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EAC 2009 Diary
by Tom Deck
April 29, 2009


EAC 2009 actually began early for my family and me this year. Cincinnati, Ohio is an ideal location for me, as I have family on both sides there, so Carra and I and the kids packed up early afternoon Sunday, April 12th, for the drive up from Mobile, AL. Cincinnati is about a 12-hour drive, and the top of Alabama is the halfway point, so we made reservations at a Sleep Inn in Athens, AL for the night of the 13th, and then left Athens for Cincinnati the subsequent Monday morning. Joshua and Sarah Catherine were on spring break the whole week, so things couldn't have worked out better.

We arrived at the Drawbridge Inn late Monday evening. I had attended EAC twice before here, back in 1999 (my first EAC) and again in 2003, but this is the first time all four of us have come, and also the first time we stayed at the Drawbridge instead of with relatives. The Drawbridge has a heated indoor pool (which the kids took advantage of, and I did once,) plus cable TV of course, which the kids loved, as we don't have cable at our house. (I'm not sure, but I think there's a channel that's entirely devoted to Sponge Bob.) My cousin Gail and her husband Bryan live nearby in Covington, and we drive over to see them and their two girls, Lindsay (whose 11) and Lauren (7). Lindsay challenges me to Guitar Hero and manages to beat me quite handily. (I'll have to practice more!)

Tuesday and Wednesday fly by. Much of Tuesday is spent exploring downtown Cincinnati. We stop at a Skyline Chili for lunch, which is a Cincinnati staple. I make a mental note to visit the Avril-Bleh meat market to pick up some bratwurst, mettwurst, and goetta to bring home, things you definitely can't find in Mobile. We also tour the wharf in Newport, KY. The kids have fun crossing the Ohio River on the "purple people bridge", back and forth from Kentucky to Ohio. We're joined by my Uncle Dave, Aunt Carolyn, cousin David, and his wife Jennifer, at Pompilio's Italian restaurant in Newport. Pompilio's has a bocce court set up, and we play a few rounds before dinner. Wednesday is spent at the Union Terminal in Cincinnati, which is a world-class childrens' museum, complete with an Omnimax theater, where we saw a movie about dinosaurs. (Joshua loved it; Sarah Catherine not so much.) Union Terminal is actually three museums in one, and we tour all three. One of the highlights for me is an exhibit featuring how people lived back in days past, starting in 1790. After the museum we visit my Uncle Tom (who I'm named after) and my Aunt Mary at their new condo. My Uncle Tom is a huge Cincinnati Reds fan like me. (My only regret about the trip is that the Reds are playing road games for the entire time we're here.)

I'm really looking forward to Doug Bird and Steve Carr's seminar tomorrow morning on grading and counterfeit detection. Late Wednesday evening I go down to the front desk to try to find out where it's going to be, and a few fellow EACers, including Chuck Heck, are down there talking coppers. I'm definitely in my element now and excited about tomorrow!

For some reason I don't sleep well that night. (Visions of large cents dancing in my head?) Anyhow, I do manage a few hours of sleep and get to the seminar in plenty of time. I talk to Steve before the seminar starts and tell him I have a few 1853 N19s, which are known for their off-center strikes. (Steve has over a roll of these!) There's perhaps 20 or so of us attending the seminar. Doug and Steve have a few dozen coins to pass around, plus any coins that attendees bring, and we each write down how we'd grade the coin for sharpness and net grade. The gentleman next to me has brought an 1823 normal date and a fantastic 1793 S-13 in a PCGS G6 holder. I spot Scott Enterline sitting in the row in front of me, which is great; there are several EACers whom I only new via correspondance, and it's always fun meeting people I only new previous via email. (As it turns out I had met Scott briefly last year in Dallas but didn't get a chance to chat.)

