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May 27-30, 2009: The Long Beach Coin & Currency Expo

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It is now 4:40 AM and I have been awake for about an hour and a half, first tripping over the luggage that I arranged carefully right next to the bed, then responding to the surprising number of emails which arrived during the 3 hours I was sleeping, and finally packing, an activity that I have, over the years, migrated from ‘the night before’ to ‘just a few minutes before the flight’, and in which I chuck everything I need haphazardly into my suitcase, dash out the door and then remember important things I’ve forgotten while en route to the airport.

Wow, that is a long sentence.

Also, as I’m sure all of you have by now noticed, this report is beginning on Wednesday, since, for the first time in years, Dave and I decided to skip the pre-auction(s) in Beverly Hills this time.


Good question.

We actually made the decision to go to this month’s Atlanta show instead (thereby keeping the total CRO travel days constant, as if that was some kind of important measure, which it isn’t).  Clearly that wasn’t necessarily an ‘either or’ decision and we could have done both – and we would have if there had been more exciting material in the pre-auction catalogs.  But there wasn’t, so we didn’t.

Anyway, we’ll be in LB for dealer set-up a mere several hours from now, and will be posting about everything we’ve bought, sold and seen (in addition to what I anticipate to be some uproarious travel anecdotes) in our next exciting installment of the RR.

Day 1:

Actually the flight out here was almost entirely uneventful, except that the elderly women in the window seat of my row kept getting up and trying to get to the aisle by climbing over me (instead of asking me to move per customary airplane etiquette).  So when I saw she was heading my way a third time, I quickly stood up, but before I could get out of the way she picked up speed, resulting in both of us getting wedged in the small space in front of my aisle seat.

Fortunately, we managed to unwedge ourselves, and I eventually did arrive in Long Beach, check-in to my hotel, unpack, iron the famous CRO banner and head over to the convention center early enough to squeeze in an hour of lot viewing at Heritage (now joined by Dave, who had arrived on a different flight) before the bourse floor opened at 2 PM.

That hour of viewing allowed us to hone our list of coins in the US and World session of highest interest, and to check out a few incredibly cool things that we wanted to see even if we wouldn’t be serious contenders on them (something we always enjoy doing).

And then it was time to head to the show and set up at our new booth, notable for its prime location across the aisle from HLRC and right near the PCGS table, and for the fact that the floor in this prime bourse real estate is carpeted(!) in a plush maroon remnant of the sort you might have had in your dorm room.  Still, this was a considerable improvement over the hard concrete floor in our last booth, as that was tough on the ankles after a couple of days of standing.

So right in the heart of the action, standing comfortably, we got a first hand view of dealer set-up that was pretty quiet, and also notable for the fact that we didn’t see that much cool stuff we wanted to buy (though admittedly not everyone had all of their coins out yet).

We did, on the other hand, manage to sell a decent number of coins (eclipsing our Atlanta total in a span of about an hour and 45 minutes), which is frankly more than we expected.

Based on that, we head into Thursday with guarded optimism that something good could happen here.

And if it does (or even if it doesn’t) you can read all about it right here tomorrow in our Day 2 recap.

Day 2:

Speaking frankly, Thursday was a thoroughly delightful day out here in Long Beach, with good things happening across many numismatic fronts:

1.  We had some nice sales in federal, colonial and esoteric issues.  Nothing gigantic, but all good.

2.  We bought a number of cool coins, including some mainstream colonials, a big group of high-end conders and some neat federal issues.

3.  We got some reasonably good grades on the colonial and esoteric issues we submitted, the latter hand delivered to us by NGC VP Scott Schechter, who hung around for a good conversation about all kinds of stuff, including the important work they are doing with the Smithsonian, and which we look forward to seeing next time we are in DC.

4.  We met, in person, for the first time, several good customers we had heretofore known only via email or phone.  And that’s always a lot of fun.  As was the chance for some cool numismatic show and tell, and the discussion about some really interesting numismatic research which included a whole bunch of stuff I had never heard before.

