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Observations from the Baltimore ANA Convention

28 posts in this topic

Howdy folks. I realize that there will likely be multiple ANA show reports, however, I think that these are all quite valuable as they fill people in as to what is happening at the shows. Here's my report.


I arrived at the show Thursday morning and proceeded to register using the ANA Life Member booth. If you see no reason to become a Life Member of the ANA you should see the general public and regular member line to register at the ANA; this site will convince you to join the ANA as a Life Member. Instead of waiting for 15 minutes to get in, I was whisked over to a chair where I immediately had a photo ID made for me and then walked right in. It was a real treat. Once inside, here is what I noted in a general form-


-High grade, slabbed Morgan and Peace dollars were everywhere, as per usual.

-Quite a few slabbed Bust dollars were available in the VF range, however, I did not ask what price levels they were being offered at.

-The number of slabbed problem, unattractive proof IHC coins in slabs is enormous and this helps to keep the bid/ask levels for problem-free pieces at an artificially low level.

-There was lots of gold out there, as much as you could possibly buy, and when gold took a dip one afternoon I could hear an audible murmer throughout the floor. I don't know if this made people buy or sell, but, knowing the sheep mentality that many people had, this probably made more people sell rather than buy.

-Spectacularly toned coins are out there and are quite scarce, also, they are often priced at incredibly high levels.

-Exceptionally few ACG, NTC, etc...holdered coins were displayed.

-SEGS coins seem to be sold by a few dealers who sell them almost exclusively, otherwise, they are not seen.

-I heard that PCGS was making quite a few super high grade coins at the show for the dealers who were using the same day, which is never same day and is lucky to be same show, service.

-I don't think that all of the wonderfully toned, deep purple, blue and magenta proof Jeffersons from the 1960s are naturally toned and I would not pay the money to acquire an example.

-Nice commems, white or toned, were scarce and their prices were strong when found.

-Raw coins with great toning are a truly endangered species. There was a time, not too long ago, when I could count of a half-dozen to a dozen terrific, toned raw coins at a show like this and at this ANA I bought two.

-The best toned coins were not always on display, you had to know someone to get a shot.

-There were fewer people willing to pay the market rate for the best toned coins, however, those that were willing to pay this rate were also generally willing to take a strong position on inventory.

-Matte proof Lincolns do not exist in a problem-free state and with eye appeal that is positive. Please note that the two matte proof Lincolns that I own are the exception to this rule.

-Quite a few of the older foreign coins were salvage coins but were not described as such.

-The 1913 Liberty nickel display had an apparent constant trickle of folks but never seemed to be packed.

-ICG was dead.

-David Lange was giving free expert opinions at the NGC booth and was quite generous with his time.

-NGC had a display of their new multi-coin holder and it looked very cool.

-PCGS appeared busy but not as busy as the last FUN show.

-Pattern coinage was red-hot.

-There are not that many nice Washingtons left to buy at a show like this, either raw or slabbed.

-Semi-key, mintmarked Washingtons were going well above bid, up to and sometimes over the next grade, when they had any eye appeal.

-Some key date coins with obvious problems were finding new homes.


Along with these general observations I have added some specific experiences-


-I was paged by Hoot and we walked the floor for some time on Thursday morning. He is about as tall as I am, 6'4", and was easy to see in a crowd. As for Hoot's preconceived notion on my appearance, I have much more thick, wavy hair than he was expecting! Oddly enough, Mark Feld held the same visual of me before he ever met me, too. Is it the way I write? Hoot was also kind enough to go over some finer points of the Buffalo series with me and he brought with him a few screaming Buffalo nickels, some of which should upgrade, if there is any justice in the world.

-DaveG was making extensive notes on pre-Civil War gold and he gave me a brief course in 17th century European coinage and prices. Thanks, Dave!

-Has anyone ever seen a US Mint gold medal, about the size of a dime, that was issued as trade with Saudi Arabia just after WWII? There was one slabbed by PCGS and I think it was just under $2k. It was interesting but I have no idea as to its value.

