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Why I Made Collector X Mad

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com
A CoinWeek Content Partner

The phone rang early Saturday morning. It was a collector calling. The conversation went something like this:

“Hi Doug, this is “collector X” (the names have been changed to protect the innocent) and I’m getting ready to enter the convention hall. I want to see your coins. What’s your table number again?”

“Ummm…it was Table 201 but I left the show last night and I’m currently in my office working up my new purchases so they can be on the website this afternoon.”

“You what?!? You left?!? Isn’t the show on Saturday? You HAVE to be there. That’s not right…”

“I’m really sorry, sir, but I arrived in Schaumberg on Tuesday and I thought three and a half days was enough time to spend at the show. I was around all day Thursday and much of Friday.”

“But I work and can’t get the time off.”

We talked back and forth for a few more minutes. I felt bad that Collector X had driven a few hours to the show and he was about to discover that some of his favorite dealers (not just me) had left on Friday.

Which brings us to the major question at hand: why did I leave early and why will I continue to leave shows (with one or two exceptions) on Friday?

The short answer: most coin shows are too long. Many open on Wednesday and go through Saturday or even Sunday. If you ask ten dealers if they need a coin show to be four or five days, I’m guessing that nine (or more) will say “no.” Exceptions to the rule: The January FUN show and the Summer ANA show which are busy enough that most dealers are OK with attending them for the extra day or two.

Here’s my take on shows: not only are they too long, there are too many of them. I look at shows as a necessary evil. I have to go to them because this is where I buy a lot of my coins. But if I could figure a way to reduce my show schedule to, say, three or four a year, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

As Collector X was quick to remind me, coins shows are important for him. He gets to see coins, he gets to schmooze with his favorite dealers, and he can buy some stuff. I see his points but I’d offer the following retorts:

1: Most dealers don’t put their good coins out at shows, choosing instead to offer them to selected clients via want lists or placing them on their websites.

2: At most shows, dealers are highly stressed-out and a relaxin’ chat with a collector isn’t practical. If a collector wants to speak to a fully focused, well-rested dealer, he’d do much better speaking to that individual on the phone a week or two after a show, when the dealer is decompressed and relaxed.

3: As a collector, wouldn’t you rather make a buying decision in the comfort of your own home, using your own lighting (at most shows the lighting is abysmal…) and not being pressured to make a quick “yes or no” decision?

If you ask ten dealers what they go to shows for, I’m sure you’d get ten different answers. I go to shows primarily to buy. I believe that the excellence of my website means that I have a better delivery method for coins than putting them out in a showcase once per month. That’s the reason why when you go to my table at most shows, you see around eight coins laid out in the case. Where are the rest of them? Put away in my safe, waiting for me to image and describe them and place them on my website.

As I mentioned above, I feel that my website is excellent and my inventory is best served by the good images and descriptions found on www.raregoldcoins.com. In order for me to buy coins at shows, I have to get there early.

I told Collector X that the problem with a show like Central States is that it’s “front-loaded.” By this, I mean that, as a dealer, if you arrive on Wednesday afternoon, you’ve probably blown your chance to get an early shot at the fresh coins other dealers have for sale. If I had a staff, I’d have them come in the day I was departing in order to man the table while I went home and processed the new purchases. The problem is, most collectors, like Collector X, want to talk to me and not a staff member. Which sort of leaves me between a rock and a hard place.

The ideal solution to this problem is to start shows first thing on a Thursday and end them in the mid-afternoon on Saturday; lean and efficient, please. And I like the idea of having “day tables” where I might be able to vacate my space at the front of the room on Friday and have a smaller dealer from the back of the room move up to my spot.

Collector X, when you read this blog please realize that I feel your pain. Taking the time to drive to a major show and then having many of your favorite dealers not there is no fun. Please know that I was hard at work all day on Saturday (and much of Sunday) on the two nicest days of the year so far in Portland (you have no possible idea how much I wanted to go hiking…) so that you and other DWN customers would be able to have a shot at over fifty new coins by late morning Saturday. Next time I’m in your neck of the woods, let’s go have a cocktail, let’s go talk about gold coins and let’s bury the hatchet.

Doug Winter
Doug Winterhttps://www.raregoldcoins.com
Doug Winter founded Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN) in 1985. The nationally renowned firm specializes in buying and selling rare United States gold coins. He has written over a dozen books, including the standard references on Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans gold coinage, and Type 1 Liberty Head Double Eagles. Douglas has also contributed to the A Guidebook of United States Coins, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars, and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues. He is a member of the PNG, the ANA, the ANS, the NLG, CAC, PCGS, and NGC - among other professional affiliations. Contact Doug Winter at [email protected].

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  1. May I add one more thing that I do (if I know I am going to attend a show), I will call and ask if the person will be attending the show and their schedule. And meet before or after the day (if time permit). Yes time (still is ) important for all of us.

  2. I am a lower budget collector who has had the chance to visit a few of the large national shows. While I understand this dealers point of view, I also feel the same angst the collector expressed. My wife and I traveled to the ANA show in Sacramento last year, and I was really surprised at the dealers who had left or were in the process of leaving early Saturday morning, the last day of the show. I learned my lesson as I had hoped to purchased an item or two from a dealer who was already packed up and ready to go. I am afraid this is just the reality of the way it is. I think the general public who may not be able to go except for the weekend is disappointed. I guess some shows are for dealers more than for collectors like me.

  3. Yea, this article discusses that issue of who is a show for: collectors or dealers. But, it sounds like its a combo. Around here that are all of Fri, Sat, and Sun. Many leaving SunNoon. I also think that would be the best time for both: F S S


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