Coin Show Reports by Vic Bozarth – Bozarth Numismatics
Dear Rare Coin Enthusiast,
My name is Vic Bozarth and I am the Rare Coin Road Warrior. My wife Sherri and I attend forty coin shows a year to buy scarce and interesting coins for our customers. I have always been a coin show guy and have never worked in a coin shop. I love coin shows and I would urge any and all to attend a show near you. The opinions and observations expressed in this article are my own. You are free to disagree or agree-HA!
The ANA Mid-Winter Show just concluded last night at the Sacramento, California convention center. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great show. In fact, it was kind of a dud. The ANA had the usual displays and programs, but the dealers just weren’t there. Oh yes, most of the major companies were represented, but there were empty ‘no show’ tables and indeed the room was smaller than many mid-winter ANA’s we have attended in the last several years. The 1999 mid-winter ANA which was held in the same location in Sacramento was a great show. The public attended, but they kept their wallets in their pockets. What was different?
The ANA has said it will not schedule shows in California any longer. The shows scheduled by the ANA before the current administration took control are still dragging both the ANA and the industry as a whole down. When a state, like California, makes doing business in their state TOO HARD there MIGHT BE A PROBLEM. Regardless of your politics, the taxation issues are going to take a toll on your bottom line. Fortunately, the ANA won’t be having shows in the formerly great state of California anytime soon.
As usual with ANA events there was a scheduling problem and instead of the one p.m. set-up for dealers Wednesday afternoon, the show didn’t set up until three p.m. A couple of years ago the ANA, in its infinite wisdom did away with Earlybird dealer badges. An Earlybird badge is a dealer’s badge that allows that dealer, who doesn’t have a table, to get into the show during set-up hours for a fee. The fees collected over the years have theoretically offset some of the table holder dealer table fee increases. The set-up was FLAT. Some blame can certainly be placed on the economy. After all, Sacramento has been hit harder than many.
Let’s take a look at attending an ANA Show from a smaller dealer’s perspective. Dealer Bob attends thirty shows a year. Most of the shows ‘Bob’ attends are smaller regional shows, but he also attends nearly half the major shows if, in his words, ‘it makes sense’. Like dealer ‘Bob’ stated, ‘How can I go to an ANA when my airfare, table, lodging, and food will cost me over $2000 before I sell a coin?” How indeed?
With an ‘Earlybird’ badge the dealer, like dealer ‘Bob’ still feels like he is part of the action, but cuts his overall expenses by nearly half. The tabled dealers get to buy or sell coins to this ‘Earlybird’ dealer. The Earlybird dealer buys coins and sells coins to tabled dealers. Guess what ANA, the Earlybird dealers help make a show and your shows are becoming marginalized because you can’t see the forest for the trees.
Quite a few years ago I considered becoming an ANA life member. Frankly, I won’t give them any more money. I feel, as many dealers do, that we are already giving more than our share in table fees for shows that are extremely expensive to attend and poorly scheduled or timed. The ANA has always had the philosophy that they can put the expense on the dealers and we will have to ‘pony up’ regardless.
Sometime in the next year or two (I don’t keep track) I will probably be eligible to receive a 25 year ANA pin. In fact, I was a member as early as 1978 while still in high school, but missed a few years while in college. Am I excited? Whoopee! I think I would rather sleep. In my years of ANA show attendance, I have attended no banquets, award ceremonies, or presentations. Do you know why? I am at the ANA show to work. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work.
In years past, I have worked for other companies and have had the responsibility for being at the show from the opening bell through the bitter end of the day. Frankly, attending a banquet or ceremony after ten or eleven hours of work doesn’t do much for me. I’m sure this year’s dinner at the Sugar Mill Restaurant was a nice event, but I had absolutely no interest in attending. I am also certain that the riverboat cruise was nice too, but guess what ‘I was working’. Of course, what the ANA doesn’t tell you is that if you aren’t ‘manning’ your table they will levy fines against your company. Hey ANA, get a clue!
Now let me talk about a real coin show. The Whitman Baltimore Show at the end of March promises to be a barn burner! The Whitman staff won’t be running around trying to see if we have purchased our tickets to the Sugar Mill dinner. No, they will be making sure we have everything we need to do business. If we have to leave early or want to take an hour away from the show for lunch we can do so without being FINED. Whitman is running a show for everyone including dealers, because, maybe you guessed it, we have already paid for our table and there aren’t any penalties or politics.
What is the big difference between the ANA shows and a show like Baltimore? The difference is the number and diversity of dealers period! If the dealers don’t attend and they don’t bring their coins, you don’t have a show. Baltimore continues to pack them (dealers) in and consequently, the public is lined up out front to get in every morning. There are big dealers, small dealers, and in-between dealers. There are weekend warriors and smaller dealers that come in for Saturday and Sunday and take tables already vacated by bigger dealers who have all the time on the road they can stand. The difference in why dealers WANT to attend the Baltimore Show and feel like they HAVE to attend the ANA Shows is a matter of attraction.
Dealers want to attend the Baltimore Show and many of us (dealers) dread the ANA Shows. If you want to add a person to your table in Baltimore you are going to pay for it, but you can do it at the show. If you want to add a person to your table for an ANA Show, not only will you pay for it, but you better do it two months in advance, and have a note from your MOMMY.
Many commented on the lack of business at the ANA this year. Maybe the ANA should ask itself this question. Are you running the largest traveling coin museum with the largest staff or are you running a coin show? The museum is in Colorado Springs.
The show schedule for March also includes shows in the Pittsburgh area and Boston, MA. John and Kathy Sarosi are having a show this next week in Monroeville, PA open to the public Friday through Sunday. Ed Aleo is having his semi-annual Spring Bay State Coin Show at the Radisson Park Plaza Hotel near Copley Square in downtown Boston. We will be attending the Bay State Show and really look forward to seeing old friends.
There are several shows in April, but the two big shows for the month are the Whitman Baltimore Show at the very beginning of the month and the Central States Numismatic Society Show at the end of the month. In between, there are several shows of note including the Santa Clara Show in California in the middle of the month. The first full week of April there are five shows spread across the U.S. including Michigan State, South Shore/Milwaukee, PNNA in Tukwila, WA, Dulles Coin & Currency Show, and the Central Florida Club Show in Orlando, FL.
Needless to say, five shows in one week dilutes the amount of good material that could possibly be at any one of the five shows. We won’t be attending any of the five but will attend Santa Clara the following week. Kind of a funny observation, but there aren’t any shows of any size Easter week before the CSNS Show. Seems to me somebody from one of the FIVE shows on the same weekend might have realized this and scheduled their shows accordingly.
The CSNS Show in Rosemont, IL is a great show. The Central States Numismatic Society is somewhat like the ANA with politics and backstabbing galore, but they do run a decent show, and more often than not dealers attend in droves. Having shows in Michigan, Chicago (the International), and Milwaukee just a couple of weeks before CSNS doesn’t help, but the larger venues like CSNS and the ANA can’t worry about the smaller shows? Right?
Bozarth Numismatics Inc. is a full-service rare coin company. Our focus is primarily on PCGS, NGC, and CAC graded and approved high-grade U.S. coins before 1945. We list coins for sale on our website Bozarthcoins.com and in our Ebay store. We also offer free want list services and consultations. Our professional affiliations include PNG, ANA, FUN, CSNS, and most major regional numismatic associations. We travel over 200 days a year to buy fresh, scarce, and interesting coins for our customers. Check us out.