5.  Another dealer showed me his personal collection of an obscure series of foreign coins, which showed just how how far your money can go if you choose a numismatic area ‘less traveled’.

6.  We had dinner with a group of dealers over at PF Chang’s, which was an unmitigated ‘hoot’.

Friday we look forward to seeing a few more of our local customers, and, we hope, buying and selling more cool coins.

A recap of which will be posted here in just 24 hours from now.

Day 3:

I got an especially early start on Friday, waking up at precisely 1:51 AM (believe me, this was not intentional), which allowed me just more than 7 hours to write Thursday’s blog, get dressed and have breakfast before heading over to the show for the 9 o’clock opening.

And so when I got there, I was relaxed, well-rested and wide awake (he said sarcastically), perfect for wheeling and dealing right from the outset.  Or at least enough to buy a couple of cool coins on the floor before the public came in, and then sell a bunch after they arrived, in a day that continued in pretty much the same fine way that Thursday ended.

We also spent a good part of the day picking up the last of the many, many coins we submitted here, and which came back with almost universally quite respectable grades.  In fact, this was one of the better grading shows we’ve ever had, with almost everything coming back as we thought it should.

Then we viewed lots for some upcoming auctions, consigned a variety of coins to a number of other auctions, ate a yogurt, bought a couple more coins, sold a few more, met with a couple of customers and put a bunch of coins on hold for them, bid on and won one world coin in the HA sale for exactly 50% of our max bid, packed up and called it a day.

Even then (not sure why), I wasn’t tired yet despite what had been to that point an unbelieeeeeeeeevably long day, so Dave and I headed out for Japanese food for the first time on this trip.  Then I came back here and started typing this blog, and am planning to collapse as soon as it is finished.

But before that I should point out that we’ll be out by late tomorrow AM, so if something exciting is going to happen for us at the show on Saturday, it had better be early (but not quite as early as 1:51 AM, I hope).

Our next RR will be written from New England over the weekend, and will close the book on the May 2009 LB show.

The Exciting Conclusion:

It proved to be a typical Saturday at LB, which is to say that we spent our time packing up and standing in the astonishingly slow post office line, as opposed to buying and selling coins.

Which doesn’t mean there weren’t people walking around – there were, it’s just that most Saturday visitors here are sort of out for a stroll (often with the whole family in tow), or are new to coins, such as the guy who asked if we could do an appraisal, and then proceeded to fish the loose change out of his pocket and – with a hopeful look on his face – hand me a scruffy Kennedy bicentennial half dollar.  I felt really bad to be the one to have to tell him it wasn’t a super rare and valuable item (though that’s probably good, since if it was a proof $20 Lib or something it would have been beat to heck after clanking around with his keys and other change).

But despite the lack of commercial activity on this day, the show in total was a solid B+ for us, a reflection (we think) of the pretty cool inventory we currently have, our primo location, and a lot of generally upbeat attendees.  Which contributed to making this one of the more enjoyable LB shows we’ve had in a while, with a lot of good conversations with new and old friends on all sorts of topics.

We also got lots of feedback from people about our ads and the website, most positive but also some constructive criticism.  And we appreciate all of it, since our goal is to continue to improve what we do and we’re positive there are ample opportunities to do that.  So please keep those comments coming.

And then we were off, jetting to the east coast while watching the Kevin Bacon movie ‘Trapped’ on my in-seat TV, quite possibly the worst movie I have seen in the last 5 years, but notable for the fact that an airplane blows up in the last scene (gosh, I hope I’m not giving away the stellar ending to anyone who was planning to rush out and rent this piece of garbage this weekend), which is always comforting to see while you yourself are on a flight.

No worries, though, as we landed safely and got home just in time to write this blog.

Our next show will be in Baltimore in a couple of weeks, before which we’ll be cranking through a giant pile of paperwork, picking up some new coins and unleashing a new Early Bird in just a few days.

So please keep an eye out for that.