By Tyler Rossi for CoinWeek …..
As most collectors will be aware, last week was the New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC). As the premier show in the United States for Ancient and World coins, it boasted approximately 100 dealers who traveled from around the world. Of which I was one.
Up until now, I have attended smaller regional coin shows, with several dozen dealers who almost exclusively specialize in modern U.S. and World items. Consequently, I was both amazed and slightly overwhelmed by my experience at the NYINC show.
Arriving in New York on Wednesday night after my flight was delayed by the morning’s FAA fiasco, I readied myself for setup the next morning. Since I am employed by and work for Shanna Schmidt Numismatics Inc and NAC USA LLC, I needed to arrive at the bourse floor early in order to prep our table. Due to the extremely high value of the cumulative inventory brought to the show, security must always be a priority. Therefore, immediately after checking in at the front table and receiving my dealer ID lanyard, my coworker and I went upstairs to retrieve our inventory from the safe room. Due to its size and weight as well as its value, it was necessary for us to ship our inventory from the office. It was simply too dangerous to travel with it on our persons from Chicago.
Setting up was surprisingly stressful. Unlike many other dealers, we took each coin out of its plastic 2×2 flip and put them (with their tags) into our trays. Not only does this look a little more professional, but it also allows potential customers to examine a coin more easily. What made this stressful was not the number of pieces we put out (500-ish) but the fact that a number of dealers were already walking the bourse floor and looking at our inventory. In fact, I sold a beautiful silver taler from Münster Bistum that was struck between 1650-1678 only about halfway through setup!
That being said, we will NEVER turn away business!
Eventually, however, we were ready, and the floor finally opened. Unlike many of the more experienced dealers, I am a relative novice when it comes to the lively wheeling and dealing that permeated every corner of the floor. Not only were deals made at tables, but dealers found every nook and cranny to negotiate in private. Which is, perhaps, one of the most important aspects of this industry. There are many people who collect coins that not only have valuable collections that need to be secured but it also seems that some collectors are by nature private and do not want their identities to become public knowledge.
As the show went on, both collectors and dealers would swing by our table multiple times. This is a smart strategy, as our table was very close to the front entrance, so people passed us early. As such, if you purchased from us, you might not have money for anything else. I think that in these large shows, it is best to see what everyone has to offer before you make up your mind.
One of my favorite parts of working the table was talking to young numismatists and budding collectors of all ages. While a number of teen collectors came by on Thursday and Friday, there were several youngsters (probably ages seven to 12) that came to our table on Saturday. Unfortunately, our stock was too expensive for them. Nevertheless, I loved being able to teach them the history of some interesting pieces and to pass along my love of collecting. For example, many people were drawn to the tray of large Roman Republican Aes Grave and Swedish plate money we were offering. Such unusual money proved to be quite the conversation starter.
We also brought a large number of pre-Roman Greek silver coins as well as modern (18th-century) German coins and British trade tokens. These were some of our best sellers.
In fact, on Friday I made quite a large sale to a private collector. This gentleman purchased a number of small Greek fractional pieces along with a stunning Gela tetradrachm. I was completely unprepared for how much anxiety I would feel when striking such a deal. Once everything was completed, I needed to decompress. But what to do? Retail therapy, of course. After visiting a number of tables, I purchased a World War One “ON NE PASSE PAS” medal commemorating the Battle of Verdun with its original leather pouch and paperwork stamped and signed by the Deputy Mayor of Paris in 1916.
Back at our table, it wasn’t unusual for both collectors and dealers to bring items by for us to look at. While these offerings were quite diverse, some notable examples include a box of high-grade Byzantine gold Solidi from a collector of early to mid-Byzantine gold and some silver Greek gorgonian pieces from a collector of Greek silver.
Despite being a generally positive experience, it is important to remember that you must be careful. Case in point, there was a theft at the show. Less than 20 feet from my table, the dealer World Numismatics was robbed of an estimated $100,000 worth of coins. The first I knew of this was a large number of police officers from the NYPD walking around the area on Saturday morning. Apparently, the dealer left the show before the floor closed at 7 pm and everything was locked down. According to Paul Russel, Chairman of the New York International Numismatic Convention, the dealer “went a little too soon” and left at roughly 6:35 or 6:40 pm (Ravenboer, 2023).
At the time, we didn’t know what had happened and many people assumed that the theft had actually occurred overnight. Regardless, not only did this prove that you need to be careful but it also demonstrated how rumors can spread at events like the NYINC.
Overall, the show was quite a success. Both my companies SSNI and NAC USA did quite well, proving that despite COVID interrupting the coin show circuit, this show remains the best-attended event focusing on World and Ancient coinage in the United States. No other show attracts the same level of attention from international dealers and collectors. This is no doubt due to the professionalism and care taken by the event staff in planning and running the show. Whether you simply needed to get a cover for your table or had a larger issue, the staff was more than accommodating.
Honestly, even though the show just finished, I can’t wait for next year!
* * *
* * *
About the Author
Tyler Rossi is currently a graduate student at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management and studies Sustainable International Development and Conflict Resolution. Before graduating from American University in Washington D.C., he worked for Save the Children creating and running international development projects. Recently, Tyler returned to the US from living abroad in the Republic of North Macedonia, where he served as a Peace Corps volunteer for three years. Tyler is an avid numismatist and for over a decade has cultivated a deep interest in pre-modern and ancient coinage from around the world. He is a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA).