I’ll sleep when I’m dead…
The Bellagio, Las Vegas.
Long Beach, California.
The Bellagio, Las Vegas.
New York City.
St. Louis, Missouri.
Parsippany, New Jersey.
Those are all of the places I’ve been since I wrote my last show report (ANA August 2014). And I just wrote those down on my iPad at 36,000 feet in the air on my way to Chicago. (Que Nickelback’s “Rockstar”)
I need a life…
Oh wait…I have one. No…I have a great one!
To be candid, if I don’t write a show report right after I return home they all start to blend together. And it’s difficult to remember what happened where. That’s why you’re getting this one. Its time you got a new one and I’ve got some things to say.
CURRENT STATE OF THE MARKET.
I just did back-to-back shows in Baltimore and Parsippany. As in Baltimore on Saturday and Parsippany on Sunday. Think Jupiter and Pluto. Vastly different in size and totally different in every way imaginable.
I got down to Baltimore late Wednesday afternoon, which is a little late for me. After checking into my hotel, I was promptly met by one of my secret suppliers who had…nothing! Boxes full of coins but nothing that jumped out at me and said “Buy Me”! As the old saying goes, some days peanuts, some days shells.
I had made plans to look at a few lots for clients and made my way over to the convention center to find that I had exactly two hours of viewing time available. As I wasn’t planning on doing the whole sale that gave me just enough time to look at specific lots of interest before going out to dinner with two couples who I call friends (although they were customers when I first met them, they have for the most part made the transition to dealer).
Then back to the hotel to send emails detailing my opinions on the auction lots, followed up with a good hour or so of writing up coins for submission to PCGS.
Set up was at eight on Thursday morning and Tom and I were there half an hour early talking to fellow dealers trying to ferret out some fresh material.
If any of you are upland bird hunters you know that looking for really nice coins can be a lot like that. Some days you limit out in two hours, other days you walk 10 miles only getting one shot (which of course you missed). I’m not going to say that we hit the mother lode, because we didn’t. But with some patience and looking through boxes and boxes of coins we were able to find some pretty cool pieces.
There was a lot of talk at the show regarding all the auctions coming up. Gardner, Newman, Pouge, and now Partrick. The optimists look at each of these sales as an opportunity to acquire coins that might not become available for years to come, while the pessimists squawk about the market place not being able to handle everything. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. Sure there are a lot of coins coming on the market, but man what an opportunity. I’ll write more on this later when we get closer to the big money sales.
I wanna tell you a story.
As you know I teach at the ANA’s summer seminar. And usually we have some pretty sharp students, many who are dealers or the offspring of dealers (trying to learn the business). This year I had the son of a dealer who I’ve known for 30 years or so. The dad’s business model and mine are totally different but sometimes they do intersect, so I was glad to have the opportunity to help them. The son was young, malleable, and eager to learn. That and the fact that he was good made my job just that much easier.
Fast forward a few months and I see him in Baltimore. He calls me over and (politely) asks if he could have my opinion on a coin. Of course I said yes. I always tell my students that their education doesn’t stop after summer seminar and I’d be happy to explain things to them at a show if they had any questions. So I look at the coin and then turn it around on him; asking him what he thinks and why. I won’t tell you what the coin was but I will say that in addition to the grade, there was some question about the designation (FH, DMPL, CAMEO, etc). We discussed it for a bit and it became obvious that he needed to try and buy the coin. So he did. And then he submitted it to PCGS for grading.
In the end, he was close…
But I was closer. The result was an unrealized profit of about $3-4,000 for him. All because he took a class at the ANA’s summer seminar.
Stacks-Bowers had an auction with some great lots in it. After a bunch of email it became evident that I would have to attend not only Thursday’s evening session, but about half-an-hour worth of the session in the middle of the day. Glad I did because I was able to win numerous lots for clients as well as stock. Tom has been busy imaging the ones I bought for stock, so don’t forget to view our new purchases web page.
Friday brought about a really cool situation that I also want to talk about. I have a friend who really likes coins. So much in fact that they take a lot of other dealer inventory on memo and try and sell them (striving to get into the game). After a few shows of looking through their boxes I started to notice a pattern. Most of the coins were just that. Coins. Nothing cool. Nothing exotic. Nothing “Sham-Wow”. Except occasionally they’d have a coin or two that was pretty neat. When I would mention that they explained to me that, of all the coins they had to sell, those were the only ones that they had actually purchased themselves. This discussion took place a few weeks ago in St. Louis and it was there that we decided that they (my friend) wouldn’t take other dealers coins for the next few shows, but instead concentrate on buying only coins that they themselves liked.
Baltimore was their second show using that approach. Wow what a difference! While their sales numbers were down by about 90%, total profit was up by over 100%. Get the picture? Quality sells. Eye appeal sells. “Stuff” doesn’t. At least not without a lot of work. Work smart, not hard I always say.
On a closing note (regarding Baltimore), I kind of think that collectors who attend this kind of event are evolving at a rapid pace. They know what they like, know what they want, and don’t seem to deviate from that game plan much. Impulse buying appears to be a thing of the past at these bigger shows.
I left Baltimore on Saturday, which allowed me one night at home before heading to the monthly one day show in Parsippany, NJ. Pluto to Baltimore’s Saturn. Much smaller and one day only.
Wall to wall people. So crowded that I wondered what a Fire Marshall would have thought had they seen it.
The collector is king here in a land where raw coins rule. Table after table was filled with either cases full of uncertified pieces, three ring binders full of raw coins in 2X2s, or in some cases, just raw coins on a table. It was like a North African numismatic bazaar. Bullion (gold, silver, and copper) were haggled over in a cornucopia of different languages. It was like I was watching a National Geographic special on coins!
So why did I go? It really is quite simple…money.
I’ve always said all it takes to make a show successful (monetarily) is one coin. And that’s exactly what I bought. One coin.
Before I end this article (which by the way has taken four flights and three days to write), I like to mention one bit of news.
Recently a client and friend decided we needed to build a world class set of three cent silvers. So we did. We started off buying not just one, but two complete sets and evaluating each piece to see just which ones would look best in “our” set. Not an easy task at all. Especially when the sets you buy were ranked #2 and #3 on the PCGS registry set boards. When building one set out of two it is easy to get lost in all those coins. A coin that would make it on Monday might not get the nod on Tuesday. And vise versa. But we worked hard at it with many, many a discussion before we made our final choices.
That leaves me with a virtually complete set of three cent silver pieces in GEM proof available for sale. Trust me when I say that each and every one of them could just as easily ended up in “our” set. The coins are that nice.
Look them over (as well as the rest of my NEWPS) and if you see anything that catches your eye give me a call.
Remember…I love to talk coins.