November 9-14, 2009: The Whitman Baltimore Expo
November 9th: Day 1
It was a typically early start this Monday, as your author woke up at 3:03 AM, put the dog out without getting bitten even once, packed and then zoomed to the airport for the first flight to Baltimore so that I could get there in time for a final review of the lots before the Stack’s session began at 2 PM.
An awful schedule necessitated by the fact that when I drove up to Stack’s New Hampshire office a couple of weeks ago to view this session some of the key coins weren’t there.
Of course, when I got to my hotel in Baltimore I realized I had ‘overdone it’, got there substantially earlier than was actually necessary, and had hours and hours to kill, so I had breakfast, went to the gym and then took it easy before heading over to Stack’s at the Pier 5 hotel at about 11.
Which left plenty of time to view those lots I missed, then hang around in the lobby with a bunch of other coin dealers all afternoon (falling asleep at one point with my gum hanging out of my mouth according to bystanders) until the colonial coins came up some 4 hours into the auction at about 6 PM.
All of which turned out OK in a session in which prices were pretty low with very little competition in the room and most lots closing after just 1 or 2 bids, a function not so much of the coins, in our view, but of a schedule which had the auction beginning Monday (as opposed to the normal Tuesday), before most dealers and collectors would be in-town for the show.
Anyway, we bought some coins, sold others and then left for a marathon evening session of organizing inventory and trying to work out deals for several new coins, some of which worked great, and some of which didn’t work at all.
Tuesday I’ll be tag teaming with Dave as we share the responsibilities of more lot viewing, more auctions, more inventory organizing, more wheeling and dealing and some extensive and frankly overdue updating of the website.
But now I’m going to bed after what has been an extremely long but not terribly eventful Day 1.
November 10th: Day 2
Amazingly, and for the first time in recent memory, I woke up at 9:05 AM on Tuesday, powerful proof that I don’t just constantly say how early I get up while on the road at these shows.
Unfortunately, I was supposed to meet Dave at 9, so that didn’t leave me much time to get ready.
But eventually I made it, and we did get through a bunch of work stuff over breakfast, then while Dave went back to Stack’s for some final lot viewing, I sat in my hotel room pricing a humungous pile of coins, organizing submissions for grading and then doing a bunch of stuff on the site for a good part of the afternoon, pausing briefly to respond to emails, finalize a couple of new purchases and sell one expensive coin.
Which left just enough time to go the gym, head out for some sushi (the first of many such planned visits this week), watch ‘Funny People’ in my room (highly recommended, actually), write and create the artwork for this week’s ad and then type this Road Report.
Which means it is now just about midnight, and time for me to call it a night.
Tomorrow we’ll be lot viewing at Bowers and Merena, submitting coins to PCGS and, we hope, finalizing the purchase of a medium-sized collection.
The details of which will be written about right here in just about 24 hours from now.
November 11th: Day 3
Great news on Wednesday everybody – it was cold, raining and miserable literally all day, perfect for us as we trekked all over downtown dropping our stuff at security at the convention center, getting our show badges, then walking over to the Sheraton to submit coins to PCGS in their usual pre-show location just in time to realize they were actually at the Marriott this time, many blocks away in the other direction.
So we hiked over there (meeting many panhandlers on the way), spent a solid half hour or so filling out submission forms for grading and True-Viewing, then walked back to the convention center for some concentrated lot viewing of their US and world sessions.
And though it wasn’t exactly a spectacular offering, it was packed, with at least one or two peope standing there waiting for a seat to open up.
Such as mine, which I vacated at 3 when I was finished, leaving Dave behind and heading back to the hotel to answer emails (which I did), see if we had an agreement on yesterday’s deal (which we didn’t), and find time to go back to the gym before dinner (which I did).
Dave finally finished up at Bowers at about 6, indicating that he must have examined every coin in every single group lot, at which time I went and met him at one of the 647 very good restaurants in the area, where we ate extremely sensibly, drank very little and then went back to finish up a big spreadsheet project at the hotel.
From which I had returned to my room at 10 and immediately collapsed on the bed, waking up in the middle of the night fully dressed with my contact lenses in, which was an absolutely perfect time to start typing this blog.
Thursday the actual show begins(!), which means we ought to have some concrete and interesting numismatic things to talk about in tomorrow’s RR.
So be ready.
November 12th: Day 4
We were, of course, excited about Thursday, and the kick-off of the Baltimore Coin & Currency Convention at precisely 8 AM (for dealer set-up, that is).
And we were there about 15 minutes early, just in time to extract our stuff from security, stand in a brief hardly-annoying-at-all line, say hi to some dealer friends we had not seen since the Philadelphia show, and then explode into the room.
Which we did cautiously, first organizing our displays cases, attaching lamps, hanging the award winning CRO banner and then walking around briskly searching for NEWPs.
Which we did successfully, buying what would turn out to be the first of many coins at about 8:10.
Our first sale, on the other hand, took place at about 8:30, as another dealer numismatically snarfed up the coin in our current ad. As it would turn out, nicely, we would have many sales during the course of the day, including something in nearly every category, to a variety of collector and dealer buyers.
