It’s a good thing I don’t go to the Nicolet Coin Club dinner more than once a year. I am treated so well by its members that I would get a swelled head.
Yesterday, Clifford Mishler, Joel Edler and I journeyed to Green Bay to join club members in a delicious meal. It is hard to beat the camaraderie of longtime coin collectors having a good time together.
One of the table conversations I happened to participate in was about the future of coin shows. I mostly listened.
Mentioned were facts quite well known to most collectors. Costs are rising. Hotels and meals are not cheap. For dealers, bourse tables are expensive. Coins can be conveniently purchased online from the comfort of your own home. All true.
Major shows have been retrenching in recent years. Some have gotten shorter. The future of others is in question. Adjustments are being made.
However, a point I would like to make is that the need to make adjustments does not mean that there is no future for coin shows. There are few better ways to examine a wide selection of coins and then buy the ones you want.
Holding a coin in your hand is the only way to truly know and understand what it is you are buying. It is the only way you can get questions answered in real time about the specific coin you are looking at in that moment. It is the only way you are likely to find out answers to questions you would not have asked otherwise. I remember well enough going to a show to buy one thing only to be educated there and coming home with something much better.
Soon enough, the many newcomers who currently are taking advantage of the Internet to dabble in coin collecting will discover the other avenues that are available to them. It might be for a negative reason, like finding out that the great silver dollar deals that they are getting online are because the coins are counterfeits from China.
That does not mean a knowledgeable collector cannot buy intelligently online. He or she can. No question. But one of the best means of becoming a knowledgeable collector is in the face-to-face interactions one experiences at coin shows.
Other face-to-face encounters occur in shops, at coin club meetings and dinners like the one I just attended. All of these are necessary in a well-rounded numismatic education.
What the new balance will be between shows, Internet, shops and even newspapers like this one, I cannot know. What I do know is that to be a collector is to experience an insatiable urge for more coins and more information about them. This impulse is in no danger of being extinguished. But it is better if it is shared. Computers don’t make me come home feeling on top of the world like a coin club dinner or a good show does. Internet-only users will find this out in due course.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.
More Collecting Resources
• The 1800s were a time of change for many, including in coin production. See how coin designs grew during the time period in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900 .
• The Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money is the only annual guide that provides complete coverage of U.S. currency with today’s market prices.