Whitman Expo came to Baltimore this weekend to fill up three large halls in the Baltimore Convention Center. Like every Whitman Expo, dealers come from all over making it a must-attend east coast destination.
I was able to attend on Friday afternoon. It was not for long because I had to work half of the day. But it is always worth the trip.
Travelling to Baltimore on Friday is different than going on Saturday. First, the traffic between the Washington metro area and Baltimore is heavier. The traffic in Baltimore is also heavier especially on I-95 going through the city. And parking is a little more expensive because you compete with the business parking of downtown Baltimore. Someday, I will take the light rail that stops between the Convention Center and Camden Yards.
During a short visit to a show like Baltimore you either have to have a concise strategy or whatever objectives there are will not be fulfilled. This time I had no objectives and spent a lot of time talking with people.
Over the years I have met a lot of dealers and others while walking around I wanted to visit with some of these people. I also got to meet with one of the long-time readers of the blog. Bob is a frequent correspondent who came down from New Jersey on Amtrak to also visit the show. It was good to meet Bob and put a face on the real person behind the emails.
During the short time I spent on the bourse floor I learned a few things about the market:
- Sales are moderate but steady. Dealers are selling more online than in shows but see the shows as a valuable marketing tool. None of the dealers I spoke with are seeing the end of coin shows but can envision a reduction in the number of shows.
- Some dealers are diversifying their inventory from their core interests to other areas. One dealer noted that he was seeing more junk box searching than in the past. Although he thought that his sales were below average, he thought that the low-end sales would pick up on Saturday when younger people will attend.
- I thought there was a lot more silver than gold. One dealer that sells modern bullion coin such as American Eagles, Canadian Maple Leafs, and Chinese Pandas said that silver bullion was selling better than their gold counterparts. With silver trading under $17 per troy ounce, those interested in bullion are buying silver. He also attributed the interest in silver with some of the better silver issues like the Pandas and other non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins.
- Speaking of NCLT coins, I did not see a big selection. A dealer whose case included a few older issues said that the current NCLT issues may be too expensive for the market. It is one thing to issue themed coins that may be of interest but selling them has been a problem. Some people find it difficult to justify the selling of a one-ounce silver coin for more than four-times bullion value. This dealer thought that the licensing fees being paid for these images were probably driving up the price and driving their potential market away.
Another interesting aspect of the show is the number of non-numismatic items for sale. There were two dealers whose cases contained only jewelry. Most of the jewelry were quality items and estate pieces but I was surprised there were two dealers whose inventory was exclusively jewelry. A few dealers I have seen in the past also had cases of jewelry. One said that the rings he was selling were an accumulation of many years and found that the market was more receptive to the jewelry.
In addition to the jewelry, a dealer was selling used music compact discs (CD) and another had African artifacts including a beautiful silver necklace. Some of the currency dealers also had historical papers, letters, ledgers, and other ephemera that only has a tangential tie to numismatics.
Last week I asked how dealers would respond to the market. It looks like some dealers have turned to inventory diversity and including non-numismatic collectibles. If it helps bring in more collectors, it might be a good move.
I missed posting the Weekly Numismatic World News on Sunday because I was working. As part of my collectibles business, I work a show at least once per month. These shows allow me to interact with people and find out what interests them. Even if they do not buy from my inventory, I am able to learn about the market and try to predict trends.
What are the future of large coin shows like Whitman Expo?
Sometimes, I wonder if the numismatic industry does the same thing.
Next weekend will be the Whitman Baltimore Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center. I am curious as to what I will find.
Since Whitman took over the show, they have improved the experience and what I have been told, they improved the experience for the dealers. They have made it a destination for many east coast dealers and collectors.
But it looks like the show has plateaued.
This is not Whitman’s fault. Whitman provides the venue. What are the dealers doing to meet the new demands of the market? What are the new trends? Based on my last few visits to Baltimore, you would never know that the hobby is changing. New collectors are not collecting the same coins as their parents and grandparents. New collectors are not buying in the same way as their parents and grandparents. Yet, when I go to Baltimore I will find an environment that may have been more comfortable 10 years ago than it is today.