The coins come around; all grades and types, from a smooth, heavily worn 1793 to several problem coins, like a high grade 1802 S-232 that's been burnished. At the end of passing around the coins, Steve goes through the coins one by one, writing our grades on a large board at the front of the room, and then Doug Bird examines the coins and gives his sharpness and net grade. I'm not fooled by the burnished 1802, but I do miss some defects that others catch. As a general rule, the class is pretty close in grade on the no-problem coins, but all over the board with the problem coins. This is due to a few reasons; some don't spot the problems, or net grade them differently depending on how they perceive the problem. Steve has a good rule: if he doesn't like a coin, he net grades it AG3 and then goes up from there if necessary. Basically the trick is to ask yourself, "given this coin, and another coin in a lower grade without defects, at what point do they balance in desirability?" A good lesson. As Doug grades the coins, I'm always fairly close to Doug's sharpness grade, but usually higher on the net grade than Doug. The seminar is well worth it, and I encourage anyone who hasn't done it to attend. I learned a lot!

After the seminar I'm briefly back in the hotel room; Carra is going to the Pottery Barn outlet store today up I-71. (I tell her that she's welcome to stay and look at auction lots, but she declines - go figure!) The kids are content to hang around the hotel today (probably watching hours of Sponge Bob.) Lot viewing is going on, and I enter the bourse to start looking at lots. I spot Shawn Yancey setting up his table in the bourse and say a brief "hi" to him, as well as get a sneak peek at his "secret book of new coins." I know there's an 1801 S-218 in there amongst others; tomorrow morning I'll have to come by early to see them all. At the lot viewing table, Mark Switzer and Nicqui Tran are passing out the boxes containing the auction lots. (Somehow I get stuck with Mark.) Lots of dealers here already; in fact I grab the last remaining chair. I hear someone call my name, and Craig Hamling is sitting a few chairs down from me. Lots of auction lot boxes this year; Mark has a good idea this year to have more boxes and fewer coins per box. As it turns out, most of the early date boxes are "checked out," so they can't be seen in order. I decide to make a list of boxes I've already seen to make life easy. Several coins caught my eye from the auction catalog: the 1800 S-202 G4+, 1798 S-167 F12, and 1802 S-234 VG8. The S-202 is really nice; will have to try to go after that one. Many others look a lot nicer in person than in the catalog photos, and vice versa. LOTS of nice middle dates this year. I'm bidding on behalf of a few folks, and check out the coins they're interested in. One such coin is the 1834 N5; there are two in the auction, and one is pretty decent and the other, let's just say, isn't. (Nothing like seeing the coins in person!)

The day goes by VERY quickly. In no time is the EAC reception, followed by the Happenings. I bring the kids to the reception; we're a bit late but the food is excellent. Greg Heim is there with his two daughters, Rosalind and Stephanie, and we sit at his table. We talk about a nice 1796 S-103 "LIHERTY" cent that I bought from him earlier that year, which now belongs to one of my local EAC buddies. Greg is giving a talk about selling on eBay the next morning, and I make a note not to miss that. Near the end of the reception I spot one of my good friends Brett Dudek in the back, and we spend a lot of time reminiscing about EAC 1999 in this same place. Unfortunately, neither of us thought to bring a chess set; back in 1999 Brett and I had some epic chess matches. Will definitely have to remember to bring one next time! Brett introduces me to Bill McMahon, who collects coins in slabs; he has a nice 1796 S-110 that he's brought. (Love those '96 busts; wonder if there will be any affordable ones on the bourse tomorrow?) I show Brett and Bill three coins I've brought for the large cent happening, an S-122, S-168, and S-281.

A quick trip back to the hotel room and Carra is back, and I hear the dreaded "f" word. Furniture! Actually she's bought a nice leather chair at the Pottery Barn outlet that's around 75% off, and is comfortable, so I'm actually pretty happy about that. And it fits in the van! (Of course, for the same price you could get a nice low grade '96 bust, but you really can't sit on that and be comfortable.)

Finally - the Happening! It actually begins earlier than scheduled, and I almost miss being able to enter my coins. (In fact, if it weren't for Brett I probably WOULD have missed it.) Ralph Rucker is there to accept my coins (and give me receipts for them, which turns out to be important.) I submitted S-122 to Dan Trollan earlier in the year as a possible "happening" variety, and it was accepted. Mine's a nice medium brown, low grade coin, but it looks quite ordinary amongst the other S-122s, a few of which are quite nice (with one outstanding example with reverse cuds that I find out is Walt Husak's.) Also my S-281 (which looked pretty good an hour ago) pales in comparison to the other examples shown. I fill out my card (in which you rate the coins 1 through 5, depending on what coins you LIKE, not necessarily by what you'd net grade them,) and resist the urge to bid on my own coin. I learned a few things coin-wise from the happening: S-122 comes with several reverse cud progressions that I didn't know about, and so does 1847 N18, the "7 over medium 7" variety. Randy Snyder is presiding over one of the tables; I ask him when the happening ends and says when we get tired, or something like that!