-I held a PCGS PF68 1916 Buffalo matte proof and must confess that it is the most beautiful matte proof Buffalo I have ever seen. For $39,750 it could be all yours.

-Jesse Lipka let me know that someone who called him on his phone and left their number on his answering machine had left the number just as the answering machine died. Therefore, he never got the number. This person was put in touch with Jesse through yours truly, so, whomever this was please either contact me or Jesse again! Thank you.

-I compared my PCGS MS68FB 1939-D Mercury dime to a PCGS MS69FB 1939-D Mercury dime and mine was clearly better!

-Dalonega had a table at the show and was selling, what else, Dalonega gold coins. I had the pleasure of chatting with him three times over two days for about two hours and it was a real treat. Not only was he selling complete sets of D mint half and quarter eagles, but, he showed me two fabulous coins; a High Relief Saint that was superb and the finest toned Lincoln cent I have ever seen. Unfortunately, I am not first in line for the Lincoln cent, however, FC57 has pictures of the coin and might post there here.

-Toningintheblood shared with me his wonderful date set of toned CC dollars. Who has seen multiple, attractive textile toned CC dollars? I have now!

-At several tables I could see some of gsaguy's unbelievable Morgans in Capital Plastics holders. These were put out as eye candy displays and they were insane. Also, gsaguy sold me an extremely attractive Washington and was quite gracious about the price.

-An advanced collector walked me over to his table and proceeded to take out ten 1794 large cents that were each either finest known for the variety or close! Whoa! They were all raw and he allowed me to handle them and examine them. He also took out several later date cents that could only be described as amazing. The apple cheek 1794 has to be one of the prettiest coins we ever issued and his 1837 cents were creamy.

-I purcahsed a coin, without hesitation, from Larry Shepherd for about ten times bid and then the next day he told me he was mad at me. Of course, he was just joking. He said he was mad because he had never seen such whining and moaning as what happened just after I bought the coin. It seems six people had previously seen it and asked a price and all six declined thinking it too steep. Well, after I bought it, nearly every single one came back to buy the coin! Apparently, after walking the floor they realized what they had passed. Alas, it was already in my hands.

-EVP looke harassed, tired, burnt out, whipped (take your pick) but still managed to produce a box of twenty coins that would put all mine to shame.

-I met TDN for the first time and he seemed to be a genuinely nice person who feigned interest in speaking with me! Thank you.

-At one point I had to fend Legend off by practically using my pepper spray when she thought I was stealing a chair! Luckily for me, we resolved that one quickly.


I managed to sell a few items rather easily and bought some nice coins for myself. These include a BTW half with deep, clean purple toning on the obverse and card toning on the reverse, a wonderfully attractive matte proof Lincoln, a killer IHC proof and, of all things, a 17th century English half crown with William and Mary on it. There are some other pieces but I am letting the suspense grow...


On my way back home I stopped in northern NJ to visit my mother and to do the Parsippany show. The Parsippany show was profoundly affected by the Baltimore ANA as many of the dealers who do Parsippany had tables in Baltimore. Also, I managed to find the Old Upper Nyack Cemetary and saw first-hand the graves of Philipus Sarvant and Maria Sarvant. Who are these folks? Philipus and Maria are my direct ancestors and they died in the 18th century and are buried in that cemetary. The cemetary was in use from 1730-1857 and is now abandoned. However, it was re-dedicated in June of this year and someone put an American flag in front of Philipus' grave, likely because he was a Cpl. in the 3rd Orangetown Volunteers Regiment in the American Revolutionary War. That was cool. This line of my family can be traced back to their arrival in New Utrecht (NY) in 1659.


I'm certain I am forgeting things, but, I hope you enjoy the reading.

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great in depth report, made me wish I was there to see all of those beautiful coins you described so well. Don't keep us in suspense now Tom, let's see what you bought. 893whatthe.gif

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Great post. Thanks.


