Memphis – Lots of Action Amongst Paper Money Enthusiasts

Pierre Fricke's picture

I always enter June with great anticipation of the Memphis International Paper Money Show. This year was no exception, though for the first time, my company’s annual trade show was scheduled in the same week!  Luckily that show was mainly centered earlier in the week, with Memphis centered closer to the weekend – so I attended both. This heavy schedule precluded me from building an exhibit for the first time in many years, but I hope to return to the exhibit arena in 2014.

Joyce and I rise very early on Thursday morning to get to the Boston airport to make the journey to Memphis. Unfortunately, this has become a bit more time consuming and expensive as Delta Airlines is in the process of winding down the old Northwest hub in Memphis – forcing a change in planes in Atlanta. Nevertheless, the trip was uneventful and we arrived in Memphis in the early afternoon. We check-in at the Marriott and find our room which has a view of – a service building on the roof!  If we strain our neck to the left, we do have a great view of the Mississippi River.

Set up is already underway as we check-in at the show and move to our table. We have a great location at this show at Table 104, near the front on the right wall. We have four cases at the table which will be filled with mostly Confederate, Southern States and northeast obsolete notes. We do bring our large cents and have let the Early American Copper community know we will be at this show. Paper money is easy to set up; large cents much more work.  We are set up by mid-afternoon which allows us to visit with friends and a few early birds walking around.

Thursday night is a get together of the officers and board members of the Society of Paper Money Collectors (SPMC – www.spmc.org ) for a dinner. We head to a local southern style place, the Blues Café, and get a large table in the back. Outgoing President Mark Anderson hosted the event with eventually about a dozen present. Great food and people and a lot of fun!

Friday morning starts with the SPMC breakfast and festivities across the street at the Crowne Plaza. These are always a lot of fun as we get some 80 people to meet and socialize with, enjoying a good breakfast and coffee. After breakfast, we go into the awards ceremony and then the raffle which features some antique bankers’ memorabilia – quite interesting!  Recognition is awarded to numerous people for major contributions including a new award for Social Media contributions. Fred Reed and I were honored with the Wismer Best Paper Money Book of the Year award for History of Collecting Confederate States of America Paper Money – 1865 – 1945 (see http://www.csaquotes.com/csabooks/historyofcollecting.html ). We released this book at Memphis 2012 and most of the copies printed have been sold to either end users or to channel partners. We thank the SPMC for this wonderful recognition!

I leave the breakfast hurriedly to get to my table for the opening of the show which I miss by a few minutes. We are already set up, so there is nothing to do but open the table. Joyce is still at her workout so I go it alone for a while. Activity starts slow but builds as the day wears on. Noon sees Fred Reed’s Author Forum which I make an effort to attend at least the first hour of each year. Here we meet authors and learn about how to write and publish books. I spoke about my experiences with Shire, a British publishing firm who approached the SPMC for an author to write a mass market book on Confederate Currency (see http://www.csaquotes.com/csabooks/confederatecurrencyintr.html ). I returned to my table to increasing activity – both buying and selling. Not only Confederate money, but a good number of large cents as well sold.

Friday night was the auction with Confederate money. Lyn’s specialties are National and Foreign currency of which he had plenty. Not so much with respect to Confederate or obsolete currency, but there were a few interesting notes I left bids with while going to dinner. Joyce and I went to dinner with another dealer and his wife who are good friends. We went to Rendezvous, the famous BBQ place in downtown Memphis, walking distance from the hotel.

Saturday saw continued action on the bourse floor as well as interesting SMPC events.  The first order of business for the day was the board meeting of the officers and governors of SPMC where we went through organization business, status of work efforts such as Shawn Hewitt’s web site and marketing teams along with many others. This was Mark Anderson’s last meeting as president with Mark passing the gavel to me at the end of the meeting.  I am honored to become President of the Society of Paper Money Collectors, following in Mark’s, Benny’s and others footsteps. See my first President’s column in Paper Money magazine for more.

Saturday faded into Saturday night which saw Joyce and I go to dinner alone to reflect on the events of the show. We sold a good deal of Confederate paper money, especially a large amount of common material, a few high grade type notes, and a couple of significant rare varieties. We also sold a couple of significant large cents and quite a few out of our $20-15-10 boxes, more than I expected!  We also bought some lots of CSA money, including a rare military and place issue note. There also was quite a bit of 1-1 discussion with people who use and make contributions to the standard catalog of Confederate money, Colleting Confederate Paper Money (see http://www.csaquotes.com/csabooks/confederatemoneybook.html ), which will see a major revision published in early 2014.

We returned home Sunday, on an uneventful two legged plan ride through Atlanta. We had a great time and caught up with a lot of friends. We look forward to continued working with the board and others of SPMC as well as continuing our journey on the trails of paper money collecting and dealing.

Pierre Fricke