Welcome to Steve's blog, sharing stories of his professional coin career, 1963 to date. Enjoy stories of Steve's numismatic journey.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Step Right Up To See The Show!

It's 1964 and I'm a fresh young coin dealer, attending my first coin show, also the first Long Beach show.  The new show was amazing -- a huge event, with people everywhere, deals on every corner.  

In those days the Long Beach arena had a wood plank floor which squeaked often and loudly.  You could hear people coming from a great distance.  The noise from the floor accentuated the excitement of this brand new coin experience.

railway luggage cart

Suddenly I hear a major racket -- something grinding on the floor.  Looking down the aisle, I spy a guy pushing a railway cart with steel wheels, the kind used to maneuver luggage.  It was huge . . . and piled high with bags of coins.

This fellow has thousands of dollars in cash wrapped around the fingers of one hand.  $100, $500 and $1000 bills are sticking out everywhere!  He's barking as he bustles down the aisle, the cart adding to his spiel with its squeak, squawk, creak, grind, and jingle from the coin bags.

"I've got bags of 55-S dimes, 55-P dimes, 51-S dimes.  I have a bag of 50-P nickels with me.  What do you need, boys?  What do you need?  Or do you have something to sell me?" he chanted as he strutted through the show.

Imagine my jaw agape as I watched the spectacle pass by our table.  I ask my partner, Dick Martin, "Who is that guy?" 

He replies, "That is Harry Forman.  He's the biggest roll dealer there is, a real promoter."

Harry Forman became a professional numismatist in Philadelphia in 1955, continuing for 53 years, until his death in 2008.  In 1964 Harry was already an integral part of the coin market transition about to occur.

In 1960, Harry discovered and promoted the small-date Lincoln Cent.  He was a major player in the roll and bag boom of the early 1960s and promotions surrounding the U.S. Treasury's release of its silver dollars. He was co-founder of Forman & Bauer, Inc., and a respected numismatic author.  During the silver bar boom, he started Madison Mint to produce silver art bars.

Harry was one of a group of notable dealers who came to the industry as it was beginning to transition from, generally, a mom and pop hobby business to the booming industry it is today. 

Long Beach was the first large commercial coin show to be held in the U.S.  Prior to this time, most shows were presented by coin clubs.The Gray Sheet, established in 1963, created a pricing reference for dealers; a teletype system facilitated almost instant communication between dealers.  With the addition of Long Beach, the first of many commercial shows, the coin market was off and running in a new way.

1 comment:

  1. I really like this article. I really would like to attain the show.