The Saudi "coin" was made in substantial numbers. (91,000) It 22 K gold and contains .942 troy oz fine gold. They were minted in Philadelphia I believe to settle balance of payment debts for a major oil producer (Standard Oil IN?) They are a 1945 issue and so many were melted down that it is suspected to be a modern rarity. If memory serves the bulk of these were melted in the late 50's.


These used to be listed in Krause.


Oops. Missed the smaller than a dime part. The larger one is 4 pounds and the smaller (.2354 oz) is one pound. Mintage was 123,000 in 1947.

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Great report Tom. I've always enjoyed the way you write your experience and insight, when returning from a show. I also have had the experience of viewing Gsaguy's toned Morgan's in the Capital Plastics holders. This was at the Long Beach show in the winter.


I don't even have the words to describe how nice they are, and how well matched they are. They have a certain "Pop" to them... and all the others I saw at the show I just took a glance as they didn't compare. How about the 78cc set he has? I believe they were endrollers if I remember correctly.

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Thanks for the great report!


If my memory is correct, the Saudi "coins" come in one and two sovereign sizes (that is, they're 22K and contain either .2354 or .4708 oz. of pure gold), as the Saudis were much more familiar with British gold than American gold at the time (just after WWII).


I didn't know they were ever listed in Krause, but I used to see them offered for sale by some of the bigger advertisers in Coin World a few years ago and used to see them every so often at coin shows (although, I haven't noticed one for the past few years).


By the way, Tom's William and Mary half crown is very attractive - it's got the wonderful medium-to-battleship gray toning of originality!

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As always awsome report. Whenever you report I feel like I am there. Really feel bad I did not make it but had other pressing matters. Thanks for the report, hope to see you soon. TD

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Thanks Tom, great report! These Threads are my favorites on this forum.


I felt like I was there, holding one of those 1794 coppers. . .

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Thanks for the very informative post. I wish I was there.

And that guy with the raw large cents...sometimes/often, I just want to crack all my coins out of their holders....

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Excellent report Tom.

Was there any speculation on why patterns seemed to be "hot"? I believe that is the second comment I've read concerning this segment....Interesting.

Do you think the raw, toned coins are ending up in slabs, just to prove they are "real", and therefore attract stronger money? Potentially anyway?

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Great observations, Tom. It was truly a pleasure getting to meet you and spend some time talking "coins". Getting to look through your "box of twenty" was amazing. We need to hook up at the N.J. Shows. The proof coin you graciously sold me will occupy a special place in my collection. TomT.

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Thanks Tom for a great post! And also thanks to DaveG and Dermott and a few others for great reports! Well, hell, here's another! smile.gif


First of all, TomB has more hair than most randomly sampled individuals in the population - probably more than most people deserve, and should simply think about changing careers to something hair-related. Perhaps modeling would fit the man, as is is rather statuesque, handsome, and shaves as if his face is pure alabaster. (Not at all like I pictured him stooges.gif). That aside, Tom is an incredibly friendly person and one of the most remarkable individuals when it comes to "seeing" what combinations of colors, lustre and surfaces lead to amazing eye appeal. He brought with him a cornucopia of gorgeous material, which he was willing to share with great enthusiasm. It was wonderful, and with his rather encyclopaedic knowledge of the coins he collects, it was a joy getting the descriptions. What's more, while walking around the bourse with Tom, we lucked into the MS68 Washington quarter of his that was "wrenched" away from him for a mere respectable 5 figures. (I'd not mention this if he hadn't already posted on it when it happened). Sweet, sweet. This man displays no hesitation to buy and trade gorgeous coins and simply for what they are worth, grades and guides be damned. I'd buy a coin from him or upon his recommendation in a snap, sight unseen, if only I could afford it! Thanks Tom! But dress casual next time, okay?


I will return to the topic of people in a bit, but first I'll comment about the coins...