I am not sure what needs to be changed. I will think about it when I am walking the bourse floor next weekend. But for now, the industry needs think about how to evolve. Otherwise, we could be looking for the downfall of these shows and that would be a shame.
And now the news…
November 2, 2017
Australia’s new Remembrance Day $2 coin is racist and a national disgrace, Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell says. The coin, featuring rosemary leaves and purple flowers, is to honour Australians killed and wounded in military conflicts. → Read more at theadvocate.com.au
November 2, 2017
Rare coins, mostly Roman, are believed to have been collected by the Kent castle’s owner, Edward Hussey, and his son → Read more at theguardian.com
November 3, 2017
“There’s just a wide variety of things,” Rust said. “Money was issued by Mormons before they made it to Salt Lake, and then things that were issued once they were in Salt Lake.” → Read more at sltrib.com
November 3, 2017
Founding father saved first issue $5 with untold historical value → Read more at tetonvalleynews.net
Ribbon cutting at the opening of the 2017 ANA World’s Fair of Money.
(L-R) Acting Director of the U.S. Mint Dave Motl, Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Len Olijar, (HELP I FORGOT HIS NAME), ANA President-Elect Gary Adkins, current ANA President Jeff Garrett
Since the World’s Fair of Money has opened let me get into my annual rant:
Why isn’t the show broadcast for those of us who cannot attend?
Once again, work obligations have prevented me from traveling to attend the World’s Fair of Money. Unfortunately, it has been a few years since I was able to attend. I want to go. I want to be there. But since I am not a dealer, Real Life becomes a deterrent.
Since the American Numismatic Association Technology Committee was formed and I was asked to be a member, I have been calling for some way to bring parts of the show to the public that cannot attend.
It is not like there is a big technological barrier anymore!
Twitter has the capability to allow for streaming but I have been told that there are some technical issues that make streaming for a long time a little difficult. Minimally, a standard smartphone could be used to stream videos.
Instagram videos have a one-minute time limit that could also be used those quick hit items.
YouTube has a streaming service but there is a question about accessibility. Google makes YouTube unlimited streaming available through YouTube Red service, their paid service. There is a way to add shorter streaming content on YouTube but it is not as easy.
But if you want easy, there is always Facebook!
The easiest way to stream video on Facebook is the open the Facebook app on your favorite smart phone, go to your timeline, the press the button that says “Live” where it allows you to send an update. The app lets you adjust the camera before you press the button to go live!
Someone does not have to hold a camera. There are adapters for any smart phone that will allow one to attach the camera to a tripod.
For a little more money, a used 720p high definition camera could be purchased, interfaced with a computer, and the video streamed to both Facebook and Twitter. There is switcher-like software that will take the audio and video from the camera and broadcast it using both sites.
Someone could have broadcast the opening ceremonies.
There could be on the bourse floor interviews including at the Whitman booth where famous numismatic authors will be there for autographs.
The U.S. Mint has introduced the 225th Anniversary Enhanced Uncirculated Set. A camera could be brought to their booth to show the set.
Every Money Talks presentation can be live streamed.
Award ceremonies could also be live streamed!
For those of us who cannot attend, having access to video of the show may not be as good as being there but is a darn good substitute.
And the best thing about these videos is that they can live on forever! The broadcasts on Facebook and Twitter will remain on those sites for those who cannot watch live. The videos can be captured and posted on YouTube.
Basically, it is requesting that the ANA being accessible to everyone. It is the ANA being the numismatic resource.
Videos can be sponsored.
[FADE FROM BLACK] “We are here on the bourse floor with Joe Dealer to talk about the show.” But what you did not see is that Joe Dealer donated money to the ANA for that access. Remember, the ANA is a not for profit organization and needs the funds to do this.
Larger corporate sponsors could participate.
It is not like some of them are video streaming virgins. Both Heritage and Stacks-Bowers will be live streaming their auctions at the show. This is not the first time either company has provided these types of auctions.
Live streaming can benefit everyone. The ability to introduce more people to the hobby is invaluable. You can promote the ANA, dealers, and the hobby. If you like what you see, come join us. The more people who become interested can become members.
A reader who found the Coin Collectors Blog through a search came across the two-part series I wrote in 2012 about “How Are Coins Priced” (links to Part I and Part II). After asking a few questions this new reader asked me about the section about Negotiating in Part II.
