Even though it involves a schlep of Biblical Proportions, I really enjoy the tri-annual Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo. I can count on three shows each year that will be professionally run, well-attended and extremely active from both a wholesale and retail perspective. In many ways, Baltimore is the new Long Beach. Prior to the beginning of the show, Stack’s conducted an impressive 3,800+ lot auction. I made the decision not to attend this sale in person as I did not want my Baltimore Experience to stretch into a nearly one week marathon. I did have a Trusted Agent look at a small number of coins for me and I placed a group of what I thought were strong bids. And I proceeded to get blown out of the water. While I can’t comment on the entire auction, the coins that interested me went for numbers that were pretty insane, to say the least.
The first day of the Baltimore show (Thursday) is dealer-only and, to tell you the truth, I like this very much. Having only wholesale business on this day let’s me get more done and it lets me focus strongly on buying.
But because of the fact that I had some interesting fresh coins with me, I spent most of Thursday selling. And selling. And selling some more. I had around fifteen CAC-stickered type coins and with the exception of two that I was asking very strong prices for, they all sold quickly. I can’t say for certain that it was because of the CAC stickers or because type coins are suddenly in demand. My guess is that it is a combination of the two.
So what sold? As I mentioned above, type coins that were attractive or scarce dates or, better yet a combination of the two were in great demand. I would look for this to be a very strong area of the market in 2008. I sold a number of great Carson City coins at the show including two nice AU 1870-CC half eagles, a Condition Census 1871-CC, a solid AU 1875-CC and a really cool secret coin from the 1880’s that I promised the dealer I sold it to that I wouldn’t tell anyone. I also sold a few big-time early gold coins, two proof gold coins and a group of New Orleans gold including some scarcer date eagles.
Generic gold was very active at the show. From what I could tell, demand was high but prices were quite volatile. As an example, at the beginning of the show on Thursday, MS65 Saints were bringing $1,400. But after a few people were short, prices slowly climbed and by the end of the show they were bringing $1,475.
The doors opened to the public on Friday and a Thundering Herd of Serious Collectors stampeded through the doors as the clock struck 10:00. OK, maybe it wasn’t a stampede but the room crowded up quickly and I ran into a majority of the serious collectors from the East Coast that I know by the early afternoon. People at this show definitely come to buy and not to tire kick and I sold a number of very interesting coins.
I typically leave a Baltimore show on Friday but business was so brisk that I rebooked my flight and stayed for the rest of the day. I continued being busy right up until the end of the day and left the bourse floor tired but very satisfied.
The good news about this show, as I mentioned, was that my sales were pretty exceptional. The not-so-good news is that my buying was good but not great. I loved what I bought but I would have liked to have spent a lot more money.
For me, the year is essentially over. I will still be buying and selling coins but my travel is done with the exception of a quick trip to Dallas before Christmas to view Heritage 2008 FUN sale auction lots.
My guess is that from now until the end of the year, things will be reasonably slow in Coin Land although if gold continues its upward ramble towards the $1,000 mark we might see some surprise rare coin activity.