May 8-11, 2013: The ANA National Money Show in New Orleans, LA
Not that I am not excited to attend shows in other venues (because really I am), but this one is special, taking us to fabulous New Orleans, LA for coin-filled days and evenings offering enough entertainment options to satisfy even the most adventurous numismatist. And while I am not totally sure what to expect, that’s part of the fun!
Oh, and I also hope to do some nice coin business while I’m here which should be possible, since I will be bringing a lot of new, never-before-seen coins just back from grading, and this infrequently visited venue might (maybe, could) bring out new coins for us to snap up instantly (if not faster).
In any case, and whatever happens, I’ll be describing it here every morning for the 3rd consecutive week of in-depth Road Reporting.
May 8th: Day 1
Availing myself of the one non-stop flight daily from Boston, I arrived in New Orleans at about 3 PM, zipped over to the show hotel and immediately realized that I’d have been better off staying at a hotel several blocks down the road since the show is located in Hall G waaaay down at the end of the convention center.
The annoying part of this? I was actually booked into one of those other hotels as recently as last week, when I decided to change it (at considerable expense) so as to be ‘closer to the action’.
Which is one of the downsides of having a show in a place we seldom visit and thus don’t know the lay of the land (unlike Baltimore, for example, where I have tried every hotel at least once eventually determining the perfect location for your author).
Of course, there are upsides to coming to a new city, too, such as, apparently, the beignets, since every person I’ve encountered so far has asked me if I tried one yet, and several people showed me a picture of one on their iPhone, like this:
Admittedly, that does look pretty good, though I think we would all agree that those need some additional sugar dumped on them ASAP.
In any case, I did eventually make it to the bourse floor at around 4, set up the CRO booth and then surveyed the scene here which looked about the same size as the CSNS show a couple of weeks ago. I did not have time to scour the bourse floor, though, and see if there were any new / local dealers in attendance offering interesting material.
I did, however, have time to sell a couple of coins, which was somewhat of a surprise since I only had about an hour before they officially closed the place, and a number of other dealers packed up and left early for dinner (where they were presumably eating beignets like crazy).
But not me. I actually went back to the room and did some work for a few hours before heading out for a late dinner of chili butter baked fish which was sufficiently fantastic to induce a phrase I don’t think I’ve ever heard before anywhere: “This broccoli is delicious!” And it was.
Also of note here: When you finish the meal, the waiter asks if you’d like another beer ‘for the road’, a quaint New Orleans custom that takes some getting used to. I declined, however.
So I expect to be in fine form when I arrive on Thursday morning, just in time to finalize some last second pricing, look for cool coins anywhere and everywhere and view lots for the Stack’s-Bowers session that begins at 6 PM.
The results of which will be described right here tomorrow.
May 9th: Day 2
People often ask me “John, what is the most interesting thing about operating a coin business?” (actually no one ever asks me that, but I thought it would be an effective ‘hook’ at the beginning of this edition of the RR).
But if someone did ask me that question, I would respond by saying that I like the fact that every day is different, and you never know what’s going to happen.
Such as here at this show, which a lot of people predicted was going to be slow and not very well attended, but which nonetheless has been frankly fantastic in a way that I just didn’t see coming.
How so? Even though traffic has not been heavy by any means, I have seen a lot of long-time customers from the Southeast (and places beyond) who seem to have come here with the specific intention to buy coins.
And buy they have, to the tune of about 3x more than we sold at the CSNS show and EAC show combined, so far, with another couple of show days to go here. And the interest was pretty much evenly spread across colonials and world coins (unlike at the CSNS show, which readers may remember was unpredictably federal-centric for CRO).
If I had to venture a guess why, I’d say that the fact that we brought some fantastic material in both categories did not hurt, nor did the fact that a lot of the other guys who offer such material ain’t here.
And so, if one of those other dealers who decided to skip this show is reading this right now, know that I feel just awful for you. Yes.
The other astonishing development at this show occurred when a visitor to the table informed me (and I quote) “You look thinner than the last time I saw you at the FUN Show.” I’m seriously considering having that sentence professionally framed and then mounted on the wall of my office (right near the mini-fridge).
Anyway, business continued nicely until 5:30 or so, when I packed up and headed to the Stack’s-Bowers auction where I bought a few neat things (including the one coin I was going to buy no matter what), and watched some of those toned coins from (according to the Stack’s-Bowers catalog) a “New England Museum” sell for mega-bucks.
Followed by an extremely late dinner for the second day in a row. Which is not as easy as it seems around here, since this town is a big 24-hour party, but most of the good restaurants don’t stay open past 10. Which relegated us to some place in the French Quarter which was really not very good, though your author’s Blackened Catfish was acceptable.
After which we took a loooong walk over to Café Du Monde so we could have a coffee and a beignet at least one time while we’re here.
