Dear Rare Coin Enthusiast, As many of you already know, my name is Vic Bozarth and I am the Rare Coin Road Warrior. In this month’s ‘Road Warrior’ I want to tell you a story about my first week in Texas. This IS a coin related story, but the story is a little long so please bear with me for the background information. I call Texas home and although I am an import, and this is my chosen HOME. God Bless Texas!
That being said, my first week in Texas was not very welcoming. In my twenties, I was defiant, confused, wild, and arrogant. You see, I thought I already knew everything I needed to know. Despite all the best advice and example of my parents and grandparents, I rebelled and went to school sporadically and without enthusiasm. I was convinced life was a big party and that party would last FOREVER.
I am not proud of my youth, but as my very dear and departed Grandma Ina always said, ‘have fun when you are young Vic, you won’t be young forever’. I proceeded to do just that! My folks weren’t as tolerant and frankly I disappointed them. You see, I wanted to be a coin dealer when I was in high school, but ‘you can’t make any money doing that’ was the comment I got from most of my mentors. I went to college because it was convenient and of course there were girls, parties, fraternities, and did I mention girls? Because I spent a lot more time worrying about girls, parties, my fraternity, etc. I was a poor student.
I did realize that I needed money to do what I wanted and ALWAYS had a job of some sort. I bussed tables, moved furniture, drove a truck, and did farm work, yard work, and construction work. You get the picture- I was a big kid with a strong back and questionable intelligence. Generally the pay check was spent before I had it. I really enjoyed construction work because you were actually able to see the ‘fruits of your labor’ at the end of the day. I knew how to paint, roof, and had a smattering of knowledge on how to frame a house.
After a particularly poor semester in college, I went to work for a government contractor that specialized in roofing on military bases all over the United States. My co-workers called me ‘college boy’ for weeks. Because of my size and experience, I pretty quickly earned their respect. I could (when I wanted to) roof faster, work longer, and party harder afterwards than they could. Yes, this is a dubious distinction, but when you are 23 and ‘ten foot tall and bullet proof’ you obviously have your priorities screwed up.
In my year with Guarantee Roofing out of Janesville/Beloit, WI I had lived near and worked on military installations in MO, ND, WI, IL, AL, and I was headed to TEXAS! The job I was sent to in Texas was on Red River Arsenal, an army installation that repaired armored vehicles. The work was hard, the pay was marginal, and the facilities were always very low end. The company put us up in a house trailer in a small town called Hooks, TX. Hooks, TX’s only claim to fame, as far as I know, is being the home of Billy Sims, the great football running back. Hooks, TX is one of those ‘blink and you will miss it’ towns along the interstate.
I will always remember my first night in Texas. Because I was the fourth guy to arrive on the job, I was ‘odd’ man out in the house trailer. Both bedrooms were claimed. The couch was claimed. I had two choices and they were both the floor? I grabbed my sleeping bag and hit the floor in the tiny living room. Sometime around two in the morning, I found myself screaming, scratching, and literally levitating ‘off’ the floor because I was covered by cockroaches. Yes, cockroaches! I spent the remainder of the night sleeping in my car after hosing myself off in the yard.
The next evening after ten hours on the roof of a maintenance building on the arsenal, I returned to the trailer park to find the owner/manager of this lovely facility. Frankly, the fella was a pretty good guy. It was after five o’clock and he offered me a beer. He also offered to ‘bug bomb’ the trailer and we proceeded to ‘bomb’ the heck out of the trailer. We also consumed several more beers and despite the warnings on the ‘bug bomb’, my colleagues and I spent the night in the trailer with all the, hopefully, dead cockroaches. Oh, I had also borrowed a cot for my second night.
I can’t remember the name of the manager of the trailer park-it has been thirty years. He was o.k. The next evening I had an officer on the base buy us a case of beer at the PX because that part of Texas was ‘dry’ and the nearest liquor store was in Texarkana, AR a half an hour away. One of my colleagues bought a case of beer also and we proceeded back to the trailer park and found our new friend, the manager, sitting in a lawn chair out front of his double wide with a beer. He had extra lawn chairs and we proceeded to ‘drink’ our dinner that evening. We became fast friends.
