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Back to Road Report Archive 2010

September 22-25, 2010: The Long Beach Coin & Currency Expo

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September 22nd – Day 1:

This extremely serious installment of the RR begins with your author walking into Heritage lot viewing here in Long Beach at about 10:30 AM on Wednesday.

Now, I had spent a fair amount of time in advance reviewing the catalog, and I knew there were a few dozen pieces of potential interest to us, and I had seen many of these coins before (in some cases many years before), so I had a good sense of what to expect.

But even so, I continue to be amazed at the number of pieces we see that are graded highly and well-described, but are (in my personal opinion) over-graded, conserved, cleaned and even repaired.

In one case, one of the coins I have seen before and know very well was now a distinctly different color than it was when last offered to us privately about 3 years ago – the apparent result of artificial toning which just kept going and going (and likely will continue to go in the future).

On the other hand, there are plenty of other coins that were under-described and undergraded, and a few with unmentioned notable pedigrees, which is of course the sort of material we are looking for.

In total, though, I can’t help but think that someone who only views these coins online and bids based on the grades and descriptions may either hit a home run or get run over by a numismatic train.  Frankly, I think the latter is significantly more likely.

And then I went out to the snack bar outside and talked to a few other dealers about some of the hot topics, which included a PNG hearing going on (and open to the public if you are so inclined), discussion of some interesting material coming up in future auctions, and the fact that, with the Whitman Philadelphia Expo next week, dealer attendance here was likely to be much lighter than usual.

Which is a shame, and seems avoidable with better coordination between show organizers, though I note that we will be dealing with back-to-back shows again later this fall with the Baltimore and Boston events.  All of which Team CRO will be attending since this is what we do.

And then it was 2 PM and time to enter the bourse, which was about as quiet and lackluster as it seemed like it might be.

In the course of the afternoon we sold a few things (the most expensive of which had been lined-up in advance), and bought just a couple of relatively inexpensive coins.  And then submitted about half of our show-grading so we could find out if the graders are in a really bad mood before going “all-in” with everything else.  That just seems prudent to me.

I also brought with me some coins owned by one of our clients for re-grading, True-Viewing and then entering in the Registry, which is a neat project.  Especially since I have also been tasked with naming the collection, which has had me up most of the night thinking of something unbelievably clever.

Tomorrow we have some local customers coming in and hope for good buying or selling, and then the aforementioned auction kicking off at 1 PM.

The results of which will be described right here in just about 24 hours from now.

September 23rd – Day 2:

So we’re at the table on Thursday morning when the “The show is now open!” announcement comes over the loudspeaker and a small sea of people explode through the door.

Which I found interesting in two ways:

  1. There were way more than I expected.
  2. Nearly everyone took the same route onto the bourse floor, pouring down the aisle between our table and PCGS, even though there are many aisles and lots of different directions to head once you walk into the room.  So I guess we have a pretty good spot.

And with them came an audible buzz, which quickly dissipated as they eventually spread out all over the place.

Including at our table, where we sold a few more moderately priced things, and then bought a group of really cool pillar coins we had handled a few years ago.

And then our first group of grades came back, with each and every result being so-so, with no oddly high grades, but no kicks in the numismatic teeth either.  So I guess that’s OK.

Then we went and re-looked at the Heritage lots, figured our final numbers and then went up for the auction session at 1 PM, where your author sat next to another colonial specialist and watched as some good coins went strong, but also a lot of nice, collectible colonial state coppers failed to meet reserve.  Which I can’t say was too surprising, since a lot of these crudely made, mid-grade state coppers really don’t seem to translate well into the slab world.  I think all of them would have sold (or sold for more) if offered raw in a specialized state coppers auction.

Also, the coin I noted in yesterday’s RR as now being a different color than it was last time I saw it did sell, but for less than 1/3 of the price it was offered to us for (and immediately rejected) in 2006.  To be honest, I would not have paid 1/3 of the price it brought today, as I think that coin will continue toning until it is nearly black within a few years (unless it gets dipped for the umpteenth time, which is possible, making it look even more dead and lifeless than it does now).

Anyway, we ended up buying a few federal coins during the course of the afternoon, then headed back to the bourse and canvassed the room looking for more NEWPs.  Finding just a few until late in the day, when we snagged a neat gold deal, followed by some exceptional Washingtonia, which made the day a good success overall.

Friday we’ll be searching hard for more interesting things to buy since we need to be well stocked for the Philly show just a few days from now.  So if you have something good, now would be an excellent time to offer it to us.

September 24th – Day 3:

Friday in LB began in promising fashion, as Dave and I were offered a box of what had been described to us earlier as (and I quote) “fresh, high end coins that are not cheap, but when you see them you will know why”.  Well, we looked carefully, and really wanted to like them (since we can always use more cool coins), but just didn’t like them regardless of how they were priced.  So we didn’t buy any.

We did, however, find a few other neat things scattered around the room during the course of the morning, including something in most every inventory category on our website.

We also got back the last of our show grades, with again lackluster results and one more excellent example of a coin that +’ed when we thought for sure it would come back one grade higher.  An occurrence which has become sufficiently common that we feel that it should be given a special nickname (though frankly the ones that come immediately to mind cannot be printed in an article on a family website).

Anyway, in a more positive development, it now appears that the single most expensive coin we had in our inventory coming into this show is likely sold, catapulting a just OK show with decent sales of mostly less expensive items into the category of “Hey, we’re really glad we came!”

Especially since we also added one more cool new colonial at the very end of Friday, and then did some extra-ordinarily creative horse-trading with another dealer to dramatically improving our table location in Philadelphia next week (as now indicated on our home page).  To say nothing of the cool last minute lots we have acquired at Heritage.

Which, all combined, put your author in an excellent mood as he schlepped to the airport and caught the red-eye on Friday night, leaving Dave to handle the heavy coin show lifting for us on Saturday, which of course also includes writing tomorrow’s RR.

Which we can all look forward to seeing, in this space, sometime tomorrow (probably after Dave gets back to New England).

September 25th – Day 4:

While it would definitely make for a more exciting RR to say otherwise, the reality is that Saturday was not very eventful, as I just cleaned up a few loose ends, collected the last couple of checks and headed out at about midday.  During my time at the show on this day, I bought no additional coins, and sold just two moderately priced pieces to another dealer.

But, while our time in LB ended with more of a numismatic whimper than a bang, the overall show was still a pretty good one for us which I would summarize as follows:

Overall attendance at the show was light, with about 30% of the regular dealers not here.  Many skipped this show because Philadelphia is just next week, which is not ideal scheduling, but we came because this is what we do, we have many customers in Southern California, and we wanted to support the show.  So we did.

And we had some pretty decent sales overall, which, at least in a few cases, might very well have been helped by the more limited competition (see above) on the bourse floor.

While some people said it was slow, or that there was “nothing to buy” (a comment that always makes me laugh, since people have been saying this literally every year since I first got into the coin business decades ago), we really believe that these shows are what you make them.  So even though the auctions weren’t overflowing with coins we wanted, we still managed to buy some neat things.  And we worked hard on the bourse floor to find all kinds of material, and found some cool stuff.  When we needed still more new inventory, we made an offer to a local customer and bought some great coins from him.

With the end result being that we are back in New England with a stack of paperwork, some great new stuff, and are now getting geared up for the Philadelphia Show and the Stack’s auction, from where our next RR will be posted in just a few days from now.