The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 22, Number 44, November 3, 2019, Article 19


Jeff Garrett published a great piece on his NGC blog about the future of coin conventions. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online. The image is of a Florida United Numismatists (F.U.N.) show opening. -Editor

FUN Show opening Because of all the planning and organization, the ANA is fortunate that its summer convention is usually a roaring success. Unfortunately, some rare coin conventions around the country are not so lucky. In recent years, several major shows have seen significant declines in attendance and the number of tables sold.

A case in point would be the annual convention held by the Central States Numismatic Society (CSNS) each spring in the Midwest. Twenty years ago, the CSNS show was considered one of the largest in the nation and a "must attend" event. The large bourse area sometimes exceeded 400 tables! But last year, the show sold closer to 250 tables, and other shows around the country have experienced similar declines.

Saturation leading to less successful shows?
The reasons some coin shows are succeeding while others are faltering can be complicated. A case can be made that there are simply too many coin shows these days. Each week, there are literally a dozen or more shows around the country. Some are local, one-day events, but there are also plenty of major regional and national shows on the calendar every month.

The World Money Fair in Berlin that is held in February is massive. The attendance is understandable given that there are very few coin shows in Europe each year. If there were only a handful of coin shows in the United States each year, the attendance at each event would be huge. Perhaps in the future, the European model of fewer shows will become the norm in the United States.

Many believe the internet has been a game changer for rare coin conventions. The theory is that collectors don't need to attend a coin show when coins can so easily be found on the web. There is much truth to the fact that at any time of the day or night, you can shop for rare coins around the country. So, why go to a coin show when so much is available at the push of a button?

I actually believe the opposite is true about the internet's impact on coin shows. The internet has created millions of new coin collectors. These collectors may start on the web, but soon find the idea of attending an actual coin show more exciting.

My analogy for this effect is the spread of legalized gambling in the United States. Many predicted that a casino in every large city would destroy the gaming industry in Las Vegas. However, the opposite proved true as local casinos introduced millions to the excitement of casino gambling, causing these folks to want to experience the "big time"—a trip to Las Vegas! I hope that is how many new collectors feel about going to an ANA convention.

The reorganization of the airline industry has also had a major impact on some coin shows. Many smaller-market cities have seen serious cutbacks in air service. This means fewer and more expensive flights on smaller airplanes. Coin dealers do not travel light, and most hate going to a show if it means a commuter flight. This was one of the prime reasons the ANA decided against holding its annual convention in Indianapolis several years ago.

It is also undeniable that many of the most active dealers are entering the sunset of their careers, and flying becomes more difficult as you age. I personally struggle much more with heavy cases these days than when in my prime. The enhanced security checks in the last decade have also become a burden.

Nothing beats the real thing
Despite all these headwinds, most coin shows are generally in good health. If a coin show is run well, the public and collectors will attend. In fact, anytime I get concerned about the health of the market, I look around at the thousands of collectors at a typical coin show and feel better. Like me, most collectors love the excitement of going to a show and actually seeing and holding the coins they collect.

After all, where else can you go and hold museum-quality objects in your hands? Photographs on the Internet have improved a great deal over the years but nothing beats seeing coins in person. Coin shows also present an incredible educational opportunity for collectors. You can see a vast array of rare coins on display, look at educational exhibits and perhaps attend an informative seminar.

I agree with Jeff on all counts. Long live the coin show! But clubs and promoters can't just sit on their hands and hope for the best. Promote, promote, promote, online and off. And above all, make your show an interesting and rewarding experience to encourage repeat attendance. What do readers think - what are some of your more memorable recent coin show experiences? -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Jeff Garrett: The Future of Coin Conventions (

Archives International Sale 56 cover front

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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