By Charles Morgan for Coinweek….
On Saturday, I joined CoinWeek Assistant Editor Hubert Walker to attend the 42nd Annual Raleigh Money Expo. The Raleigh Money Expo is held each year at the Exposition Center at the NC State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, North Carolina.
This year, the show’s 106 dealers operated 164 tables. Over the course of three days, the show drew 1,550 registered buyers. Unlike some shows, the organizers of the Raleigh Expo do not include dealer/table holders in their total draw number.
96 of the show’s table holders dealt in coins or related material. The remainder was a small-but-dedicated contingent of stamp dealers. In many respects, philately and numismatics are related pursuits. It’s nice to see the stamp hobby, despite the hard times it has endured in recent years, have representation at a well-attended venue.
Action on the bourse was brisk. This was a collector-centric show, with most of the buying and selling being done amongst collectors and dealers – not the dealer-to-dealer type show that generally makes up the national show circuit.
The Raleigh Coin Club’s goal for their show each year is to provide the public with a full “convention” atmosphere. Beyond the bourse, the Raleigh Money Expo puts a focus on three areas: Exhibits, Educational Seminars, and YN Activities.
The Exhibit area rivals many major shows. This year, interested attendees were treated to a variety of educational presentations, many focusing on issues of local numismatic importance.
The “People’s Choice” award was given to a commendable display entitled, “The Art of NC Money.” The 12-case exhibit presented the history of North Carolina money, from colonial times to the present. It counted amongst its examples a number of true rarities.
Those seeking further numismatic perspective could take in any of seven educational presentations hosted by the club – three on Friday and four on Saturday.
Hubert and I gave a talk on our ongoing column in The Numismatist, entitled “Market Whimsy.” We saw first-hand that the area’s collector base has a thirst for numismatic knowledge growth and found an interested and engaged audience for our presentation.
The main theme of the rest of the show’s educational programs was “Copies and Counterfeits”. Educational Presenters John Frost (Barber Coin Collector’s Society; Liberty Seated Collectors Club), Sam Upham and Bob Schreiner (RCC), Dustin Johnston (Heritage Auctions), and author Robert “Swamperbob” Gurney.
We ran into “Swamperbob” on the bourse floor. If you’re a fan of CoinWeek’s YouTube channel, “Swamperbob” needs no introduction – but here’s one anyway. Mr. Bob is a Mexican coin specialist and a former eBay Community Authenticator. He’s also a dynamic personality in numismatics, who devotes much of his time to helping stem the flow of counterfeit coins into the marketplace.
Hubert and I talked to Gurney about the state of buying raw coins on eBay. Many will find Gurney’s answer disconcerting; we can tell you that while we were troubled to hear that counterfeit coins have become more prevalent on eBay in recent months, we weren’t surprised. What was more disturbing, however, was Gurney’s revelation that new technology was being used to create highly-deceptive counterfeits and that these counterfeits were being distributed through a ring of dealers online.
“These counterfeits are so good,” Gurney told us, “that one of them even fooled me… and that’s scary. There are only a few diagnostics that differentiate these from real coins and I don’t want to say what they are because I don’t want the counterfeiters to know.”
Gurney’s fear about a new wave of virtually imperceptible counterfeits echoes the fears of coin dealer Larry Briggs, who CoinWeek talked to at this year’s Central States Numismatic Society Annual Convention. Briggs had a common date .900 silver-era Washington quarter counterfeit. It was a near-perfect representation of an authentic quarter of the period – save for the fact that the edge reeding was wrong.
Bottom line? Remain vigilant.
Another worthwhile facet of the Raleigh Money Expo is the fact that it truly is a place to bring youngsters. The event organizers put on one of the best edutainment-focused numismatic areas for kids.
Deserving credit is RCC YN Coordinator Jeff McCauslin. McCauslin built all of the games and did such an amazing job that the area was constantly busy throughout the show. Table holders provided an impressive array of prizes for YN participants. Major coin shows would do well to contact McCauslin and hire him to build up their YN areas.
All in all, we feel that the Raleigh Money Expo is a successful show that has the potential to be the region’s premier numismatic event.
Of the show, Raleigh Coin Club President and Bourse Chair (and occasional contributor to CoinWeek) Dave Provost says that the club “works hard each year to present a show that offers something for all collectors, regardless of their level of experience or interests, and provides multiple opportunities to learn about the hobby.”
For a club with 30 to 35 active members (most of whom were on staff during the event), we say “job well done”.