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Back to Road Report Archive 2013

September 24-28, 2013: The Long Beach Coin & Currency Expo

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Prologue:

Having thoroughly recovered from the Philadelphia show, I leaped out of bed at 3:30 AM on Tuesday, threw together enough clothes for another 5 days on the road and then bolted out the door for my ~6 hour flight to southern California.

An aggressive travel schedule specifically designed to get me to the show early enough to conduct some wholesale business on Tuesday AND view the thick Heritage US and World auction catalogs . . . and then roll straight into the show itself where we look forward to a continuation of recent events here (i.e. good crowds, strong sales and excellent purchases), as well as buying a bunch of the aforementioned auction lots.

But you never know really know what’s going to happen, we’ll just have to see how it all shakes out, and you, RR reader, will find out almost as soon as we do in our Road Reports posted daily from the show (though with our usual California caveat that, given the time difference, they may not appear here until as late as 10 AM on the east coast).

More later.

September 25th:  Day 1

Well rested and by now fully adjusted to the Massachusetts-California time difference (except for the part about waking up at 3:11 AM), I did a bunch of work in my hotel room before heading over to the convention center at an extremely civilized 9 AM.

And then grabbed the last available seat at lot viewing for the Heritage auctions and proceeded to view the entire federal and world non-floor sessions as efficiently as I possibly could (i.e. even faster than usual). As an aside, it seems I’ve always been able to view auction lots much faster than most dealers, which inevitably has the guys next to me in the viewing rooms wondering what the heck I’m doing, and has the viewing assistants just-about-overwhelmed managing the flow of boxes. I’m not really sure why everyone else is so slow, but I know what works for me and I really, really don’t like to waste time.

So by 11:45, I was done, confident I knew what I would be bidding on, ready to retrieve my coins from security and head down to the bourse floor for the noon start of dealer set up.

Which all went off without a hitch, as I had the booth done and the banner hung by 12:30 or so, just in time to sell a half dozen coins at the table to a few other dealers.

And then cruise the floor looking for NEWPs, which I did effectively, buying 4 world coins from one of my regular suppliers, some pretty heady colonials and then adding a bunch of federal coins one or two at a time that I bumped into around the bourse.

That was a pretty decent result, I thought, considering that some of the guys I went to visit were not set-up yet, and so I am confident I’ll find additional interesting things on Thursday.

Also completed on this day: Another 5 grading submissions, which when added to the coins I sent in on Tuesday makes this one of the more prolific grading shows I’ve been to in a while.

And then all of a sudden it was 5 PM, as indicated by the announcement that it was time for the beer and Mexican food fiesta always provided on dealer set-up day and which inevitably draws a ravenous crowd barreling down the aisles toward the buffet. Myself included, since if you get there too late some of the larger guys (and gals) will have already wiped out the guacamole.

Fortunately I got my share, went back to the table and made another couple of deals until they dimmed the lights, our indication that it was time to vamoose.

Which we did, heading out to dinner with a few dealer friends for one of our colleague’s annual 39th birthday celebrations (since he is actually 55 or so).  Which ended at about 11 with our group and just one other table occupied in the restaurant, until we realized that the other one was actually the maitre d’ and wait staff killing time until we left.

So we finally did, allowing your author to spend another two hours figuring and then entering Heritage bids, a process that takes me longer than lot viewing, and which I will have to finish tomorrow.

Which means that I will have to sign off now to get enough rest for what figures to be a very long day on Thursday, including the aforementioned auction work, a hopefully busy bourse, and Heritage auction sessions running during the day and into the evening.

The results of which will be described, right here, on Friday AM.

EOM

September 26th:  Day 2

So I walked over to the show at about 8:30 AM on Thursday fully prepared to march straight onto the bourse floor, when I suddenly realized (based on the presence of a gazillion other dealers standing around in the convention center lobby) that it didn’t open until 9.

