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Baltimore Coin Convention - Friday, November 5, 2010


Ok... Finally got my VERY slow internet (0.3 Mbps) to upload OK pics.


First off, the backstory. This show happens 3 times a year. It's pretty much my only chance to add to my collection (I collect by series, not just whatever catches my eye). I was last at the show in March. I've been looking forward to this show since May or June as I'm a working man for the first time (i.e. a sizable budget by my standards). I did my usual good research - auction prices, bought a small notepad with notes, etc. I was prepared.


I hopped on the train on Friday morning from Richmond. The trains always switch from diesel to electric at Union Station in DC. Turns out two trains hit each other at Union Station. The rails were shutdown for the rest of the day. I cared too much about this show to miss it. So I rented a car (for an EXORBITANT and UNFAIR price) and drove the rest of the way.


Finally at the show. About noon on the first day open to the public. Hundreds of dealers as usual. My first task is to walk each aisle taking note of who has what I need.


I'm looking for:


- The key stars for the $1 silver certificate series

- 1923 Wood-Tate $1 silver cert.

- 1934-S, D, 1935-S Peace $

- XF+ Barber dimes

- XF+ V Nickels

- Affordable patterns

- Affordable 19th century/1900s proofs


LOTS of selections. I've never seen so many of what I needed before. Wow! What a haul I was preparing to bring home.


I see a 1902 V nick - Proof 64 - I've always wanted a proof V nick and its the series I collect. How much? $450. A little much in my opinion. I take note and keep walking.


I see another. Exact same coin at a different dealer. $350. Me: "Wow. Great price. I'll be back soon". Dealer to neighboring dealer: "What?!" - he starts flipping through his greysheets.


Bourse floor walked. Time to narrow in for the kill.


Currency dealer #1: I find a 1928 star $1 silver certificate (Fr. 1600*). Unc-64. $500. I don't have a recent auction price in that grade range. I can't haggle. It's fair in my eyes. I take it.





(I'm horrible at imaging. Its crisp and clean. Not yellow. This is why I want a coin/note photography forum (:P to Art))


Currency dealer #2: I wait 10 minutes for him to take his time coming from the bathroom (his wife/gf announced to the people waiting thats where he was.) I wait another 5 minutes to get his full attention. How much for the 1923 Woods-Tate - Unc 64? $850. I'll do $800 because 1) I need to haggle and 2) that's a fair price in my opinion and would go for that much in auctions. He doesn't budge and is pretty unreasonable. I don't care. I leave.


Currency dealer #3: someone I have dealt with several years in a row and is very helpful for a young guy like me. I can count on him. He's in a grumpy mood. Turns out he has the exact same note in the same grade. How much? $850. I ask for $800. He laughs. I don't budge. I am typically a pushover at these shows, so I'm gonna get it my way for once. Its a buyer's market. Doesn't work. He's ticked off at me. I leave.


Currency dealer #4: She's whining about eBay. She finally stops complaining long enough to direct me to a dealer who can help. 1923 star $1 silver certificate - Speelman-White - large size (Fr. 237*). XF on a good day. Decent price.





I go back to the guy that has the proof nickel for $350. "Oh, I sold that coin. Someone came and bought it. I didn't know you were coming back." HA. Right. What are the chances that in that 45 minute period, that someone would come along and buy that one coin hidden among all of his gems??


I finally get service from a dealer who had a great selection of V-nicks. I plucked a few that had the best original luster (some people try to pass off cleaned coins too often). Again - I didn't have recent prices for these grades. I think I overpaid a bit. The guy was NOT fun to deal with.


Here they are. Bad pics. All have slight wear on the high points, slightly weak strikes maybe. Pretty luster. Typical nickel toning.


1903 - AU



1906 - AU



1907 - AU



1909 - AU



1910 - AU




I was happy to make so many additions to the V nick series that's been surprisingly hard to roll with (not many available in the XF-AU range). I was also happy to make two big additions to my silver certificate series. I finally got a large size star note. I have some BIG holes to fill in that series that will require LOTS of patience and a big budget. Yikes!


The dealers were grumpy as I've ever seen. I've been going to this show for many years now. I've always acted as polite and patient as possible. I'm typically a pushover as a young guy at these shows. Part of their grumpiness may be due to me no longer letting them have their way. But, for the most part, they were unreasonable. It's one thing to disagree with my attempt to haggle. It's another thing to just not respond in a productive or friendly manner. (yes, I know dealers do this for a living and I should respect them 100% but its a two-way road.)


