The Concord Coin Show, January 2014
2014 started off with a bang — our very first show began January 2nd and ran through January 5th, which didn’t leave a whole lot of time for recovering from the Holiday season. January is a crazy month for coin shows: There’s four of them crammed into on month! I’m actually on a plane on my way to FUN as I’m writing this!
“Dare I ask where the supply bag is?”
Though uttered by me, these words will still be ringing in my ears for a while. It wasn’t exactly an auspicious start to the new year. We had just arrived at the Burbank airport and were hurriedly piling out of the car to rush rush rush to make our flight. The second the trunk was popped and my eyes scanned the bags there, I knew: our giant bag with all of our electronics, paperwork, and supplies was conspicuously not there.
The short version of the story is, we messed up and found ourselves in a position where we had to drive up to Concord, California from Alhambra at the last minute or completely miss the Concord show. Unfortunately, we knew that because of the length of the drive we would arrive after dealer set up day was done, but it was out of our hands at that point. So drive we did.
We arrived at the hotel at about 7:30pm Thursday night (setup ends at 7:00), but we had called ahead and explained the situation to Bill Green — who may just be the greatest coin-show-man ever — and he forwarded our predicament to the security guards who were in turn kind enough to let us into the room for all of 3.5 seconds to dump our bags behind the table so we didn’t have to babysit them all night.
Believe it or not, we did an amazing job of shaking off the wrench thrown into the works that was to be our day, and we were all in a pretty good mood despite the setbacks and the SEVEN hour drive which caused us to completely miss set up day. Yes, SEVEN hours from Los Angeles to the Bay Area. All I can say is that it was a holiday weekend and traffic was unbelievable.
Both Shelley and I are very familiar with the Bay A;rea as we’ve both spend a lot of time in Walnut Creek, so we headed to downtown Walnut Creek for dinner and had a lovely meal. Nothing terribly exciting happened after that, but we did go to bed with the intention of getting up at the crack of dawn so that we could actually get our tables set up before the public was let loose upon the show.
We were set up and ready faster than I had thought possible thanks to an awesome group effort. We may not have sold coins at record breaking levels, yet Friday morning was a sign that this was going to be a buying show for us. And buy we did. We bought, and then bought some more, and then figured we may as well top it off by buying up the rest of it. I would almost be willing to bet we bought more from dealers than the public did!
There is an old coin dealer’s adage about ‘buying your way out of a bad show’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying for even half a second that that Concord was a bad show, but sometimes I still pale at the difference between what we’ve sold vs what we’ve bought (we bought more than two-times what we sold at this show) until I take a step back and remember that this is exactly how the game is played — after all, it is rather hard to sell anything unless you have something to sell!
My hands-down favorite purchases of the show are these beauties:
As I’ve mentioned before, I love the history behind coins, and these three are certainly chock full of history … forgive me, but I can’t help but gush about them a little! But rather than include that here I’ll go ahead and leave that over there in Nuggets.
I have to take a moment to rave about Bill Green. Bill is the owner and genius behind NorCal Coin Shows, which runs the Sunnyvale show, the East Bay / Concord show, and the North Bay / Santa Rosa shows. He’s new to the game as a show promoter, but he’s going waaaay above and beyond to make his shows as appealing to the dealers as possible. Not only he is easy to reach and always attentive, he gives out great little goodie bags to start the show that contain things like a granola bar, bottle of water, etc.
Just try to imagine our surprise the first time he rolled up to our table this time last year with a little cart spilling over with subway sandwiches! I almost didn’t expect him to do it again this year, but there he was with his heaping cart’o’sammiches. He provides lunch to every person behind every dealer’s table: one of 3 different sandwiches to choose from, a bottle of water, chips, and an apple. Every day. Every dealer. On Friday he comes ’round again this time bearing custom wrapped Hershey’s chocolate bars, which were very cute and a great pick-me-up by the time 4pm rolls around. But the real icing on the cake is what he brought out next:
That’s right. “Your first drink on me,” courtesy of the fantastic Mr. Bill Green. Of course you don’t have to twist my arm very hard to get me to take you up on a free drink, but in addition to flooring all of the dealers with his generosity, he gave us all an incentive to be at the same place at the same time (the hotel bar immediately after the show at 6pm) to socialize after hours. Absolutely brilliant, and what generosity!
It’s a little funny — I knew of course that Bill was a numismatist, but until this past show I had never seen him so much as examine a coin (he has no table set up at his own shows, he’s too busy running around and seeing to everyone else’s needs). There was a gentleman at our table examining a high-end Liberty Nickel who stopped and said something to the effect of “I love it and I think it’s priced reasonably, but I want to show it to Bill first.” My first thought was “Bill who?” just because I’m not used to thinking of him in that context! It turns out V Nickels are his passion and speciality, and it was lovely to see him put glass to coin and go off into that special warm-and-fuzzy place that we coin nerds go when we find something that really strikes a cord within us.
