The Long Beach Coin Show, January 2014
This Long Beach show was, by all accounts, one of the best coin shows in years! Keeping up with the incredible pace set by some early January auctions and the FUN show, this Long Beach show pushed the envelope even more!
My “Coin Porn” section will be a regular feature at the bottom of each show write-up from now on – be sure to check it out at the very bottom of the page!
Dealer set-up day is usually my favorite day of a coin show, and this set up day was no exception. We arrived at the Long Beach Convention center around 1:45pm to set up, and got most of the drudgery out of the way quickly. Long Beach is in our back yard (a 20 to 45 minute drive each way depending on traffic), and one of my favorite things about the show is the fact that I don’t really have to do anything to set up! Score! Rob, my cousin-in-law and a big 6-foot-plus guy, does nearly all the heavy lifting/hauling/tech-ing while I wander off to greet new and old friends and acquaintances. I was incredibly happy to discover that Nina Phan’s table is literally right across from mine! It was going to be a good show, indeed.
It took a while to get used to our table, even though we’re in the exact same spot we’ve been in for some 25 years; normally we have one of our BFF-dealer buddies at the table immediately to our left, and so we have what feels like a giant corner booth. This show, we had our corner table but no straight table to the side, and no safe. I don’t think we’ve ever felt so squished in. It was one of those situations where everything felt like it was six inches to the left, even though everything was just where it should be. Of course, we managed to adapt and overcome (to our first-world problems).
The first transaction of the show was a biggie at just over $200,000, and contained a ton of Carson City $20’s and San Francisco Mint $20’s, all certified and high grade among other odds and ends (see the Coin Porn at the bottom). It was an amazing start, and we all hoped that it was a sign of good things to come.
The rest of set up day proceeded without any other particularly other noteworthy happenings, and then my favorite part of dealer day at Long Beach happened – free beer! Every Long Beach, at 5:00pm, the Long Beach Expo people give the dealers free beer and munchies, and this year it was taquitos. I’m not much for the munchies, but I did partake of the free beer! Another hour or so saw us leaving the floor for a techie-website-y meeting that lasted some 90 minutes (thank goodness I had that beer first, right?), before we all went to Gladstone’s for a late dinner. It was a good day, and we were all excited to see what the rest of the show would bring.
Thursday morning I hit the floor more than a little late at 9:45am, and I was surprised to find only Mal at the table. He hand I held down the fort alone for a few hours before the rest of the coin show crew, Shelley and Tyler, made it in to sling those coins.
I was pleased to make the acquaintance of a new female coin dealer who had just gotten back into the business after a bit of an absence to take over her father’s shop full time. It’s always a pleasure to meet people who are excited about the industry and their place in it! I should have taken a picture of the lovely young woman, but I failed in my coin-show-reporting duties in this instance. You’ll just have to forgive me, and wait for Atlanta!
Thursday night the lovely Nina Phan invited me to a dealer dinner, and I dragged the reluctant Tyler along (he ended up having a ball). There were some 40 dealers that had completely taken over the back room of a little restaurant called Naples Rib Company, with dealers spilling over into the main dining areas once the back area was full. I’ve heard different accounts of who supposedly started the tradition, but whoever it was – it’s a great idea that I hope spills over into more of the major shows!
We coin dealers are a small little world, and even if you’ve not met someone directly, you likely know all about them anyway. Not that it’s gossip, the world of numismatics is just so small that you hear just about everything anyone does; and I love how a lot of business arrangements have generated tight, life-long friendships.
After dinner, Nina Phan and I went back to the Hyatt bar to see who was there to be seen (not a soul), and unknowingly embarked on an epic adventure to order two simple drinks that ended up taking about 20 minutes and needed a lot of explanation. We eventually ran into Steven Schuch, and settled on the back patio where we had a giant fire pit all to ourselves for the rest of the night.
Friday morning came not quite as early for me, as I didn’t end up getting to the convention center until about 10am. I know, I know – I’m bad. Several dealers looked at me, and then pointedly at their watches as I took my walk-of-lateness-shame down the aisles to the booth.
This morning, the second to the last day of the show for those keeping track, was the morning of “I didn’t know you were here!” as I found myself continually running into new friends I’d made at the FUN show that I had somehow managed to elude me for three straight days. What’s even worse about that is that three of them were within about 20 feet of my table the entire time. Apparently I should consider getting glasses.