Shawn Yancey mentions at some point to walk over to the half cent happening; on display are four examples of the 1797 C-3c "gripped edge" in which only nine examples are known. I had never seen one before (much less four!) I make a note that the gripped edge marks on these are not uniform like they are on the 1797 S-120b and S-121b large cents; they're sort of paired up in groups of two, with spaces between the pairs.

Pretty soon we do get tired, and I go back to the large cent room to pick up my coins. One problem - my S-122 is not there! Steve Carr and Dan Trollan look worried, and Ralph is searching under stuff to try and find it. Oh, great. Fortunately Ralph is running things back in his mind, and asks one of the other participants about it, and he has my coin - in the exact same type holder that my coin was in. Just a simple mixup. Huge sigh of relief for me, as an S-281 for instance could be easily replaced, but not a R5+ S-122! Fortunately I can sleep well tonight.

Friday morning arrives; the bourse is open today! Carra and the kids have plans to go to the Cincinnati Zoo today, so I say goodbye to them and head downstairs to the entrance to the bourse. I get there right before 9:00 AM, and several other folks are waiting to get in, but the wait isn't long. Chris McCawley's table is nearby, and like every year he is giving away EAC 2009 T-shirts; this is always a popular gathering spot. I find an XL, thank Chris, and briefly peruse his table; several nice '94s. I'm not really looking for a '94, but if the right one presents itself I'll consider it. I ask Chris if he has any S-144s (the rarest 1798 Sheldon variety,) plus many other dealers. This is a longshot coin to get, even at EAC, but not impossible.

I've brought my laptop and scanner with me, and seek out Ralph Rucker's table. Ralph is working on a 2x2 envelope project to create a guide consisting of scans of coin envelopes and their owners. Ralph's wife Sherry is there to help with the project, and after a brief tutorial we're scanning envelopes and everything is working great. Bill Noyes is nearby, setting up his camera for coin photographs. I've brought an 1831 N8 terminal die state that I acquired awhile back; Bill photographs the coin and hands it back to me. There's an example of the same variety and die state in the auction this year, a virtual twin of my coin, so I'm curious what that coin will bring.

Near Bill's table I overhear Jerry Stubblefield saying something about an S-144. I ask Jerry about it, and he shows me a beautiful example he just acquired that's probably VG or close. I'm thinking "oh great; I've probably missed an opportunity," but Jerry says it's a $10,000 coin, which is WAY out of my price range. Still very nice to look at though.

Time to find Shawn Yancey, and check out his "secret book of new coins!" (As it turns out, it's more like "boxes of new coins," but that's ok.) He has several 1793s and 1796s which catch my eye. However, I find the S-218 that I know Shawn has, which is in a PCGS G6 holder. It turns out that, in the past, the coin had the letters R and B lightly etched into the fields, but there are no sign of them now. The coin has a strong date, RTY clear, and the three errors are bold. We eventually work out a partial trade with some coins I've brought to lessen the financial blow somewhat, and I end up with the S-218! (Back in EAC 2003 I'd tried to acquire the one out of that sale but was the underbidder. So six years later I've finally managed to fill a very tough hole, leaving the prohibitive S-217 as the only Sheldon-numbered 1801 that I need.) At this point, if I don't buy another coin at EAC I can walk away happy.

There are so many dealers set up that there's no way to see them all today. Tom Reynolds is nearby and always has some mouth-watering coins, which several others have noticed also. Wow, lots of very nice '96s; must make some mental notes. His S-86 would be a nice condition upgrade. He has a very nice lower grade S-119, but I found that variety not long ago in a Goldberg sale; else Tom's example probably would have been too tempting to pass up. I look at many coins on others' tables, but nothing jumps out at me. I meet one dealer who I don't immediately recognize (which he kids me about) - it's Jerry Wysong, whom I've bought several coins from off eBay, plus a rather nice S-145 that I remember came from Jerry back at my first EAC in 1999. Jerry often runs eBay auctions of lower grade but nice coins, exactly what I like to collect.