My principles of negotiating are to be nice, do your homework, know when to stop and always be gracious. Although some of us consider negotiating a sport, there is no reason to be nasty. Always say “please” and “thank you” even if you did not buy the coin. Thank that dealer for taking the time to talk with you. Good will can go a long way!
As a new collector, this reader visited a few regional shows before going to the World’s Fair of Money. Thinking that as a big show there might be some good finds and can jumpstart an interesting collection. While this was not my reader’s first large show, it was the first time the family visited the World’s Fair of Money. It was also an excuse to go visit Mickey’s first theme park.
With his permission I am reprinting his note. I removed the section that described the dealer and his inventory:
My family and I went to Anaheim for the World’s Fair of Money. As we searched the tables looking for something of everyone’s interest we came across a table with books of coins. While I have seen notebooks like this with pages full of coins this was the first time we have seen so many. Each of us sat at the dealer’s table and started to look through the books.
My son is interested in Middle Eastern coins because my family emigrated from the Middle East after World War II. My daughter is fascinated by Queen Elizabeth and want to try to collect different coins with her picture. My wife’s family is from Japan and she has been picking up some older Japanese coins. As for me, I decided to try to complete a set of quarters after collecting the states quarters.
We are collectors. We are not putting the kids in front of the books to keep them occupied. At one point my son, who is trying to learn Arabic, was asking me what a few coins said and picked out a small handful for his collection. Nobody else found anything they liked.
We finished five minutes later and went to pay. My son has his own money and asked the dealer for the price. If we go by the numbers written on the coins, the price was $42. While that does not sound like much it is for a kid whose job is to cut grass and do odd jobs around the neighborhood. No discount was offered.
Standing next to my son I asked if he could do better on the price and that’s where the trouble began. He turned to me and said, “For what, hogging my table?” I was taken aback! Not only were we really looking to buy but my son was buying. As a matter of fact when my wife did not see anything she like she gave up her chair to another collector passing by.
I sort of stammered something about that we are all collectors and were looking but did not find anything and he said, then he said something like, “Then you should have gone somewhere else!” He was very rough.
I asked my son what he wanted to do. It was his collection and his money. With nobody else around this dealer’s table he blurts out, “yeah, kid, I don’t have time for this. Give me 40 and go away.”
I could see that my son was conflicted. While he wanted the coins he did not like the dealer. He then dropped his head and said in a soft voice, “No Thank you.” Although he looked like he wanted to cry the dealer responded, “great, now I have to figure out what book to put these coins in.” My son reached over and tapped the book and walked away.
I have never been embarrassed for my son like this. Why would a dealer treat a child or a customer like this?
I had no answers for these parents. Even though I do not deal with coins, when I do shows I try to treat everyone with courtesy, even when I can tell they have no intention of buying from my inventory.
When I am working shows, as I will be this weekend, days can be long and difficult. You have to be attentive to everything around you not just to complete the sale but to also prevent theft. Even on the slowest day, it does not pay to get nasty with a customer or potential customer.
This is not the first time I have heard stories like this and based on this reader’s description, it is not the first time I have heard this type of story about the dealer. I know for some it is just a job and like many jobs, after a while there are aspects that can be frustrating.
But this is a job that is about customer service for a product people do not have to buy. Coin collecting is a luxury, not a necessity. Even if you are frustrated, showing it to customers will give you a reputation and hurt business. Then what will you do when the customers do not show up?
There comes a point in time when you have to ask yourself whether it is worth the investment in time, money, and your sanity to continue or would it be better to just retire? Unfortunately, when it comes to some of the very long-time numismatic dealers who attend some of these major shows, there are too many that should consider retirement.
Watchers of the @coinsblog Twitter feed have seen that I post storied of robberies of coin collections. These are heart breaking stories not because the owner lost something of value. They lost something of emotional value.
I have seen stories of a stash of mostly Morgan silver dollars that have been stolen from a dresser draw that the owner either has saved all of these years or were from a relative who saved them as part of a hedge from a depression. There was a story that a young single mother found gold coins in her late father’s house and was going to use the coins to care for her children only to have someone she trusted later steal the coins. Then the story of the Flying Eagle and Indian Head cent collection with most coins in almost uncirculated quality including a 1909-S coin put together by a late grandparent that was stolen while the family was on vacation.
