November 1-5, 2016: The Whitman Baltimore Expo
November 1st: Day 1
After a prolonged major show hiatus (since we last attended an XL one in earnest at the ANA in August), we are delighted to be back in the numismatic saddle once again and, of course, blogging like crazy.
Starting with this installment in which we can say things like we got down here on the first flight on Tuesday, shot like a rocket to the hotel, dumped everything in the room (partially on the bed, but also near the mini-fridge and strewn in the closet), had breakfast and and then headed straight to the PCGS pre-show grading submission room at the Sheraton where we discovered that either other dealers had taken even earlier flights, or perhaps they eat much faster than we do, since there was a queue of eager submitters already in place.
So we waited our turn, filled out a bunch of forms and then made our way to Stack’s-Bowers lot viewing and settled in for a looooong day of looking at colonial and U.S. coins. Of which we studied, twirled, louped and ultimately identified about 50 potential bidding candidates, some we knew of well in advance, others just discovered right there in the room.
Followed by a quick lunch before we were back at it again, interrupted only by some of the typical schmoozing which always takes place in the hall outside the viewing room, which on this day would include an unexpected tour through another dealer’s boxes in which I discovered a coin which has been on a customer want list for 5 long months. So of course I bought that one and one other for good measure before viewing a bit more and then eventually heading to dinner with some dealer friends at about 6 at Mortons before returning to the hotel and unceremoniously falling asleep during the World Series game.
Wednesday should feature even more lot viewing, hallway schmoozing and poring though other dealers’ coin boxes before the first auction session kicks off in the evenining during which we plan to be seated, comfortably, in the back of the room (as always) prepared to bid like crazy.
With nearly everything that happens to be described right here in this space in flowery language tomorrow morning (and continuing every single morning of the show, in fact).
November 2nd: Day 2
Having been an extremely productive lot viewer on Tuesday, I was able to take it easy on Wednesday AM, waking up at a reasonable hour, having an elegant breakfast in the room at the exact same time they were vacuuming it and then moseying on over to the convention center at about 10:30.
Where I first cruised through some wholesale rooms and picked up a couple of coins before purposefully going back to lot viewing to double check about 20 lots. And I was glad I did, reinforcing that I really liked most of them, but more importantly removing a few others from my target list for one reason or other.
After which I retired to the hallway outside the viewing room to engage in some stimulating (though very unlikely) conversation with some other dealers about a minor foot injury, Jackie Gleason and then some false teeth left in a hotel room (not mine, fortunately).
But as much as I did not want that to end, I eventually had to meet with a couple of customers who had just arrived in town and then look through another dealer’s inventory at about 4:30, ultimately buying about 10 extremely cool coins before heading back to the hotel to return a couple of customer calls.
And then went out for an excellent Afghan dinner at the Helmend with some dealer friends during which the only non-coin dealers present seemed to be the wait staff. Hey, it’s a popular place.
Ultimately though, we had to get back to catch some of what would definitely be an historic game 7 (for someone) and then hit the hay to be rested and ready for what is always an active and tiring first day of the show here in Baltimore.
The results of which will be described right here on Friday AM.
November 3rd: Day 3
Let’s see. Dealer set up begins at 8 AM. I need to therefore get my coins from the security room at 7:45. Which means I need to head to the convention center at about 7:30. So I have to go to breakfast at 7. Which means I need to be in the shower at 6:30. So to be safe I need to go the gym at 5:45. So I’d like to be done with the previous day’s Road Report at 5:30. So it looks like I need to wake up at 5.
And with that precise schedule carefully arranged, I of course woke up at 3:11 AM on Thursday and was already miles ahead of the game.
So by the time I actually did storm onto the bourse floor at 8, I was extreeeemely ready for action, which would begin with a quick and efficient booth set up, the ceremonial hanging of the CRO banner, the laying out of our tray displays of colonial, US and world coins (including a lot of new things which have never been on the site) and the official clicking on of the lights signifying that we were open and ready before business at no later than 8:13 AM, which we dare say was faster than any other dealer on the bourse floor and thus a great source of pride for our entire staff here in Baltimore (i.e. me).
Allowing us to sell a bunch of federal coins within the next hour, followed by the first big one of the day, our silver Manly Medal in a cash and trade deal.
After which I met up with some dealers who brought coins specifically for us, including some raw Pillars, old holdered US type and some suitably crusty gold.
Returning to the table just in time to sell the NGC black slab we acquired recently and which we knew wouldn’t last long in our inventory.
All the while seeing old and new friends at the table, always a nice perk of being here in Baltimore. With nearly all of them either looking at our coins and/or offering us theirs, including a wicked NJ copper, a whole run of super fresh OGHs and a box of assorted affordable world coins.
Of which we bought a lot and pondered others, weighing some of these vs. neat coins seen on the floor and in the auction as we decide what to do knowing that we’d need to do so quickly before they were all snapped up by others.
