The Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo held at the Baltimore
Convention Center from Thursday, March 31, to Sunday, April 2, was one
of the best ever.
“Over 1,400 dealers were here,” said Mary Burleson, president of
Whitman, “and from the time the doors opened on Thursday morning,
thousands of collectors roamed the bourse floor. This was one of our
best shows ever, even better than last year!”
“This Expo exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Lori Kraft, show
manager, commented. “Dealers are essential to any show’s success, and
all I talked to had smiles on their faces. Of course, collectors and
their checkbooks made all of this happen.”
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There was a lot going on at the expo, ranging from Kids’ Korner
activities each day for the younger set to meetings of specialized
groups including the Liberty Seated Collectors
Club, Barber Coin Collectors Society, John Reich Collectors
Society, Early American Coppers, and the Maryland Token & Medal
Society. Leonard Augsburger gave a special presentation on the new
Eric Newman Numismatic Portal, a boon for anyone interested in
numismatic history and research.
In the meantime the United States Mint had a
display along one convention wall. Starting as soon as the show
opened, a long line formed as buyers watched the clock. At noon
precisely the Proof 2016 American Buffalo 1-ounce gold coin was
released in all sales channels, including in-person sales by Mint
staff at the show. Excitement prevailed, and on the first day 1,865
were sold. On the next day only nine were sold. Why? The Mint had sold
out its entire show allotment!
“The Essence of Timeless Beauty” was the backdrop for this timeless design.
“We were happy to be able to offer the coins to collectors attending
the Expo,” said Mint spokesman Michael White. “James Earle Fraser’s
Buffalo nickel design is one of the most popular designs on American
coinage, symbolic of the strength of our nation and our heritage.”
Throughout the expo the Mint staff were busy selling other coins,
including Proofs, sets, and commemoratives. On display for the first
time and not for sale was a gold 2016 Winged Liberty Head dime — a
coming attraction commemorating 100 years of this motif.
There was another “first day” of release event at the show. At the
large Whitman Publishing LLC wall display of books, the new 2017
cover-date 70th Anniversary Edition of
A Guide Book of United States Coins was
released with great enthusiasm. Editor Kenneth Bressett, Jeff Garrett
as valuations editor, and I as research editor pre-signed 48 books and
numbered them with the first day date. Each day at 2:00 in the
afternoon at the show 10 copies were given away for free to attendees
who filled out tickets and put the stubs in a jar. “You are not
allowed to sell your copies on eBay,” I kidded the winners when on the
first day I was the one to draw the lucky numbers.
On Thursday night Wayne Homren, editor of the popular
e-newsletter, hosted a dinner of the Nova Nummus group, a regional
society for writers and others, to which I was fortunate enough to be
invited. Over the course of several hours I was reminded how many
talented people are at work with research — many being from the “old
guard” active for a long time.
In the meantime, Stack’s Bowers Galleries kept up a steady pace
of auctions, with four separate catalogs. The total realization was
over $13,500,000. “The Baltimore Expos are always a highlight in our
auction program,” Chris Karstedt, vice president of the company
stated. “This was one of our best ever. Bids came from all directions
— from the sale gallery at the Expo, via the Internet, and on the
telephone. Many record prices were set, and action was strong from
start to finish.”
Leading the sale was a 1799 Capped Bust gold $10 eagle, graded Mint
State 66 by Professional Coin Grading Service, that attracted wide
attention and kept going up and up until only one floor and three
telephone bidders remained. (All prices include the buyer’s fee.) They
dueled it out, and the coin went through the roof at $493,500. Among
other gold coins, an MS-61 1808 Capped Bust $2.50 quarter eagle, the
only year of the design type, was bid up to $223,250.
Among large copper cents in the Twin Leaf Collection, presented in a
separate catalog, the rare 1839/6 Coronet cent in PCGS About
Uncirculated 53 (PCGS), one of the finest known of this seldom-seen
issue, went to a buyer attending from New England. Among the more
unusual items was an original roll of 1935-D Winged Liberty Head dimes
that went for $28,200. Although rolls of dimes and other coins from
the mid-1930s were once bought and sold with regularity, such are
seldom seen today as they have been broken up for individual sale.
Among currency a $10 Series of 1902 Date Back national bank note of
the First National Bank of Horse Cave (Kentucky), a well-worn Paper Money
Guaranty Very Good 10 but very rare note crossed the block at
$12,337.50. A $20 national gold bank note of the First National Gold
Bank of Oakland (California), PMG Fine 12 Net with repairs and a tear,
sold for a strong $15,863,50. A serial number 1 Original Series $1
national bank note of the Concord National Bank (Massachusetts), PMG
Very Fine 20, went to a new home for $15,275.
“Rarity came to the fore in the sale,” commented Stack’s Bowers
Galleries specialist Peter Treglia.
All too soon, the show was over. Everyone I spoke with had a nice time.
“Remind everyone that the next Expo will be at the Baltimore
Convention July 14 to 17, and it is not too early to make
reservations,” Mary Burleson suggested as she left for home. Indeed, I
plan to be there and will look forward to meeting and greeting Coin
World readers and others.