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Why Attend a Coin Show?

James Obler

Why Attend a Coin Show? In Particular, the Fresno Coin Show presented by the Fresno Numismatic Society?

So, why would anybody want to go to a coin show in the first place? It might seem obvious to a dedicated collector, but maybe we can define a few specific reasons. Just for the record: coin shows are awesome!

A coin show provides the opportunity to speak with many numismatic professionals, each with their own wealth of knowledge and experience. If you have questions about Lincoln cents, you can find dealers with decades of experience in that field. They can explain everything from the history of the design to the nuances of grading and the reasons for price differences between different dates. Suppose you are interested in ancient Rome. The Fresno Coin Show usually features dealers who are intimately familiar with the gold, silver, and copper coinage of Rome, including the historical significance of the designs. Even the decline and fall of the Roman Empire is reflected in the gradual debasement of their silver coins, which were made with less and less silver as economic conditions deteriorated. All our dealers are eager to share their historical and numismatic insights with show attendees.

The fact that many dealers are available at a show gives the potential buyer an opportunity to shop around for the best deals. Popular collector coins like Morgan silver dollars are included in most dealer inventories. Attendees can move from table to table, looking for the most attractive specimens and compare prices. Nothing inspires buyer confidence like having choices and a coin show provides that opportunity. When I go to a show, I take notes on each coin that interests me. I’ll then go back to review my candidates. When the coin, the price, and my interest level all line up I open my wallet. A coin show is the only place where all this can happen.

It is possible to haggle with coin dealers. Many coins in dealer cases show a price tag. In most cases, the dealers have some flexibility on pricing. If you see a coin you like, it’s perfectly OK to ask if the dealer will take an offer below the listed price. Suppose you see a coin priced at $100. You like the coin but the price seems a little steep. Perhaps you could offer $80 for the coin. The dealer might say “no”, he might say “yes”, or you might come to an agreement at a $90 price point. It doesn’t hurt to ask and as long as you are polite no dealer should be offended by an offer to negotiate. In my experience it’s pretty common to complete a purchase at a price around 10% below the amount shown on the tag.

The USA is obviously experiencing near-record inflation right now (October, 2023). It can be a smart move to put some of your cash in precious metals which may maintain value when dollars are losing buying power. TV and radio are full of advertisements by companies selling gold and silver, but the best place to procure precious metals is at a coin show. You can see and hold the item you want and can negotiate the best price.

One important consideration for purchasers is that counterfeit precious metal products exist. These are sometimes offered for sale on venues like Craigslist and eBay and buyers need to be cautious. Reputable dealers (like the ones who attend the Fresno Coin Show!) guarantee the authenticity of what they sell. If you want the ultimate guarantee of authenticity you can purchase professionally-certified gold and silver coins.

I’ll provide an example of how a reputable precious metal dealer should operate. A few years ago, the official price of gold (“spot price”) was $1800/troy ounce. One dealer was selling American gold Eagle coins which have a pure gold content of exactly 1 ounce. The price offered to me for one Eagle was $1880, which was an $80 premium over spot price. The dealer said if I want to sell him that coin and the spot price is still $1800, he would pay me $1810 for it. So, the dealer is operating on a profit margin of $70 on an $1800 purchase. This is an honest dealer who offers precious metal at a fair price.

If you have coins or currency to sell, you should make attending the Fresno show a priority. With many dealers in one place you can show your items around and find out what they are potentially worth. You can then close a deal with whoever makes the best offer. Appraisals at a show are free and you are under no obligation to sell. You might even find attractive coins, currency, or precious metal products and trade in your old items for new ones that better fit you collecting preferences. Come to the show and see what happens!

Finally, a coin show is just plain fun. It’s exciting to see all the valuable and beautiful products in dealer cases. Meeting fellow collectors and talking with the dealers is inspirational and educational. Highly recommended!

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