Dear Rare Coin Enthusiast …….. When I started writing the ‘Road Warrior a couple of years ago, my goal was to talk about rare coin shows from a ‘dealer’s perspective’. Because Sherri and I travel to ALL major U.S. coin shows and most of the larger regional shows, my ‘perspective’ and experience with coin shows is somewhat unusual and very inclusive. Since my teenage years, I have absolutely LOVED coin shows. Shows are ‘where it’s at’ so to speak and the action on the bourse floor, especially at the big shows, is often between the biggest ‘players’ in rare coins. The dealers and major ‘players’ make decisions and buy and sell deals that are often written about for years.
Don’t get me wrong, lots of coin deals never make it to a coin show, but…..a very large percentage of the ‘big’ deals are consummated at shows. Why? Because most dealers and many collectors know that if their first potential customer passes, the room is full of other potential clients. By far the biggest benefit of a ‘show’ is that the merchandise is (most often) there and can be physically viewed, graded, and bought or sold. One of the biggest misconceptions that many collectors make is that dealers are at a show to sell coins. WRONG. Well over half of all dealers at any given show are there to BUY. Bozarth Numismatics has a presence at shows and most often we have merchandise on display to sell, but ‘truth be told’ WE ARE THERE TO BUY!
With the internet the amount of business done online and through the mail has exploded. The internet is great. We sell thousands of coins each year on both our website and in our Ebay Store. The problem is that buying coins through the internet is very difficult (albeit much easier since we have third party grading). But, even with third party grading coins, especially PCGS and NGC coins, I still want to see what I am buying. As I stated earlier, ‘Shows are Where It’s At!’
The Rare Coin Show calendar is pretty predictable. All but the ANA-American Numismatic Association and the CSNS-Central States Numismatic Society Shows are held at about the same time in the same cities each year. For example, the great FUN-Florida United Numismatists Show is held the first full week of each year in Orlando-for the most part. Breaking down the biggest shows from the beginning of the calendar year through December is a pretty large task and for the sake of brevity, I will discuss only the ‘best’ shows through the Summer ANA in Chicago in August this year.
The major shows on the U.S. Coin Show circuit through August include the following: FUN, February Long Beach, March Baltimore, ANA Spring in New Orleans, CSNS Show-Chicago, June Long Beach, June Baltimore, Summer FUN, and the ANA in Chicago in August. There are also excellent regional shows in St. Louis, Chicago, Denver, Santa Clara, CA, Philadelphia, Manchester, NH, Boston, Ft. Worth, Ontario, CA and Pittsburgh during this time period. There are also the PCGS Invitational Shows in Las Vegas. Except for conflicts, we will be attending ALL of them.
The Long Beach February Show, held this last week, was a ‘barnburner’ of a show. The lower attendance we have seen for several years, was replaced by bustling activity on the bourse floor. We were pleasantly surprised with the larger attendance, as well as the obvious promotional activities of the sponsors Collector’s Universe. Although the Laker’s Legends including Jerry West and Magic Johnson appearing for autographs is not coin related, there is no doubt the BUZZ in the room was significantly improved. Maybe it was in anticipation of the Laker Girls-The LA Lakers Cheerleaders? In any case, more attendance generates more buzz/business, and this was a VERY smart move by Collectors Universe and the Long Beach Show.
The Long Beach Show is a major show you must attend. There are lots of hotel and motel options in the area, but plan early because this show (and hotels in the area) is booked months in advance. The Fall and Winter Shows are best, but the early June show is good also. This is a very well run show with fabulous displays and hundreds of dealers. But for shortsighted California state tax laws (nexus laws) this show would be a lot more successful and the out of state dealer attendance would return in force.
The Spring Whitman Baltimore Show is an excellent show. While the November Baltimore Show is the strongest of the three annual shows, the Spring Show in Baltimore is VERY active. Whitman has done any excellent job with this show and has kept table prices at reasonable price levels while maintaining great attendance from the public. Baltimore is a great city to visit and the convention center is surrounded by hotels and motels, BUT this is another ‘book’ early show and desirable hotels are most often sold out a couple of months in advance. Because the convention center is right next to Camden Yards-the train station, there are lots of transportation options too.