We did have one particular coin in our case that seemed to put pretty much every collector that wandered by into that far away happy place … a 1908 No Motto $20 Saint, from the Wells Fargo Hoard, in NGC MS 68. I briefly considered hiring a paige to do nothing but continuously wipe the drool off of the slab.
So what is my overall take on the Concord show?
Love, love, love it. Bill goes way above and beyond the call of duty in taking care of the dealers, and promotes the show to the public like crazy as well. There was always a good flow of traffic, and I don’t think I saw a grumpy face the whole time (except for mine — steer clear if I haven’t had my coffee yet).
I could go on and on and on about the show and how lovely it was, but I’ve decided to summarize the rest of what I found entertaining, noteworthy, or just humorous in some classy bullet points in no particular order:
- Shelley had been calling this poor sweet kid with a fondness for bowling “Justin” for a day and a half before I asked him what his last name was for some paperwork … he says “Yeah, my name isn’t Justin. It’s Daniel.” While I was floundering for a response he said he had just assumed she called him Justin because he bore a strong resemblance to Justin Bieber.
- After squeezing in and out of the minuscule space between our table and the one next door several times in 30 seconds because I kept forgetting stuff, I apologized to the kid working the next table by saying “I’m sorry, I’m an idiot.” He replies “Well then, you’re a pretty idiot.” Thanks … I think?
- Had dinner with my sister at Flemming’s Friday night: baked brie with apple for an appetizer with a Caesar salad and unbelievable filet mignon in a gorgonzola cream sauce with many, many drinks for an amazing sister night.
- When I walked onto the bourse floor Saturday morning, John McIntosh let loose with a wolf whistle that was so loud everything stopped for approximately 30 seconds while everyone turned to stare at me. I don’t think I’ve ever turned so red in my life.
- I discovered I didn’t suck as badly at grading Indian cents as I thought I did.
- I discovered I suck worse at grading Washington quarters than I had previously thought.
- Jim Curtis quipping to Tyler. Tyler: “I’m not going to FUN because they have to leave one numismatist at home.” Curtis: “Then why are you staying”?
- Got up the nerve to admit to the kid next to me that I didn’t know his name. It’s Ben, and he’s a real up-and-coming Young Numismatist.
- The security guards and how much I love them, Mary Ann and Howard in particular. They’re the regular coin-show-guardians for the Bay Area so we get to see them several times a year, and they’re just good, funny, likable people that I’m very glad to have watching my back.
- Mary Ann brought Dozer, Sisqo’s (her guard dog) son who was unbelievably adorable and felt like velvet; Howard said I was a sucker for getting down on the floor & rubbing his belly. The other guard was trying to look like a tough guy while the pup slept at his feet, and was having a hard time pulling it off.
- Daniel/Justin announced that Shelley needed to be driving a red Ferrari with tan interior, and that he saw me driving a 500-series Mercedes which is ironic because I’ve always wanted a little white Mercedes. This information was presented like deep insight into our psyches.
- Wore my pretty new scarf and was mocked soundly for wearing it when it was “only” 60 degrees out.
- I tried to tell my sister the story behind the Pine & Oak Tree Shillings as well as Racketeering Nickels, Josh Tatum, and why they added the word ‘cents’ to V nickels. She was not impressed, and called me a geek.But my two favorite little points of the weekend had to be:
- There was a young boy of maybe 4 or 5 years who was following his father from case to case, up and down each row of tables at the show. When he got to our first case, he pointed and yelled out (correctly) “MORGAN!!” Shelley was very impressed by this and pointed to another coin and asked if he knew that that one was … he didn’t (it was a Peace Dollar), but as they kept moving by our cases he called out excitedly (and correctly yet again) “SA GAU-ENS!!!”
- There was this boy, about 10, who was really into coins. He’d dragged his mom to the coin show, and I could tell from her patient expression that she was used to it. He had a set budget, and had no particular interest in a specific coin other than “something really old”. I guess I saw myself in the kid (as as I’ve said before my biggest fascination with the industry is the story and history that goes along with coins) and I so I start flipping through a raw copper box I’d just been working on. I pulled out a mid 1800’s large cent that he started to get super excited about, and maybe 10 seconds later dropped an 1804 1/2 cent (damaged) onto the counter. He. Lost. His. Mind. He had already told me what his budget was, but was literally shaking with excitement as he swung his little lunchbox-looking piggy bank onto the table, grabbed a fistful of money and excitedly asked what it cost while thrusting a wad of crumpled bills in my direction. His mother laughed and said she’d been trying to teach him the art of haggling and he just wasn’t getting it. I gave him a screaming deal on the coin, and he left clutching his new treasure as the happiest human being I’d seen in a long time.