So instead of shooting the bull for an unproductive 30 minutes, I decided to go re-review some lots in the Heritage world session for the heck of it, did not change any of my opinions from the first time I saw them, and then headed into the show right at 9.

And it was pretty busy right from the start, with some wholesale wheeling and dealing, more grading submissions, picking up a check, delivering 2 others and settling in for long haul with the public entering the bourse at 10 in delightfully large numbers.

At which time I saw a bunch of old and new friends, many of whom stopped to chat, peruse the selection and buy a coin (or two, or three, or in one case four), all of which was of course fantastic.

I also had one of those experiences where someone (or in this case two someones) come to the table, see a coin they like, study it carefully, express great interest, understand and accept the price, leave and say they’ll think about it just as someone else walks up and buys it straight away.  And I will admit, that, deep down, I like when this happens, since I read somewhere that fortune favors the bold (or something like that).

Buying was productive as well, as I picked up some cool federal coins here and there around the floor, but also almost bought but eventually passed on a few others for different reasons:

  • A cool world coin which seemed like a great deal until I discovered it had some nastly and unphotogenic PVC on the back.
  • A wicked Chain Cent that I just didn’t think would work at the seller’s immovable asking price.
  • A Connecticut Copper which I thought for a few heart-fluttering moments was a rare variety, but which I spent 30 minutes attributing only to conclude it was actually a pedestrian R-3.

After which some grades started to trickle in of the these-are-exactly-what-I-expected-to-get variety, which I hope is a continuing trend on the remaining 15 boxes that didn’t come back yet.

And then I entered some last minute bids like crazy, packed up the booth and headed out to dinner with a dealer friend at 555, a great restaurant down the street at which I always visit at least once at this show, sit in the same place and order exactly the same thing (which is not my normal M.O., but works in this instance).

Which got me back to the hotel just in time to enter even more HA bids before collapsing on the bed so that I could wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and do it all again.

More later –

September 27th:  Day 3

In an effort not to bore the reader with tales of what time I wake up everyday, I will restrict such discussion to merely the first 7 paragraphs of this report.

Actually I will just cut to the chase and say that I got an early start on Friday, leaping out of bed at 3:48 AM, responding to emails that came in during the approximately 4 hours I was asleep, updating the website, repeating the previous days’ process of reviewing, finalizing and entering bids for the seemingly endless Heritage auctions and eventually meeting another dealer for breakfast to discuss strategy on a ridiculously large and complicated deal we are working on, which we wish we never got involved in, and which might actually turn out OK in the end.

So by the time I got to the convention center on Friday I had already been at it for hours, so at least one could say that I was ‘warmed up” and ready to tackle the anticipated vast crowds of would-be buyers as they stormed the bourse floor just as the show opened at 10 AM.

But while Thursday was pretty packed, Friday turned out to be significantly less so, which is not too surprising, as in my experience here (and at every other show held anywhere in the world) most of the serious collectors arrive early looking for first shot at the cool coins on the floor. Not that no one comes on day 2 or 3, but it’s generally a different and certainly smaller crowd as it was here.

Which for me equated to just a few sales during the day, allowing me more time to scour the bourse for cool coins and more time to follow the auctions and bid online from the comfort of the CRO booth.

Which I did very successfully, buying 6 or 7 coins from collectors and dealers and a lot of what I targeted in the auctions, including some deluxe early copper which has been on various customer want lists for some time.

The day also contained some other interesting numismatic activity, as I learned that an expensive coin that I sold on Thursday was immediately resubmitted by the collector buyer and instantly upgraded here at the show.  And while you might think I was remiss in not resubmitting that coin myself, or regretted leaving ‘money on the table’, I can tell you that my perspective is actually the opposite for four reasons:

  1. I was the one who suggested he resubmit it.
  2. Nothing promotes repeat business more than giving someone a good deal.
  3. I genuinely believe it is possible to make deals in which both parties win.
  4. If I resubmitted every coin I owned until it was in its highest possible holder, I would never actually have any coins to sell.