I failed in three ways:


1) I should have done even more exhaustive research - get an appx. price for all major grade ranges. That way I will know a more accurate range to haggle.

2) I shouldn't have admitted to that one dealer that his proof coin was a good deal. (It was a fair price - the other dealer's coin was just overvalued). It's their job to price things accurately. Tough luck for them.

3) I shouldn't have tried to be so hard nosed with the haggling. I was haggling at a fair rate. Maybe my rigidity was a turn-off.


Anywho... see why it took me 6 days to finally post?


Bravo to those who read it all. :D

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That was a very nice read, thanks a lot ... and congratulations on your great acquisitions! :bthumbsup:


As to the photography, there is a lot you can do without spending money on an expensive camera. You can get rid of the yellow easily enough by setting the white balance feature in your camera to "incandescent", because it looks like you used ordinary room lighting from incandescent bulbs to take these pictures. If you use direct sunlight or daylight bulbs, you should set it for "daylight". Some cameras will have an "auto" white balance, but you have to try it out and see if it works to your satisfaction. Usually you will then have to adjust the "temperature", or white balance, once again slightly (hopefully) in the image program on your computer to get it "just right".


Some people prefer daylight bulbs over sunlight because you can experiment with different lighting angles much easier. Sunlight makes some coins appear washed out (silver), whereas I find it works very well with copper or bronze, or with heavily toned coins. With sunlight, you don't have to worry about the color spectrum at all, whereas with daylight bulbs you'll still have to do some minor adjustment after taking the picture. But in order to change the angle of lighting in sunlight, you have to move either the camera (i.e. the stand) or the subject. And this isn't very easy to do unless you have a very flexible stand which allows you to change angles without changing the length of the feet, for example.


Actually, due to the range of subtle color variations and lack of extreme reflectivity, I would think that sunlight would be the way to go with paper money. But YMMV on this.


Also, use a camera stand and the built-in timer on your camera to take pictures. It will improve focusing a great deal. Also, be sure to use "macro" mode for any close-up pictures.


Experiment with the different kinds of auto-focus settings (if you have it) until you find the one that works the best. With paper money, as long as you can image the enire bill and still have some margin in the frame all the way around, you can minimize the inevitable distortion which happens at the edge of the picture (most cameras, even expensive SLR cameras, show distortion at the edges to some degree). But since there are no raised or incuse elements to deal with (as with coins), you should be able to get a good focus on any bill. With coins, there are always problems to choose the distance that will get the important elements into focus while leaving others a bit blurry. Also, the fields on most business strike coins are seldom perfectly flat which makes for "interesting" problems with light reflection. Proof coins are sometimes much easier to capture because their fields are mirror flat.


Good luck with your new job! :bthumbsup:

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Nice nickels, and congrats on getting some notes!


I do find it funny about the notes - $50 of $850 isn't even a 10% discount. Talk about trying not to make friends :lol:


As for indoor lighting, fluorescent tubes work well, though sometimes I'll use a piece of paper or white cloth to cover it to diffuse the light a bit.

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I'm still with you on the photography forum thing. In fact one of my goals when I get my new digital camera is to learn to get super photos of my coins. Even if there isn't a forum I plan to start a nice "I'm learning come along for the ride" thread.


I'm glad you were able to find such nice additions for your collection. I have no patience with "grumpy" dealers. I'm still a solid believer in customer service. (By the way, I do not haggle. I'm right up front with the dealers when I ask for a price. Then it's take it or leave it.)


Your notes and nickels are beauties. Enjoy them.

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By the way, I do not haggle. I'm right up front with the dealers when I ask for a price. Then it's take it or leave it.)


Thanks all around, guys.


Art, as to the above quote, do you tell them what you'll offer first? Or do you ask what they want?


That's my problem. I don't tell them up front. I'm worried I'll either overshoot the ask (and get ripped off) or undershoot and offend them. Instead, I have them tell me the price. I don't know if the ask is their lowest or if they want to see if I'll haggle.


The only way to fix this is better education of the value of the coin. Somehow I need to find the value of scarcer coins/notes with a smaller market.