And then we looked up and saw that it was suddenly 4:48, giving us about 10 minutes to pack up and head over to the C4 (Colonial Coin Collectors Club) reception at the Sheraton where we’d meet up with nearly an entire ballroom filled with serious colonial collectors and dealers discussing everything and anything related to this field.
Where I stayed for a while before heading to bed on the early side in anticipation of what will be an even longer, busier and probably more tiring Friday which will start with a breakfast meeting at the hotel and culminate with the Stack’s auction session starting early at 4 PM.
So if you are coming to the show late this afternoon and I am not at the table, you will know where to find me.
With everything we buy, sell, bid on, trade, grade, wheel and, of course, deal on Friday to be described here on Saturday morning.
Until then, then.
November 4th: Day 4
One important measure of the success of a show for us is, of course, the cool stuff we can acquire, which as of mid Friday afternoon here was enough to fill two (2) PCGS boxes in our back case and spill over (neatly) into another one. Making a total of 40-something coins consisting of wholesome, mostly mid-priced colonials, a lot of neatly toned and/or old-holdered US type and all sorts of cool world coins.
A haul we were emboldened to buy based on what have been heap big strong sales here at the show, all focused on expensive things. Indeed, the cheapest coin we’ve sold here so far was $4,750, a skewed sales mix which sometimes happens at these events, is never predictable and which is of course absolutely OK by us.
Less OK have been a lot of the grading results, which have trickled back throughout and were mostly about as low as any of these coins could have been graded in our admittedly biased view. Still a few to go, though.
Also still going are some potential cash and trade deals for other expensive coins in our inventory, some which may be finalized (we hope) here at the show Saturday, others which will continue on over the next few weeks and possibly into our next show in Houston.
So it would be accurate to say that while not everything has gone exactly according to plan here, we had accomplished a lot of good things here before locking up and heading to the inconveniently timed Stack’s-Bowers colonial auction starting at 4 PM.
Where we bid on a lot of nice, wholesome colonial type coins, then skipped out for dinner at the Kona Grill while the rare but mostly low grade Connecticuts (of the sort we do not bid on) were being offered, and then returned in time to watch the newly discovered Rarity-7+ New Jersey Maris 24-Q bring $82,250 to a serious collector before bidding again on a run of Fugios at the very end of the session.
With our total haul something like 15 coins, though curiously not a couple that we were a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y positive we’d win. Hey, you never know, and we can’t outbid people prepared to pay prices that seem so far beyond what we could justify.
And then walked up to the Hilton for a drink in the bar capping off what had been a pretty good and productive day.
Saturday here should be good too, as we pick up the lots, get the NEWPs lined up for photography and finalize whatever deals we can before heading home in the evening.
From where our next RR will be posted on Sunday AM –
November 5th: The Exciting Conclusion
Aaaah yes, Saturday in Baltimore, a day which always begins really early, is extremely hectic, involves fast blog writing, high speed packing and rapid check out as it did here. Though this time I slotted in a breakfast meeting with a customer, followed by the customary heavy and awkward luggage schlepping to the convention center for one last bite of the numismatic apple.
First order of business there: Go up to the Stack’s-Bowers room on the 3rd floor for lot pickup, where I was delighted to actually receive everything I thought I bought the night before (unlike at a couple of other auctions at various firms through the years when I bid in the room, was sure a specific lot hammered down to me, noted same on my bidder card but then discovered that lot was not on my invoice when I went to pick up the coins since it had somehow, someway been sold to someone else).
And then headed back to the table and continued working on a big deal which was started over breakfast and would continue for much of the day. But back to that in a minute, since there was plenty of other action on a day which would turn out to be one of our best-ever Saturdays in Baltimore in most every way:
Some wicked new purchase, including some nice CRO style US type, a totally original Cundinamarca 8 Reales and a couple of top end NJ coppers, the last of which we wrote a check for at the extremely late hour of 4:45 PM.
A slew of consignments to major auctions on behalf of customers (since we guarantee we can get them better consignment rates from the auction houses than they can get on their own).
The return of all of our show grading, the tail end of which was pretty good.
A most satisfying collection of checks from dealers around the room.
All capped off with our aforementioned biggest deal of the show, involving the sale/trade of two big coins for 2 other medium-sized coins and cash.
Contributing to a fantastic show here which frankly exceeded our most optimistic expectations, with similar views expressed by a number of other like-minded dealers we spoke to during the day.
Followed by the typical mad dash to the airport, a quick flight home, a slow plod to the house and near-total numismatic exhaustion when I finally got there.
Fortunately, I have a full day to recover before diving into our next Early Bird, which will go out on Tuesday at noon, and will be chock full of cool coins acquired here and in the weeks preceding this event.
So as we always say, you might want to keep an eye out for that.