[Note: while I will mention dealers by name, I won't mention collectors by name unless they volunteer themselves, as I don't know that they necessarily would want their names and collecting focuses to be publicly displayed for the world to see.]
It's 5:00am Sunday morning as I start to type this. Third day of Chicagopex… exhausted, bordering on broke, but an eminently satisfying show.
I had intended to drive up here Thursday morning like I usually do, but looking at the weather downstate for Wednesday evening into Thursday, they were predicting 2-5 inches of snow, with icy road conditions. So rather than deal with white-knuckle stress driving, I scrambled and packed up the car and headed out late Wednesday afternoon. As much as I dislike driving at night in congested areas, having to worry about other drivers' driving skills on snow/ice is far more stressful. Talking with coworkers the following morning about road conditions, it turns out I made the correct decision. Sometimes it's just worth paying the extra hotel night to avoid the hassle.
Note to self to be aware of for future situations: If you wait until the day of a stay to reserve a hotel room, they gouge you out the wazzoo. The Wednesday night single room cost me almost as much as a full suite did per night for the remainder of my stay (they didn't have any suites available for my first night and in fact all the suites in the hotel were booked for the weekend).
Thursday night was the first "horsetrading session" and there were 4 of us revenue collectors, including one who flew in from California and another from New Mexico. Both had a field day with the material I brought along, one working on a day and date revenue cancel calendar covering 1862 through 1875, and the other specializing in insurance and railroad cancels, working on updating the Tolman/Shellabear works.
Also joining us was a revenue document specialist and exhibitor. The general consensus was that I was generally insane for having so much revenue overflow/backup material (I brought 9 cartons of U.S. revenue material for people to rummage through). I wouldn't disagree.
Friday night there were 6 of us, adding two RN specialists to the mix. Enjoyable conversation and revenue swapping was had by all. It also allowed several people to put faces to names and email addresses.
Both Eric Jackson and Richard Friedberg had brought lots for me to look through Thursday night before the show, and I ended up buying both. One a 1st-3rd issue mishmash, and the other a large binder of revenue documents.
Friday morning the show opened at 10:00am with about 50 people waiting in line to get in. For the first time ever, you had to register and get a blue wristband to gain entry to the two bourse rooms and they had security guards monitoring all doors. The motivation was not one of security, but rather to gain an accurate head count for each day, and also based on the registration form, gain some analytics on how people learned of the show in order to more effectively allocate advertising dollars.
It makes sense, but the implementation was annoying. Having to wear this uncomfortable hospital-like wristband for 3 days (or if you lost/broke/removed one, go back and get another), was clumsy. One of the collectors in our trading session mentioned that another show he had recently attended also required proof of registration to enter the bourse, but they used numbered nametag stickers instead. Infinitely better option, in my opinion.
My first visit, as with every show, was the eminently reliable and esoteric (in persona as well as inventory) Denny Peoples. Great guy, great material. I've learned that if I want a chance at wonderful material, I have to hit him in the first hour, before the plague of locusts descends and leaves nothing but a shattered husk in their wake. He moves an incredible amount of material that covers the gamut of strange to unusual.
Next was Fox River Stamps, who had followed up to my wantlist letter with an email saying he had a parcel tag with revenues affixed for me. He normally doesn't ever carry federal revenue material, so that was a lovely surprise.
On to Croaker's Collectibles, a new dealer this year. I picked up a CDV with a nice pair of R1a affixed, as well as an R65a that while unfortunately repaired, had a nice SON handstamp, and the price was right.
Then to a dealer I returned to several times throughout the show and cumulatively spent probably 5+ hours at his booth, the affable Wayne "Dress like a disco queen" Gehret.
Great wit, better material… if you like the thrill of the hunt. I spent hours delving through boxes of revenue stamps, checks, and court documents, and came away with some lovely material… several times.
From a couple of other dealers that shall rename nameless, I cherrypicked a few nice items including an R28c with a Brady script cancel (a $250+ cancel), and a possible R28d. I had Eric look at it and he said it was worth sending to see if it gets a cert. I also had Eric look at the possible R48d I posted here, and he said that one was worth sending in as well, and he recommended printing out the USB images I posted here as corroborating documentation. I've posted about this in other threads here: if you have pictures, articles, identical certed items to what you are submitting, include that documentation with your submission. While it won't necessarily influence their decision, it may make their job easier. It cannot hurt.
I spent about 2 hours at Jerry Koepp's table (Stamps N Stuff) and found some nice cancels and an attractive RB multiple, all at very nice prices (compared to normal show retail).
Interestingly enough, the 2 biggest items for me from the weekend were a result of our trading sessions rather than purchases from dealers. One was a playing card wrapper from the Civil War; I had only ever seen these in books, never in person. The other was a collector's lifelong collection of printing anomalies and plate varieties. I will have a field day going through it and seeing what can be added to the plate variety reference on my website.
As always, pictures to come at some point.
So it's now 9:30am and time to sign off and head to the bourse for one final circuit before finishing up with Richard and picking up the material he's holding for me. Just as Denny is always my first visit at Chicagopex, Richard is always my last.