While these are heartbreaking, it is great to hear about the community working together to capture a thief.
Two thieves went to the Long Beach Expo looking to cash in on their ill-gotten gain when a dealer thought he recognized the coins as described from an earlier robbery. The dealer notified on-site security who apprehended the criminals. They were handed over the Long Beach police.
It is wonderful that the community will pay attention to these unfortunate incidents and help law enforcement recover these coins!
This is the press release was issued on behalf of Positive Protection, Inc.Positive Protection, Inc. of Temecula, California, and in cooperation with Stack’s Bowers Galleries of Santa Ana, California.
Positive Protection Guard Tackles
Suspected Coin Thief In Long Beach
(Long Beach, California) — A suspected thief was tackled by a Positive Protection, Inc. (www.ppius.com
) security guard as he tried to escape at the Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp & Sports Collectible Expo (www.LongBeachExpo.com
) on Friday, June 10, 2016. An alleged accomplice with a backpack containing more than $300,000 of rare coins was also taken into custody.
Both suspects were turned over to Long Beach police on suspicion of burglary, robbery and possession of stolen property. Two other suspects were arrested the next day and more stolen coins were recovered.
“They reportedly were trying to sell coins at the Long Beach Expo in the Long Beach Convention Center. One dealer they approached, Karl Stephens, thought the coins they were offering had been stolen earlier in a robbery in the San Bernardino, California area,” said Patrick Coward, a guard for Positive Protection of Temecula, California, a company that provides security services for coin and jewelry dealers.
“When the suspects tried to leave, the dealer shouted out to stop them. I was nearby and when one suspect started to run I chased him and tackled him at the door. Additional security personnel from the show helped subdue him. The second suspect was stopped without a problem at the door as he tried leave. His backpack was filled with more than 100 ancient coins and other gold and silver coins worth more than $300,000,” explained Coward, a former New York City homicide detective.
The brief chase and the tackle were captured on surveillance video at the booth of Stack’s Bowers Galleries (www.stacksbowers.com
) of Santa Ana, California and New York City.
“With the help of a knowledgeable dealer and the fast action of trained security professionals, two suspected thieves were caught and valuable, stolen rare coins have been recovered,” said Robert Brueggeman, President of Positive Protection which provides on-site security for all the Whitman Expo and American Numismatic Association convention shows. “We always want a safe, enjoyable environment for dealers and the public at these collectible shows, but we also must always be on alert.”
A day after the capture of the two suspects at the coin show, Long Beach Police arrested two more suspects who reportedly came to retrieve the car of the first two suspects. Investigators recovered from the car what is believed to be the remainder of the stolen rare coins.
This surveillance video shows Positive Protection, Inc. security guard and former New York City Police homicide detective Patrick Coward on the left as he immediately chased and tackled a suspected coin thief when the suspect tried to flee from a coin show in Long Beach, California on Friday, June 10, 2016. His alleged accomplice is then stopped at the door while carrying a backpack with a reported $300,000 in rare coins believed stolen in an earlier theft in the San Bernardino, California area.
Stacks Bowers Long Beach Surveillance Video
Video courtesy of Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
I received a note in my email from the American Numismatic Association asking for members to propose a Money Talks session at the World’s Fair of Money in August. Although I have several ideas for a Money Talks session, I will not propose a talk because I may not be able to attend the show.
Later in the list of incoming email was a note telling me that I can register online for Summer Seminar. I have wanted to attend the classes in Summer Seminar for some time. In this case, the problem is timing since it always is held at the end of June or the beginning of July, the change of a fiscal quarter.
I know that the ANA has to create a schedule that suits the greater organization and includes the availability of facilities for these events but there are some of us who will be left out because of scheduling conflicts.
There are also the travel issues. Aside the expense of travelling to Anaheim or Colorado Springs, there are people who cannot travel because of time, economics, or physical limitations.
Now is the time for the ANA and any other organizations that provides educational sessions to consider adding online access to their shows.
Anyone who has visited the new money.org has seen that the ANA has revamped the site and the services to be modern, flexible, and has new resources that were not available years ago. It supports a vibrant community and provides new resources.
