Tales from Our Numismatic Travels
April 26-29, 2023: The Central States Numismatic Society Show in Schaumburg, IL
Whenever we attend a coin show we like to get off to a good start.
So when your author embarked on his journey on Tuesday by walking the entire length of a major airport only to then realize that his fly had been open the entire time, well, that did not seem like an especially auspicious beginning.
But things got better after that, as I was able to quickly recover, board our flight in a dignified manner, arrive in Chicago late in the afternoon, grab our bags in 2 seconds flat, jump in a waiting cab and roll into the Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center just in time for our 8 PM dinner reservations with some close dealer friends.
Where we discussed what to expect here, which based on everything I’ve heard from everyone is an extreeeeemely active show in what has been a robust market. And based on all of the recent changes at this show (every single one for the better IMO) we can’t wait to get started. Yes!
Which for us will be early on Wednesday AM, first dropping off submissions at PCGS, then hitting lot viewing, then meeting up with some collectors and dealers to pick up, exchange, drop off and otherwise consummate some pre-arranged deals while hoping to stumble into others of the impromptu variety.
Followed by the start of dealer set-up in the afternoon where the official fun will begin.
With everything that happens here to be critically analyzed, carefully sorted, expertly collated and then neatly typed in our RRs to be posted right here in this space each and every morning of this show like clockwork.
So you might want to keep an eye out for that –
April 26th: Day 1
Thoroughly buttoned up on Wednesday, Team CRO was up early answering email, getting organized, hitting the gym, grabbing breakfast and then heading straight to PCGS to optimistically drop off some show submissions.
After which it was time for some extra super-intensive US and World coin lot viewing at Heritage where the crack staff (who by now know me very well) helped me pore through everything at my standard “Rocket Ship to Venus” pace.
Allowing me to then head straight to Legend to review their tidier, super high quality sale which I finished just in time to hit the bourse floor, view the offerings of the limited selection of dealers set up for P&G day and buy a couple of cool coins before zipping to the hotel restaurant for some fine Tomato Bisque.
And then heading back to the room to enter the lots on my computer before returning to the convention center portion of this venue to prepare for the 4 PM start of dealer set up which seems very late to me, but no one asked my opinion so I’ll just type it right here anyway:
- 4 PM is very late.
- But that would have been palatable if we did not all have to remove our coins from security by 3 PM, since of course that necessitated everyone waiting around for more than an hour with our bags in a giant, nearly chair-less hallway.
- Speaking of which, this hotel has literally the greatest array of chairs in both quantity and style I’ve ever seen in my life, tucked into every available space in the lobby and surrounds, except of course in the convention center portion of the building where we were all waiting which has a few flat benches along the wall, one of which seemed to have vomit on it.
The good news is this allowed just the right amount of time for a collector to show us his wicked 18th century US type set and another dealer (who I have spoken to maybe 2-3 times in the last 20 years) to tell me his personal best in every weightlifting movement at his gym. OK then.
Eventually, and thankfully, the clock struck 4:00 PM and they finally did let us into to the bourse room where we set up as fast as possible and then immediately started doing business like crazy.
Selling 6 deluxe US coins and 3 world ones to 4 different people in and around which managed to buy a bunch of cool coins from many different sources, culminating with our White Whale, a super fantastic copper coin we’d been chasing since the FUN Show and finally wrestled to the ground here in Schaumburg.
And on that extreeeeemely high note, we packed up and headed off to dinner at an Italian restaurant with some industry big shots where we all ate something totally delicious as described by a waiter none of us could understand.
Returning to the hotel at a reasonable hour and then collapsing immediately after what had by then been a long and productive numismatic day.
And we certainly expect more of the same on Thursday with the arrival of the public and with them, we hope, many more opportunities to buy, sell and trade cool coins.
April 27th: Day 2
Like an excited child on Christmas morning, your author exploded out of bed at 4:07 AM on Thursday, made a gross cup of coffee in the room and began what figured to be another extreeeeemely long and tiring day here in Schaumburg.
Spoiler alert: It totally was.
How so? Let’s find out!
After answering customer emails and texts, updating the website inventory, pounding out yesterday’s blog and checking auction websites, Team CRO headed off to breakfast in the hotel restaurant where every single other person present (except the wait staff and some guy at the bar) was a coin dealer. And then made our way down the long hallway to the bourse area, waited in the requisite line and smoothly entered the show at exactly 9 AM.
At which time we set up the booth, turned around and leaped into nearly non-stop business for the next, oh, 9 hours or so.
Which at times was as busy as I can ever recall at any show, with multiple people at the table at once, sales of all kinds of coins in all of our categories, figuring deals on the side, doing trades, buying coins and then looking up to see a guy with a coin in hand asking me “Are you busy right now?”. Yes, yes I was. But we still managed to multi-task like crazy and kind of keep it all together.
Even when it appeared that the White Whale deal mentioned in yesterday’s RR had suddenly fallen apart. Alas, I learned in the afternoon that it was still on and actually slightly tweaked in our favor, making an excellent day that much better.
At which time I looked up and it was 5:30 PM, and I was literally exhausted. But not too exhausted to buy some wicked colonial deal before packing up and heading out to dinner in my old college stomping grounds in Evanston.
And then returning to the hotel real late and falling asleep immediately, if not faster.
So we should be rested and ready to do this all again on Friday where it cannot possibly be as busy as it was Thursday. Can it?
Check back in right here tomorrow to find out . . .
April 28th: Day 3
No queue for us on Friday.
Instead, like geniuses we finished breakfast in the lobby restaurant at 9:05 AM, allowing us to then walk down the hallway and straight into the already-opened bourse room minutes later.
Where we flung off our thin nylon security covers, switched on the lights and once again dove directly into commercial activities.
First order of business: Finish figuring a deal of cool colonial paper money, including tracing several of the notes to a 2005 Stack’s Ford sale using the Newman Portal (a handy online innovation which I would describe as a godsend, since it means we do not have to lug the 3,000+ old auction catalogs in our numismatic library to every coin show in a paneled van).
Next: Receive in hand the White Whale discussed ad nauseum in this week’s RRs and place it straight into our bourse case at a slight angle for dramatic effect. As an aside, we have had many new coins which are not yet on our website in our cases this week, all mixed in in our standard denomination or country inventory order. I personally eschew specifically labeling anything “NEW!” at shows (or on the site, actually) because in doing so you are by default labeling other things as “OLD!”. Seems better to me if everything is just in one big category called “COINS!”.
3rd: Picked up all of our remaining grading here which I would describe as “Meh”.
After which we began another onslaught of visitors to the table for the next 3 hours, nearly every one of whom bought something, including a whole bunch of world coins we would not have figured to sell here. But of course we never really know what will be popular at a show like this (I remember one year here we unexpectedly and inexplicably sold a bunch of French coins to all different people here in Schaumburg), which is why we bring a selection of everything and hope we get it kinda right.
We also bought a bunch more coins on Friday, but not as many as we hoped at a show which has at least so far been much heavier for us on the selling side. Of course we might snag a few more on Saturday here, with some additional NEWPs likely to come from the auctions which run next week.
But before that we saw things wind down on Friday afternoon, finalized a couple of late deals and then packed up and headed to the Weber Grill for dinner where nearly every single thing they serve is made of meat, and they pipe out disconcerting simulated sounds of grilling by their front door. Pretty good though.
After which we returned to the hotel where your author could once again fall asleep almost immediately in preparation for what is always kind of an exhausting Saturday during which we’ll pack up and check out of the hotel, work all day at the show, pack up the booth, schlepp through the airport and take a late flight home.
From where our final CSNS Road Report will be written from my couch real early on Sunday AM.
Until then, then –
April 29th: The Exciting Conclusion
Now back home after an excellent, super productive, action packed and frankly exhausting CSNS, let’s summarize the show with another of our series of random observations presented in no particular order:
We sold quite a bit more than we bought at this show despite our best efforts to pore through every case on the bourse floor and seek out cool coins. Thank goodness some great coins walked up to the table during this show, since we really needed those.
Kudos to bourse chairman Larry Shepherd who IMO did everything you can do to make this show bigger and better. I would say he (and by extension all of us) succeeded. Nearly every other dealer I spoke to reported an excellent show here too, though I think schedule conflicts with a show in Europe and one in Japan limited world dealer attendance and thus world coin action.
It doesn’t seem to matter how long a show is, how much business there is to be done, or what rules are presented about how long you have to stay at your table (such as these for booth holders at CSNS: Applicant acknowledges that as a condition of obtaining bourse space at the CSNS convention they agree to operate and substantially man their booth during all published booth holder only and public hours of the convention and agree not to reduce the level of operation of their booth or depart from the convention prior to 3PM on Saturday, April 29, 2023. Booth holder acknowledges that violation of this rule may result in denial of bourse privileges and/or reassignment of bourse location at future conventions at the discretion of the Convention Manager), a lot of dealers are going to leave early, which at this show started to happen in our aisle on Friday at about noon. And usually includes many of the guys with tables right up near the front, which I’ve always thought looks terrible since of course anyone who comes to the show after that is immediately greeted by big empty tables, often with discarded pizza boxes on them. Bummer.
On the other hand, I’m sure that a bunch of the guys leaving early helped us, since we were there until 3 PM Saturday and actually sold a bunch of coins right at the bitter end. I might not have actually believed that, so fortunately we had a witness in the form of a long time collector who was at our table at the time and I am pretty sure he was as surprised as we were by that late flurry.
Rather than bore the reader with too much chair talk, better we just present this montage from the Renaissance lobby:
Your author’s personal favorite: Those hanging rattan ones that spin around like crazy despite all efforts to make then stop.
We received a strong offer from another dealer on a group of NEWPs we bought here and could have made a quick flip, but did not take it since 1) We need cool things to put on the website, and 2) We‘d always rather sell to collectors where we have at least some chance to get the coins back one day.
The snack stand hot dogs came on buns with poppy seeds on them. I’d say that must be a midwestern thing, but I went to college near here and don’t ever recall seeing that before. Ever.
I almost bought a Pine Tree Shilling on the floor from an unlikely source after we had already packed up, but it was just a little too much money for the quality level IMO.
We had dinner at the airport in a restaurant that was immediately adjacent to an airline gate with chairs that backed right up to us and could not have been any closer to our table. Which was fine until a giant guy came in and sat in one of them, did a big yawn and hung his hairy arm right over my salad.
You cannot image how happy I was to get home and sleep with my own pillow, since the ones at the Renaissance were the wrong shape and waaaaay too soft.
And now we’ll dive back into our office work and look to launch our next EB on Tuesday, May 9th, but only after we enjoy one solid day of R&R here on Sunday.