Tales from Our Numismatic Travels
June 8-11, 2022: The Whitman Baltimore Expo
Team CRO is excited to be heading back to Baltimore this week for another installment of the Whitman Expo, where if things go as we expect, we’ll be buying, selling, trading and of course schmoozing expertly non-stop for 4 days in extreeeeemely hot and humid weather.
Interrupted only by an occasional break to have some of that delicious tomato bisque they sell at the convention center lobby restaurant, and possibly to run for cover from a thunderstorm on our way to dinner. Otherwise it will be totally numismatics from start to finish at our deluxe table #442.
So if you are in the area, we sure hope you’ll stop by and see us.
June 8th: Day 1
After experimenting with flying into Washington instead of Baltimore for the last show here and then enduring the Uber Ride Ride from Hell on our way out of town, we instead reverted to our well-tested plan of coming into BWI this time, took a quick cab ride into town, arrived in the late morning and raced directly to SB lot viewing at the convention center.
Where your author pored through the entire catalog in about 2 hours of high intensity viewing, found a surprisingly large number of coins to bid on and wrote copious notes about them in my catalog in my standard almost illegible script designed to prevent even the most earnest guy trying to peer over my shoulder from gleaning one iota of useful information (something I’ve done since 2006 when another dealer literally did try to see which coins I liked and was planning to bid on).
Finishing up at about 3, then doing some wholesale business, talking to some dealer friends, catching up on some industry scuttlebutt, picking up our SB winnings from last week’s world auction, getting our new show badges, retrieving our coins from security and joining the queue heading into dealer set up at 5 PM.
Where we artfully arranged our eight (8) trays of coins, 2 of which contained entirely US gold which is exactly double the amount we have had on display here at previous events.
And that turned out to be a successful strategy, since we sold a whole bunch of them straight away to a few different dealers who were evidently in a strooooong mood to buy.
After which your author raced around the floor and bought a bunch of cool US type coins from several different dealers, tried unsuccessfully (at least so far) to track down a few others that we had heard about earlier, carefully weighed but ultimately declined a Gold CAC gold coin and found one last cool token before we’d walk to dinner down the block with a dealer friend.
During which we just barely avoided one of those thunderstorms ominously foreshadowed in our prologue, saw 50 people we know inside the restaurant, had some delicious brussel sprouts then Ubered our way back to the hotel in a downpour.
Turning in on the early side so we would be ready for action first thing Thursday when the show opens at 8 AM.
With everything that happens there to be described in vivid detail right here in this space in about 24 hours from now.
Until then, then –
June 9th: Day 2
The summer edition of the Baltimore show is typically much smaller than the spring or fall installments, with far few dealers in attendance, and less collector traffic.
So it might surprise you to know that our sales here so far are well ahead of the pace from the show here in March. How is that possible?
All it takes is a few people to come to our table and decide they like something (or in this case several somethings). And that has happened at a good clip so far resulting in a bunch of HOLD and SOLD signs on the website.
We’ve also done very well with ‘off website’ material, including some not-exactly-CRO-style pieces we’ve taken in recent trades, and on coins we split with other dealers and which they have been selling here frankly waaaay better than I expected.
Hey, no complaints.
Buying, on the other hand, has been a real test of your author’s rooting out ability, as there are only so many bourse cases to peruse through, fewer cool coins walking up to the table and, at least so far, a limited number of interesting NEWPs to snarf up. We’ve done our best though, managing to find about a dozen neat things here so far in all categories, colonial, US and world, from the downright affordable to the highfalutin, and we’ll be trying hard to add to that total over the next couple of days.
With our last deals of the day here the sale of a nice Pillar 4 Reales acquired earlier this week, and a couple of better date $20 Libs right before we packed up and headed off to dinner in Columbia, MD with some local friends.
Before returning to the hotel at a civilized hour, turning in early and thus being totally rested and ready for whatever Friday brings.