I went to the show primarily to see the 4 known 1913 Liberty nickels. As you know, this turned out to be an incredible treat, as the fith showed up. I am quite glad to have seen the coins, but the display sucked big time. The nickels were very poorly lit and were mounted flat against their textual display. I give the ANA a solid "F" for the display. My dog could have done better. The coins deserved to be displayed in good lighting and such that both sides were visible. The text and other artifacts were scant and there was precious little supporting information available. Bummer. I am glad I saw them, but with my eyes and from the distances I had to look at them from, I strained to see details, and could absolutely make no claim as to how their beauty or lack thereof struck me. As for grade - forget even trying.


As for other displays, there were a few fine sets displayed but the one that stood out for me was an error set of buffalo nickels! Three outstanding cases of an incredible variety fo coins. Just wonderful.


This was by far the largest show I have been to. The bourse was so big that I stood little chance of seeing many coins, at least with any time for appreciation. I also had only 1 and 1/2 days for the show - far too little time. So I set my priority (besides meeting people) on buffalo and Jefferson nickels with a little eye out for album stuffers, like Washington quarters, etc.


I saw many great buffaloes, but one dealer (I can't recall the name, but the one with the PF68 1916 buff) had AMAZING nickels. None of them were marked "PQ" or other such nonsense, as they were all coins that spoke for themselves. I simply oggled them and he let me handle a few for closer observation. I was red in the face with humility, but the dealer was kind and was glad to show me the coins even though I could not afford most. I left with none. frown.gif


Another dealer of primarily buffaloes (I'll withhold the name) had lots of stuff marked PQ. Most were not PQ, unless that means "pretty questionable" and his prices were unimaginably high. In general, for good or bad buffaloes, I found that most dealers were WAY on the pricey side, as if that market is still on the rise. I can't agree with the notion nor the pricing. So, I left fairly disappointed, but with one dim hope of securing and after-show purchase, if luckily a 1914-D did not sell. The coin was fairly graded MS65, but had an amazing srike, lustre and color. However, there was a small unobtrusive obverse scratch on the neck of the Indian that kept it from 66. Sweet coin, and I want it! I picked up a couple of choice mint state buffs in the raw and a couple of gem Jeffs in the raw as well. One of those was a nice 1939 DDR with mildly PL surfaces. Great coin and I got it cheap! smile.gif


Oh! I met up with folks (Darrell Crane and Dave Andreas - the pres and VP) from the Jefferson full step nickel club and had a delightful time talking. They showed me the Mint's latest strikes of the Jefferson Peace medals, and they were quite nice. I picked up a large and small version. They also mentioned that a meeting with Mint officials makes it appear that the obverse for the late-2003 Jefferson-Louisiana Purchase nickels will have the current Jefferson obverse and a modified Jefferson peace medal reverse reverse. Cool!


Folks I met.... I had the pleasure of stopping by Legend and meeting LegendSteve, TDN, and Laura. Their display of coins was exquisite. I was lucky enough to also run into EVP in the vicinity who was talking with Linda's Daddy! It was like a seated dollar fest! EVP had along a few wonderful coins (mentioned above). I got to hold and behold my first Gobrecht dollar! I wanted it and tried to steal it, but had poor luck. flamed.gif Linda's Daddy had a couple of trade dollars with him to die for. BTW, EVP looks a lot like I pictured him, while Linda's Daddy was not at all like I thought he'd be. Funny how we get these images from the writings on these boards, eh? TDN looks EXACTLY like I pictured him. Scary. Still, nobody has hair like 'ole TomB.


I went to dinner with EVP and the, now infamous, Sunnywood was to come along but stood us up. 893whatthe.gif I tried to page Mr. Sunnywood the next day, but he refused to show up, so I can only conclude he's dead. EVP brought with him some delightful friends and fellow collectors, and my good friend with whom I was staying joined us. Baltimore's seafood is unreal! You have to remember that I live in Montana, so the contrast is a bit unbelievable.


