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Rethink What a Coin Show Does?
October 04, 2011

What is the reality of coin shows today in organized numismatics?

With the advent of the Internet in the 1990s, people predicted their demise, but they have not gone away. More than ever, face-to-face dealings are important.

However, this is not to say that coin shows are not showing some sign of strain.

It costs more and more money for dealers to set up at coin shows. It takes a great deal of time. On the collector side, it is the same story. Compared to 10 years ago, it costs much more to attend most shows.

I had a conversation yesterday with Fred Borgmann, a retired former staffer here at Krause Publications. He went to the Milwaukee Numismatic Society show on Sunday.

I asked him how it was.

His reply was basically: they have discovered that they can do three-days’ worth of business in one day.

This was not some code for business being bad. Quite the contrary, Fred said business was good.

In the past, the show used to run over three days, driving up everybody’s cost.

At major shows, the major players usually run to the exits a day or two before the actual end of the show.

Does this mean all multiple-day shows should review the needs of their attendees? Probably.

Coin shows are not all that different in the way they are presented than they were when I was a kid or when I was a junior staffer here. Yet the American way of life has gotten busier and people are constantly feeling torn between competing commitments.

Perhaps we on the verge of a major rethink of what shows should be going forward.

They might become shorter, more stripped down to essentials and less costly for all.

Their new motto might be: “Get in. Get it done. Get out.”

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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