By Peter Mosiondz, Jr.
For me the anticipation of an approaching coin show transcends the magical time when, as a young lad, I eagerly awaited Santa’s visit on Christmas morning. These two events have one thing in common. As the arrival of the jolly fellow in the red suit came ever so near, my mother would insist that I make up a list of the things that I had asked the elderly gent to bring me. With that thought in mind, it is easy for me to prepare a listing of all the things I would like to accomplish, and all the peoples I want to see or meet, at the upcoming coin show. The motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared”. This is how I prepare.
The first step in my plan is an outline of events that I would like to see. This includes the seminars I want to attend; their dates and times and where they will be held in the convention center. If the coin event should have a web site, I can “clip and paste” this information onto a Word® document. Camaraderie is a big part of any worthwhile hobby, most especially the hobby of numismatics. So, my next step is to jot down the friends I plan to meet there and spend some time with. Dealers are included on this list of friends, for they can turn out to be very good friends. What dealers do I plan to visit? I make a list of dealers and their booth numbers. Again, a show’s web site or even a brochure mailed prior to the show will ordinarily contain this listing along with a floor plan. It’s a simple matter to use a highlighter pen to identify your intended visits. An important component of this segment of my list is the exhibits. I don’t list just those I would like to see because they fall within my areas of collecting interest. Instead I write down a reminder to allow sufficient time to visit and study all of the exhibits. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to appreciate the efforts of others and to learn from them.
Since I intend to pay visits to several dealers, I need a personal “want list”. In other words, what coins do I really want to buy at this event, and in what state of preservation (grade)? We all know what our budgets are so I include a maximum price for each coin. I glean this information from the Charlton catalogue, Canadian Coin News trends or dealers advertisements. Do I have any coins to sell or trade? If so, which dealers are most likely to need my items and thus pay me a fair price or allow a mutually beneficial trade?
Will there be an on-site auction? If so, I need to obtain a catalog well before the coin event begins to allow ample time to review and notate any coins I may be interested in obtaining by attending the sale and bidding. We’ll have more to say on auctions in an upcoming series.
Another item of the preplanning agenda is the location of the show itself. If it is not within an easy commute from home, am I able to see and do everything in one day? Chances are that I’ll have to stay over an extra day or two. If that is the reality of the situation, I must make travel and lodging plans. I must also budget the cost of meals and other necessary daily expenses. A large coin venue will most likely have arrangements with a “host” hotel. The show guarantees to fill a certain number of rooms during the duration of the show and can thus negotiate a special rate. I always look there first, not to mention the sheer convenience of literally having the show in one’s living room.
Not all shows are created equal, so with that thought in mind let’s take a look at the three major categories of shows.
Two examples of National coin shows, or conventions, are the annual Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA) and American Numismatic Association (ANA) events.
These shows can last up to a week and feature hundreds of dealers, countless exhibits, numerous seminars and lectures; all the more reason for making every effort to attend.
These annual coin conventions feature auctions by one or more well known auction firms and will often include priceless rarities. If you are looking for a very good 1923 small cent you will not find it in the auction catalog. But you will find many desirable coins; even if we can afford them we can still look at them. I fondly remember an ANA show many years ago when the fabled 1913 Liberty Head nickel was included in the auction catalog. I can still recall the extreme pleasure, through the kindness of the auctioneer, of holding that rarity in my hands. Had it not been encapsulated by a third party grading service I may not have had that memorable opportunity.
These shows, often two to four days in duration, are held in a certain region of the country every year and hosted by two or more coin clubs. Exhibits and seminars are also a key component of these venues but not on the scale of the national shows.
Instead of hundreds of dealers you will most likely encounter up to a hundred. The event may or may not boast an on-site auction.
One of the advantages of the regional coin show is that the pace is not as quick as at the nationals. Another advantage is the fact that travel and lodging are not oftentimes a consideration. These shows are usually within an easy commute and can be attended and completed by the average collector in one day.
This is typically a one or two day show which sponsored by a local coin club. Exhibits are mounted by club members and, as the exhibits at larger events, most worthy of your attention. This type of show is likely to have a handful of seminars put on by club members and perhaps an invited guest.
The number of dealers you will encounter is much less than at larger shows. The benefit of course is that it allows you extra time to view most, if not all, of the dealer’s goodies. And, as it is local, you will be able to travel with one or more friends. Hopefully you are also a member of the local club.
Also considered as local “shows” are the one or two day events put on a one or more dealers acting as sponsor. You will not be likely to see any exhibits or attend any seminars. These events are purely commercial and rightly should be identified as bourses, not coin shows.
Coin shows of any size are fun and very worthwhile to attend; preferably with a coin collecting friend. Don’t worry though. If you arrive without a friend in your company, you’ll surely make new friends at the show.
Coin shows are promoted in publications such as Canadian Coin News. The advertisements or publicity releases will often contain a listing of planned seminars and dealers in attendance. If you have attended this same show in the past, and placed your name on the mailing list, chances are that you’ll receive notification of their next event well in advance so that proper plans can be made. Make your plans to attend; you won’t regret it.
Until next time, stay well and enjoy your hobby.