlon Akkrabindar (which is frankly not really that similar to my own name at all).
So I hung up, got my bag, cabbed it to the hotel, and then immediately collapsed on the bed where I remained motionless for about 10 hours. Which is good, since I will need to be well rested for dealer set up on Thursday.
May 12th: Day 2
Extremely well rested and now completely adjusted to West Coast time, I was up and about on Thursday morning answering email, updating the website, checking out our bids in some upcoming auctions, figuring a small but unbelievably time consuming federal deal we are working on and then discussing same with Dave, who at that moment was hard at work in the office in Connecticut nowhere near Portland, Oregon (since I am doing this show solo in an incredibly efficient CRO ‘division of labor’ exercise).
And I had almost finished everything by noon when it was time to meet up with a customer friend and another dealer for lunch here at the hotel, which was extremely pleasant (as are most things in Portland).
After which it was time for dealer set-up, so I picked up my badge in the lobby and headed over to the show itself, which is being held in a conference room just across the hotel driveway from the main entrance, and which struck me as interesting in two ways:
- It had windows on 3 sides (unlike most show venues, which are typically giant, dark, windowless, concrete structures).
- The Portland light rail tracks pass literally about 10 feet from the building, causing everything to rattle like crazy every time the little train went by (which it did often).
Still, I would characterize that as ‘pleasant’, and I went about the business of setting up our table.
Typically at an EAC, this is a bit of challenge, as I have had a several year run of extremely bad luck with lighting at these shows. Which is to say that in a process that requires 5 things: lamps, clamps to attach them to the table, cords, outlets to plug them in and (maybe most important) light bulbs, I have generally ended up with 2 (sometimes 3) out of the 5. Here I did better, with 4, but never did find any light bulbs and spent my day being really glad that the room had windows on three sides.
But while that made showing coins challenging, it did not stop me from wandering around the floor and checking out other dealers’ wares (or at least the 60% or so of them who were set up at that time, most with working lights).
And then, just as suddenly as I had appeared, I was gone, back to the hotel to meet up with the aforementioned customer to work on a deal for about 20 new colonials and a few federal coins, finalized everything in about an hour, brought the new booty back to the show and got back to the business of looking for more cool coins to buy on the floor.
Which went waaaaay better than I might have predicted, as I managed to spend about 30K in short order, including locating one piece that had been on a collector’s want list for literally 3 years. So that was fantastic.
I was pondering a few others too, but by then everyone was packing up to head to the reception back at the hotel, which was SRO, well served by two bars, two buffet spreads and a bunch of waiters and waitresses carrying around hors d’oeuvres that could best be described as “Hey, this is delicious”.
Where I stayed for the next several hours, schmoozing and talking about coins up until it was time for the serious business of these shows, which are the “Happenings” – small groups meeting up in individual conference rooms looking at cool coins in various categories, including Colonials, Half Cents, Cents, early Silver, etc.
That was fun, and I actually got to visit all of the rooms this time (unlike previous years where I have been rooted in the colonial room for the durations), and saw some spectacular things, the most memorable of which were a customer’s lovely 1787 Vermont Ryder-15:
A St. Pats Farthing with a massively huge die break on St. Patrick’s head that looked suspiciously like one of the women’s hats seen at the recent Royal Wedding:
And a fantastic early 25c in a PCGS AU55 Green Label holder ex-Eliasberg:
After which I totally ran out of steam, went back to my room and fell asleep within about 4 minutes.
Friday the show will be open to the public, all of the displays will be set up, and, if I am really lucky, I will find two measley light bulbs for the CRO table.
If I do, or if I don’t, you can read all about right here in just about 24 hours from now.
May 13th: Day 3
Friday would begin with your author confidently striding into the show while at the same time attempting, with one hand, to put on his old-fashioned show badge (the kind with your name on a card in a plastic sleeve held on to your shirt by a very sharp safety pin) and stabbing himself directly in the chest.
From that point on, however, the day got better.
First with the sale of the group of early quarters I purchased on Thursday (even though I would really have liked to be able to put them on the next EB). Then with the acquisition of two more colonials and one token. Followed by the sale of a deluxe Indian Cent that had not yet made it to the website.
All on a day in which the bourse floor was quite active and looked pretty much like this throughout:
Later I was able to walk around and check out all the displays, including the one in which this pleasant Capped Bust Half Dollar appeared:
And the neat historic ‘Portland Penny’ (on loan from the Oregon Historical Society), an 1835 Large Cent which had been flipped (literally) in 1843 by Francis W. Pettygrove and Asa L. Lovejoy to determine whether this EAC show would be held in Boston, Oregon or in Portland, Oregon. As you may know, Portland won.
Then it was back across the way to the hotel for lunch with some collector and dealer friends.
Followed by the 1 PM presentation “An Introduction to Forming a New Jersey Type Collection” by specialist collector, C4 officer and soon to be published co-author (of a book about NJ coppers) Buell Ish. Which I thought was really excellent, very entertaining and, to Buell’s credit, interesting for newbies and long-time collectors / dealers alike (which is not an easy thing to do).
It also apparently served to stimulate demand for New Jersey coppers with immediate effect, as within the next hour or two we sold three neat examples at the table (two of which I acquired just the day before in what some people are now calling “The Oregon Deal”).
And then we did a couple of more deals (though none of sufficient size to have been given their own name), had a few more interesting conversations, viewed and assessed auction lots and before too long it was time to call it a day, which I did in most relaxed fashion, walked back over to the hotel, dropped my stuff in the room, casually perused my airline reservation and discovered, to my shock and horror, that my flight back home was actually booked for first thing Saturday AM, and not midday like I thought.
Which meant that I had to race back over to the bourse floor, cajole the security guard into letting me back in, and then pack up everything in the most hectic way possible since I would need to be off to the airport waaaaay before the show even opens on Saturday.
Which I somehow completed just in time to have dinner downtown with a collector friend, after which we attended the “An Evening with John Wright” discussion about early copper collecting which proved to be surprisingly entertaining (except to the waiter working the room, who had the same look on his face that my wife does when I watch a UFC match on TV).
And then we hung out in the bar until late, finally calling it a night so I could get my full 4 hours of sleep.
Truth be told, I really wish I could stay here longer, as the show and whole experience here was excellent, I expect an entertaining and busy day Saturday, and I am 100% sure it would be commercially (and socially) worthwhile. But your author needs to be back Sunday lest his wife injure him, and so sometimes (as hard as this may be to believe) numismatics comes second.
The next EAC show will be held in scenic Buffalo, NY in a year, and we look forward to that one. And when I say “we”, I mean it, since Dave will definitely be there for that one (though he is just learning this right now as he reads this sentence).