Now it is time to take the next step: Live coverage of shows, the broadcast of courses and lectures, and virtualize the conventions.
There are technologies that can help support the bringing the lectures, courses, and other activities to an online community. There are a number of web-based conferencing system that requires a minimal amount of technology to broadcast these activities to collectors everywhere.
This can also be employed for other shows. Convention centers, hotel conference rooms, and other venues are almost all connected.
I recognize that there are some courses that cannot be taught in this manner. Classes that require physical access to materials, such as coin grading, will have a difficult time in this environment. However, a grading “light” class using high quality images to show the differences on the screen can be taught.
In other words, instructors would have to rethink their approach to some of these classes.
Virtual shows cannot replace the advantages of being there. I like the ability to see and talk with the people and dealers; looking through some of the more esoteric numismatic items like medals and tokens; or just walking by a table to find something interesting and unexpected you would not find online.
Virtual shows can be recorded, stored, and enjoyed for some time to come. Classes and talks becomes long term references for the community and can be used to help promote future shows.
Although the ANA does have some recording of the Money Talks lectures its available after the fact at the will of the commercial organization that is providing the recording services. Not only should these videos be made available to members but should be broadcast live. If they are broadcast using web-based conferencing software, the online audience can participate.
Numismatics has the problem of being too young to have influence or too old to adapt to the new ways of the world. Moving more to online access will help bring in the that Lost Generation between those being a Young Numismatist and us older collectors
Looking at the demographics of the hobby’s future the first wave of the GenXers are now becoming AARP eligible with their children, the Millennials, 20 years away from being regular participants. Why not meet them where they hangout: online! Not only will virtual shows help those of us with travel and time restrictions but will attract new members.
Growing the hobby is like growing a business; you have to look at what your target market’s demographics are and figure out how to reach them. For hobbies like numismatics, the new target is online where the current generation is moving and where the next few generations will be. Not adapting to those new markets will hurt the numismatic market in a way that it may not recover.
At some point, after running some early errands, I will drive to Baltimore for the Whitman Baltimore Expo. If you want to follow along, I will be on Twitter using the hashtag #WBSE16 from my @CoinsBlog account. If you are just interested in the images and not my commentary, you can follow the board I set up under my Pinterest account I named “Whitman Baltimore Expo 2016-04-02” (for its originality, of course).
Panorama of the 2013 National Money Show bourse floor at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans
If you are not into trying to watch the live updates or social media, here are widgets to both accounts and you can follow along here:
There should be two images on the Pinterest board from testing my workflow.
GEEKY BACKGROUND for those who wants to know what I did, otherwise, you can skip this: I created an ifttt recipe that searches for my tweets with hashtag #WBSE16 then posts the image to my specified board on Pinterest.
I will post a more comprehensive report after the show.
No matter how busy I get, I have to take some time for myself. This is why I will be planning the business I need to do this Saturday so that I can go to Baltimore for the Whitman Baltimore Expo!
Bourse floor from Whitman Spring 2015 Show
It has been a while since I have been to the Whitman Show. I am sure that some of the dealers have changed—I know a few have unfortunately passed on—but I think it is time for me to have some hobby time.
Since starting my business, there has not been a lot of time to work on a new collection even though I did start a Vickie Cent collection (Canadian Large Cents from the Queen Victoria era) a few months ago. Aside from the collectable bullion (Maple Leafs, Pandas, and Britannia), I think this would be a good opportunity to add to my Vickie Cent collection.
Of course it will give me a chance to look for something for my New York City collection. I am not sure what I have or need, but it is all about the hunt.
I will likely be Tweeting from the convention center so follow me on Twitter @coinsblog. I invite others to contribute by using the hashtag #WBSE16 (Whitman Baltimore Spring Expo ’16). More info on the social media following will be published here on Saturday morning. Stay tuned!
Not long ago an acquaintance asked if I was attending the National Money Show in Dallas. I said that I had wanted to but there was a conflict that prevented me. He said that it did not matter because there were too many shows and it does not pay to go to all of them.
Panorama of the 2013 National Money Show bourse floor at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans
I was a bit shocked.