I spent some time with NGC and met the MOST delightful Sarah and Danielle. Lovely, dare I say, and exquisitely charming. Sarah expedited the crossover of a sweet 1921 buffalo that went from PCGS MS66 to NGC MS66*. I was hoping for the 67 grade, but the * really nailed the fact that the coin is like a gossamer among fellow buffaloes. I will report on the potential cross of a 1913-S T2 later. I met in this time both David Lange and Brian Sillman. Wonderful gentlemen and very willing to take the time to be kind and talk. My hat off to them both.


I also spoke at length with the folks from Coin World and Amos Advantage. The AA folks are going to entertain some of my rantings on albums for some upcoming album creations/modifications. Beth Deisher of Coin World is a very kind person who simply loves coins. I was able to collude a bit with her on a new article!


All-in-all a very satisfying experience, despite the disturbing overabundance of TomB's hair. I had WAY too little time, but made the most of what I had. I was impressed by the volume of coins - mostly PCGS, NGC, ANACS, and raw - but not with the volume of quality material. There were many ooh-aah coins, e.g. the $50 Pan-Pac pieces and those that were simply standouts concentrated with a few quality dealers. (I was talking with a dealer when someone handed him a 1942/1 MS66FB Merc - gorgeously toned! I got to hold and glass the coin but was asked to not mention the price!) Well, I'd better shut up.


It took me a long time to write this, as I just broke my dear right wrist today. Sorry for the goofy misspellings, etc!



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Thanks for the report, TomB, Hoot.

Seems like it was a great show overall. I wish next show will also be a great show!



So how were seated half dimes? Did anyone even care? wink.gif

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As usual an excellent show report! I know what you mean about Dahlonega. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a show in Bessemer ALA last month. A great individual with a vast knowledge of Dalonega Gold. I agree on your observation of the Lincoln he owns it is an incredible coin.

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Tom and Hoot -

Thanks for taking the time to share your observations and experiences with us. I really enjoyed reading both of your posts and greatly appreciate your eye for both the coins you saw and the personages you interacted with...especially those who regularly post on the boards.



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Hey Tom - as per your request, here is the picture of the Saint. Unfortunately, the picture of the Lincoln is at home, so we'll have to wait until this weekend for that one. Enjoy! She's a beauty! smile.gif






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Excellent report.


Are you going to resubmit your 1939-D 10¢ in hopes of getting an MS69? Getting to recently see some freshly made MS68s I think it is worth a shot to resubmit any nice Merc. I was not impressed with the quality of them at all. I think the standards for them have loosened up WAY too much.


I can fully agree with the assessment of EVP & TDN. Both were very nice people when I met them - ever so briefly in TDN's case. EVP looked NOTHING like I expected and his personality was so different in person than in these forums.


I have noticed fewer and fewer ACG/NTC/PCI slabs at the shows over the past few years. I remember one of the big ACG sellers had cases full of ACG coins about two years ago. The last few times he had only a small percentage of them in his case. He is still a big ACG slimeball on eBay, but I guess at the shows they aren't a big seller.


As for PCGS making some super high grade coins on the same day service, that also happened at the past Long Beach show. It is clear that they have loosened up their standards in the past few months on the top grade coins. Grade inflation has crept in. Lots of top pop coins have been made recently. If the market is as hot as CU is trying to say then I don't know why they would pick now to relax standards for the top pop stuff. I would have thought that they would relax standards when the market is cold and submissions are down in an attempt to stimulate the market. I don't know...


I find it interesting that the commems were hot. I haven't been seeing that unless they are something special. Lots of them are just sitting in cases waiting to be sold at fair prices. The recent auctions I saw a lot of them sell for average prices.


Those deep wild toned proof Jeffersons cannot all be real. They are all over the place now. Lots of dealers have them for sale and they are almost always in PCGS slabs. Someone is making a hell of a lot of them and PCGS is slabbing them all.


As for all the comments about your hair, I guess people never saw the picture you posted from the previous show?


TomB is on the left. That is Spooly in the middle. And BigMoose on the right who thankfully put his shorts back on for the photo.


