November 29-December 2, 2007: The Bay State Show & C4 Convention in Boston, MA
I didn’t get home until about midnight on Thursday, which may explain why I failed, for the first time in recent memory, to get a Road Report up on the site until mid-afternoon the following day (i.e. right now).
And so without further ado, this is what happened:
We arrived at the Boston Radisson Hotel at about 4 PM, just in time for the leisurely dealer set-up and requisite shoot-the bull sessions we always enjoy at this show. And, as usual, it was good fun, and gave us the opportunity to catch up with a bunch of the guys we hadn’t seen since the last C4 convention a year ago.
Then, after the pleasantries (and cramming our cases and supplies into our extremely small table space), it was time for us to walk the floor, desperately seeking interestng coins to buy, trade-for, ruminate on, etc. So we did.
And our efforts were rewarded with a few NEWPs of various shapes and sizes, though nothing too significant. Despite our best efforts to be net buyers at this show, we wound up as net sellers during the afternoon, with sales in all categories at mostly moderate price points. No complaints there.
With continuous activity throughout, the day went pretty quickly, and before we knew it it was time to head downstairs for the C4 reception and what would be a long evening of more shooting-the-bull, impressive eating and frankly too much drinking. But one should not expect less at any coin show, let alone this one.
Anyway, that went on and on (and on) until I finally had to get home, too late for web posting, which explains why I’m at my table here at the show doing this right now.
But rest assured that tomorrow’s RR will be far more prompt.
While I was having dinner at a restaurant with a few dealer friends this evening (at a table next to the Boston College men’s basketball team), today’s Road Report was being guest written by our good friend, frequent PCGS chatroom poster, occasional client, sometime supplier, part-time flying instructor, full-time MIT student and able Ebay assistant Jeremy “Airplanenut” Katz:
It’s an honor and a privilege to be invited to guest write a Road Report for the Bay State Coin Show held in good old Beantown (that’s Boston if you were unsure). When asked if I wanted to write the report, John laid out only two ground rules. First, no foul language. @#%$! There went that story. Second, I needed to write it from my perspective, not his. Thus, to prepare, I just finished re-reading all of the archived Road Reports.
John typically begins his reports by mentioning that he woke up at 3 AM to catch the first flight, and after a massive weather delay and three hours being held up for having a bottle of water at the security checkpoint, he finally arrives just in time for the opening ceremony. Well, I won’t write that. To be fair, I wasn’t even asleep by 3 AM. As a student at the prestigious university located in Cambridge, MA (that’s MIT, not the school up the street) I’ve had to get used to going to bed late. Luckily, by 4, well after John was packed and ready for the day, I hit the hay for a solid 3 hours and 20 minutes of sleep. By the time the second alarm went off, I was dazed, confused, and ready to begin the day.
Going to the show was a difficult decision for me. On one hand, I had an 11 AM class (taught by the former Secretary of the Air Force) with a final exam in just over two weeks. On the other hand, coins are nice. I arranged to have a friend let me know if anything said in class was mentioned as “not in the notes” and chose to enjoy my morning for a change.
With clear blue skies and the temperature a balmy 36 degrees, I biked on over to the show and arrived as it was opening. For those from warmer parts of the country, I advise that you never neglect the wind chill when venturing outside in Boston, especially if you are crossing a river. When I arrived, my face was frozen, but I was ready to make the best of the show.
The last time I saw John was a miserable October day when he and his son became my first passengers since earning my pilot’s license. That day, we discussed what coins should make up a collection, and the consensus was that if a coin doesn’t excite you every time you see it, perhaps you’re better off with a different piece in its place. Over the summer I began thinking about selling some of my pieces which, though very nice, weren’t my absolute favorites. Since I finally retrieved those pieces over Thanksgiving break, this was my first chance to sell, and sell I did. Dealers were paying strong money for nice coins at the show, and missing class was definitely worth it as I sold to 80% of the dealers who took a look.
In addition to selling, I also had two other goals at the show. First was to confirm whether a family heirloom was a key variety. As the only collector in my family, I recently inherited two gold pieces my great-grandfather took from the cash register when gold was recalled. After posting pictures of the 1911 $2½ Indian online, some people said the coin appeared to be a significantly more valuable Weak D variety (don’t you worry – no matter how much the market values the piece, it will never be for sale). Without a loupe, I asked John for his opinion. A self-described “top five non-authority on gold varieties,” I then asked John Kraljevich, who set up a table under his recently started company, JK Americana. It’s always nice to see a friend doing well, and I wish him the best in the future. It’s even nicer when that friend confirms that the coin is, indeed a valuable variety. Cool.
My final goal of the day was to find a dirt cheap Jefferson war nickel. A friend who hates when I talk about coins asked if I had any neat ones that could be X-ray analyzed for a physics class. The war nickel seemed like a cool idea since it has abnormal metals for your typical coin, but alas, I wasn’t going to pay $8 for a BU one. So, I left her with a circulated Morgan. She’ll manage.
Although I skipped one class, I still had to get back for another at 1 PM. I hurried on my bike and made it back just in time. At 1:01 (class starts at 1:05) I was sitting in my lecture hall in the Stata Center (yes, the one MIT’s suing the designers over for faulty construction) ready to learn about viscous boundary layers of aerodynamics.
