Rare Coin Road Warrior – November 2011 – Including Baltimore Show Report
By Vic Bozarth – Bozarthcoins.com
Dear Rare Coin Enthusiast,
Hi, my name is Vic Bozarth and I am the Rare Coin Road Warrior. Rare Coin Shows are my life and I attend forty shows each year all over the continental United States. My wife Sherri and I have the luxury of traveling together and we love it! This week’s Baltimore Show holds a special place in my heart. I proposed to my lovely wife here while attending the show nine years ago this week, and surprisingly-she accepted!
This week Sherri and I are attending the single best commercial coin show in the United States-The Whitman Baltimore Coin Exposition. Why do I believe the November Whitman Baltimore Show is the best single coin show in the United States? The answer my friends is attendance. Baltimore draws the dealers and collectors in on a consistent basis like no other coin show. Yes, this year’s ANA Summer World’s Fair of Money was an incredible show, but consistently year after year the November Baltimore packs them in.
Baltimore is a great city to visit and the proximity to nearly half the population in the continental U.S. has a lot to do with the success of the show. Approximately half of the population of the United States are within a six hour driving radius of Baltimore. You can drive here, fly here, or take the train here. Public transportation is convenient with the train station within a few blocks of the convention center. There is an Amtrak kiosk right in the convention center. You can find a comfortable hotel close to the convention center or drive a little bit and find a less expensive motel room. In the evening when the show is closed there are great restaurants and plenty of entertainment options to please nearly everyone.
Personally I think one of the biggest reasons behind the success of the Baltimore Show is the way Whitman Publishing runs the show. While many larger show venues charge over $1000 for a bourse table, Whitman will still sell you space to display your coins to the public for $650. Bourse space is sold out for the November Show quite frequently and the March and June shows also enjoy great attendance. Dealers like to come to Baltimore. Dealers ARE NOT penalized if they need to leave early. In fact, the folks at Whitman encourage dealers with tables in the back of the room to move up into vacated tables near the front on Saturday and Sunday. BUT, one of the most interesting aspects of this show is that dealers like Bozarth Numismatics want to stay longer versus leaving Friday.
If there is business to be done late Saturday and even Sunday dealers will stay. If not, they are going to go home. Whitman’s success with the Baltimore Show wasn’t all their own. Both Gordon Berg and Ed Kuszmar who sold the show to Whitman several years ago built this great show from the ‘ground up’. The Baltimore Show didn’t start out ‘big’. The show grew over the years because it ‘attracted’ both dealers and the public. Kudos must go to Whitman for not changing Gordon and Eds’ formula for success. They didn’t ‘jack up’ table prices to run the smaller dealers out of the room, nor create a bunch of nonsense rules dealers have to abide by to attend their show.
Like I have often said, if there is business to be done, dealers would probably attend a show in a barn in the middle of the night. HA! I am not the only dealer who feels this way about Baltimore. Lori Hamrick who works for the Whitman organization not only knows virtually every dealer attending the show, but goes out of her way to make sure dealers are comfortable and have what they need to conduct their business. There are lots of great shows on the rare coin bourse circuit and two of the best are coming up in early December and the first week in January.
The Houston Money Show has gone from a marginal show held in Greenspoint Mall on the North side of Houston to the biggest showinf the month of December. Unfortunately locals in Houston refer to Greenspoint Mall as ‘Gunpoint’ Mall and the show was never going to prosper with the underlying security issues surrounding both the location of the mall and the bourse room itself- an empty department store. Fast forward several years and the show is now held in the lovely George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. The Convention Center is right across the street from Minute Maid Ballpark where the Houston Astros play and is conveniently connected via skywalk to one of Hilton’s nicest hotels in the United States-the Hilton Americas Hotel. If you don’t have the Houston Money Show on your calendar you are missing out, because this is a growing show in the third largest city in the United States.
The FUN Show starts off the new year with a bang! The Florida United Numismatists draws a lot of dealers that don’t attend any other shows, but have to get out of the snow and cold of the North to enjoy a little sun and FUN in the sunshine state. FUN is a dealer friendly show which does a good job of balancing the desires of the members of the FUN organization with the needs of the dealers. Advertising is extensive. Orlando has something for everyone and many dealers bring their families. I always try to emphasize the security issues at shows. Because criminals view tourists as ‘easy marks’ Orlando can be dangerous. Put your coins in security and enjoy yourself before the show. There is plenty of time at the show to get your business done.
The rare coin show circuit has been quite busy this month. Late last month we attended the Denver Show with great results. We arrived to snow, but left wearing shorts. Denver is such a great city. We are excited about both the Spring ANA Show in Denver next May as well as the unofficial ‘pre-show’ being held the weekend before by Jerry Morgan who runs the two semi-annual shows in Denver. In fact, we reserved a corner table at Jerry’s show because we expect it to be a great show. Book your hotel room early for either of these shows, because Denver can be surprisingly pricey for hotels regardless of the time of year.
