Wednesday April 9

How to Successfully Navigate a Coin Show

by CoinsofAmerica

Once I arrive at a coin show, I hop in a taxicab and head over to my hotel. Most of the business done at shows actually occurs before the coin show even begins! Therefore, I meet with 10 or 15 dealers before the show even opens. The best coins never make it to the coin show. They sell in the hotel rooms!

Coin dealers are a wild and crazy bunch. They sometimes like to eat good food, they sometimes like to drink a beer or two or three, and sometimes they might even use a word containing between three and five letters of the alphabet. I am ashamed to admit this, but it is the truth.  Of course, the only four-letter word I ever use is COIN.  Clean dealers like to play harmless practical jokes on each other. Because we see each other week after week and month after month, we are all on very good terms.

Of course, you can never get along with everyone in life. That means that in the real world most dealers end up doing business with the same 10 or 20 people over and over and over as the years go on.  You learn with whom you can do business and whom you can rely on and trust.  Some dealers stock really nice, high-quality coins, while other people may only sell problem coins that have been cleaned or polished.  In this business, you get to know everyone else in a real hurry. Moreover, you quickly recognize with whom you feel comfortable doing business.

I will gracefully avoid details about things that happen at Coin shows. I might be too embarrassed to admit some of them!  However, let’s just say that my friends have a strange way of sending things to me at shows that are delivered via FedEx.  One guy sends me dead goldfish and dried out frogs.  Another guy once sent me an entire box filled with six-day-old, room temperature raw shrimp.  FedEx was really happy to get rid of that one.

The best part about going to coin shows is looking at incredible coins.  Auction lot viewing never ceases to wow me because I can examine multimillion-dollar coins at my leisure. Major national coin auctions held in conjunction with larger shows attract a wide range of high-end, sophisticated collectors and advanced dealers.  Although I have a strange affinity for looking at circulated wheat pennies and Indian cents, the high-end, rare stuff is better. You should try it!

When canvassing the coin show floor for high-quality material, it is important to have a game plan in mind. Whether you are a collector or a dealer, you cannot walk onto the floor with the attitude that you will look at everything. Direction and focus are essential components to successfully navigate a coin show.  You also need to know the right people to be first in line to buy the best coins.

Finally I saved the best for last. This may sound a bit odd, but the single most important ingredient for success is to spend more on high-quality coins. You get what you pay for, so if you are looking for the best material, you must pay a strong price to obtain it. Most collectors attend a coin show with the attitude that they want to find a bargain. However, professional dealers understand that price is secondary in relation to securing the right coin in the first place.  I would much rather spend a little bit more on a truly beautiful, high-quality coin rather than spending hours and hours and hours hoping to save $10.

Trust me: that $10 savings deflates in a hurry when a collector returns home to find a big scratch on a “bargain” coin that they missed at the coin show.  Buying bargains rarely proves to be a prudent method for assembling a high-quality collection.  So, when you go to a show, it helps to know your stuff and to have a firm game plan. The same is true whether you are a collector or dealer.

The last bit of advice is to never spend your money just to spend your money. If you don’t find a high-quality Coin to purchase a coin show, never be afraid to leave the show with all your money in your wallet.  This sounds easier than you might think because most people are motivated to buy something when they attend a convention. In reality, it takes patience, discipline, education, and experience to walk away with all your money in your wallet.

Coin shows and coin dealers are a lot of fun. I highly recommend that you attend a local show or a major national convention to experience the profound sense of amazement of being in a room with billions of dollars worth of coins. Be polite with coin dealers, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to look at coins even if you do not plan to buy them.

Next time we will discuss coin show etiquette. We will explore the right and wrong ways to conduct business and behave at show. The coin industry’s unwritten rules for behavior promise to surprise and amaze you, so tune in next time!

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Friday March 21

Insights Into Coin Collecting 101

by CoinsofAmerica

Granting me free reign to write anything I like in a blog might be construed as a tactical error. However, this enables me to share secret insider information with you that most coin dealers never divulge.  What follows represents a few interesting insights into the industry that might surprise you!

A surprising secret is that many collectors know much more about numismatics than coin dealers. Although I try to be the exception to that rule, knowledgeable collectors studying the intricacies of a particular coin series know far more than your average coin deale­­r about one specific area of collecting.  There is no point in denying reality, so I am the first one to admit when I am outclassed!  Let’s be honest: someone reading 50 books about large cents knows much more than I ever will.

That leads us to the next secret: successful coin dealers often call their customers for information. If I am stumped, I tap the wisdom of my collecting customers.  The point is, dealers conduct research to answer questions that baffle them.  Sometimes that means opening a book, or sometimes that means picking up the telephone or sending an email.  Either way, we find answers to questions using all available sources.

An old joke in the industry goes as follows: what is the difference between a coin dealer and a coin collector? Answer: a coin dealer knows how to properly clean coins without hurting them.  Perhaps this exaggerates the point, but the point is still valid. You should never abrasively clean scrub or wash your coins. However, many coins enter a dealers office caked in dirt, filth, contamination, or other sludge.  There may be a beautiful, high-quality coin hiding beneath the contamination, but the question is how to remove the stuff without damaging the surface.

This is where a professional coin dealer’s experience really shines (pardon the pun).  Because we have destroyed so many coins by cleaning them, we have learned the hard way how to treat high-quality coins with kid gloves. Our job is to preserve coins, not destroy them. Leave professional conservation to the experts and never attempt to clean, wash, or otherwise improve your coins in any way. You will probably destroy them in the process.

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