October 26-29, 2022: The Whitman Baltimore Expo
Just days after our recent shows in Manchester, NH and Devens, MA, we are both excited and delighted to attend an XXL national event, such as this installment of the Baltimore Expo. Yay!
And we fully expect this one to be a barn burner (in a good way), with the usual non-stop bourse floor activity, and a plethora and a half of interesting auctions.
Including Stack’s-Bowers’ offering of the Syd Martin collection which will be held right here during show hours on Thursday and Friday like in the olden days. Is that a good thing? Maybe for some people, but for a dealer with a table here it’s kind of a disaster to be honest with you, but hey, we’ll try to make the best of it and multi-task like crazy while it’s going on. Yay?
Fortunately, Team CRO is very, very good at multi-tasking which we will be demonstrating here all week long buying, selling, trading, grading, schmoozing and, as noted, bidding from our command center at table #442.
So if you are in the area, please do stop by and see us.
But if you can’t make it here in person, you can still follow along with all of the action in our Road Reports to be posted daily from the show right here in this space.
October 26th: Day 1
Did we mention multi-tasking yesterday? Yes, I believe we did.
And we got a great opportunity to do just that on Wednesday here in Baltimore, as we negotiated the acquisition of a neat group of copper coins, re-viewed auction lots like crazy at SB, visited the pre-show wholesale rooms and pored through dealer boxes in the hallway all while battling CRO website gremlins throughout the looooong day.
So if you’ve encountered an occasional CRO website image that would not load, or found the site slower than usual over the last few days, we believe we have resolved those issues.
Allowing us to roll into dealer set-up at 5 PM relaxed and ready to start doing business in whatever form it presented itself to us.
Setting up the booth real fast, looking through other dealer’s cases looking for cool NEWPs, delivering coins to others committed pre-show, picking up our pre-show grading, splitting another group of coins with a like-minded dealer friend and generally being super-productive for about 2 hours before heading off to a fantastic Afghani dinner at The Helmand with 8 numismatic friends.
Getting back to the hotel late and then figuring bids on Thursday’s auction lots on the computer until even later.
So we should be all set to go first thing in the AM when the public storms into the show and the live actions kick off.
With everything that happens to be described here in detail on Friday AM.
October 27th: Day 2
How much would you pay for scrambled eggs? Personally, my number is less than $23, which was the price of the buffet here at our show hotel.
So instead we headed straight to the convention center, hit the good enough snack stand in the lobby, ate at our booth and then dove directly into what figured to be an extreeeeemely busy Thursday.
And that did indeed turn out to the be the case, with a bunch of early arriving collectors rushing to the table to buy coins, sell coins, pick up coins we had brought here for them, drop off coins on consignment, or for grading, or for CACing, or some complex combination of the above.
But the real fun would begin at noon:
- Show opens to the public
- The Stack’s-Bowers auction starts
- Your author is attempting to slam a cup of tomato bisque which is delicious, but obviously also a serious spill / stain risk
Creating a sort of melee at table #442 which amazingly did not result in in any spillage since I used my show credentials as a makeshift bib (sorry, no photos), but did create a moment of near-flip out when someone came by in the middle of all of this and had us trying to fish a coin out of a box in our back case.
With the excitement continuing for just about the entire afternoon as your author had many bids in the Syd Martin collection of French Colonial, Rosa Americana and Connecticut coins for stock, and for customers, with no way to properly execute them other than to do so on the computer at our back table.
Did I mention that I personally hate the idea of participating in a live auction in the middle of the day at a coin show? I do. Frankly it’s not fair to the show attendees who should reasonably expect to be able to see and interact with booth holders, and not find them at their back table on their computers, or absent altogether as they bid live in the third floor auction room.
But we did our best with the reality of the situation, bid on the essentials, tried to steal away where possible when we had a sufficient gap between our target lots and ultimately found enough balance to do business at the table, buy coins on the floor and win enough coins in the auction to make it all worthwhile.
In the process, though, even with two of us at the table, I’m sure we disappointed some people who came to see us when we struggled to find time to work with them. Sorry about that.
Anyway, we continued bidding after the show ended and they kicked us all out of the bourse room, even while walking to the Hyatt bar where we decompressed with dealer and collector friends before heading to a late dinner at one of our favorite places in Federal Hill, returning to the hotel late to once again prep for the auction on Friday.
Which unfortunately will be conducted on the same schedule as Thursday, this time with a noon start of the Syd Martin Collection of Washingtonia. The only good news here is that our target lots seem to be concentrated into a shorter period of time and so this one won’t occupy us for 6+ hours. We hope. Also, I plan to eat something neater for lunch.
So if you are coming to the show please do stop by and see us and we promise to do our best to make time – though it will be easiest in the AM here.
Until tomorrow –
October 28th Day 3
Team CRO arrived at the convention center at about 8:45 on Friday rarin’ to do business and was somehow surprised to learn (since we like everyone else have the full show schedule online and in print) that the bourse room was not even frickin’ open yet, as evidenced by the large group of dealers sitting at the lobby tables and/or loosely queuing under the purple and terracotta Whitman arch near the door.