We heard good reports from the Indiana State Show in Indianapolis early in the month. Last week’s show in Boston-The Bay State Show held in conjunction with the Coppers Collector’s Show was well attended. Also on the show schedule this month were the Minneapolis Show and the Santa Clara Coin Show in the S.F. Bay area. Santa Clara is a good show with scheduling issues this year and attendance will be down because dealers can only attend Baltimore or Santa Clara. Although I have only attended the Minneapolis show a couple of times, I know from other dealers that it is a good little show.
We have not been able to squeeze the Chattanooga, TN Show into our schedule. We have heard good things about this show and hopefully will one day be able to attend. Over Thanksgiving weekend the Michigan State Numismatic Society holds their annual Winter Show in Dearborn at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. There is a smaller show in Pasadena, Texas (a Houston suburb) over Thanksgiving also. I don’t want to forget to mention the good show in Ontario, CA being held the second week of December. This is a good show in a great facility that has ‘legs’. This show will get bigger.
One of the newer coin shows on the ‘circuit’ is the PCGS Las Vegas ‘Trade and Grade’. Although PCGS has been holding several of these a year now for a couple of years, we didn’t attend our first ‘Invitational’ until late September. Not only were we pleasantly surprised with the amount of dealer trade, but we met several serious collectors and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Don Willis, the president of PCGS, went out of his way to make us comfortable. The Palazzo Casino and Hotel is luxurious and immense. Connected to the equally luxurious and plush Venetian Casino this is a city in and of itself and is well worth checking out. We have a table of our own for the December Show open to the public December 15th, 16th, and the morning of the 17th. This show isn’t just for dealers only and PCGS members are welcome to attend.
Each month I write the Rare Coin Road Warrior Column to give you the reader an insider’s view on the rare coin show circuit from a dealer’s perspective. I love coin shows and try to be positive in my comments, but sometimes the ‘foibles’ of an organization or individual running a show need to be exposed. My comments are my own and you the reader are welcome to agree or not. Most collectors have the luxury of attending only a couple of shows a year. My goal is to try and give them some options about what shows are worth attending.
Baltimore Show Report
Baltimore more than lived up to everyone’s expectations this last week. We were extremely pleased with both overall attendance and sales at the show. Sales at the November Baltimore Show are almost always good, but with the ‘softer’ rare coin market and pre-show drop in gold bullion prices most dealers were a little apprehensive about their prospects when the show opened Thursday morning. Although I try and get around the bourse floor to both buy fresh coins and see old friends, I was busy at our table from early Thursday morning until we packed up to fly home at noon on Saturday. Fortunately I have quite a few dealers who bring me deals and I was very pleased to be able to bring home over 200 fresh new purchase coins.
The Stacks Bowers auction was well attended and both dealers and the huge number of serious collectors that attend the show were aggressively buying. I have written extensively over the last year about the relative bargains in rare coins at the current market levels. One dealer friend voiced my sentiments exactly when he said, ‘Vic, I really don’t mind paying a premium for nice stuff at these levels, but where do I find it.’ Finding nice high grade certified rare coins is becoming more of a challenge with each show we attend. Dealers who have felt the pinch of the ‘slower’ economy and coin market over the last few years are not as likely to sell a coin at the bid levels NOW as they might have just six months to a year ago. They know they cannot replace that coin at current levels.
While Baltimore is thriving, conversely the Santa Clara Show is done. Due to lack of attendance, by both dealers and the public, the LAST Santa Clara Coin Show was held last week in Santa Clara, CA. Personally, I have always liked this show. Unfortunately there have been several factors which led to the show’s demise. First and foremost in my mind was the short-sighted ‘Nexus’ legislation which basically forced non-California dealers to limit their in California Show days to twelve or less each year or be forced to be taxed as a California corporation. Second, although bourse table prices have been reduced in the last couple of years, a lot of dealers who left because of the increased fees, found someplace else to do business. This year the Santa Clara Show dates conflicted with those of the Baltimore Show. Guess who won?
Thanks and Best Regards,
Vic Bozarth-the Rare Coin Road Warrior.
Bozarth Numismatics Inc. is a full service rare coin dealer. We travel to forty coin shows a year to BUY ‘fresh to the market’ PCGS, NGC, and CAC coins for our customers. We also buy raw-ungraded coins to submit for grading and then sell. We buy, sell, and trade rare coins at shows, via our website bozarthcoins.com and also in our eBay Store bozarthnumismaticsinc. Because of our extensive show travel schedule we are often able to locate coins other dealers can’t find. We offer free want list services and have had the pleasure in helping to build some really incredible sets of certified U.S. coins. We add new coins to our eBay store every week and we update our website with our BEST coins at least twice a month. If you are looking for a ‘hard to find’ rare coin, check us out. I always tell customers: “If the coin isn’t nice, I won’t waste your time (or mine) sending it to you.”