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I usually have a good idea of the value before I start the purchase process. I'm happy if I can "ballpark" the price. Something specific, I'll have looked over auctions from ebay and checked the prices on a few online shops that I trust. CoinValues and such only come into play as very rough guides. On IHCs for example, I'm willing to pay about 30% more than the average ebay price if the coin is really outstanding. BUT that usually puts me at about 85%-90% of CoinValues. I usually just tell the dealer that I'm a buyer not a browser and that I'd like the best price right up front. If the price is too high I just say "Sorry" and that's the end of it.

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FUN is huge. Lots of tables and lots of people. The aisles are crowded and it's hard to get the dealers' attention much of the time. I usually cover the whole floor just checking case content before I even think about purchasing. I make notes and then go back to the tables that have promise.


Ocala show is way way too crowded for me. I do not like to be hurried and squeezed into a line of people viewing coins at a table. Most of my purchases there are from folks who know me and know what I'm looking for. Most of my purchases take place out of the show at the coffee bar or sitting behind the entrance table.


There are no dealers in this area. At least none that I do business with. A few in the next towns over but they are more jewelry stores than coin shops. Nice folks and I have purchased a few things from them but only proof sets or mint sets or such.

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I usually cover the whole floor just checking case content before I even think about purchasing. I make notes and then go back to the tables that have promise.


Do you ask prices when you do your initial notes/checking?

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Do you ask prices when you do your initial notes/checking?



No. I may eavesdrop a bit. I don't like to waste the dealers' time until I'm ready to purchase.

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Nice report! As for haggling, more often than not I turn it back to the dealer and ask something like, "do you have any room on this price?" or "what's your best price on this one?" That way I don't insult the dealer off the bat. Sometimes you'd be surprised at how narrow the markups are on certain items, and with currency especially being in the tank over the last few months, they might be losing money even with what they were asking. I know that's not your responsibility, but it sure would explain their lack of flexibility!

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  • 3 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Alright... well, this post won't be all that I wanted it to be. The pics I took didn't come out all perfectly. I wanted to give the camera a few more tries but was busy and then left the coins at home. I finally got my mom to bring the bag with the coins to my apartment and... well, they aren't there.... and i hope they are at home!


About a week and a half ago, I went to the local coin clubs show in Virginia Beach. It was only the second time I've been. Probably... 50 tables or so. I usually only get to go to the Baltimore shows which are big ordeals, so this show is tiny, but navigable, by those standards. I like it because its close by and i can search for my cheaper series (i save baltimore for the big stuff). that's just what i searched for at htis show.


I prepare for the show. I made my list of barber dimes that I need and headed out. I pulled in around 11 to the convention center. man, lots of cars. keep driving.... WOW... LOTS AND LOTS Of cars.... finally find a spot in the farthest parking lot. They all were filled. For a coin show??? No.... there was a model train show that weekend being advertised ont he radio. A model train show draws that many people??? no...


as I get closer, I see the culprits - a coin show, a model train show, a girly gymnast convention, and.... a gun show. No wonder there were so many burly men carrying big long cases to/from their oversized trucks. This is the most "macho" place I've ever lived in. Everyone I work with has massive oversized trucks and guns. Based ont he cars, everyone in Hampton Roads was at the convention center... whoops.


Anyway, I walk in, do the first round - look at all the tables for barber dimes. If I see a few I like, I'll look at how they grade (and.. if available, price) the coins. If I see an obviously cleaned coin that isn't marked "cleaned", then I walk away. I made several notes of tables to come back to.


Round one complete. Time to hit the tables. The first one I try has a bunch of people in front of it. some just shopping... some just chatting. i'll come back later.


Second table has several dozen barber dimes in XF+ range. I take a close look at a few and narrow it down to a handful and ask for the going price. I make my haggle for a bit less (read the previous recap and see I was/am abysmal at haggling...) and get politely rejected. The dealer kindly tells me that he can set aside the coins for me, if i find a better price, i can come back and tell him and he'll accomodate. sure enough a customer of his steps in and tells me that the dealer really does have great prices.


i settle and take two great dimes. shake his hand and thank him for the deal.


I go to a nearby dealer (really a collector who sells as he says). sift through some gorgeous dimes and select one that my wallet will let me take home.


I go to one last dealer and pick up something I've never thought about buying - a Civil War token! This dealer had about two dozen lovely chocolate, indian head cent sized tokens of varying designs. I'm a Civil War buff and proud to call Virginia my home, so I bought one!


Here's part of the haul... The pics are from my new scanner that I've only just started playing with. I tried using my P&S but didn't have the best of luck. The coins are more lusterous and lighter than the pics make them seem.