So we joined right in, cooled our heels for a while and eventually stormed onto the bourse floor when they flung the doors open at 9 AM ready another full day of coin dealering here in Baltimore.
Where we would begin by sorting out all of the stuff in our back case, including an XL pile of NEWPs, multiple consignments received from customers, coins back from grading and coins earmarked for auction.
And then immediately and systematically started to re-add to the pile with all sorts of cool stuff being offered to us by collectors coming to the table pretty much all day long, including many coins we had sold years ago, but also plenty of new ones we had never seen before.
All of which will eventually find their way to an EB coming soon.
As will the auction coins we snapped up in the Syd Martin Washingtonia session in the afternoon, including some high grade, mainstream Redbook types, a few cool varieties and one apparently unique piece I had never seen before and did not know existed.
In and around which we sold a bunch of cool coins at the table, including many which were on the website, but other recent acquisitions just received back from grading here.
Speaking of which, the grading overall here for us has been generally somewhere between extremely tight and downright insulting for us, which we try not to take personally and generally accept with an “oh well” philosophy (except for the whining about it here).
Anyway, that disappointment aside, business was generally booming from start to finish, culminating with the sale of a cool colonial at the table just as another customer who viewed it yesterday came back to look at it again. Hey, you gotta be quick.
Soon after which we packed up and headed to dinner with some collector friends at some epic place in Fell’s Point.
And then repeated this week’s typical schedule of returning to the hotel and figuring auction lots, this time for the upcoming SB and HA sessions next week. So we will be ready.
But not before we close the book on the Baltimore show with one last day here on Saturday, where we will hope to buy and sell more cool coins and then blog about them like crazy in the final installment of the RR which we will post as early on Sunday AM as possible.
October 29th: The Exciting Conclusion
Now back home in New England it’s time to summarize the just-complete Whitman Baltimore Expo through a series of random CRObservations:
We arrived in Baltimore with 181 coins, sold a whole bunch, consigned many to auction, sent some to PCGS for office grading and still managed to depart with 313(!), a function of some high energy buying on the floor during the show, the receipt of some wicked consignments, some top notch auction bidding and a few multi-coin trades. I have to admit even I was surprised by that total when we were packing up to leave.
If I find out who changed the snack stand Tomato Bisque recipe mid-show I’m going to go full irate numismatist on them.
My favorite acquisition of the show started on Friday when a long-time customer came to the table with 3 early gold coins and a fantastic early dollar and asked what they were worth. So I figured them all out and told him what I could pay. He hemmed and hawed a bit and then said he was not ready to sell yet, but in 6 months or a year maybe he would be. I made one last ditch effort to try to buy them, but no luck. Until first thing Friday AM when I got what coin dealers call a “real good phone call” from the collector saying he’d thought about it overnight and would accept my offer on 2 of them (including the dollar). So he drove back into town and we did the deal on Saturday at about 11 AM. That was extreeeeemely satisfying, and also proof that good things do sometimes happen on Saturdays when most of the other dealers are already in some stage of packing / leaving / left.
The chair in our hotel room this time was significantly better than the one they gave us in June:
I was speaking to another dealer about the auctions held here during the day this week and we concluded that while that’s not ideal, holding them at night has its own issues. Namely that they would often finish really, really late (such as the 2013 Stack’s Americana auction memorialized here on the site). He then told me about a FUN show sale years ago that ended at something like 4 AM, after which he and a few other dealers went from the auction to IHOP, and then just decided to go straight back to the convention center and roll right into the next day at the show. That sounds like something college-John would have enjoyed, but I’m pretty sure MaryAnn would not be into that here in 2022.
Whenever a significant collection like Syd Martin’s is being sold we try to ID the ones we like and pick up a few, though it’s never easy in what is typically an ultra-competitive environment. Still, we are always amazed to see some coins sell for multiples of what we would have paid, while others seem to slip through the cracks. How come? There are so many factors based on the obvious considerations of quality, desirability and demand, but also the sequence in which the lots are presented and who might be saving their money for a coin coming up later. Fun to watch, exciting to participate in, and of course nerve wracking throughout.
One doesn’t generally think of coin dealering as a demanding physical pursuit, but your author very nearly had to file a workman’s comp claim at the show when the leg of my booth chair fell into this extremely dangerous, unmarked utility hole:
Almost causing a slapstick, Dave Wnuck-style header into the next booth. Maybe someone should put a warning label on that?
One of the great things about Baltimore is its timeliness, as evidenced by this sidewalk sign advertising the Dam Safety (no n) Convention held here a month ago:
I was sorry to miss that one, but glad to be here for the coin show at the same time the Comic-Con convention was being held, which of course brings in huge crowds, lots of kids and results in thousands of people roaming around the city in costumes (at least I think they were costumes). And while I am not personally into that, it was good to see the inner harbor area filled with people again after the recent leaner covid years here.
And now, back home, we’re going to be sorting coins (lots and lots of coins), shipping orders, sending boxes to CAC, and grading, going through everything that arrived here while we were gone and then starting to formulate our next EB which will go out one week from Tuesday on November 8th.
So you might want to keep an eye out for that.