So I was actually psyched to see that result, and hope that I will get to handle the coin again in the future.

Anyway, I then turned my attention to retrieving my own grading submissions here and while I did not have any results quite that good, I was pleased that my coins have been coming back at a steady clip and with nice results.

And then it was back to work on the auctions before heading out to dinner with friends from Collectors Universe at a fantastic place called James Republic, which is in an area I have never visited before during any of my previous visits to this show.

After which we walked the few blocks back to the hotel where I passed out immediately after another delightful 20-hour day here in Long Beach.

Which I will repeat again on Saturday before flying out late in the evening so that I can arrive home on Sunday morning and immediately hammer out tomorrow’s RR which will be posted right here in just about 24 hours from now.

Finito

September 28th:  The Exciting Conclusion

For whatever reason, someone emailed me on Saturday asking me about which sock I put on first when preparing for this show (?), and while I have no idea what that means, it is of course a nonsensical question since everyone knows that when I am in Long Beach I never wear socks, preferring instead to man the table ‘al fresco’ (i.e. feeling that cool California sea breeze on my ankles).

And while I cannot make a direct correlation between my footwear choice and our sales results at the show, it certainly seemed to have a positive impact on Saturday as evidenced by the fact that we sold that magnificent End of Pain token early in the AM bookended by an exceptional colonial just before the show closed at 4 PM and some scattered neat type coins in between.

Of course another possible reason for this Saturday sales success could have been the limited competition we were facing, since by midday many of the other guys (wholesalers and retailers alike) had long since packed up and left.

But at this venue I really wanted to stay until the absolute bitter end for two reasons:

  1. Our business here has been on the rise over the last year or two, with a solid base of active, enthusiastic local customers, and I wanted to be at the table if any of them came to the show.
  2. I really wanted to support Show Coordinator Taryn Warrecker and Expos Unlimited’s ongoing efforts to revitalize this show, which in the opinion of this observer have made a huuuuge difference to date and will, I predict, continue to do so in the future.

And so while I (and I am sure Taryn and EU) would agree that there is room for more improvement, I have decided to vote with my sockless feet, specifically by keeping them on the ground here from start to finish.

I am extremely glad that I did, too, as CRO total sales here were downright excellent, they actually took place from early Wednesday to late Saturday and totaled more than 2x those we achieved here in June (which itself was a darn good show). And with the cool NEWPs acquired here, we are well positioned to keep it going for the next few weeks.

So I was feeling pretty good when I eventually made my way to the airport, boarded my overnight flight and was whisked home without incident (except for the part where they brought the plane back to the gate, two giant policemen got on, arrested two guys and yanked them off the flight, and the enormous guy in the seat next to me who fell asleep with his arms sticking straight out like a zombie, one of which kept blocking my TV screen, or the minor issue where they diverted us to Connecticut for an hour and a half since it was too foggy to land at home).

Finally getting me home at about noon on Sunday, where I hammered out this RR and ended with these conclusions:

  • There is no question that having back-to-back shows in Philadelphia and Long Beach this year hurt this LB installment. Some people couldn’t travel to both, those of us who did were flat out exhausted near the end (a problem we will not have to worry about next year since Philadelphia has been cancelled).
  • There is only so much money to go around, and you can’t have two shows in a row with accompanying phonebook-sized auctions at Stack’s-Bowers and Heritage totaling ~10,000 lots and STILL expect massive attendance and dealers and collectors to be buying like crazy on the bourse floors.
  • Given the circumstances, the plethora of material on the market this month and the ‘spent’ (both physically and financially) collectors and dealers in attendance (to say nothing of the incredible auctions coming up this fall competing for numismatic attention and resources), I thought LB was about as good as it could realistically have been.

Anyway, we will now look forward to an extended 12-hour rest and recuperation period before starting work on our next Early Bird which is scheduled for Tueday at noon.

So you might want to keep an eye out for that.

JA

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