Friday morning at the Baltimore Expo I spent some time at the Kids Korner, gearing up for the young collectors who storm the bourse in full force mostly on Saturday when they’re off school. In preparation, we sorted Lincoln cents by type (Wheat, Memorial, and Union Shield) and stuffed Whitman bags with coins, folders, albums, and other prizes. Kids who visit the Korner get five minutes to sift through piles of cents and fill Whitman blue folders with as many dates/mintmarks as they can. (They keep them when the five minutes is up.) Younger budding numismatists get crayons to color activity sheets donated by the United States Mint. And every young visitor gets to reach into the wooden treasure chest packed with valuable coins, medals, and tokens.
Donations are welcome (and needed) for the Kids Korner. If you’re a dealer or collector and you want to encourage young hobbyists and help make their coin-show visit exciting and fun, contact Lori Kraft to make a donation of coins, tokens, medals, paper money, books, or hobby supplies.
Another round of giveaways at the Whitman Publishing booth brought crowds of collectors interested in the new 2019 Red Book. Newly appointed Senior Editor Jeff Garrett was happy to autograph copies of the annual best-seller. Whitman president Mary Burleson pointed out that the books Garrett autographed at the 2018 Baltimore Spring Expo will carry special historical significance in the future. This is his first year in the Senior Editor position, as longtime Red Book editor Kenneth Bressett has retired to the role of Editor Emeritus. Q. David Bowers continues in his position as Research Editor.
Late Friday afternoon I returned to the United States Mint booth and bought one large (three-inch diameter) bronze duplicate of the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal, and five of the smaller-size (inch-and-a-half) versions. The medal was sold out in both sizes when I visited the Mint’s street-level gift shop on 9th in Washington, D.C., a couple weeks ago. The larger bronze makes an impressive display on the mantle back home—in memory of my grandfather-in-law, Major Teofilo R. Rojas (United States Army Forces in the Far East, Medical Corps). The smaller medals I’ll give as gifts.
The Baltimore Expo is always a good venue for meetings with current and potential Whitman authors. These get-togethers pave the way for future numismatic books and for me they’re a highlight of every show. This one was no exception. The groundwork is being laid for some exciting new publications—stay tuned for more on those developments!
On the bourse, Thursday’s “decent but not booming” activity picked up on Friday. Dealers I spoke with were happy with the Expo. Some were very happy. And the collectors I talked to were finding plenty of good material for their collections. One dealer from California told me he was selling a lot of classic U.S. gold and silver coins. Ancient coins, early coppers, medals, and tokens were moving briskly. Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics opined on the end-of-winter snowstorm that stranded some dealers and kept them from the show: “We estimate that 1/4 of the dealers did not make it in,” she observed, “but 100%+ (including several who flew in) of collectors did. So the ratio of collectors to dealers was good.” Sperber called the Expo “busy overall” and noted that “Wholesale especially was the strongest it has been all year. Prices certainly firmed up at the show. Of course, prices realized at auction were in many cases ‘beyond Mars’ money!” She gave an example of a major highlight of Legend’s purchases: an 1857-S PCGS MS-67 CAC gold $20 from the wreck of the SS Central America.
Christine Karstedt, executive vice president of Stack’s Bowers Galleries, remarked on the records set in the firm’s Joel R. Anderson Collection auction of rare (and in some cases unique) U.S. paper money. Calling Thursday night’s action a “landmark sale,” she noted that seven lots surpassed the $500,000 mark, and the collection (part II of which will hammer in August) realized nearly $8 million. Several individual notes approached $1 million apiece. The entire collection is expected to bring $30 million.
Two more Baltimore Expos are planned for 2018, one in June and the other in October. Come to one or both as we continue to celebrate Ken Bressett’s contributions to numismatics throughout the year.