April is going to be a busy month this year. First the ANA is holding a Spring Show in New Orleans. New Orleans is a neat city to visit, but this is NOT a COIN TOWN and memories of a dismal coin show in New Orleans 20 years ago when the ANA last visited New Orleans are still fresh in my mind. Sales were dismal and many dealers left in the middle of the show to go gamble or party. Why? Parking and security are issues and people come to New Orleans to party, not go to a coin show. This year the sales tax issue is VERY OMINOUS and along with a 4% state sales tax on numismatic purchase’s under $1000, there is a FIVE PERCENT New Orleans City SALES TAX on sales under $1000.
CSNS-Central States Numismatic Society is once again going to be held late this April in Schaumberg, IL a suburb of Chicago. Although there were a lot of complaints last year about this venue, personally I prefer it over Rosemont (where most of the larger numismatic events in the Chicago area have been held). The problem with Schaumberg is transportation. The facility is nice, but it is hard to get to. The exit off the interstate doesn’t take you directly to the show and you are almost forced to rent a car if you want to go out in the evening-taxis are virtually non-existent! This is also a ‘book early’ show, because the Renaissance is at least four to five blocks from any other lodging and the traffic does not make walking a good option. CSNS also has a limo ‘special’ between O’Hare and Schaumberg to take a little of the ‘bite’ out of transportation costs.
The rest of the major shows for June and July are Long Beach, Summer Baltimore, and Summer FUN. All three share one common problem-SUMMER time. Attendance at summer shows is slow at best with the ANA generally being the lone exception. Summertime is for outdoors, vacations with family, and taking it easy. Because overall attendance is lower at the summer shows, many dealers skip these shows or only come in for a day or two. Many dealers are on vacation themselves. If you have a choice of ‘when’ you can go to a Long Beach, Baltimore, or FUN show you will probably be happier with the shows in the colder months. That being said, the Baltimore Show is still great although somewhat smaller and lodging is nearly impossible to obtain if the Orioles are in town during the show.
The ANA World’s Fair of Money Show in Rosemont ( a suburb of Chicago) should be interesting this year. This venue was absolutely ‘white hot’ at the Summer show (in Rosemont) year before last (please note this had a lot to do with the market itself and $1975 per ounce gold). Rosemont is easy to get to because of the VERY convenient location from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. There are numerous hotel and dining options. Overall, the ANA has been wise in choosing this venue, because of the central location. In addition, Rosemont/Chicago is a PROVEN show location. There have been numerous good shows there.
I am going to disappoint some with my recommendation for attendance at major shows, but my opinions are based more on pragmatism than wishful thinking. If you live in the West or are on the West Coast, you must try Long Beach. Conversely, if you live in the East you can’t miss Baltimore. In addition, CSNS and the ANA are MUST DO shows. While the Winter FUN Show is another ‘must do’ show, the Summer FUN Show is mediocre and you might want to ‘keep your powder dry’ for the ANA or another show. The same can be said about the ANA in New Orleans and the June Long Beach Show.
The information on websites for the sponsors of most of these shows generally includes hotel and travel options. The biggest factor traveling to a major show is to plan ahead. Be sure and check the show schedule too. Dealers with tables are allowed into a show early. ‘Earlybirds’ (many times dealers without tables) are individuals who pay an additional fee to get in during dealer set-up to get any earlier shot at the merchandise dealers have available. Many times dealer set-up is the entire day before a show and the public IS NOT admitted until later. Depending on your level of interest and budget, many advanced collectors pay for the ‘earlybird’ badge to get in early at dealer set-up.
One of the neatest aspects to attending a big show is that you should provide yourself the ‘time’ to properly attend a show. If you are coming to a major show, plan on spending at least a couple of days. There is just TOO MUCH to see. Check out the exhibits, go to the seminars, and most importantly spend some time searching for some ‘cherries’ on the bourse floor!
Bozarth Numismatics Inc is a full service rare coin dealer. We buy and sell PCGS, NGC, and CAC graded and approved high grade U.S. coins. We sell coins at shows and on both our website bozarthcoins.com and in our Ebay store bozarthnumismaticsinc. Because of our extensive show and buying travel schedule we can often locate those ‘hard to find’ items. We offer free confidential want list services and will call or email you ‘first’ if we locate an item for you.
Thanks and Best Regards
Vic Bozarth/The Rare Coin Road Warrior.