The first Long Beach Coin Expo of the year (one of three this year) was held from January 29 to 31 in Long Beach, CA. Attended by over 400 dealers from across the country, plus a few international dealers as well, the expo is the first major coin show held on the West Coast this year. The expo also hosts several sport card and stamp dealers in a separate area of the convention hall. A few East Coast dealers failed to make the show due to the storm that hit their home region last week, but generally speaking most of the dealers made it out to sunny California.
The United States Mint launched the 2015 United States Marshals Service Commemorative Coins at this show, with all 6 coins (proof and uncirculated half dollar, dollar and $5 gold coin) offered for sale. Both PCGS and NGC offered special labels for the coins, and many dealers were afraid of a fiasco similar to the release of the Kennedy Commemorative last year at the Chicago ANA. These concerns proved to be ungrounded, even though the coins were sold out quickly the first day. The first person was in line at 6 AM in the morning, and by 10 AM when the coins went on sale there were about 50 people in line, but overall the sales went smoothly and little was heard on the bourse floor about the coins.
Stack’s-Bowers was in attendance with several highlights of the Pogue collection, which will be sold this coming May. On display was the very rare 1822 Half Eagle, not offered for public auction since the Eliasberg sale in 1982, plus many high-grade rarities. Many of these are among the finest known examples. All coins have been slabbed by PCGS with a special gold colored label denoting their pedigree, and from the number of people that were looking at the coins, interest in these fresh coins seems to be high. Stack’s-Bowers will display part of the collection at coming shows as well, giving more people the opportunity to view these historic coins before they are sold at auction and perhaps disappear from the market for a long time.
Attendance of the public was a little bit light, and reports from dealers on business provided mixed results. Many reported relatively slow sales, although others mentioned that they had a relatively good show, with much business taking place at a wholesale level. One major complaint your author experienced himself and also heard from other dealers was the lack of fresh material on the floor. This appears to be the result of a relatively slow market the last couple of months, with many coins selling for lower prices than they would have a year or so ago. Of course, this also represents buying opportunities, but many dealers appear to anticipate higher prices again in the near future, and are currently waiting for the prices to come back to previous levels.
Unlike several other Long Beach Coin Expos the last couple of years, there was little to do for the casual visitor. Last year there were displays of high-end and seldom-seen collectibles (such as rare 1964 items to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Long Beach Coin Expo, and in recent years several sport stars have also been brought in for signing sessions, which always guaranteed an influx of non-collectors), which might have resulted in a lower attendance from the general public. In fact, on both Thursday and Friday afternoon, it seemed to your author that the majority of people in the room wore dealer badges, with only a small number of members of the public in attendance.