1898 Barber dime -



1900-S Barber dime -



1912 Barber dime -



All are towards my Barber dime collection. I'm going for the entire series - every date and mint AND die variety - but I'm targeting XF-AU grades. I believe these grades fit the design and history of the series very well. However, these grades have been very tough to find. It's a lot easier to find lower grades or slabbed UNCs. I'm not looking for slabs. Fortunately, the recession has brought a ton of these grades from the woodwork.


Yes, I'm going for the die varieties, too. Not just the major ones. I think this is a very accessible series and I'd love to have a full die study of it - patterns, proofs, minor varieties. So far, none of my Barbers have been a variety noted in "The Authoritative Reference"... until now.


Upon closer look, the 1900-S is a misplaced date (MPD-001). This is the only known MPD in the series where the date isn't punched into the denticles on the rim. The MPD is punched into the based of the neck. Apparently, its one of the more desirable varieties because of that and this being a semi-key.


Note the bottom of a "0" right in the base of the neck, directly above the first "0" in the date.





In this last pic, it's especially evident.



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Hey it worked. I'm excited about the rest of the post. Sounds like you had a lot of fun.

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  • 5 months later...

Here's what I was in the middle of posting when the internet went out during Irene:


Skipped out on work Friday to get on the road before the rest of the evacuees of Hurricane Irene (see Hurricane Irene thread in Community Forum for more juicy info). Lots of traffic but it was very fast. Got to Richmond a lot quicker than I expected. I decided to stop by the coin store. I never get to go when I am in Richmond because I'm never here during business hours.


I've been going to this shop for most of my years and it has changed hands once or twice. The old owner still works in the store. The inventory isn't fantastic but it's workable. I'll never find key dates I need in there, so I went in looking for coins for my type set.


To be honest, I really don't know where I stand with my type set. I'm a series collector, so I've saved my bucks for that. I do know I need most of designs issued before 1860's. I think I have a seated coin or two but don't know which. So, yeah, it's hard to buy type coins when I really don't know which I need and the only ones available are ones that I *might* already have!


I passed over the bust halves. As I've told jtryka everytime he's shared his, I need one but I'm waiting for one with good wear patterns where Liberty doesn't look like a zombie. No early copper or silver in my price range. No proofs. Pickings weren't stellar.


Since I'm searching for type coins and I'm not an expert on all of these series, I scanned the rows of coins looking for ones that caught my eye and in my price range. Some caught my eye but had an ugly scratch or showed signs cleaning. Some (e.g. bust halves) had bad wear patterns. I did see a few nice coins that I would be happy to go home with then and there. Can't remember them all.


I did find an attractive 1864 two cent piece. Somehow, I've never had one of these for my collection (that I can recall). I love their design, their era, their size and metal. This one had nice sharp features and details. Great color. No bad grime or scratches. I'm happy to have it in my type set.


1864 two cent piece - AU55, I'd say, according to PCGS Photograde. 1864 was the first year of the short series - also the largest mintage - 19,847,500 coins. Impressive considering the ongoing Civil War. The design is also the first to include In God We Trust. (According to The Red Book, this is due to the "increased religious sentiment during the Civil War crisis".) 1864 had two varieties - a small IN GOD WE TRUST and a large one. Mine appears to be the larger, more common variety.





I also walked home with an 1883 V "no cents" nickel. This date and variety is one of the first I added to my collection EVER many years ago (I guess about 11 years old or so). The story of the racketeer cents and the 1913 V nicks and the great design is one reason I added it to my collection. And the "no cents" variety is very cheap for a youngster :x.


1883 Liberty V "no cents" nickel - MS-63 conservatively. Lots of luster. Typical nickel color. No significant scratches or wear. For those who don't know, this is also the first year of the series. The coin does not have the denomination listed - only the "V". So, "entrepreneurs" gold-plated the unfamiliar coins and passed them off as $5 gold coins! There were 5,474,300 minted of this date and type. It is very common and easy to find in great condition. (Interestingly, the "with cents" variety has 3x the mintage but is worth a lot more.) As I said, I already have this date/variety but I consider this an upgrade. I don't think it is in as great a condition as this one.




Oh, and the V nickel series is one of my favorites and one of the ones I actively collect. So this coin fits into the "series" category and not just the "type set".




That's all for now. I'm glad I could scratch my itch! Though I won't have as many vacations in the fall, I'll have more money for coins!

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