EAC 2007 Diary|
by Shawn Yancey
The 2007 annual EAC convention was held April 26-29, 2007, in St. Louis, Missouri. My lovely wife was generous enough to let me attend, and here is a recount of my experience!
My best EAC purchase this year did not happen at EAC - it happened the Monday before on April 23. I had two overnight guests, Chris and David M., at my home in Springfield. I had invited them to stay over to break up their trip to St. Louis, and they accepted. The guys showed up around suppertime to enjoy some of Kim's home-made sour cream chicken enchiladas and some cheese dip, followed by the "cookie monster", a chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of ice cream and covered with hot fudge. I think we all gained 2 pounds that night, but the food was great and we had a nice visit. We talked coins on the patio before coming inside to take a peak at each other's coins. I was happy to show off my S12, and Chris was happy to show me an S16, which never made it out of my home! I purchased the S16 for my collection, so now I need only the two "easy ones" - S13 and S14 - to complete the 1793 liberty cap large cent short set. In fact, that's my goal for the upcoming EAC convention, to see if I can pickup an S13 or S14. We finished up the night by playing a long and hard-fought game of "Piranha Attack", which is a simple but clever game that is one of Jake's (my 3-year old son's) favorites. I was really excited that Chris and David joined us on the carpet and got into the game - my kids really enjoyed all of the attention. Chris and David left the next morning, Tuesday April 24, for St. Louis, and we celebrated Lily Grace's 7th birthday! Some of the doctors told us Lily might not even reach her 7th birthday, but she is proving them all wrong, and is doing simply fantastic. Praise the Lord for our Lily Grace, and for letting us see her get a little better each day.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The big day finally arrived, and I was up at 5 AM to get in my morning workout before packing and hitting the road for St. Louis. The Airport Hilton is just 3.5 hours from Springfield, so I was very happy to drive this year instead of taking a plane. The drive was uneventful, and I hit the hotel around 12:30 PM. I quickly secured my coins in the bourse room, dropped off my clothes in the hotel room, and came down to start setting up. WOW - my inventory has never been this low. I have less than 1 case of coins, so I am a little concerned about having so few coins to sell. I feel like the coins I have for sale are really nice, really rare, or both, but the small number of coins scares me a little bit. I see my good friend David C. arriving and he takes the other half of the table that we are sharing.
Obviously, with so few coins it takes me just a short time to setup, so I quickly do so and then make a pass around the floor to look for want list coins. The first coin I see is a really nice S155 in VG8, which is NOT a want list coin. But I buy it on the spot so it does not get away from me later. I think the 1798 reverse of 1796 large cents are still under-valued, so I have been buying all of them I can find. Unfortunately, this is about the first one I have found in several months. I don't see anything else on the floor that jumps out at me, and probably less than half of the dealers are even here yet, so I decide to spend the next 2 hours from 2:30pm to 4:30pm viewing the auction lots. The overall quality of the lots this year is MUCH better than last year, and there are probably 20-30 coins I would like to buy if the prices are right. But I notice that some of the coins that look nice in the catalog are much uglier in person, and some of the ugly catalog coins are quite nice. Maybe that will give me some good buying opportunities - we'll see about that on Saturday night.
By 4:30 PM I am back on the floor, and there are a few more dealers straggling in. The first coin I sell is my S16 electrotype to Mr. 1793, who is happy to take the coin in trade against what I owe him for a copy of his fabulous book on 1793 large cents. I get the book and some cash, and Jim gets another nice 1793 for his collection. I have a nice 1795 S73 in VG-F on my want list, and I spot an S73 offered as VF20 at $12,000. I don't think the Noyes grade is quite that high, and since the finest known S73 just brought $12,650, this one seems too expensive to me. My customer is looking for a $3000 - $5000 coin, not a $12,000 coin, so I walk away from that one. The same person has a really decent 1796 S104 LIHERTY offered as VG8 for less than $2,000. Noyes calls the coin G6, so the price is fair but a little too high for me to pay for resale. Maybe I can get it for less if it does not sell at EAC - I'll have to come back for that one later. I also see a newly-discovered 1794 S51 in a PCGS AU50 holder, priced at $12,500. The coin would certainly be one of the top 3 or 4 in the census, but it's too expensive for resale and also not something I need for my collection, so I take an appreciative look at the coin and hand it back. Surprisingly, I don't think that coin sold at the convention - didn't anybody see it? At Mr. 1798's case, I am surprised to see him putting his collection out into one of the cases. WOW - can I buy one of his nice 1798 S155's? Nope - these are not for sale, they are just for show, and I take a longing look at his beautiful S155, which just happens to be CC1. He has nothing but choice, beautiful coins, and I am betting he will be turning down lots of cash offers at this venue.