I’d like to extend our thanks to Jeremy for that entertaining, enlightening, enriching, and refreshingly different Road Report – though given space constraints, we’ll have to wait ’til next time to learn more about those viscous boundary layers.
And I think I speak for everyone when I say that we are really, really looking forward to that.
In PGA parlance it was ‘moving day’ today, the traditional term for Saturday on the golf tour as players position themselves on the leader board for victory on Sunday. And while this concept has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with coins, coin dealering, our own activities at the Bay State Show (or any coin show for that matter), I still like the way it sounds.
And though we didn’t exactly ‘move’, we did keep that positive vibe going as we sold a total of 21 coins in all categories. Much of the conversation at this venue is about colonials (not surprisingly), but there are plenty of collectors and dealers in attendance looking for US type and we were happy to oblige them.
We also bought some pretty interesting things, again in all categories. Not every single coin will be destined for the website though, as we seek out and buy all sorts of coins for wholesale sales, placement in upcoming auctions, etc. while reserving the best pieces (not more than 20% of what we buy) for our online inventory.
That continued until about 3 PM, when Dave and I headed out for a very late lunch at Legal’s for some award winning chowder and a pow-wow about the evening’s C4 auction. That proved successful, as we generally agreed on what to bid on (and how much), and which coins we we would skip. In total, out of 500+ lots, we settled on 11 coins to target.
Then it was back to work the table for another few hours (interrupted only by me hauling about 800 pounds of coin books from Dave’s car to mine) before we headed downstairs for the auction kick-off at 6:30 PM.
For those that don’t know, a C4 auction isn’t exactly like Heritage. It’s a smaller, private affair open only to C4 or EAC members. There are no banks of phone bidders, no Ebay-Live screens beamed onto the wall for all to see, and no battery of staff at the podium shouting out numbers. It’s just a room full of enthusiastic bidders, colonial author and researcher Dan Freidus (he of Higley research fame) at the michrophone and Bob Grellman on the book. That’s it.
I handled our bidding in the first half or so of the sale, while Dave bid on pieces in the second (which sure beats sitting there for 4 or 5 hours by yourself). And it worked just fine, as we bought a few things, lost a few things and were satisfied by the results. In general, colonial varieties may sell for more in this venue than most any other (even with participation limited to club members, as they tend to be the highest buyers of such coins anyway). So buying really rare stuff at this venue is not so easy.
Nor is firing a Frisbee without hitting the low hanging chandelier in the auction room, as Dan Freidus discovered a bit later.
And while this may sound like a complete non-sequiter, it wasn’t – as it was Freidus’s job to auction and then immediately deliver (with a flick of the wrist) the couple of dozen vintage flying disks donated to the club by the estate of beloved C4 member Mike Ringo who passed away early this year. Not many of us knew it at the time, but Mike left behind not just a legacy of expertise in colonial coins, he also left behind two apartments; one in which he lived, the other which housed his epic Frisbee collection. Seriously.
As I said – it’s not exactly like Heritage.
We’ll pick up our auction winnings tomorrow AM, and then it’s back to work at the show. Which maintains normalcy until midday, and then turns into a flea market (literally) as many of the coin dealers leave and their tables are taken over by people selling all sorts of stuff.
So if you are looking for rare coins on Sunday, get there early.
It’s 1:13 PM on Sunday as I begin writing this final installment of the Road Report, and I’m already home in my living room, sprawled on the couch completely exhausted by the week’s activities (and there were many).
But let’s begin at the end:
Even though the room was half empty today (a good percentage of the tables were actually gone, not just the dealers who manned them) we had some significant activity, buying one exceptionally cool coin and selling a slew of stuff, including an intact collection of early Halves (with a twist!) that we had purchased about 10 days ago, a couple of other early type coins, and one colonial which proved to be an interesting (and long) story which I will now tell in vivid detail:
We originally bought the coin in Baltimore in a two-coin group offered to us by another dealer. In it was a very rare colonial, and this piece which had just come from Stack’s Baltimore auction but which we had not bid on. But when it was offered after the fact, we took another look and we liked it, and so we went ahead and bought the group.
Fast forward to Friday, when we sold it in a different, three-coin group to a collector at this show.
Who then came back on Saturday having discovered that he himself was the underbidder on it in the aforementioned Stack’s auction (at a much lower number) and wanted to return it. So we said OK.
Fast forward again to later Saturday when we sold it to another dealer at our same asking price.
And then again to Sunday, when that dealer sold it to one of his customers at a tick higher.
And you know what? I still liked the coin at that price and if it had been offered to us at that level, I honestly would have bought it. So what does this prove? Several things: sometimes there are good deals in auctions, sometimes we see things differently on different days, and sometimes we get a second chance at a coin (but not always).
Anyway, enough about that.
We also picked up our auction winnings this morning, which we are very excited about. All are raw, most will probably be going in for grading, then photography, and will make our list over the next few weeks.
Other than that, today was a day for exchanging checks, cleaning up paperwork, saying our goodbyes and best wishes to people we won’t see for a while, and then packing up and hitting the road.
All told, this was our biggest selling C4 show ever, which is nice, but must be qualified by saying that historically we haven’t done huge volume at this event. But if this week is any indication, perhaps the future will be different.