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You should be an exhibit judge

Most decent size coin shows have a section of the floor devoted to exhibits. While they may not involve items for sale or purchase, I try to make time at such shows to tour the variety of interesting displays that often enhance my numismatic knowledge.

Several years ago, I decided that my experience could be put to use as an exhibit judge. After sitting through a training program and doing some practice judging, I was approved by the American Numismatic Association Exhibit Committee to judge the category of medals.

I have since served as an exhibit judge multiple times at ANA and regional and state coin shows. Typically, the meeting before judging, the judging itself, and then the judge’s meeting to select the winning exhibits takes two to three hours of my time per show. Even if I am at a show for only a couple of days, I consider this a reasonable allocation of my limited time.


Here’s why.

When you judge exhibits, you frequently get exposed to numismatic niches about which you know little to nothing. Even if you think you know a lot about the subject of an exhibit, you almost always end up learning something new and interesting. Numismatics is defined as the study of money. In serving as an exhibit judge, you will definitely be studying money in all its variations.

For collectors, you need to be someone who regularly attends major shows that have an exhibit area to consider whether to become an exhibit judge. For dealers, you need to consider the cost/benefit of taking time away from doing business against the increase in your overall numismatics knowledge.

But, there are other benefits of being an exhibit judge. In the process of judging, I have seen some incredible rarities. I have expanded my knowledge in a diverse range of numismatic niches. You learn a lot of history, which is something else I love doing. Another benefit is, in looking at exhibits, I pick up some ideas on how to display merchandise more effectively in my store. There is also the benefit of camaraderie and sharing information with other judges and exhibitors.

Serving as an exhibit judge requires some diligence and time commitment and it isn’t for everyone. Serving as an exhibit judge can be rewarding for collectors who appreciate learning more about their hobby.

Your next opportunity to take exhibit judge training will be next week at the Central States Numismatic Society convention in Schaumburg, Illinois. The ANA Exhibit Judges Certification Refresher Program takes place Thursday, April 25 at 5:00 PM in the Renaissance Hotel’s Serenity Room. There are no fees to become an exhibit judge.

Patrick A. Heller was the American Numismatic Association 2018 Glenn Smedley Memorial Service Award, 2017 Exemplary Service Award 2012 Harry Forman Dealer of the Year Award, and 2008 Presidential Award winner. The Numismatic Literary Guild also honored him in 2017 and 2016 for the Best Dealer-Published Magazine/Newspaper and for Best Radio Report. He is the communications officer of Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Michigan and writes Liberty’s Outlook, a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at Some of his radio commentaries titled “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 AM Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio and text archives posted at