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Mistreated coin collectors won't come back

Are coin dealers who populate the bourse floors of major shows losing their ability to conduct retail business with the public?

Everybody knows that these bourses are becoming more and more wholesale events as fewer collectors attend.

Collectors are content with eBay. They are content bidding on convention auction lots electronically.

Naturally, like football players who are just coming back from the off-season, some coin dealers might need practice to get back into top form in dealing with the public.

I took up this topic this morning because of an email I received Friday.

It reads:

“Just thought I would drop you a quick private comment on my experience at the last ANA show I attended in Chicago. I was there to spend serious money (for me anyway).

"I was only able to spend $8K. That was spent at congenial dealers’ tables and one gruff old man whose deal I could not pass. Of the tables I wanted to make purchases from, fully 50 percent were staffed by jerks ... and the disinterested pin heads.

“My homework was done. All I required was a quote. One dealer was not at his table the three times I stopped.

“I attended two days (no, not the last day).

“Show promoters could serve attendees and dealers better by dividing the floor in half. One side ‘we’re here to do business!’ The other side, ‘Lookin’ to fight.’”

Those are strong sentiments expressed in the email aren't they?

Should the retail coin trade be worried?

It is true that in my time as a collector, there have been complaints about dealer behavior from time to time. Humans are not perfect.

Some collectors are not paragons of virtue either.

Back in the 1990s I ran a story in Numismatic News about how collectors should conduct themselves on a bourse floor. I thought it would be helpful.

There was one snippy response sent to me by a collector demanding to know who we thought we were telling him how to behave.

Perhaps there is nothing to be done.

The trends affecting public coin bourses might continue as they are even if we all wear dinner jackets and behave like characters in “Downton Abbey.”

Collectors simply will not show up for events if their expenses can be cut and purchases can be duplicated online.

However, if the perception of this coin collector email writer becomes commonplace, it will hasten the end of many public shows.

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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