Coin Show Expectations

Coin Show Expectations

Coin Show Experience

Collecting Coins American Silver Eagle
Coin Show American Silver eagle Coin

Attending a coin show can be a rewarding experience.  But, to get the most out of the experience prepare in advance.  The first thing to know is what to expect.  And, know what you want to achieve.  Finally, bring the things you need to help you achieve what you set out to achieve.


Part of your preparation should be to know how to not overpay as a buyer.  As a seller you want a fair payment for your coins.  Yes, you can also sell coins to dealers at a coin show.  Most dealers are fair, but not all.  You need to make an assessment based on what you can determine standing in front of a table.


Coin Show Assessment

Checking a Dealer

One thing you can do is check the pricing.  Know, or look up, the price of some coins being displayed.  If one coin is being priced too high, the rest probably are as well.


One person who sold coins at coin shows once commented that he priced his coins at double the price he wanted.  He wanted to haggle, as he put it.  Usually, the buyer in such a case does not get to the best price.  One day a person bought two coins at the stated price.  This is unfair, and the buyer could easily write off coin show purchases as too risky after finding out.


While that is an extreme case, remember coin dealers pay for the table space.  There is a small difference in the price a dealer pays to obtain a coin and the price the dealer sells that coin for.  The table fee needs to be made up on volume.   But, a few dealers like a short cut by overpricing.


I recently attended a coin show in another state.  I found a dealer offering coins in jewelry style cases.  Many collectible coins, such as proof coins, come in small cases.  But the coins being offered were only minted in bullion grade.  It is something I stock when I sell at coin shows.  The coins looked nice, and to the unsuspecting would seem to be quite collectible.  They were encapsulated, and came in the display case with a certificate.


Knowing the coin was a simple bullion coin that came in neither a capsule nor a display case from the mint, I could not help but notice the price was twice what it should have been.  I was told the coin came in the capsule from New Zealand, and it was never handled by human hands.  The coin is not shipped out in a capsule.  Most bullion coins are not encapsulated, with the Australian Perth Mint being an exception.  Since the coin is not in a coin book most people would carry to a coin show I suppose the dealer was counting on buyers not knowing anything about the coin.  I my case a lie immediately eliminated the dealer whether it was intended to deceive or if the dealer got the coins from a source and was ignorant of the facts.  Both deliberate lying and ignorance are enough to move on to another table.


Even if a person does not know anything about coins from New Zealand a little observation would tell the tale.  The same style case and certificate came with South Africa coins.  Two mints would not print similar certificates, and both would likely imprint the case with the name or symbol of the mint.  Even more obvious was that the same dealer had jewelry in the same style cases.


This should have been a red flag to anyone.  And, once the dealer made the statement that the coins were never handled by human hands was a real problem.  How did they get into the capsules?  So, could I believe anything else that dealer would say?


Bring Material to a Coin Show

A Dealer Should Be Fine with Scrutiny

Check over the coins you wish to buy carefully.  For this purpose, bring a magnifier with you.  You are allowed to look closely.  In fact, one person reported getting underpriced coins in this manner.  Coin grading has changed over the years, and a dealer who graded a coin thirty years ago may have it graded low.


If you were to sell to a dealer the coin would be checked for alterations that make a coin appear to be more valuable, such as changing a date of mintmark.  Likewise, you should look for the same things.


A simple way to check silver coins is that silver is not attracted by a magnet.  Silver plate over steel is easily detected by using a simple magnet.  The magnet should not actually touch a coin, since metal on metal can be damaging to a high grade coin.  But, you can feel the magnetic exert a force from a small distance away, even pulling through a capsule if the magnet is strong enough.


Weighing a coin is usually out.  The coin is not likely to be unprotected by some sort of encasement.  It might seem like you could simply add the weight of the holder to the weight of a coin and thus check for weight.  But, different companies make holders that are slightly different weights.  For example, H capsules from Air-Tite, Guardhouse, and Lighthouse do not have a standard outer diameter, the walls are different widths.


In addition to checking perspective purchases from dealers not known to you, also should bring a list of coins you are seeking.  Most people who see a dealer selling the type of coin being collected will pull out a list and ask.  The list should include coins needed for the collection, and coins needed for upgrading a collection.  And research the value of the coins on your list in advance.


It is fine to bring a coin book, or to look prices up on a phone.


I have seen people bring albums and look at the open spaces for missing coins.  This is not a good thing to do.  The coins can fall out too easily.


Check Graded Coins

There Is More than the Grade

Many coins on display at a coin show are graded.  This helps the buyer.  Pricing these is tricky, since the graded coin has a cost involved with the assurance of grading.  But, also realize grading ignores such things as milk spots, those blemishes from the mint, weak strikes, and toning.  If those things are important to you, check the graded coins you are considering carefully.

Finding Filler Coins

Inexpensive Coins

Dealers have to make a table fee, so expensive coins are usually shown in the case.  But, many dealers have albums or boxes of inexpensive coins.  Ask to see them if they are not out.  The chairs in front of the tables are for people to casually search the inexpensive coins.  A dealer will willingly sell those to you, but cannot afford to use display space by placing them in a case.


Learning about Coins

Be Sociable

Dealers are usually willing to share knowledge.  And, things can get boring during off periods.  If a dealer is busy with a customer wait or come back.  If a dealer is just standing there ask about coins.  If you want to know what is a key coin for buffalo nickels, a dealer who sells buffalo nickels will be happy to talk about key dates.  Just be reasonable and do not block others out from the cases.  Selling is more important than talking, but sharing knowledge is a high second.


Please visit Black Spaniel Gallery Coins to see out inventory.  Also, we have other informative articles, and will continue to add articles at Black Spaniel Gallery Blog.


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