I have not been to a coin show in Nebraska since the Central States Numismatic Society convention in 1980 in Lincoln.
That is perhaps not surprising given my other travels in the last 35 years. I simply cannot attend every show.
However, what is surprising was a news report that Mitch Ernst was kind enough to send me about the Omaha Coin Club 56th Annual Show on Aug. 1
This kind of show is supposed to be the backbone of organized numismatics where the little guy who doesn’t have the time or the travel budget can simply get in his car and be at a show.
Unfortunately, this time, there were fewer than 200 registered attendees.
Ernst, who is club president, wrote in an email that the result “disappointed dealers and club officials alike.”
There were 18 dealers staffing 30 bourse tables.
Was the weather too nice?
Is the location inconvenient?
Is it low bullion prices?
Naturally, all the questions are being asked and Ernst is one of those hands-on club officials doing the asking.
“This is the fourth year we’ve held our show at this location and time of year, but we’ve seen a steady decline each year. We have a beautiful venue, but we’re going to have to look at our options and determine if a club show is even still viable in Omaha. It’s not fair to the dealers that support our club by buying a table at our show to have this low of turnout,” Ernst writes.
He might have put his finger on the real reason for the low attendance when he wrote, “The OCC club show also competes with a popular privately run monthly show and a privately run annual show in the Omaha area.”
That’s a lot of shows.
I expect the club will poll the dealers who take the tables to see how their results were.
Sometimes low attendance is offset by a willingness of those who do go to open their wallets.
I know I sometimes have an attack of that “see it, gotta have it” impulse when I am looking at coins.
Omaha has a distinguished numismatic history and I am sure whatever the club decides to do with its show in the future will add luster to that history.
One person might want to come back to any future show while hoping others will stay away again.
Ernst said Pat Leon Hardt was attending welding classes at the south campus of the Metropolitan Community College when he noticed signs advertising the show.
He decided to go.
When he arrived he bought raffle tickets for $20 and won four of eight hourly prizes and a 2011 PCGS MS-69 tenth-ounce gold American Eagle grand prize.
McCoins and Mctiques of Omaha won the dealer appreciation raffle prize of a $25 gift card for Applebee’s®.
Perhaps the moral of this story is no matter what else might happen at a show, always buy raffle tickets.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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