After having a procedure done on my arthritic knee, I made sure that my doctor said it was all right to travel to attend the Whitman Baltimore Coin and Currency Convention. I could not miss the show. It is the largest regular show in the area—although the ANA Worlds Fair of Money will be held in Charm City this summer. When my doctor said that there should not be a concern, I made plans to attend on Saturday.
The procedure left me a little sore which made sleeping an issue. After waking up late, I made it to the Baltimore Convention Center by 3 o’clock. One of the problems with arriving later on Saturday is that at least one-third of the dealers closed and left the convention center. I tried to understand the situation from the dealer’s perspective, but when I am walking the bourse floor with a pocket full of money and a half-dozen nice slabbed coins to sell, I feel cheated. Within an hour, at least half of the tables were empty.
With the buying option lessened, I first concentrated on finding a few special items. For bullion coins, I was not able to find 2008 uncirculated American Silver Eagles, Silver Maple Leafs, and British Britannias. I was looking for some 20th century Morgan Dollars in at least almost uncirculated or better, not in slabs, and priced fairly—at least Greysheet prices. If nothing else, I wanted to find improvements to my 1976 registry sets.
Rather than finding anything real interesting, I purchased some uncirculated 50 State Quarters to fill holes in my album. I also found a number of circulated early Lincoln Cents for a set of folders I am putting together. But the most interesting coin find was the 2008 Australia Silver Koala. Struck by The Perth Mint, this is the second year of issue for this 99.9-percent silver coin. Taking the lead from the Chinese Panda, the reverse features artistic depiction of the marsupial native to the eastern and southeastern regions of Australia. The obverse features the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
An interesting aspect of the reverse design is what the Perth Mint calls the “shimmer background.” The reverse background is textured background with full luster that helps the koala image stand out from the “shimmer” created by angling the coin under the light. It is an interesting concept that makes the coin a unique collectable.
One change Whitman made from previous shows was that the sales of Whitman Publishing products were in the lobby outside of the halls inside a plexiglass booth that can be locked at night. Although there are supply vendors on the bourse floor, only one general supplies dealer is there to offer discounts but they sell very few Whitman supplies. For this show, that dealer was moved to the opposite end of the hall from their previous location and had a smaller table area. Whitman owns the show and probably feels they should protect any profits they could realize.
Capitalism aside, I do prefer Whitman albums and folders over other brands. In addition to buying additional pages for my Sacagawea Dollars album, I found the Whitman Tribute Coin Boards for the Lincoln Cents and Buffalo Nickels. Whitman calls these board “a commemorative reissue in the classic style of coin boards made by Whitman Publishing starting in the 1930s.”
From what I can tell, these 11×14 inch boards are close to the original issues using modern materials and modern printing techniques. One addition to these boards are the mintage totals featured under the dates for each coin. The Lincoln Cent boards covers the wheat-back issues from 1909 through 1959, with no varieties, using two boards. The second board has 39 blank spaces following 1959 with no markings. Of course I will fill those in with Memorial back issues until I run out of holes.
The Buffalo Nickel board collection requires a single board to cover the issues from 1913 through 1938 with no varieties—except for the 1913 issues where there are holes for the “Raised Ground” coins along side the ones just marked with the year. The nine holes at the bottom do not have date markings except for “NEW TYPE JEFFERSON NICKELS” above the boarder; Obviously, I will have to fill those holes with the appropriate nickels.
Although I have not removed the shrink wrap from the boards, I noticed the back of the Buffalo nickel board has a box that has the number for other boards. I wonder if this is a reproduction of the original board or an indication that Whitman will produce those coin boards in the future. It would be interesting if they produced other tribute boards in the future. I would certainly buy them.
Of course you cannot go through a bourse floor without talking with a few people. Some I saw in passing and did not get to speak with them. I saw Patti Finner, Vice President of the ANA, working at the Kids Table—something the native Baltimorean has done for many years. I spoke with her during the last Baltimore Show but did not have an opportunity this time. Walking from the parking garage and through a nearby hotel, I saw NGC’s Dave Lange dashing away from the Convention Center. That was too bad because I wanted Dave to autograph the coin boards! Considering his interest and books about vintage coin boards, I thought that would be great for these tribute boards. Oh well… maybe next time.
I spoke with many dealers who are really wonderful people. One of my favorites is Wayne Herndon. Amongst our conversations, we spoke about the recent eBay issues and how our future on the site will be effected. We agreed that eBay is not as cost effective as it has been and may not be worth using in the future since it hurts the small seller and sellers who are trying to work on slim margins to give collectors value. I have bought from Wayne in the past and will continue to buy from him. Even before we started to talk, I always thought his prices were fair.
When it came time to leave, I discovered that Whitman set the policy to only have the main doors to Halls A and B as the entrance-only and forced attendees to exit through the doors in Hall C. While Halls A and B create one large area, Hall C turns the space in the el-shape that people may be bypassing. Moving the exit to the doors leading out of Hall C may be one solution but it caused a problem for me and my hurt knee. Although my doctor said a four hour walk on the bourse floor should not be a problem, my knee was in a lot of pain. I was limping, even grabbing onto chairs, tables, and anything nearby to prevent from falling. I tried to exit the nearby main doors, but was turned away by the security guard. So I had to schlep around to the Hall C doors while staying close to the tables to maintain my balance. In the future, I hope Whitman would allow those leaving within the last hour of the day to exit the nearest doors.
If I had to rank this show with the others, it would rank below other Whitman sponsored shows and on par with those by the previous organizers. While I can have fun at a coin show with 20 dealers, one expects a show that spans three halls of the Baltimore Convention Center to be better. Hopefully my experience was an anomaly and the show on June 5-7 (with no Sunday hours) will reach their usual standards.