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Shake hands, have a conversation

Plan to go to a coin show in 2017. Pick one. It will do you good.


It does not matter whether you would like to fly to Fort Lauderdale for a winter getaway at the Florida United Numismatists convention, or hop in the car and drive a couple of miles to the local VFW Hall show.

What matters is getting out there and talking to collectors and dealers face to face. Having conversations about topics of real concern to you in real time with real hobbyists means a lot.

Not only do you get information straight from the horse’s mouth, but it also is a refreshing experience to see others who are active in numismatics.

Show attendance is not part of the information overload that can drown your email inbox. It is unique. It is not information from an email that you know has gone to tens of thousands of other people.

I’d like to think I am a real collector, but even I get trapped in the office routine. It can become a bubble like any other. The longer I am deprived of face-to-face communication, the likelier it is that I feel cut off from the world.

As much as I’d like to think I am kept in the loop through my email and my telephone conversations, a visit to a show usually proves otherwise.

I can’t tell you how many times a conversation that starts with, “Have you heard ...” will lead to something important.

What is most important to me is to find out what other hobbyists are thinking. My conversations with them keep me on my toes.

This contact on a human level is critical. Over the years I have accidentally offended people with email replies that in my haste I have made too short and snappy. I expect you have done the same thing on a Monday morning clearing what has accumulated since Friday.

A real conversation that starts out with “nice to meet you,” or “how have you been” are much more pleasant even if the whole exercise leads me to be on the receiving end of some criticism.

I once was asked by a numismatic writer if I knew who someone was who had sent him an email. I replied quickly that I had never heard of them.

It was true. I cannot know everybody. But my reply was too short. It also was ultimately seen by the person I was asked about. My short email reply put a very rough edge on an important exchange of information. This would not have happened had the conversation been face to face.

Attending shows keeps me human and places our hobby’s problems in perspective.

Some people think that the Internet will completely displace all other forms of hobby interaction.

That would be a shame if it happens, because it will make all of us much colder in our relationships with everyone else.

Part of numismatics for me is shared experiences. I want to be a human being. I don’t want to be solely a record keeper. It might be my job, but it is not entirely who I am as a collector.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• Are you a U.S. coin collector? Check out the 2017 U.S. Coin Digest for the most recent coin prices.

• 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.