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Back to Road Report Archive 2007

May 9-12, 2007: The Central States Numismatic Society Convention in St. Louis, MO

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Day 1:

I don’t want to get all emotional here in the Road Report section of this site, but today marked the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. That’s correct; today I actually got to see (and touch) the Gateway Arch – the last significant landmark in this country that I had not visited. And I am pleased to report that, unlike Mount Rushmore, my first thought was not that it was disappointingly small in person. For those who have not had the pleasure, it was XL, and it was very cool.

Our thanks to ‘RYK’ (of PCGS chatroom fame), who carted Dave and me around like a couple of tourists (which we are) gleefully looking at the tall buildings and craning our numismatic necks to see the top of the arch.

That little excursion came after a very nice dinner featuring lobster risotto with the aforementioned ‘RYK’ and ‘Boiler78’ during which we got to talk coins with guys as passionate about this hobby as we are. That was good fun, and is one of the real perks of this job; Dave and I have met a lot of great people around the country and it’s always a pleasure to see friends as we move from city to city on the coin show circuit.

In all, it was a well-fitting cap on Day 1 of the 2007 Central States show.

But it wasn’t just ‘Day 1’. It was ‘PNG Day’ – as in a day dedicated to the Professional Numismatists Guild where only the members (and their invited guests) are allowed in, get free run of the half-full convention center and the ability to trade wildly with one another before the public and other dealers show up. That’s the theory anyway.

And while that was technically true, it seemed to be a pretty quiet day without a whole lot of buying and selling by anyone, including us. I think we picked up 3 coins, and sold 2 others, and then tried hard to find a few things we liked in the Heritage auction session right before dinner.

Day 2 will be a better gauge of what this show will be like, as the rest of the dealers will set up, throngs of public (we hope) will pour through the doors and lots of cool coins (possibly) will change hands.

Until then, then –

Day 2:

Highlights of Wednesday:

We sold a bunch of cool stuff, including multiple coins in a deluxe phone order.

We checked out the cool complete set of original, toned Liberty Nickels at Larry Whitlow and Mike Printz’s table, and while they were great looking coins we were extreeeeeeeeeeeeeemely disappointed to see that there was no 1913.

Harry Laibstain’s daughter Katie cruised the bourse floor making some of the most incredible balloon animals and stuff I’ve ever seen (including an amazing Rolling Stone’s logo hat for Liz at J.J. Teaparty). And a good time was had by all.

We bought a totally original, undergraded colonial in an NGC holder. So it can be done.

We sat through an entire Heritage Platinum session and bought a grand total of nothing. There were some cool coins which saw heated activity, but also a fair number of recognizable dealer inventory coins or less original pieces (he said diplomatically) which didn’t meet reserve.

I ate a Bratwurst for lunch which I would describe as ‘commercial quality’.

We submitted a bunch of coins for grading at PCGS, and the early results are exactly what we expected. We like when that happens.

We sold our ridiculously toned 1736 Swiss 1/2 Thaler. We are going to miss that coin.

The early quarter set we were hoping to buy got vacuumed up by someone else. Drat. Just another reminder that good stuff doesn’t wait.

We had dinner with a big group at a place called ‘Copia’ a few blocks from the convention center, dining in the Wine Patio (which sounded high-falutin’ but had big screen TVs like a sports bar) and quietly kind-of pseudo-celebrating the big 5-0 for a well known dealer.

We scoured the bourse floor and found a few really neat things in unexpected places. But not as many as we need. Of course Friday is another day, and we anticipate good scouring.

Dave and I had a spirited debate (which included almost no chair throwing) about a coin that we ended up buying. It’s a nice piece, but it is interesting how differently we both see the same coin sometimes and try to figure out if it’s right for this site. Conclusion: If you see a coin listed here, you can be sure that it has been very, very (very) carefully considered.

I will be posting a mid-Day 3 update from the bourse floor today, keeping everyone almost completely up to date on the latest breaking news about balloon animals. And coin stuff too.

Day 2.5:

I just bought a really cool coin, and then spilled tomato sauce on my shirt. More later.

Day 3:

Day 3 was similar to Day 2, and not unlike Day 1, except that we sold less, bought more, received worse grades, slowly circled more expensive coins, attended no auctions, had a different but equally commercial quality lunch, and ended the day at a different St. Louis landmark.

This time our last stop was Ted Drewes, a spectacular frozen custard shop which, based on the impressive number of people waiting in line to order (not unlike the throng you might expect to see checking in baggage for a London flight at Kennedy Airport) seems to be to doing A-OK.

That followed another terrific dinner with another collector we had heretofore known only via the internet, and who impressed us with his restaurant selection, his approach to collecting, and by navigating a 6′ 5″ tall pick-up truck successfully through a 6′ 6″ tall parking garage. Yes, that was close – and for a minute there, I thought we were going to make the evening news.

But let’s talk coins –

What did we sell?

Lots of different kinds of things of all types, country of origin and prices. But there were lots of tire kickers too, and coins on hold and a few lingering deals which might get done on Saturday, or might not.

What did we buy?

Primarily circulating foreign issues (including some surprisingly nice, high grade pieces), some relatively inexpensive type coins and our usual quotient of unusual esoteric material.

What grades did we receive?

With now a sufficient sample size to see overall grades, we can conclude that it was a pretty harsh – with many coins a point or so lower than expected and thus not unlike recent show grading experiences. Oh well.

That’s about it –

We will be here all day on Saturday, though we will start to send our NEWPs out for photography and our other coins home in the afternoon. So if you’re in-town, and can come by the table, best to get here early for the best selection.

Until tomorrow –

Day 4:

After a generally tepid beginning, and then some bright moments, the show ended with a pretty quiet Saturday relegating this year’s CSNC to ‘Decent’ (as opposed to ‘Blockbuster’, or ‘Nuclear-White-Hot’) status on the patented CRO Coin Show Rating-o-Meter.

In total, we sold just enough and bought just enough (including one heroic purchase on Saturday morning) to make the numbers work, got to meet some clients we had heretofore known only via email and telephone, and met a few new collectors. So that’s all good.

And we do have some good sized deals still pending (as is typically the case after a show), possibly to be completed this week, but since they weren’t consummated in St. Louis, they don’t count in our tally.

Finally (and not very smartly), Dave and I flew out on Sunday morning (as opposed to Saturday night), and thus did not arrive at our respective homes until about noon on Mother’s Day which is not a very good way to show your wife your appreciation on this day. And, of course, sitting here typing a Road Report is only making it worse.

And so I’ll have to cut this short and go spend some time with the family, thus closing the book on the Central States Numismatic Convention, 2007.

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