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Snow hurts dealer show attendance

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Over the past few years, the stature of the Long Beach coin shows have diminished somewhat, as other major shows have grown in other cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia. The number of tables at the show has gradually dwindled. Still these shows held three times a year continue to be among the largest shows in the United States.

The Feb. 3-5 Long Beach show dealer attendance was hurt by the major snowstorm that hit the eastern half of the United States. A noticeable number of Midwest and East Coast dealers who would normally attend never made it. Of those who did arrive, a high percentage were delayed.

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Dealer setup on Wednesday was the quietest I have ever experienced there in my 25 years of attendance. Although activity picked up Thursday when the public was admitted, I’d still have to call it the quietest Long Beach show I have ever witnessed.

Not even the dealer party to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Professional Coin Grading Service proved to be a big enough attraction to bring in dealers.

In years past, like many major coin shows, I would see dealers scurrying around the floor seeking first shot at fresh deals.  This time around dealers seemed to be relatively mellow.  Though I personally had a strong show for both buying and selling, a number of dealers were doing very little business.

Classic U.S. gold coins were one area where prices had been falling since mid-December. This is actually a typical pattern as several wholesalers in states that charge an inventory tax on Dec. 31 trim their inventories. Normally U.S. gold coins would have recovered starting in early January as these wholesalers rebuilt their inventories again. However, the drop in gold spot prices not only reduced demand for bullion-priced gold coins and ingots, but for collector gold coins as well.

There was little dealer interest in purchasing U.S. gold coins, no matter that some of them could be had at 10-20 percent less than their prices six to eight weeks earlier. The demand that did exist was strongest for $1 through $5 denominations.

On the other hand, there was definitely some interest in purchasing Morgan and Peace dollars in Mint State. Dealers were looking for coins, both common and better date issues, and having trouble finding as many as they needed. Demand was perhaps not as strong for Mint State-64 Morgan Dollars, for instance, as their price had jumped about 30 percent in the past few months. But the other coins that had recently risen by a lower percentage were sought.

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