It's after 1:00 PM and I realize I'm starving; with so much to do and look at sometimes you just forget to eat. I'm without car, but Josh's Tavern and Grille is located right inside the hotel, and I spot Mark Switzer and Nicqui at a table and join them. Mark's ordered a huge hamburger that looks great, and I order the same thing, which really hits the spot.

Time to do some lot viewing in earnest. There are a few open chairs now, as it's mostly collectors now, and I'm able to finish looking at the early dates. As it turns out, Jack Robinson is sitting in the chair next to me, and I ask him if he'd sign my copy of CQR. (Jack then signs Mark's copy, plus a few others; sorry Jack, didn't mean to start something!) Later I tell Carra, who calls me a geek I think, but it's all good. Next to coins I like in the auction catalog I'll usually put things like "nice", "wow", "better than photo", "sweet", or something like that; Jack's a bit more thorough than I am. I draw stars next to a few of the lots that I really want to go after, the S-202 being number one. (A star is easy to spot in the auction catalog as the auction itself progresses, and reminds me to concentrate when that lot is called.)

Jack and I get talking about CQR a bit, as there's one thing I've never been able to figure out, and that's the paradox of the relationship between net grading and the condition census. (I know that sounds like the title of a graduate thesis, but let me explain.) For instance, suppose you have an 1804 S-266 in average VF30, and another that net grades XF40 (a specific example is mentioned in CQR under S-166.) As it turns out, the net XF40 coin has been tooled, but is in the condition census as a 40. So the question is, is it possible to have two coins of the same variety, where one coin has a higher rank in the condition census than the other, yet have the lower-ranking coin be more desirable (hence, have a higher value) than the coin higher in the census? According to Jack, the answer is an absolute YES! So now, we have to figure out how to define which coin is "better" - the one higher in the condition census, or the more valuable one? One question I should have asked but didn't is this: What conditon is the XF40 1804? Is it XF40 scudzy? Average minus?

One way to reconcile this conundrum is this: CQR uses a PAIR of factors in determining price, net grade and condition (e.g., G5 choice; VG8 average.) In fact, Jack pointed out a specific example in CQR, 1820 N6 (amongst a myriad of others) where the G5 choice price was the same as the VG8 average price, in this case, $35. However, the condition census only takes ONE of these factors, net grade, in determining condition census position. Back in the grading and counterfeit detection seminar, Steve Carr's version of net grading factored in condition; hence, his "VG8 net AG3" would mean something like "VG sharpness, but I'd prefer a no-problem G4 to this coin; however, it's nicer than a Fair-2, but about the same desirability-wise as a no-problem AG3." This is pretty much the definition of market grading, or to use one of my favorite phrases, "I grade this coin $500."


It's about this time that I realize Dan Holmes is sitting nearby, next to the lot viewing for his early dates, that Goldberg is auctioning off later in the year in September. Dan was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) about a year and a half ago, and is in a wheelchair. However, Dan's enthusiasm for coins, as well as his sense of humor, is as strong as ever. As it turns out, Golberg has produced 300 special auction catalogs for Dan's sale that are strictly for the benefit of us EACers here at the convention! (The actual sale catalogs I find out will be different from these.)

Dan is busy talking to several folks, but I finally get a chance to greet him, and he sees my nametag and says, "oh - congratulations on completing a variety set of 1800s!" I'm really taken aback by this; here's a guy who's completed an ENTIRE set of large cents except for two varieties, the 1793 NC-5 that's permanently part of ANS and the unique 1851 N-42, and he knows that about me - what a huge honor. (Any questions about Dan or any other top collectors being "elitist" just went right out the window.) Dan asks if I'd like him to sign my catalog (absolutely - thanks!) Somehow the conversation turns to 1799 cents, and Dan asks for one of his boxes to be brought over, the one with his 1799 cents in it. First coin he shows me is a slabbed, mint-state 1799 S-189 (holy smokes, what an unbelievable coin. If this coin grades EAC 60, than it's 57 points better than mine!) Next we look at two 1799/8 varieties, the S-188 and the NC-1. These differ only by minute details on the reverse, and I study the reverse of both coins carefully. Bob Grellman takes note of this, and shows me that the easiest way to tell them apart is that there is a a short die line from one of the rightmost leaves to the neighboring stem on the S-188 that isn't present on the NC-1. Dan then relates a story to me that the first 1799/8 NC-1 that he ever bought stayed in his collection awhile, only to find out later that it was an S-188 all along. Another neat coin I look at is the 1793 S-14 out of the Dr. Sheldon color set, which, as it turns out, is very significant to Dan's collection, which he mentions later that evening. Talking coins with Dan Holmes is definitely one of the big highlights of EAC for me.