The next evening he had a fish fry for us. We brought the beer, he fried and provided the fish, and we had a really nice time. The remainder of the week pretty much followed this pattern. We sat around, drank a lot of beer, and told a lot of tall tales. On Saturday we were off and a couple of the guys drove home for the weekend. It was too far for me and I was having too much fun anyway. I did some laundry, watched some TV, and visited the tiny grocery store in Hooks. After grilling some steaks and settling down for some TV my buddy Lanny Bianchetti (a Wisconsin native) and I were just hanging out in our trailer.
I think we were watching Saturday Night Live when were heard the first ‘boom’ and heard pellets hitting the side of the trailer. Immediately following the shotgun blast we heard a voice scream “YANKEE GO HOME”, BOOM again from a second shotgun blast followed by “YANKEE GO HOME!” again. I was stunned. I looked at Lanny, he looked at me, and we both broke out in laughter. Lanny was quick to tell me ‘Welcome to Texas’ to which I replied ‘I didn’t know I was a YANKEE?’.
Fast forward nearly thirty years and I am a full time coin dealer. The passion for coins brought me back to the business and with the help of a great friend and high school classmate Bill Shamhart/Numismatic Americana, I was able to get into the business full time in the mid-eighties. One of the things I love most about our business is the great people I get to meet ALL over the United States.
When I travel to different parts of the country, I love to try and get the local ‘flavor’. Last week’s Texas Numismatic Association Show in Ft. Worth is a good example of local ‘flavor’. This show has been a great mid-sized ‘mostly regional’ show for decades. The show is held in the Will Rogers Exposition Center in Ft. Worth and the facility and surrounding area are incredibly interesting. As a young man I also lived in the Ft. Worth area and was able to spend some time around Texas Christian University-TCU-The Horned Frogs and University Park just a couple of blocks from the show. There are museums, art galleries, an arboretum, and the lovely park which borders the Trinity River.
Ft. Worth is such a neat and historic town with great coin history. The great numismatist B. Max Mehl had his offices here for decades. Yet, with all this great culture and history, Ft. Worth has always been like the unfavored step child to the more glamorous and uppity Dallas just 45 minutes East. Don’t get me wrong, I love both Dallas and Ft. Worth, but Ft. Worth is my kind of town. One of the highlights of this year’s trip was dinner one evening in the Ft. Worth Stockyard’s neighborhood of the city at an outstanding restaurant named The Lonesome Dove Bistro. If you ever venture to Ft. Worth, you must try their elk sausage sliders with foie gras and blueberry jam-incredible.
The TNA Show itself is evolving and growing. In past years, I would fly in or drive up to Ft. Worth and be done by noon on Friday. Yes, the show was open on the weekend, but by Friday, I had seen ALL I needed to see and wanted to have the weekend off. This year Sherri, Mike, and I decided to stick around through lunch time Saturday. We were rewarded with not only some good business, but some great contacts.
Doug Davis is most recognizable to most numismatists for his outstanding work fighting numismatic crimes. His website NCIC/Numismatic Crime Information Center (http://numismaticcrimes.org) is not only well thought out and very informative, but Doug himself is a REAL lawman and ‘walks the walk’. Doug has coordinated the organization of the TNA Show for a couple of years now and the improvements are very noticeable. Not only are there more dealers, but more out of state dealers are attending. The facility is nice and although somewhat dated, it is more than adequate for the show itself currently as well as future expansion. Next year you should really consider attending.
The rare coin show schedule in May has been somewhat hectic. The month of May is filled with graduations and the end of school for many young people. The weather is nice in most parts of the country and when folks have nice weather the desire to get outside is often stronger than the desire to go to a coin show.
Recently the American Numismatic Association held their Spring Show in Denver, Colorado. Normally held in March, the new timing of the show might have been better. Denver itself is a really cool city too, but the desire to do something besides hiking nearly a half a mile to the upstairs back of the Denver Convention Center hurt the turnout at this year’s ANA Spring event.
Although we didn’t have great expectations, the show was better than expected. There was no major auction in conjunction with the show and although both PCGS and NGC had booths to accept coins for grading, both of these grading services decided to CANCEL onsite grading at the show. As early as late March many dealers I talked to had grumbled about the venue and timing. At the Central States Show several dealers told me they would not be attending. In general, the biggest reason-TOO many shows and too much work in their shops or offices. Fortunately there were people willing to attend and we had a decent show. The comments we heard at the show were mixed.