And if you get a chance I'd love to see a picture of that purple BTW. smile.gif


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Toyo - I did not pay much attention to seated material, but I must say that a couple of seated half dimes really knocked my eyes out - very pretty and original appearing toned coins. The nice ones I saw were all in NGC holders. I like how the white insert looks holding that small denomination.


Greg - I think that the commems were hot only for those with stunning eye appeal; the rest just sat there. I went by Anthony Swaitek's (spelling?) booth and noticed that only the white coins were left. I asked about his success and he mentioned that all the high grade stuff (67 and better) and colorful material had moved right out. And as for Tom's purple BTW, it was one of the prettiest I'd ever seen. Great lustre through very original purple patina on the obverse.


As for the wildly toned Jeffs, I've come across a few in original Mint materials. Something about the packaging on those simply made them go wild with toning. I believe the reason for their sudden appearance is that now people are hunting them. They are interesting and fun, but about as common as anything else available for their time and mintage. Unfortunately, they look like they'd be a real target for AT doctors. This reminds me that I saw a blatantly AT 1937-S buffalo in a SEGS holder. It was such a bad AT job, that the chemical residue was still clearly caked into the crevices of the devices. The coin had a very similar appearance to the wildly toned proof Jeffs. Kinda made me sick. This find made me pass on the purchase of an AU58 1914/3 buff from that dealer (the strongest of that overdate I've ever seen). The dealer must have known he was dealing [!@#%^&^].


Great photos of TomB, Spooly, and BigMoose! laugh.giflaugh.giflaugh.gif Tom looks shorter and Spooly looks taller than in person in that photo smirk.gif



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Hoot-thank you for the info.

Seated half dimes are dead and I can always get a so-so one at under sheet, but it's not easy to find nice example....I wish they will remain unsold until the next show smile.gif

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I expected Linda's Daddy and LegendSteve to be excellent people: gracious, intelligent and incredibly handsome.


I was not disappointed!




The three of us often have lengthy conversations about early US coinage. Sometimes, we'll include TDN...






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I forgot about that photo, Greg, thanks for posting it! wink.gif


As for the 1939-D Mercury that I have, I didn't get it graded. This was for two reasons, the first being that I am still not happy with PCGS and the second being that if I offer the coin for sale I will offer it at MS69FB money and will not sell it if I don't receive what I perceive as fair compensation for it. It's how I sell all my coins.


Please let me clear up my commem statement. Most commems just sat there, so, the market was not hot for them. However, those with terrific eye appeal, both toned and white, were offered at strong money and were selling. This is perhaps 1% or less of the extant commem market and much less of a percentage of the bourse floor inventory.


I have a scan of the BTW and will try to post it shortly.


Come on, EVP, I noticed you staring at my hair when we went out to dinner with LegendSteve and Linda's Daddy at the last Baltimore show. Give it up, I busted you! wink.gif


A few more points that I forgot to write previously-


-I saw an outstanding plaque of a hunched eagle by AA Weinman and dated 1907 on the floor. The plaque was about 18 inches across and was superb. I ended up getting it into the hands of a very good friend of mine, njcoincrank.

-While sitting down for a few minutes on Friday I had someone sit next to me and we began discussing coins. It turned out that he is a finalist for the CA state quarter and his name is Garrett Burke. He had professional brochures made up featuring all the finalists but starring his coin. I liked it very much but told him rather bluntly what I did not like about his coins and other state quarters. He took it well and wrote something to me on a brochure and then signed it.

-I bought a beautiful, raw 1948-D Washington quarter with bright orange on both sides along with some red flashes. Just as I bought the coin I was paged and I walked to the front of the show where a friend of mine proceeded to tell me about the "most wonderfully toned Washington" he had seen at the show. It quickly became apparent that the Washington he was singing about was the one I just bought! That was cool.

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Thanks for the great reports on the show, guys. I am grounded (flightwise) and can not travel to the far away places. I am very relieved that the show was a success and that prices were strong for good material.

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