Before I know it, 5 PM is here and the reception has started right outside the bourse floor. This year's convention was open to the John Reich Collector's Society, and the reception is absolutely packed. I think the convention last year in West Palm Beach drew less than 100 sign-ups, but at the Saturday night auction they report that we had 330+ people sign the rolls here in St. Louis, so this was probably one of the most well-attended EAC conventions in our history. Lots of people, and the reception was elbow-to-elbow with too many rears for too few seats. I spot a chair, get down a margarita and a few bites of food, and then get recruited to help setup the room for the Large Cent Happening. After setting up chairs and lights for about 45 minutes, I return to the reception to track down one of my customers that I have been eagerly waiting to meet. I spot Jean and her husband Charles at one of the tables, and spend some time visiting with her. She tells me a story I will never forget about a coin she purchased from me last year. The coin was a CHOICE 1795 large cent with the word "STRONG" counter-stamped across the reverse. It's a beautiful coin, and certainly unique, and it's one that Jean really loves for those reasons. She shares with me that when she passes down her collection, she has earmarked that coin for her daughter-in-law, who she feels is the strongest person that she has ever met. I think that's really cool, and I am happy I had a small part to play in that story.
7 PM arrives fast, and it's time for the happenings. I spend the entire time in the large cent room, mainly because the 1793 S14 liberty cap large cents is one of this year's varieties. Dan has shown me his really nice Frankenfield coin, and I comment that his coin might take the cake. Nope, said Dan, you should see some of the other's out there! He's right - there are some incredible S14's on display, including a PCGS AU50 that is simply stunning. I think there were probably 8 or 10 S14's on the table, and I would have been thrilled to own ANY of them - even the low grade coins were smooth and brown. Patience, Shawn, the S14 will find it's way to you!
I know that one of my heroes is here, so I try to track down Michael to introduce myself. Michael has a fantastic collection of 1793 liberty cap large cents, and he has been one of my customers for years and years. But we have never met, so I am looking forward to putting a face with a name. I actually meet his wife Debi first by spotting her nametag, and she points me in Michael's direction. We spend several minutes talking about 1793 large cents, and he asks if he can study my S15, which is a new discovery and not yet photographed by Noyes. Of course he can, so he says he will hit my table tomorrow to take a look.
I spend time talking with lots of familiar faces, meet a few new ones, and decide to call it a night. Knowing how hard and fast the convention was for me last year, I decide to take advantage of an early night, and I am in bed by 10 PM.
Friday, April 27, 2007
I am up at 6:30 AM and on the bourse when it opens at 7 AM. A little more than half of the dealers are here, and I decide to have breakfast with David, Carol, and Mark. After an incredibly-expensive plate of eggs and fruit, we return to the bourse at 9 AM in time for the public opening. I quickly sell both of my Fugio Club Rays to a dealer, and an 1838 N15 to a long-time customer. Although there are lots of people on the floor, actual sales are slow, and my low inventory is definitely a problem. During a slow spot, I purchase an S120b, S131, S192, S194, and 1823/2 N1 from a dealer. I can see that this is going to be a disappointing show for my want customers, because the coins they need just aren't here. So I decide to look for nice coins to buy instead, and those 5 all fit the bill. I am able to sell an S2 and S3 chain cent that are consignments from one of my customers, so I know that he will be really happy. Michael comes around and studies all of my 1793 large cents, including the new S15, but the one he really likes is my S7. I like it, too, but I guess I have not given that coin as much appreciation as it deserves. I see lots of my website customers, including John, Buck, Ed, Ray, Bill, James, Mike, Greg, Steve, Craig, George, Stephen, and lots of others. Forgive me if I left anybody out!