For me, a show is both a buying and selling opportunity. When sales are off, I buy. When sales are brisk, I sell. Fortunately, I was able to buy some neat coins, because sales have been off at major shows since the dynamite ANA Summer Show in Chicago last summer. The biggest question is whether the ANA really understands that ‘stepping’ all over other (albeit smaller) established shows when they schedule a new venue is in the best interest of their collector base. Especially of concern is the lack of interest in anyone else in our hobby, but the whims of the organization itself.
Take for example the Denver Spring Show held by Jerry Morgan each May for over three decades. When the ANA decided to hold a Spring Show in Denver some time ago, they didn’t even attempt to contact Jerry. Not only did they completely ignore Jerry, but they scheduled their show the week before Jerry’s show. At least several ANA officers and governors were contacted in regard to the scheduling of the show. Guess what? They did nothing. They didn’t even have the courtesy to call.
You know what’s funny about this? Jerry turned the tables on the ANA. Because he had flexibility with his venue’s location he was able to reschedule his show for the week prior to the ANA Spring Show effectively creating an ANA PRE-Spring Show. Way to go Jerry! Not only was Jerry’s show as well attended as I can remember ever seeing, but he signed up some new dealers who plan on regularly attending his Spring and Fall Shows in Denver.
The Summer ANA Show in Philadelphia promises to be a great show. The venue is sound-after all virtually all the coins made in the U.S. during our first several decades of existence were made there. The location is within a relatively easy drive for nearly half the population of the continental U.S. The Fall ANA Show in Dallas does NOT hold that promise. Frankly, another ANA show just two months after the Summer ANA is not only POOR scheduling but borders on incompetence. Dallas isn’t the problem, the calendar is! Come on ANA-get a clue!
Case in point is the Pittsburgh ANA Fall Show last year. Pittsburgh is also a great city, but…..the ANA failed to plan for a weekend when THREE local college football teams ALL had games in the area on the Saturday of the Show. OOPS! Attendance at the Pittsburgh Show on Saturday was pathetic. Go figure?
The upcoming show schedule for late May through the Fourth of July includes several great shows. Long Beach will be held the week following Memorial Day. This show continues to rebound with increased dealer attendance. June is unusually busy this year with an NGC Trade and Grade show which is back in Las Vegas for the first time in several years. This NGC T&G will be held at Caesar’s Palace on June 13 and 14th. There is also a good regional show(the same week) in Sharonville, OH (Cincinnati) held each year by Paul Padget that we won’t be able to attend this year. Also in mid June many dealers will be attending the Tinley Park (Chicago) Show held at the newly renovated Tinley Park Convention Center. Jim Paicz does a great job with this good medium sized show and the attendance should be good.
The Summer Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo will be held in late June at the Baltimore Convention Center. Although this is the smallest of the three Baltimore Shows, ALL three are very well attended and the business is brisk. Unfortunately the great smaller Colorado Springs Show will conflict with the Baltimore Show this year and we won’t be able to attend.
Bozarth Numismatics is a full service rare coin dealer. We buy, sell, and trade PCGS, NGC, ANACS, and CAC certified rare coins on our website www.bozarthcoins.com and in our Ebay Store bozarthnumismaticsinc. We travel 200 days each year buying fresh to the market rare coins. We offer free want list services and because of our extensive show and buying trip schedule we are often able to locate coins other dealers cannot find. Each month I write both the Bozarth Numismatics Rare Coin Market Report and this Rare Coin Road Warrior column.
The opinions expressed in both of these columns are mine and you are free to agree or disagree. Numismatics are my ‘life’s work’ and the passion I have for our great hobby is immense! Your comments are welcome.
Our upcoming show schedule for late May through August includes the following shows:
Long Beach Coin Expo Attending
NGC T&G TABLE
Tinley Park (Chicago) Show TABLE
Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo TABLE
Florida United Numismatists TABLE
PCGS T&G TABLE
St. Louis TABLE
PNG/ANA Pre Show TABLE
Santa Clara Show Attending