Coin Show Lowdown: The Benefits of Attending Coin Shows

Coin shows have a long history of improving numismatics by bringing collectors together. Despite the large success with these shows, attendance has dropped in recent years. Find out why, and more importantly, how attending a coin show can benefit you. Modern Changes in Numismatics There is no question that the internet has transformed numismatics over … Continued

Coin shows have a long history of improving numismatics by bringing collectors together. Despite the large success with these shows, attendance has dropped in recent years. Find out why, and more importantly, how attending a coin show can benefit you.

There is no question that the internet has transformed numismatics over the past two decades.  It has changed the way most people buy and sell coins by opening up a huge, new online market. It has also given every collector the ability to obtain a great deal of information about coins very easily. However, all that information does not necessarily translate into knowledge and experience, which still requires time, patience, and the eye to “separate the wheat from the chaff.”

There are several things you can do to participate within the numismatic community that can enrich your collecting experience:

   1. Develop a relationship with your local dealer.

   2. Join a coin club and attend meetings.

   3. Attend coin shows and conventions.

Coin shows are very important, and attending major shows can be one of the most richly rewarding experiences in numismatics. The World Money Fair held every February in Berlin, Germany is a great example. For American Collectors who don’t wish to travel abroad however, there are many incredible stateside shows such as the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money, held each year during Summer, and the annual Florida United Numismatic (FUN) Show, held in various Florida locations. Collectors and dealers come from around the world to attend these major coin shows every year. I still fondly recall attending the 1976 ANA summer show held in New York City when I was a young collector.

Those major shows, especially the summer ANA convention held every August, are full of events from lectures and club meetings to major auctions, amazing exhibits, and the biggest bourse you can imagine. Major Mints from around the world will showcase their upcoming products, often unveiling new coins or series for the first time. A very good example of this is the China Mint’s very special series of Silver Panda commemorative coins that are only released at major coin shows. 

For those thinking about selling some of their coins, coin shows present an incredible opportunity to do so. Dealers will often provide a free, unofficial estimates. If you are ready to sell, you can easily and quickly take your items to several dealers to see who offers the best price.

Another benefit is with so many coins offered for sale in one location, you may have better luck finding a particular scarce or unique item you need for your collection. There is no substitute for viewing a coin in-hand to see if it meets your needs.

Seeing so many coins of different types at once is also critical to learning how to grade. At most shows today, a majority of the coins you see will be graded examples, which enables you to note the differences among coins of the same grade that look quite different.

As someone who has attended the Whitman Exposition many times, I have found it very useful to talk to a variety of dealers at each show about how they assess the state of the coin market and the hobby. You may learn things such as what sort of coins are in the highest demand, or exciting upcoming coin releases.

Coin collecting does not have to be a strictly solitary pursuit. In my experience, you will get far more out of it if you interact with other people who share your interests. Rekindle a friendship with a fellow collector or a dealer you have not seen in a while, or strike up a new a new relationship with someone who shares your numismatic collecting interests.

Security is an important consideration. Most shows have excellent security to protect everyone, including the many dealers who may have millions of dollars in inventory at a show. It is wise for collectors to still remain cautious both inside and outside the show. When you go to have a meal outside, for example, put away your show badge and be careful where you discuss coins.

Check out the coin auction at the show, even if you are not planning to buy, since those events often include the sale of major numismatic rarities you may never encounter again. Also, don’t overlook the wonderful exhibits that collectors put together for coin shows. The most important part of coin shows, however, is just to look around and have a good time.

Many famous men and women, designers, sculptures, and even Mint officials, attend these shows. From being able to shake their hands, share a few words, or even get their autograph, you might leave a show with an entirely new respect and interest for the people behind the coins. However, imagine coming home from your local show only to realize that you missed an opportunity to meet John Mercanti in person! Make sure to find out if any special guests will be attending the show and where you can find them.

If you are interested in attending some of the shows that do not receive as much attention as the big, national conventions, consult hobby periodicals like Numismatic News that cover that information. You could also ask your local coin deal, who may even be attending the show himself! The major shows should be well covered by online numismatic sources, and dates and locations can be found on the shows’ websites.

Whether the show you choose is local, regional, or a major show hundreds of miles away, you are sure to find out how helpful it can be in growing, not only your coin collection, but also your coin knowledge. 

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