And then strolled back to the hotel at around midnight where I encountered a problem I had not seen before in years (and years) of traveling: A TV set that went crazy, possibly from voodoo, and would simply not shut off until the guy from engineering came up, studied it for several minutes, pushed every button repeatedly and then finally gave up and ripped all the cables out of the back.
And while I am pretty sure I could have done that myself, it did the trick nicely and allowed me to sleep, though of course now it doesn’t work at all.
Not that you get much time to watch TV at these shows, since I will be up and out early tomorrow for what I hope is another fine day here in NO.
May 10th: Day 3
After some high quality feedback from our readers, I have decided to eliminate any distracting numismatic discussion from today’s RR and instead focus the next 15 paragraphs entirely on beignets and the other famous desserts of New Orleans.
Dismayed Reader: Is he serious???!!!!????
Your Author: I don’t think so.
In fact, I am positive he is not, which explains why this first paragraph deals with my arrival at the show at around 9:15 on Friday to a frankly sparse, uninspired crowd of dealers quietly milling about.
So I joined right in, setting up the booth and then walking up and down the aisles looking for coins that I might have missed earlier. Of which there were actually a couple that I thought were worth buying, so I did.
Right before the announcement that it was 10 AM, and that dealers should “Man your booth since the public will be coming in.”
And, as was the case on Thursday, we were not stampeded by a huge throng, but rather a trickle of visitors who slowly made their way around the room.
But, and this is significant, I personally found that, once again, the ratio of serious buyers to attendees was quite high (much higher than at other venues), resulting in some pretty decent sales at the table, once again in the world and colonial areas.
Including coins which had never been on the website, like this:
To name but a few that were already imaged (obviously) and slated to appear on next week’s EB (less obvious), but have now been unceremoniously un-slated.
Somewhere during this period I ran upstairs and picked up my Stack’s-Bowers lots, which included some pretty cool stuff all in holders which were scuffed just about beyond recognition. Which means that they will make a trip to the reholdering factory before appearing in some future EB down the road.
But do not worry, with some of the additional NEWPs from this show, and other coins from CSNS and EAC at the photographer now, I have plenty of cool new coins to list on Tuesday.
In any case, the show wound down on Friday with a few last deals before we headed up the auction and watched again as a lot of the New England Museum coins with vivid color (though most looking cleaned and retoned to me) still brought very good money illustrating once again that freshness seems to trump quality, at least at auction.
After which we headed out for a late-but-not-as-late-as-previous-days dinner at NOLA. Unsolicited tip: If you go there, order the fried chicken. I’m serious.
I’m also serious when I say that I have no idea what to expect on Saturday.
The most likely outcome is to see dealers all heading out at about noon and very little activity on the floor, but the way things have gone here I would not be shocked to sell a few more coins before I leave.
Whatever happens, I will describe it from the comfort of my couch at home in just about 24 hours from now.
May 11th: Day 4
Saturday morning was typically hectic, as I packed up everything in the hotel room, scoured the shelves and cabinets and looked under the bed to make sure nothing was left behind, and then checked out, walked part way to the show, suddenly realized I had forgotten my laptop and iPhone chargers, had a minor fit which would have been nearly imperceptible to passersby, trudged back to the hotel, got both, and then schlepped all the way back to the show for the final time here in NO, arriving ticked off at 9:45 AM.
Where I began the day by filling out some grading submission forms, next picked up a bunch of checks, then had a good strategic discussion with another dealer with whom I jointly own a collection.
And while that sort of stuff is productive, my best efforts to buy and/or sell coins (the main reason you might come to a place like this) were not real successful.
But not for lack of effort. It’s just that most of the coins I looked at seriously turned out to have a minor mark, tiny spot or adjustment marks that I figured would leap out in bold relief in one of our photographs (always a critically important consideration for me when selecting items for the site).
And a few CRO coins that people had been pondering earlier in the week, and which I thought might yet sell Saturday, did not come to fruition, as in both cases the prospective buyers said they were, at that point, more in sell mode than buy mode. Oh well.
With the end result of the day’s activity just one (1) purchase and one (1) sale, which is of course not enough Saturday business to actually justify being here (or anywhere else for that matter).
Which explains why so many other dealers left Friday, or were heading out early on this day.
But, as mentioned here not two days ago, you never know, and this could just as easily have been the greatest day ever in the history of CRO (though that would not have been the way to bet).
So, eventually, I too packed everything up and walked back to the Marriott to get my luggage, on the way passing the site of the by-then finished convention of the American Pain Society (which sounds like a cool name for a WWE tag team duo, but isn’t):
Then it was off to the airport where I encountered a bunch of dealers all hanging around waiting for various flights, including the same one I was on, enjoyed a relaxing trip home and arrived just in time to collapse after 3 straight weeks on the road.
But there will be little time to rest, as I need to get to work on Tuesday’s Early Bird just after Sunday’s Mothers’ Day activities are concluded.