The bourse closes at 5 PM, and I board the bus at 5:30 PM for the Eric Newman Money Museum. We are in the early group that hits the museum before dinner, and it's a really neat place. There are several different topics about money, history, coins, etc., and my favorites are the money quotations on the wall, and the Benjamin Franklin section, including a nice Libertas Americana medal. We also are entertained by Mr. Newman as he discusses a unique Washington gold piece on display at the museum. We stay about an hour there, and then board the bus for the Whitemore House and dinner. The dinner is buffet-style with a lot of seafood (which does not interest me because we believe Lily Grace's problems were caused by mercury), but I definitely enjoy some of the best roast beef I have ever had in my life! We spend about an hour or more at dinner, and after the short bus ride back, I find myself in my hotel room by 9:30 PM. Another early night!
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Saturday begins on the bourse at 8 AM. There are more seminars today, and the floor traffic is light, so I am on the prowl again for want list coins. At a new dealer I have never met, I purchase a couple of low grade but nice large cents, 1823 N2 and 1824/2 N1, and the dealer tells me about some more copper he has in boxes. I look at a couple of pieces that don't excite me, but then he pulls out a new piece that he is really proud of. He has a retail store, and this coin walked in recently in a group of large coins. It is a 1797 liberty cap half cent, boldly struck over a large cent with about ¼ of the reverse clearly showing the large cent undertype. It's really a dramatic error, and even better, it's on a really nice planchet. After admiring the error on the reverse, I flip it over and WOW - it's a low head. Could it possibly be my "pet" half cent? Of course - it's the 1797 C3b lettered edge, my all-time favorite of the half cents! About 5 years ago I began hunting them down, and owned 18 of them at one time. Coincidentally, only ONE of those was really nice, and what a fool I am for selling that one. But for this beautiful, dramatic error to be struck on one of my favorite varieties is too much for me to stand, and I immediately throw out a very high cash offer on the coin. He says NOPE - this ones' too new, and he likes it too much for now. I make sure he knows that this is one for my own collection that I would never sell, and he assures me that I will have first shot at the coin when he decides to sell it. It's not a coin in his major field of interest, so I am optimistic that at some point he will cash it in. We trade cards and numbers, and he confirms that he will be at EAC 2008 in Dallas. I plan on having a stack of $100 bills to wave under his nose - maybe the temptation will be too much for him next year! Until then, I can only dream about one day calling that one my own.
One of my website customers is selling some early date large cents, and I pick out the S220, S234, S243, and the S249, and write him a check. Sales are slow today, but I do sell an 1801 S224 for $90, and my really nice 1809 S280 large cent PCGS VF20 at a 10% discount from my website price. I have an 1844/81 N2 off-center error that is the only one like it I have ever seen, and one of my customers that collect errors really likes the coin. I mention that I have never owned a brockage, so he pulls out some duplicates for me to look at. My pick of the litter is the 1811/0 S286 with a bold date, clear reverse brockage, and even part of the second date on the brockage side. We make a trade, and I now own my first brockage! I also spot a decent 1801 S219 on the floor, and although it's not perfect, it's very sharp with good eye appeal, so I negotiate a price and take it with me. The sales are somewhat slow today, but the buzz coming from every customer and dealer I talk to is about that evening's auction. Seems like everybody has spotted something they like in the sale, and I have done the same myself. I also have 15 coins in the auction that I am selling, so I feel like I can't lose. If prices go really low, then I should be able to buy a bunch of coins, and if prices go really high, then my consignments should all meet reserve and possibly bring profitable prices. I can't remember this much excitement about the EAC auction, and I can't wait to see how it plays out.
