Alan V. Weinberg submitted these thoughts on this weekend's Whitman Philadelphia coin expo. Thanks!
I just returned from the Whitman Publishing Co -sponsored Philadelphia show and its related Stack's-Bowers auction .
I only attended the first session of the auction as that esoteric material - counterstamps, medals, tokens and colonials - is what primarily interested me. This first session occurred the evening before the show started as I landed at 3:50 and the auction was scheduled to start at 5 PM. Room attendance was sparse but this is increasingly the trend at coin auctions as the Internet, one way or the other, plays an increasing role in bidding activity (see Rick Sears' most recent article in The Numismatist Sept issue) .
The phone bidding was aggressive, the live Internet bidding and website bidding was too and prices were in the main strong. The highlight of this session was of course the 1780 Happy While United Virginia silver Indian Peace medal which sold to Anthony Terranova, vs phone bidding at the end, for $109,250. My information is that it has since changed hands at the show to a prominent New Jersey dealer/collector who has a reputation for acquiring classic numismatic rarities.
The next lot, the bronze original strike of the Nathanael Greene Comitia Americana medal sold to John Kraljevich for a client at a startling $86,250 , again bid up by aggressive phone bidders. The silver St. Gaudens 1889 George Washington Inauguration Centennial medal sold for $34,500 to, I believe, an Internet bidder. This is the same medal that walked into a coin shop, bought for "pennies" and was listed and pulled 3 times on eBay perhaps 2 months ago by an unknowledgeable coin seller, unsure he'd get a rewarding price. Well, he did with Stack's-Bowers!
Mike Demling introduced at the bourse the first few issues of his New Jersey colonial copper variety book "New Jersey Coppers" which was being offered at a discounted $40 to EAC and C4 members. I bought a copy - nice book, great plates.
Mike Wierzba held an informal Colonial Coin Collector;s Club (C4) gathering at his bourse table as about seven diehard collectors gathered for a BS session for perhaps an hour. Couldn't be Mike's bee-yootiful blond fiancee kept the guys there a bit too long, could it? Billy Anton and Bill 3rd showed up there too.
The bourse was quiet, extremely so. Most dealers had a very slow show and if it wasn't for bullion sales and purchases... One dealer told me he had his worst show ever. It wasn't the fault of Whitman, the host, who always goes all out to put on a quality show. It was a combination of factors. Poor economy; those who still have a job were working; too many coins shows right on top of each other seemingly ignoring the state of the economy; collectors being discouraged from collecting as formerly "collectors coins" now are sky high due to silver and gold bullion prices.
By Saturday at 12 noon, many dealers had packed and left. By 2 PM the bourse was half empty. You might say the highlight of the bourse was the wonderful gastronomic delights, a broad ethnic variety, that could be found three minutes away across the street at the Reading Terminal where several hundred different fresh and prepared food stands for breakfast and lunch always draw a huge crowd.
If just some of that crowd would cross the street to the coin show! The convention center snack bars sold little as dealers and collectors alike trekked to the Reading Terminal and brought back great food to the bourse floor. Believe it or not, not a few dealers and collectors attend this Philadelphia show just for the culinary delights across the street.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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