Our local coin club held it’s bi-annual coin show this past weekend. I love attending club coin shows because they bring together both local dealers as well as dealers from out of town. The dealers usually bring coins, paper money, and other items of interest different from what you see in the local dealers’ shops. Coin shows also bring out some of the vest pocket dealers and club members who set up a table with their personal inventories and collections. With the diversity of dealers and numismatic items, coin shows provide the opportunity to do comparison pricing and to observe both the market and the hobby in this area of the country.
Curiously, in addition to the usual older collectors who have been involved in collecting and numismatics for many years, there were many young collectors. Age-wise, these collectors were 18 years old and younger. Most were actively looking at both U.S. and foreign coins and paper currency. Most of the sales to these younger collectors appeared to be $25 or less. When I spoke with a few, most said they had specific collecting interests. I spoke with quite a few who were collectors of Lincoln cents, buffalo nickels, and mercury dimes. Most were looking to fill holes in their collection books. In terms of passion for the hobby, they were just as strong as the older collectors.
I also observed a fair number of what I call ethnic collectors who were collecting the coins or paper money from their home countries. Our area – Southwestern U.S. – is home to a significant number of recent arrivals from Latin America and eastern Europe. These collectors were asking about coins and paper money from countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. In my conversations with a few, the common theme was that they wanted some of the history and heritage they had seen when they were younger. They wanted to own these items now that they can afford these coins and paper currency. Revolutionary Mexico paper and coins (to the extent they could be found) were popular.
Dealers with reasonable prices did very, very well in sales over the weekend show. Dealers who price their coins reasonably and are willing to work with collectors had the highest sales. Speaking with several, many had sales of over $20,000. Based on the high number of collectors I saw perusing their tables at any given time, I could pretty much predict who had the highest sales. On the other end, there was the group of what I call “last dollar dealers”, whose prices tend to be set at nosebleed levels based on my previous dealings. These dealers grudgingly give $10 off on a $600 coin set which was set at 50% over market.
I attend coin shows to do business – to buy, sell and, in rare cases, trade. I can’t tell you how much collectors and other dealers appreciate the reasonable dealers with reasonable prices. To the “last dollar dealers”, here’s a word from a seasoned coin show patron – “while you might have nice coins and notes, if I wanted to go to a coin or paper money museum, I’d go to a museum and not a coin show”. To my amusement, these “last dollar dealers” complain, saying they made few sales and otherwise complain about the show in general and those attending. If I thought it would do any good, I’d tell these “last dollar dealers” to reassess their nosebleed prices and improve their crappy and arrogant attitudes. As it stands, why would anyone want to buy from these dealers.
To end this blog on a positive note, club coin shows are a favorite of mine, and I try to support club shows in our region whenever possible. Please do the same for club shows in your area to keep this historical and engaging discipline and hobby alive and thriving.