Those who followed me on Twitter knows that I had a late start. We working stiffs do have weekend responsibilities that have to be taken care of before we can go out to play. Once I was able to complete my errands, I was able to travel north to Baltimore.
I may be one of the few people who are not from Baltimore who likes Baltimore. But going to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor area can be a lot of fun, even if it is frustrating trying to find parking. Then again, show me any city that does not have a parking problem and I will show you a city that is not as fun.
Once I was able to find parking I walked to the convention center. After entering in the early afternoon on Saturday I was struck by the number of empty tables that could be seen from the entry door. In all areas of the three convention center halls, the number of empty tables was surprising. I was also surprised to see a number of shared tables being half used.
As I walked around the convention center floor I was struck by the number of tables that were either never occupied or the dealer did not show up at all on Saturday. You can tell these tables from the others by the number of fliers left on the table. Some tables had rental cases with the keys in them showing that these tables were either unused or the dealer left early.
I recently learned that a table for the Baltimore show costs $750. Add the cost of travel, food, lodging, and the inventory, does the costs justify leaving and not trying to make money? When I discussed this with a regular dealer, I was told that some that are not having a good show will leave early to cut their losses.
Of the dealers that were left, there was a nice mix of items. For once, I did not get the impression that one type of coin was more popular than the other. In fact, I think this is the first show where bullion and bullion-related coins were not the focus. I was able to find American Silver Eagles without problem but finding some of the foreign bullion coins was a little more challenging.
Whitman, the sponsor of the show, had their own booth and was actually selling discounted items. In prior years, Whitman would sell their own products at full price but this time offered some discount. And they had a clearance table. I did not buy from the clearance table because they did not have anything I wanted but there were some nice and current items that were worth the value.
One thing Whitman did was to give away hardcover copies of the 70th Edition of the Red Book autographed by Ken Bressett and Jeff Garrett. All I had to do was fill out a ticket at the Whitman booth, return to the booth at the time of the drawing, and wait for them to give away the eight books being offered on Saturday. I think I was the fourth book given away.
Previously, I noted that the choices of numismatic literature has diminished. While the death of numismatic book dealer John Burns is a tragic story in and of itself, what has not happened is that someone has not stepped into that market. Aside from being intelligent and a character with a sharp wit, his inventory was so varied that I was always able to find something a little off-beat or out of the ordinary that was intriguing. If someone wants to move into numismatics but wants to occupy a different space, this might be something for you to get into.The most fun thing I found was the dealer that used kiddie pools as their junk box. Rather than going through boxes or bins, they set up three kiddie pools and threw in a lot of low value slabs and some other items. They had a lot of slabs and it was interesting diving into the pools looking for something fun. Although I did not buy anything from the pools, I did buy some other coins and a non-numismatic related book from their discount table.
Every show I try to find one neat item that is out of the ordinary. As I approached one table I noticed there were a few large brass medals on the table. I am intrigued by brass medals both for their size and a lot of the artwork. I have seen many brass medals with art that rival anything produced on canvas for their beauty. But this one was different in that it bore the local of Carnegie Mellon University, where I went to graduate school.
Carnegie Mellon was formed in 1967 when the Carnegie Institute of Technology (Carnegie Tech, founded in 1900) merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research (founded in 1913). I earned a masters degree in one calendar year 1999-2000. Although I was an older student, it was a great experience for me and my (late) first wife.
The reverse of the medal is an image of Hamerschlag Hall, the first permanent building of Carnegie Tech and the home of the current College of Engineering. Around the rim celebrates the 50 Year Reunion with a space for the college which is having the reunion and the year being celebrated. Since the date engraved on the reverse is 1938, it was given to its previous owner in 1988. But that does not bother me. The front has the Carnegie Mellon logo and a great reminder of my good year in Pittsburgh.
The next Whitman Expo will be July 14-17. I hope the dealers that show up will be there if I have to spend the morning running errands.