I take some time to browse many of the lots in Dan's collection. Talk about some neat coins. Box #1 contains the 1793s, and I examine the two Strawberry Leaf cents in the collection (wow), plus some mind-blowing Chain cents, and the unique 1793 NC-5, that is on loan from the ANS museum (and is actually plated in the catalog but is not for sale.) I also look at the S-144 in the collection, but it's probably going to go for a lot more than I can afford.

Chuck Heck announces one of the educational seminars: Greg Heim's talk on using eBay. It's rather well attended and I sit near the front. One of the points I really agree with is taking GOOD photographs of coins, and minimizing descriptions (but making sure to point out defects that might not be obvious.) Greg points out a lot of details about eBay that I'm not aware of; for example, if you pay for an auction with PayPal, you have a 30-day return, no matter what the auction description says. Also, Greg strongly suggests to leave feedback immediately upon someone paying you. (eBay no longer permits a seller to leave negative feedback against a buyer. Seems that in a few years' time, eBay has definitely taken steps to protect buyers, at the expense of sellers.)

The day is nearly over; I look at a few other dealers' tables, but don't buy anything. When I get back to the hotel room Carra and the kids are back; Joshua's playing with a Lego Star Wars Armored Assault Tank he just bought at a nearby Toys-R-Us. Sarah Catherine and I get some dinner at Arby's across the street; later Carra brings back ribs from Montgomery Inn. (Man, should have done that instead!)

8:00 PM arrives, and it's time for the educational seminar, in one of the large halls. Beth Deisher, editor of Coin World, is the keynote speaker and gives a presentation of Chinese counterfeit examples of US coins, complete with a display containing blowups of sample coins. At this point, none of the coins presented would fool an experienced collector, but the would fool a novice. Beth says the Chinese are getting better at their craft (having a thousand years of experience to draw from,) and even have some original US presses that are contemporary to the coins they're counterfeiting. She notes that she will be set up in the bourse tomorrow with coin samples.

Dan Holmes is next to speak, and he reminisces on his early experiences as a collector. It's hard to hear Dan speak and not be enthralled by his stories and anecdotes. One of the neat stories he related is that, as a newer collector, he once visited the home of William Sheldon after buying (and thoroughly reading) a copy of Penny Whimsy. Dr. Sheldon invited Dan into his home, autographed his book, and then showed Dan a box containing a number of smaller boxes, each one containing a separate coin. As it turns out, this was none other than Dr. Sheldon's personal color set. Dr. Sheldon showed one of the coins to Dan, who responded with, "the bisecting crack!" This was a low-grade 1793 Sheldon-14, and as Dan relates, was asked if he wished to buy the whole set. Dan did, and the Sheldon color set is part of the Goldberg sale. One of the sad moments was Dan stepping down as president of EAC due to health reasons, to be replaced by Denis Loring. Events end pretty late in the evening; time for sleep.

Saturday arrives - auction day! Of course, the auction isn't until evening, and there are several more dealers to see and people to meet today. Carra and the kids are off to Kings Island (at least that was the original plan; they actually stay close to town and catch a movie, "Race to Witch Mountain", which I don't find out about until later.) I bring my laptop and scanner back down to the bourse and set up so that Ralph and Sherry can scan more coin envelopes. Ralph announces a change in plans today; he sets up next to the table where Dan's coins are and is going to scan a lot of the envelopes associated with Dan's collection.