It was lovely to catch up with them and even manage to squeeze in the occasional break together, but unfortunately I couldn’t make the group’s dinner as we had planned a company celebratory dinner for Friday night, and of course that was the night that this group was all going out together. I made sure to get all their contact information this time, and hopefully in a few weeks during the Atlanta show we can all get together.
As for the show itself, Friday was steady but a bit slower than the previous days and allowed us to catch up on pricing big piles of coins that had been put on hold by other dealers. It was all around a good day for catching-up, both on the business side and financially. I was able to wander to other dealer’s booths and chit-chat a bit, and even snagged my very first official cup of world-famous Charmy wine!
That night, the coin show crew (minus Tyler who had another engagement back home) went to Tokyo Wako for dinner and a show at one of the Teppan tables. There was a little girl at the other end of our table who couldn’t’ve been more than 8 years old who was completely awed by the entire spectacle. I think Mal and I watched her more than the chef’s show!
Once dinner was done, Shelley and I ditched the boys and went back to the Hyatt’s bar for a bit before heading across the street to one of my very favorite places in Long Beach: Sergeant Pepper’s Dueling Piano Bar. Not for the faint of heart, these dueling pianists are rude, crude, and swear like sailors. But if you’re into that kinda thing (and I admit it, I am) it’s an absolute blast. They’re incredibly talented musicians, and I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.
We’d only been there for about an hour when I get a text from Nina who was still with the group that I hadn’t been able to have dinner with, and they came to join us! We squished two tables together and had a little coin-nerd area, with 5 of what I jokingly refer to as the “cool coin kids crew” joining Shelley and me. Much fun was had by all, and I ended up staying out waaay too late considering the drive I had in front of me. I’m going to go ahead and blame Shelley for this one, though: I had left my purse in her car, and every time we talked about going she said “Just a few more songs!” Who was I to argue?
Saturday was your typical tear-down day … By the time I got there in the morning (admittedly a little late again), maybe 1/5th of the dealers were already packed up and gone. It was a very quiet morning, but when people did stop by, they were looking for nice coins, so it turned out to be another very productive if slow-paced day.
Finally, of course, it was time to tear everything down and say our last goodbyes. This felt like a Long Beach back from the golden era of coin shows, with lots of friends and laughs – and big sales. When all was said and done we had sold well over half a million dollars in coins in four days. These shows rarely feel like work to me (except for the whole getting up at the crack of dawn thing) … they’re more like little mini-adventures in numismatics, and you never know what you’re going to find as you wander the rows of booths. I’ve come across incredibly rare coins, I’ve found little slices of American history, and I’ve discovered new friends.
You know what they say, and it’s a little on the cheesey side but still true: If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
And now, my “famous” bullet points! Random little tidbits that don’t really fit in anywhere else that I found interesting and/or amusing:
- I ended up with about 4 of the free beers they give to dealers at the end of each dealer setup day lined up on my table thanks to generous dealer friends!
- Justin-Daniel from the Concord Show came by and immediately asked Shelley to go out for drinks, then turned bright red and hid behind his folder – again.
- Apparently dealers point people to our table just by saying “look for the redhead”, so if I’m not at the table for whatever reason, they get hopelessly lost.
- While at the “dealer dinner” at Naples Rib Company, four of the ladies (Nina Phan, Charmy Harker, Cindi Snow and I) were all trying to get a good picture of the four of us together. A poor dealer-bystander was asked to take pictures about 2 dozen times on 4 different phones before we got one everyone was happy with!
- Apparently on Thursday night if I had stayed in the Hyatt bar for 10 more minutes I would have seen a quartet sing an a cappella song right in the middle of the Hyatt bar! It turns out there was a barber shop quarter convention in town, and they just got up and burst into song in the middle of everything. I was so sad I missed it.
- Some guy followed me around commentating to his friend like he was a wildlife program’s narrator about studying the migratory patterns of the North American redhead, complete with his best English accent.
- While tearing the booths down, Nina (whose table is right across from ours) kept dancing to music that I couldn’t hear so, so as far as I was concerned she was just rockin’ out by herself. The perfect end to a fantastic show!