A friend and customer of mine recently relayed the kindest and most Zen-like of all wishes: “hope life slows down a bit for you.” When the slowest seasons in the business cycle align rather neatly with school breaks and auction cataloguing deadlines, such fond wishes are tantamount to prayers for rain in the Maghreb.
As I sit here and write, itself a Zen-like exercise in paragraph construction, one dependent phrase at a time, life has begun to slow. In the lingo of my suburban Charlotte neighborhood, this is racing under the yellow flag. The wreckage will soon be cleared, and the green flag and its concomitant speeds will undoubtedly return soon. The major time sucks of the last few months have ended. The multiple volume ANA sale by StacksBowers has been catalogued and, more vitally, organized, credit for neither of which can be laid at my feet though both sure did take a lot of time. The ANA Summer Seminar, with its corona of preparation and catching up, has been successfully put in the books. And, finally, this website is now up and running. Most of the heavy lifting has been done by my truly excellent web designer, whose West Coast location has come in particularly handy for strategy sessions that begin when the day’s other work finds a stopping point in the late evening hours.
Launching the new site has been invigorating. Re-invigorating, even. Seeing the inventory depicted in spiffy new professional photographs is like seeing your car in the driveway after getting it home from the carwash: familiar, yet surprisingly attractive again. (The first simile I composed in this space had to do with my fiancee and the hairdresser, but somehow I don’t think comparing her to a toned 8 reales of Ferdinand VII is a recipe for domestic bliss.)
Anyway, the website is a hell of an upgrade. Visually, it finally looks like the 21st century around here. The back end makes my life a lot easier. And you, beloved customer, can finally sit home in your PJs, whip out a plasticized cash substitute at 1 AM, and pay off a rare medal on the same plan as that top-of-the-line vacuum cleaner you bought three years ago. Oddly, through this whole process, nailing down credit card processing was the most challenging part.
For as much cataloguing as I’ve done in my life, writing about my own inventory still comes slowly. It used to be done in hours-long marathon sessions in a crummy New York apartment while my webmaster, a couch cushion away, waited patiently until I finished maniacally banging out a large enough clump of it to merit him coding it in. Now, like my fellow AEPi brother Ron Popeil, I can set it and forget it: write a description, load it, hit reload, and walk away. The upshot for customers is that there will likely be more frequent, but smaller, updates; the OCD reloaders (you know who you are!) stand to gain most from this.
I hope to also find more frequent inspiration for blog posts. Coin blogs tend to fall into a few big categories, and I suppose it will best please everyone if I sample liberally from each of the following:
1. The travel blog. These range from pithy with a side of snark (a genre mastered by our friends at Coin Rarities Online) to food and wine porn. Some end up sounding like bullet points of complaints. Though everyone can nod their head and agree that airlines suck and hotel rooms that smell like fishsticks are unpleasant, it strikes me as unseemly to complain too much about being a traveling coin dealer. Then again, my dad welded trash trucks. Everything seems easier than that. On the flip side, show too many decadent meals and customers start to wonder if your markup is less about the cost of doing business and more about fine California reds. So I guess a proper numismatic travel blog needs to make sure coin shows sound like real work, but fun work: oddly, that is the unvarnished truth. So is the occasional fancy foodie meal followed by a lunch of purple-blue hot dogs on stale buns.
2. The informational blog. My role model here is Doug Winter at raregoldcoins.com: frequently updated, always timely, long enough to cover the essentials but short enough to make it interesting. Blogging like this requires real dedication and some good brainstorming. A lot of what I would blog about ends up becoming my Coin World column, though that ends up being a lot more about the historical background of the material I handle and less about the market aspects thereof. Is the colonial coin or historical medal market dynamic enough to write about market trends?
3. Decadent self-promotion. I could probably do with some more of that. John Kraljevich Americana, the World’s Leading Dealer in Fugio Coppers. Or, John Kraljevich Americana, THE WORLD’S LEADING DEALER IN FUGIO COPPERS, perhaps.
4. Everyone’s favorite: blogs that never get updated. We’ll work on that.
In that spirit, I’ll make like a shark and put a FIN on the end of this thing. There will be much to write about in upcoming weeks, including the ANA, its important auction, and some new acquisitions. So, as Porky Pig might say if he was Porky Porc instead, “voila, c’est tout!”