A visit by well-known Southern California television personality Huell Howser and the first Southern California public display of a recently discovered, nearly 100-ounce gold nugget were among the highlights of the Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo held February 3 – 5, 2011.
Howser videotaped interviews for an upcoming episode of his acclaimed, long-running TV program, "Visiting With Huell Howser," that is broadcast on KCET (channel 28) in Los Angeles and other public television stations in the state. The episode will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on both Monday, March 7, and Thursday, March 17.
"Mr. Howser graciously signed autographs and posed for photos with collectors and dealers as he and his cameraman toured the bourse floor for several hours," said Ronald J. Gillio, Expo General Chairman.
"He originally planned to visit the show because of the display by Holabird-Kagin Americana of the big Washington Nugget that was uncovered last year near Washington, California. But then he decided to do an expanded piece about all the many other interesting collectibles that people buy and sell at every Long Beach Expo. He even brought his childhood stamp album to the show It was exciting to meet him in person and be interviewed," said Gillio.
Despite blizzard conditions across much of the Northern United States that prevented some dealers and collectors from flying to Long Beach, Gillio said attendance at the February show was higher than the two previous events in June and September 2010.
Heritage Auctions, the official auctioneer of the Long Beach Expo, reported its Signature U.S. Coin Auction generated over $8.5 million in winning bids.
One of the attendees at the February show was a Salvation Army official whose visit was prompted by visions of philanthropic benevolence over a coin tossed into a Christmas season collection kettle six weeks earlier.
After seeing a local newspaper report about the Long Beach Expo, Major Chuck Gillies of the Whittier, California Corps of the Salvation Army went to the show on Thursday, February 3, carrying what he thought might be a multi-million dollar rare coin.
"It was put into one of our holiday collection kettles in Whittier in the middle of December, and set aside until we could determine what it was," Major Gillies explained to a Long Beach Expo staff member.
The coin appeared to be an 1804-dated U.S. silver dollar, and when Major Gillies researched that date and denomination he became excited about the prospects of what could be done with the money it would generate for the Salvation Army.
"I couldn’t sleep because of the anticipation about whether it was real or not. I already had the money spent in my mind for helping the endowment for our after-school program, our emergency shelter and we need a new roof," he said.
He brought the coin to the Long Beach Expo and showed it to several dealers who all immediately knew on first glance that it was only a replica.
Major Gillies told the Whittier Daily News: "I would have been ecstatic if it had turned out to be real. But I guess reality didn’t quite work out that way."
The next Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo will be held June 2 – 4, 2011 in the Long Beach, California Convention Center. For additional information, visit www.LongBeachExpo.com.