Time to hit the bourse; I really don't have a plan today, but I'm always on the lookout for some nice upgrades. I hear my name, and in walk Gary Hahn and Eric Fix! (Where have you guys been - I was looking for you all of yesterday!) Gary and Eric specialize in late dates, and I always check out their eBay auctions, as they often list nice coins, but this is the first time we meet in person. Seems there's some friendly competition between Gary and Eric because, not too much later, Eric comes back with a beautiful 1856 cent with an obverse cud that he found on the bourse. It's an N13, die state d, which Grellman calls "very rare". After some discussion they determine it might be the second finest known example of the die state, which prompts Gary to call Eric some name (that I think refers to an illegitimate male child...)

There are still several dealers whom I haven't seen yet, so I start walking the bourse. One dealer who I don't recognize has some really nice early dates, so I sit down. In his case is a really nice looking 1794 S-43 "Short Bust" variety that looks vaguely familiar. Looks like a coin that was on eBay recently. As it turns out, the dealer is Greg Hannigan, who often lists really nice coins, and this S-43 is one of them. S-43 is a variety that I purchased back in 1998 at a local coin show, when my standards were much looser. (Coin-wise, that is.) My current one could be considered a "dog," or close. Greg's coin is outstanding - a Fine 12 plus, and close to choice medium brown. I figure I can't afford it, but we work out a deal, and I walk away with this beauty. Funny how, in this hobby, opportunities you don't expect sometimes just present themselves, and this is one such opportunity. Wow - a major upgrade I didn't expect, and a '94 at that!

1794 S-43
A nice upgrade!

Walt Husak's table is nearby, and his daughter Trina is with him. Hearing Walt talk about coins, any coins, is infectious, and I show him and Trina my new S-43. He tells me it's a really nice coin (while I'm looking at some of his coins that are REALLY nice in comparison.) Walt's an "A" collector if there ever was one, but just a really down-to-earth guy and I always enjoy talking coins with him. We talk a little bit about his sale from last year, and I'm reminded that Trina actually bought two of the coins in the sale, one of the S-11s and the S-24. Scott Barrett, one of the "Boyz of '94" (along with Walt and Trina) is nearby, and he likes the die state on my S-43, with the crack through the date and through U in UNITED. On my coin, half of the U is obliterated by the crack, but Scott mentions that, in later die states, the U actually reappears.

It's about lunchtime, and I find Eric and Gary, plus Dennis Brown (another late date collector,) and we all pile into a rental car and head over to Arby's for lunch. Eric has brought his stash with him to the restaurant, which includes several early dates, and I buy three nice ones from him. Turns out these are part of the large Sam Thurman collection. One of the coins that I make note of is an 1801 S-223 in the terminal die state with a large obverse cud over the bust tip (hm... I vaguely recall someone who collects those.)

When we arrive back at the bourse, I hunt down Brett Dudek (who is at lot viewing) and mention Eric's S-223 to him. I introduce the two of them, and soon after Brett ends up with the S-223. Brett has quite a collection of terminal S-223s, almost certainly more than anyone else in the world. Later in the day Brett and I go to his room to look at some of the coins he's brought. He has the most amazing collection of early dates in late die states that I've ever seen, many of them being extremely rare, and in his words irreplaceable. (Too bad neither of us thought to bring a chess set!)

After a bit more lot viewing, I make one more quick round of the bourse. I need to find Craig Hamling and check out his "harpooned whales" (1831 N-12 in the late and terminal die states.) Craig sets out a small row of envelopes containing examples of each die state, N-12/3 and N12/4, which are both "whale" states. I buy a nice low-grade example in each of the two die states, one for me and one for an EAC buddy back home.

I make some last-minute notes in my auction catalog, then retire to the hotel room to rest a bit. The auction can be quite grueling mentally, and I found out last year that it's a good idea to try to rest the mind a bit before the auction. Carra and the kids are back, and I lay down (while listening to Sponge Bob on the TV - is Sponge Bob on 24 hours a day?)

The time for the auction is near. I decide to scout out the auction room ahead of time, and Chris McCawley and a few other dealers are already there. I ask Chris what he thinks the 1831 N8 with the reverse cud will bring, and he estimates around $150. (As it turns out, it brings EXACTLY that.) I'm still a bit early, so I decide to go back to the room and end up talking Sarah Catherine into joining me to witness the fun. (I figure she'll like it for awhile, then get bored and want to go back to the room. This turns out to be the case, but she actually stays longer than I expect.) I'm trying to find Shawn to go over auction lots before the bidding starts, so we don't bid against each other. I find Brett quickly, and we sit near the front. (I notice the big dealers sit in the very back. Is this some secret strategy that I don't know about?)