We also got our first wave of grades back (fast, too) and they were all quite fair and about what we expected.
In fact, the only really negative thing that happened during the day was that I somehow managed to lose my dealer badge. Which is frankly not easy, since the new Whitman badges are gigantic and include an ID card and a show entry badge in one plastic sleeve that is about the size of a Redbook (large font edition).
But I looked down at one point and was surprised to discover that my lanyard, from which my badge was hanging not 2 minutes earlier, was empty. Which meant that I had to pay $25 to get a new one, which of course all but guaranteed that I would then find the old one almost immediately, which I then did. Aaaaaargh.
With that adventure behind me, the show stayed pretty active for us right up until the end, both selling and buying, with a few other cool deals in the works – including the possible acquisition of one of the nicest federal coins we’ve ever seen or handled and about which you will be hearing if we get it.
Then at about 6:15 PM we formulated our Bowers bids, left them at the podium and called it a day – Dave adhering to our usual evening schedule and heading out to a really good restaurant with some dealer friends, while your author, trying to determine if it possible to actually attend these shows in a healthier way, went to the hotel gym and then ate a bunch of vegetables.
Which wasn’t quite as awful as I just made it sound (but was still extremely awful).
Tomorrow we expect to see more of our local collector customers and, despite the ominous predictions of our superstitious friends, anticipate another good day on the bourse, followed by a dinner which will include something a little bit less sensible, since it is the weekend and all and I figure what the heck.
Our next RR will be posted either late Friday or early Saturday depending on what happens tomorrow night.
November 13th: Day 5
While the rest of the work world was busy proclaiming TGIF, team CRO (and our fellow numismatists) were busy gearing up for what we hoped would be a good couple of days on the bourse as we headed into the weekend stretch here in Baltimore. And we were optimistic, with the potential for some pretty good retail traffic.
And while we can’t speak to the overall crowds, we can say that it was plenty busy at our table #304, with many of our local collector customers and other dealers swinging by to buy, and to sell, and to trade and to talk coins.
All of which we did with great enthusiasm, mixed in with some befuddlement, the latter occurring when another dealer asked your author (and I quote) “How do you decide from day to day whether you are going to wear a suit and tie, or dress down in jeans?”. I found this amusing since I have not worn a suit and tie to a numismatic event in my lifetime, and have no intention of ever doing so. Must have had me confused with someone else.
Anyway, most of our activity on this day turned out to be on the federal side, with a number of esoteric sales thrown in for good measure.
On a less exciting note, our efforts to secure that fantastical but mysterious coin referenced in yesterday’s RR have, so far, not worked at all. Still trying though, and we’ll hope for some positive development on that front on Saturday.
We did manage to buy some pretty cool other stuff though, ranging from a few hundred dollars to the high five figures, in grades from AG3 to MS65 RB.
On the other hand, grading was a drag on Friday, as we waited in the new, long Disney World-style PCGS coin submission retrieval line several times to get just a couple of coins back (with disappointing results to add insult to injury). But since our business model is not predicated on upgrading stuff, it’s really not that big a deal.
A few more sales in the late afternoon and then it was time for dinner, so we packed up and headed over to Morton’s with some dealer friends, straying juuuuuuust slightly from our new sensible dining program. It was worth it though, as we had fun and then got back to the hotel just in time to collapse for the evening.
Saturday we’ll be back for more, hoping for something good to happen and prepared to write about it, right here, in tomorrow’s RR.
Until then –
November 14th: Day 6
Get away day is always a lot of fun, since it means we need to get up earlier than usual, pack, check out of the hotel and then haul our luggage to the convention center, usually in a rain storm. Which is exactly what happened on Saturday.
It worked out fine though, and we arrived at the show ready for action just as the doors swung open at 9 AM.
And it was at precisely 9:10 that I realized that my flight home was actually leaving at the surprisingly early time of 1:30 (no idea why), meaning I had not enough time to get everything done and organized while also buying and selling coins.
I tried to switch to a later flight but couldn’t, so I would be out at roughly midday and would in the process be sticking Dave with the heavy lifting on Saturday.
Fortunately, Dave is extremely strong, and, in my absence, sold a bunch of coins, bought a few more, picked up all of our grading and generally carried the ball effectively while I sat in an airport lounge eating shrimp cocktail and drinking red wine. And while that makes me sound like a slacker, it is, unfortunately, absolutely true.
Meaning that next week at the Bay State Show, I’m sure Dave will find an opportunity for me to varietize 300 Connecticut coppers while he goes bowling and then has a leisurely lunch, for example.
Anyway, in total, based on what happened before I left, and Dave’s report after I departed, this turned out to be a great show for CRO, with excellent sales of the retail and wholesale variety, in all categories and at a wide range of price points.
We also bought a lot of cool stuff and head into our last official event of the year (next week’s Bay State Show in Boston) with a good head of steam.
Which we’ll need, since we only have a couple days of down time in between, and we have a lot of paperwork and shipping to complete in the meantime.
But I’m confident we’ll get it all done just in time to slide into the Boston Show, from which our next Road Report will be posted just 4 unbelievably short days from now.