And then writing all about all of it in our next installment of the RR –
June 10th: Day 3
With the show opening to the public at 10 AM on Friday, Team CRO was able to enjoy a leisurely morning of blog writing, email responding, website updating, gym visiting and breakfast eating before heading over to the convention center at 9:30, removing our table covers, clicking on the lights and preparing for another full day of numismatic activity.
It sure didn’t seem like much was going to happen though, as the eventual public attendance was pretty light, and there was no buzz in the room. Nada.
But as we’ve seen before, it doesn’t really matter what is happening at a macro level if the right people swing by our table. And again on Friday, they did.
As we made our biggest single sale of the show, a mid 5-figure early Half Dollar just acquired last week, along with a bunch of other sales of relatively fancy US and world coins.
Including one where a collector came by, carefully studied our Central American Republic coins, narrowed it down to one he liked, said he was going to walk around a bit and eventually came back to buy it at the precise moment a different collector was already paying us for it.
Once again illustrating that if you see something at a show that you like, it’s best to buy it when you have the opportunity, which is exactly what we ourselves do when we are walking around the floor.
And while that was happening, the dealer with whom we had split all those copper and gold coins announced that he was selling them like mad, ultimately including the very last one which he texted me about just as I was having a drink at the Hyatt bar after we had left for the day.
So by the time we headed to Blue Agave in Federal Hill for dinner with our usual dealer and collector group, we were in a celebratory mood at a place most suitable for such behavior, so we had a great time before walking back to the inner harbor and calling it a night.
We’ll be back at it one more time here on Saturday – all day – before flying home in the evening from where our final installment of the summer Baltimore RR will be written on Sunday AM.
June 11th: The Exciting Conclusion
Let’s wrap up the Baltimore show with another series of random observations presented in no particular order:
I was disappointed in the public attendance at this event, and disappointed in the lighter dealer turnout with plenty of empty tables scattered around the bourse floor. It’s enough to make one wonder if there is really a need for this summer Baltimore event at all, since the spring and fall versions are gangbusters and would probably be even more so if the Whitman Expo was only a twice a year affair. Food for thought.
Having said that, I was extremely pleased with our sales overall which actually exceeded our results at the March show here despite there being no logical reason to expect that.
We always choose our hotels on the circuit based on 1) security, and 2) convenience. We certainly aren’t picking them based on the quality of the furniture, as evidenced by the desk chair in our room at the Sheraton:
A gentleman came to the table on Saturday and told us he was a lecturer on American history as illustrated by our coinage, and among many other interesting facts showed us that Lady Liberty’s wreath on a Morgan Dollar contains wheat and cotton to represent reconciliation and unity after the Civil War. I’m slightly embarrassed to say I have never noticed that before.
On a slightly related note, a second question of numismatic details arose on Friday when a collector asked who are the two men depicted on the Gettysburg Half Dollar:
One might assume the answer would be George Meade and Robert E. Lee, but the correct answer is, apparently, two unnamed veterans of the Union and Confederacy. Who knew? I did not.
The number of coins we sell now without ever having the chance to image them is much larger than people might think. Oh well, at least we have some very poor cell phone pics of some of the ones at this show:
As a dealer, we can’t overstate the practical benefits of coming to these shows regardless of the public attendance or our sales, since we had recent auction purchases hand delivered in Baltimore by two different auction houses, handed consignment coins to three different companies, had some recent grading delivered here, worked out partner deals in person with 5 different dealers on the floor, paid for two different upcoming show tables and delivered recent purchases to 3 different collectors all without ever having to incur the cost and risk of mailing anything to anyone. That’s handy.
Buying in Baltimore was tough sledding overall, and I do not think we have left a major show with fewer new coins in y-e-a-r-s. It got to the point where I was looking at more and more marginal items and trying to figure out if they could be downgraded and then CACed to work on our list (something we have done many times in the past), but decided that the current lead times at the services make that altogether unviable. But we have plenty of new things due in this week, and many coins currently in grading, and at CAC, and we’ll hope to have enough of those in time for our next EB tentatively scheduled for one week from Tuesday.
We’ll see how things shake out and post the Early Bird notice at the top of the website as soon as we nail down the timing. So you might want to keep an eye out for that –