The bourse closes at 5 PM, and I rush back to my room, order room service, and go over my auction catalog again. I spend the next two hours going over my notes in the catalog, and I circle some of the targets and cross off some of the pitfalls. By 7 PM I am ready to roll, so I make my way down to the auction room. Fortunately it's a fairly large room because there are lots of people there. I find a spot with one of my customer / dealer / friends, and watch the fun begin. There are very few colonials, but one of them is mine and it meets my reserve and keeps going. So far so good. There are not that many half cents, either, but there are close to 100 lots and the prices seem to be pretty strong. All of them exceed my buy prices, so to this point I have been shut out. Time for the large cents, and the big question is how much those choice Electrotypes will sell for. I have my eye on the two Strawberry leaf electros at $500 and $1000, but each one goes past my level so I don't get those, either. Most of the choice ones bring what I think are strong but not unreasonable prices, and then we begin with the "real coins." I finally take down a lot with the first S80 Jefferson Head electrotype, which is a nice copy of the ANS - Breen - Penny Whimsy coin. This coin is a slight upgrade to the one that I have, so I am happy to take this one down. Looks like I can put my duplicate up for sale now - I had two people that wanted it, maybe they still do. I also take down the first S104, which has VG8 details and choice color, but some light reverse rim nicks. I also win the S182, S245, and one of the S271 comets, so all said I end up with 5 lots. Better than the three I got last year, but still not as many as I had hoped for. There are a few coins I wish I would have pushed harder, but all told I am very happy with the 5 lots I won. On the sales side, 11 of my 15 coins met their reserve, and some of them actually did really well. Some lost money, some made money, but overall the good outweighed the bad, and this is the best I have ever done in an EAC auction. I stay for part of the middle dates, but that's not my bag, so I sneak out after a couple dozen lots. I think I am in bed between 10 and 11 PM, so once again, no late night for me!
Sunday, April 29, 2007
I am up and around at 7 AM, and the first job is to pack up my things and load them into the car. I attend the EAC meeting at 8 AM, and it is confirmed that EAC 2008 is Dallas, EAC 2009 is Cincinnati, and EAC 2010 is Annapolis. The big news, at least to me, is that the 12th person in EAC history has completed the early date large cent set, and it's somebody that I have sold a few coins to: Ralph Rucker. An announcement is made, photos are taken, and it's applause all around. Congratulations, Ralph! By 9 AM the meeting is over and the bourse opens again. I have struck out in my pursuit of an S13 or S14, so I decide to chase my secondary pursuit of a nice chain cent. CVM has a couple of them for me to look at, and his table is finally empty enough that I can sit down and visit with him. Both of his chains are pretty nice, and I offer him a coin to consider in trade for one of the chain cents. He takes my coin and we agree to discuss the potential trade in two weeks at the Central States show, which is also in St. Louis. I look through Chris' inventory, and although there are no want list coins to be found, I do purchase 6-8 nice coins for stock, including some decent 1794 liberty caps. I have not been able to buy any decent 1794 large cents for quite a while, so I am very happy to find 4 decent and reasonably-priced ones here. Those will make somebody really happy . . . . ? My last business item is to pull the trigger on a choice 1793 S9 wreath cent, NGC VF30, that I have been thinking about since I first saw it at EAC 2006 in West Palm Beach. The coin is really, really nice, and Craig gives me another small discount that seals the deal. That one will go into my personal collection - I look more and more each time I see it. It's an early die state coin without the reverse die cracks, and the beads are nearly 100% complete. The color is superb and there are no marks to speak of - I would call it choice but even the strict guys would call it average plus. So I have scored three coins this week for my personal collection (S9, S16, S80 electro)- hard to be disappointed with that! Although the bourse is open until 3 PM, I can't wait to see my family, so I pack up at noon and am on the road by 12:30 PM.
That's it! Although EAC was very successful for me this year in a lot of different areas, it was also somewhat disappointing. I found almost NONE of my want list coins, and my low number of coins for sell was definitely a disadvantage. But it was so much fun to see everybody, to meet many people I had not met, and to be able to see so much copper in one place. EAC is definitely the highlight of the year for me in the early copper world, and this year was no exception. But I learned a lot of things that I will incorporate to make next year even better. And praise the Lord - I can drive to Dallas, so another year without airplanes!