By Charles Morgan by CoinWeek....
The event, held this year in a 50,000 square foot exhibition space at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, boasted more than 200 dealers, hosted educational events, and even had a bustling area dedicated to teaching youngsters about the joys of coin collecting.
There was even a space set up where you could pan for gold.
Luckily for me, the show took place a week after I returned from the Summer FUN Show and Raleigh’s only a two and a half hour drive from my home in Virginia. So, at 5:30 in the morning, I hit the road with my five-year-old, eager to check in with Dave and his colleagues at the RCC and take in this exciting show.
Society of Paper Money Collectors
The Raleigh Money Expo let me catch up with Claud and Judith Murphy, two of the hobby’s leading experts on paper money and two of the genuinely nicest people you will ever meet.
Claud and Judith had a table at the show and also hosted a pre-recorded educational presentation by Confederate Money expert and Society of Paper Money Collectors President Pierre Fricke. Fricke offered numerous insights into the collecting of Confederate notes, from common issues to great rarities.
If you’ve ever heard Fricke speak on the subject, then you know he has an easy, matter-of-fact approach that offers something to collectors at all skill levels. His books are canonical works on the topic, and his Collecting Confederate Paper Money - Field Edition 2014 is an excellent first resource for beginners.
After the meeting, I sat down to speak with Claud and Judith about the show and the paper money market. Claud talked about some of the exciting adventures he’s had in the hobby, including the time he outbid John Jay Ford on a piece believed to be unique at the time.
“That really made Ford mad,” Claud said.
Later, six more pieces were discovered, and Claud owned every single one of them as well!
“They are all sold now,” Claud said. “They were really fun to own.”
Claud and Judith were also quite taken by my son, who certainly wasn’t the youngest person at the show (there were several children at the Expo). And although my son is a bit shy around adults, I coaxed him into saying “Thank you” when Claud gave him two aluminum tokens.
Later, Claud gave him a handful of uncirculated world notes. It’s great to be a kid at a coin show!
The Vibe on the Bourse Floor
The bourse was busy. People coursed through the aisles. The venue was pitch-perfect; it was well-lit and had lots of space. Many events were going on simultaneously at the fairgrounds as well, meaning there was extra foot traffic from casual visitors.
Raleigh Coin Club President Dennis Edens said that the show was on track to beat last year’s headcount by 15%. Approximately 1600 people attended in 2013.
Most of the dealers were local or regional. I saw a few familiar faces from the national circuit: Paper Money specialist Brad Ciociola represented Stack’s Bowers with a booth. Low Country Coins and The Reeded Edge had tables as well. ANACS was on hand, taking coin submissions. And an entire aisle was dedicated to stamps, with about a dozen sellers on hand.
There were a number of interesting educational exhibits on display. The fact that any of them were given floor space at a show this size is a testament to the Raleigh Coin Club’s vision of creating a viable regional show, one that seeks to grow to the size of the Blue Ridge Numismatic Association’s Annual Convention (coming up August 15-17 in Dalton, GA).
I’m not trying to shortchange any of them--they were all carefully-assembled and award-worthy--but I had a good time poring over Gilroy Roberts’ Birds, a complete set of Franklin Mint medals, all in silver.
The Franklin Mint’s been on my mind lately.
While the original Franklin Mint coin “investors” didn’t make a pretty penny off of their purchases, one can’t say that the Franklin Mint didn’t make pretty pennies. Widely collected and then largely ignored by dealers in the secondary market, I wonder if collectors will look back one day and covet these artistically excellent issues.
I’m not David Lisot in front of (or behind) the camera, but I think I did fairly well when I shot an impromptu promotional video for next year’s Raleigh Money Expo alongside my friend Dave Provost.
We didn’t have a script, but we managed. In the two-minute promo, we discuss how coin shows open the hobby up to potential new collectors by showing them how coins, medals, tokens, and currency are both financial instruments and historical objects that connect us to the past. We also emphasize how coin shows are a good way to meet other collectors, share stories, and take in wonderful exhibits and educational events.
I look forward to seeing the clip once the Raleigh Coin Club posts it online. Visit them at http://www.raleighcoinclub.org/, or check out their Youtube channel here.
Two Weeks Until the ANA
While we had fun at the Raleigh Coin Show, my son and I had to get back on the road around 3 pm. Dozens of show visitors were still streaming in.
As I was leaving, I started to think about something I read online recently. It was an article from a few years ago, when Collectors Universe announced that they were pulling out of the Santa Clara Expo to focus their resources on Long Beach.
Explaining why, PCGS Founder David Hall said “The coin show business has changed quite a bit in the past decade and the smaller regional shows face significant financial challenges.” 
Mr. Hall is right. Smaller shows work with tighter margins and against stronger headwinds. But at the same time, they are the most democratic shows the hobby has. Smaller shows (like the Raleigh Money Expo) rely on the talents of those running and promoting them. They are largely personality-driven. Sometimes, when shows get too big--and too corporate--they lose that human touch.
I’ve been on bourse floors where the dealers are crabby and don’t want to talk to customers unless they have thousands of dollars to spend.
I’ve been to shows where dealers bemoan the lack of real buyers and complain about the steady stream of tire kickers (which seems to be the main complaint when someone isn’t selling enough material to cover the costs of having a booth).
I doubt this attitude will get you far at a small show. Tire kickers are more prevalent than whales at shows like these.
But kickers do become collectors, and that’s why the industry needs smaller shows. They might not be good business for the big players today, but it’s essential that we have them if the big players want customers tomorrow.
This wraps up my quick trip to Raleigh. I have two weeks to plan and prepare for the World’s Fair of Money. I’ll be joining David Lisot for a week of numismatic history in the making. Speaking for David, we can’t wait to bring you show reports, videos, and insights from Chicago. If you’re in the area, please stop by and chat with us.
Charles Morgan is a member of the American Numismatic Association, the American Numismatic Society, the Numismatic Literary Guild, Central States Numismatic Society, Florida United Numismatists, and the Central Virginia and Richmond Coin Clubs.
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© July 2014 COINWeek.com, LLC.