When you enjoy something, there is never too many or too much. I try to go to as many coin shows as possible whether they are as large as the World’s Fair of Money or a local show with 30 tables that meets in a local hall. If I cannot be at a coin show, I love to go to car shows including ones where I can bring my vintage Mopar.
It is difficult to find a car show in the winter. Owners of classic, vintage and antique cars would rather park our babies under cover than take them out in bad weather. This is a good time to find all of the coin shows.
There are not enough coin shows, especially when the weather is not suitable for car shows. Since I have been attending these shows for a while, I know many of the local dealers at the smaller shows and a few more of the dealers at the larger shows. For me, this makes the show fun.
I woke up my baby this past weekend!
I asked why he thought there were too many he complained about the costs. He felt that he had to buy something at every show in order to justify his attendance.
When I go to a show, I have a budget I keep to, collecting goals for that day, and the knowledge that if I come home with money in my pocket I can still have a good day if I see people and talk about coins and collecting.
Maybe the problem with my acquaintance is that he sees going to shows as a buying trip while I look for the experience. He might consider talking to some of the people, make friends, and see if he could learn something from these dealers. Even if I do not spend money, if I learn something I will have had a good time.
What do you think?
As a member of the American Numismatic Association, I call on the ANA Board of Governors to open an investigation for the purpose of taking action regarding the violation of the ANA Code of Ethics by the dealers who caused the dangerous situations at the World’s Fair of Money, the Philadelphia Branch Mint, Denver Branch Mint, and the U.S. Mint Headquarters during the opening sale of 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar Gold Proof Coin.
From the raw video of people dashing across the street at the Denver Mint
The media reported that those waiting for to purchase the coins were not collectors. Most were being paid by dealers to be on the line in order to get around the U.S. Mint purchasing limits. As part of their attempt to game the system, these dealers put collectors and the general public in danger by handing large amount of cash to needy people who did not conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the ANA Code of Ethics. Since those behaving badly were being paid by the dealers, they are representatives of the dealers, making the dealers responsible for the action of those they employ.
In case those dealers have forgotten, according to the ANA Code of Ethics:
As a member of the American Numismatic Association, I agree to comply with the following standards of conduct:
- To conduct myself so as to bring no reproach or discredit to the Association, or impair the prestige of the membership therein.
This applies directly to the dealers whose action caused problems at the World’s Fair of Money. Since sales of the coin were made at the U.S. Mint’s booth on the bourse floor, this is a case where the dealers who participated in this discredited the Association by creating an environment that potentially jeopardized the security of the show. By putting the security in jeopardy and bringing this negative publicity to the World’s Fair of Money, the participating dealers impaired the prestige of the membership especially when they had to put the U.S. Mint and the ANA Executive Director in the position to have to act as a parent to dealers acting like impetuous children.
- To base all of my dealings on the highest plane of justice, fairness and morality, and to refrain from making false statements as to the condition of a coin or as to any other matter.
Although the launch of the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coin during the Whitman Baltimore Expo was a success, there was a feeling that the sales format did not give collectors a chance to purchase the coin. In order to promote the broader sales of the coin, the U.S. Mint adjusted its sales requirement to limit over-the-counter sales in order to give more collectors the opportunity to purchase the new Kennedy gold coin. How could the U.S. Mint or the ANA know that the sales of a coin that does not have any mintage limits would cause problems when the sales of a commemorative coin with mintage limits went without significant issue?
Unfortunately, the intent of the U.S. Mint was impeded by some dealer’s plane of justice by their action. By immorally trying to get around the U.S. Mint’s sales limits by using questionable methods to unfairly stack the line against the collector, the dealers were making false statements to a government entity, and thus the public it represents, as to their eligibility to purchase the coin.
The appalling images provided by Denver television news (see below) of the behavior of those described as homeless on behalf of the dealers trying to get around the sales limits not only is not only unjust to legitimate purchasers and immoral, but as ANA members discredits themselves as ANA members.
Therefore, I am accusing ALL of the ANA members who hired these people that acted on their behalf of the ANA dealers with violation of the ANA Code of Ethics. The ANA Board of Governors must take action to restore the organization’s credibility by suspending those involved as per the ANA Bylaws!
Images of the shameful display caused by ethically challenged and greedy dealers courtesy of ABC 7News Denver