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Memphis the place to be

The International Paper Money Show is in Memphis this weekend.

My colleague, Bob Van Ryzin, who edits Bank Note Reporter, is on his way there as I write this.

I am sure it will be a great event. It always is for those of us who have been there on a regular basis.

That is my problem.

I will not be there. I will miss it.

For me, Memphis is full of memories of shows past and collectors and dealers I have met there over the years.

I was not at the first one in 1977. My initial foray there was in 1983 as I recall. It was the first one held at the Cook Convention Center after having been moved there from the Holiday Inn Rivermont Hotel.

I managed to attend 20 conventions in a row 1989 to 2008.

I have only been to one since then when Bob was unable to go.

I eagerly took his place.

Memphis and its attendees have taught me many things over the years. Much of it was unplanned, occurring in spontaneous conversations with individuals I happened to meet.

Every collector should find a show where that happens for them and attend it regularly.

All too often we focus only on the bourse and its results, and an auction, too, if there is one. This is important. Commercial activity is the life’s blood of the field. Shows are one vehicle for it.

However, as important as the next purchase or sale might be, shows are the places where collectors and dealers get to know each other and basically set up a framework for the next 20 years’ of sales.

There is nothing better than to greet an old friend at a table and have him say, “I think I’ve got something you might be interested in.”

Regular show attendees know this experience very well.

Casual show attendees who drop in and out of various events might never become familiar to the individuals on the other side of the bourse tables.

That is a shame.

Memphis was particularly good for this because in its time it truly was the beating heart of the paper money portion of numismatics.

I know many collectors can get along without going to a show.

But by being a regular at at least one show, a collector can thrive in ways that he or she might not even realize.

For modern Google searches you often have to know what the question is that you are trying to answer.

At shows like Memphis you find out the questions you didn’t even know you were interested in until you got there

Good luck to all who will be in Memphis this weekend. And don’t forget the ribs at the Rendezvous.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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