Dealers Can't Forget Average Collector
By Tina A. Schneider
In 1999, I attended
the Central States Show in Milwaukee with my
husband. It was my first coin show, and I was
I remember seeing cases and cases of silver
dollars. Silver dollars are beautiful coins so
the first few cases were impressive, but after a
few tables, I found the displays monotonous. I
remember the people behind the table as being at
best unfriendly and unreceptive to questions,
and at worst downright rude. The best part of
the show was the educational exhibit area which
I found extremely interesting so that's where I
spent most of the show while my husband went
through the bourse.
In the years since, I've gone to many smaller
shows in the area and become interested in
collecting primarily foreign coins and exonumia.
Several area dealers now recognize me at shows,
and a few of them will pull out coins or tokens
they think I might be interested in adding to my
collection. Most of them are happy to explain
the origins or histories of items they're
selling. I've also joined several coin clubs and
found a community of friendly folks who are
willing to share their knowledge of coins.
In 2007, my husband and I went to two major
shows: the FUN Show in Orlando and the ANA Show
in Milwaukee. Both shows were great with lots to
see and plenty of dealers selling a wide variety
of coins, paper money, exonumia, and other
numismatic merchandise in a range of prices to
suit every collector including young
numismatists. The majority of the dealers were
friendly at both shows.
When we found out the Central States Show was
coming to Chicago this year, we immediately made
plans to go. I wondered if I would find it to be
different this time since I'm now an active
Unfortunately, the answer proved to be "No."
Once again, I was greeted by cases and cases of
silver dollars, this time interspersed with gold
coins of all kinds. Both my husband and I found
the majority of dealers in the first half of the
hall to be unfriendly and rude. Many of them
completely ignored us. By the end of the day it
was painfully obvious that these dealers were
mainly interested in dealing with other dealers
and had little interest in dealing with ordinary
As we got farther away from the door, the
dealers got friendlier, and there were more
moderately priced offerings. Highlights of the
show for me included talking to Ray Dillard and
browsing through his big bin of elongates and
going through the educational exhibits and
having the opportunity to talk to one of the
exhibitors. Getting to meet people and learning
more about how numismatic history relates to
world history is important to me. I'm not an
investor. I'm a hobbyist.
A week after the Central States Show, my husband
and I were back in Chicago - this time to attend
the Chicago International Coin Fair. What a
delightful contrast to the Central States Show!
At almost every table, dealers greeted me and
asked me what I was looking for, if I wanted to
see something, etc. There were bargain bins full
of inexpensive foreign coins and ancient coins
worth thousands of dollars - sometimes at the
same tables! Every dealer I bought something
from seemed to genuinely appreciate my business
even if my purchase only amounted to a dollar or
two. Dealers seemed pleased to talk to people
about the histories of their coins, and I heard
folks discussing long-dead emperors as though
they were dearly departed relatives!
The CICF Show represents what I think is the
best part of numismatics - people with a true
passion for what they collect and sell, not just
people who are thinking about how much money
they can make when they "flip" a coin on to the
The Central States Show had terrific exhibits
and educational seminars. However, I think many
of the dealers need to make an effort to
recognize the average collector rather than
simply catering to other dealers or folks
seeking investment grade coins. Remember, this
hobby is a pyramid, and the base is made up of
the "little guys."
Tina M. Schneider is a numismatist who resides
in Waukesha, Wis.
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