Things are about to start... where is Shawn? There he is, and he, Brett and I sit together with Sarah Catherine on my left. I introduce Sarah Catherine to Shawn, and explain to her that this is "Shawn of Shawn's secret book of new coins," which she's read about online. She's at such a loss for words that she settles down and starts playing with her Nintendo DS, on silent mode of course. Shawn and I will just have to compare notes on the fly, but this is no problem, as there are only a few coins I'm really going after.

Brad Karoleff is the auctioneer this year again; he gets right down to business with lot #1, a Washington Unity Cent. No crazy dessert lots, cake lots, or beer lots like in years past. Shawn remarks that he may not end up with any coins from the auction. Lot #8, a nice 1795 C-6a half cent graded G6+ that Shawn thinks is VG, hammers to Shawn. (So much for no coins!) As Brad calls the hammer prices out, I write them in my auction catalog (and Sarah Catherine writes them into her DS. Not sure, but I think there's a rule that all girls from 8 to 12 have to own one of these, as I remember Rosalind and Stephanie Heim also having them.)

The large cents begin, and we're making good time. The S-14 in the sale hammers to Shawn, as well as the S-27. I've yet to raise my bidder card. The first S-62 sells for $1800; if I hadn't bought the S-43 I probably would have bid on it, as it was a nice '94. About this time Sarah Catherine wants to go back to the hotel room, and I escort her out of the auction room to the hallway; "I know the way back, daddy," and she makes a run for it. I notice many of the coins are "passes," meaning they don't meet the reserve. The 1796 S-102 is called; I have "better than pic" written next to it in my auction catalog. Shawn asks me if I liked the coin; I say "yes", and he puts his card up and wins it. (I then mutter to Brett that it was a terrible coin. Just kidding, Shawn!) He also wins an S-133 at a cheap price, and I've yet to win a lot.

I bid on a few in the meantime, but don't come close. Finally, I get my first win, the 1798 S-167, which hammers right at my high bid. Another one hammers to me, a nice, low grade S-190, that I have "nice" written by. Finally, lot #158, the really nice S-202 is called; I hold my card up past $800, but someone else wants it more than me. Oh well; this one wasn't meant to be. I do get the S-213, plus the nice S-234 "Dripping Paint" variety that I had a star by - a nice condition upgrade. The Classic Heads start; Brett wins the second 1811/0 S-286. Shawn wins a group of five early dates and then decides to call it a night.

The middle dates start; this was a really nice group this year. I spot Scott Enterline to the left of me towards the front; he wins several nice ones, including three John Wright plate coins! I win one of the John Wright coins, a nice 1822 N11 in VF35. (This will replace the VG or so coin I currently have.) I win one more, a low-grade but very scarce 1827 N10, that I've owned before. Two other coins are hammered to me, but for two different people I'm bidding for, a rare 1834 N5 and an 1839 N14. (I think both of these guys will be pleased when they see the coins they won!) I stay until the last 1839 is called and am pretty exhausted at this point, so I decide that's it for me. Brett leaves just before I do, as he has a long drive home in the morning.

Sunday arrives, and I go down to the EAC annual meeting, the first I've been able to attend. The main order of business is that Dan Holmes officially announces he's stepping down as EAC president, with current EAC vice president Denis Loring stepping in as president and Bim Gander as vice president. After the meeting it's time to pick up auction lots, pack up the car and head for home, but not before saying goodbye to several friends (Shawn, Craig, Greg, Eric, and many others.) Before we leave the hotel Carra, the kids and I have breakfast at Chaucer's inside the hotel. Scott Enterline is at a nearby table, and I congratulate him on the John Wright coins he won the night before. Then it's time to hit the road.

Wow - another EAC has come and gone, and it all seems a blur, but what a GREAT time. Seems like every year (and I've only been to four conventions,) it's less about the coins and more about the people. Annapolis is next year, which is a thousand-mile drive, and I'd really like to make that one. We start the drive home, planning on spending the night in Athens, AL again and ending the trip on Monday. But there's one more stop to make: my cousin Gail's house again, and another Guitar Hero trouncing...

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