By Donn Pearlman
Each issue of COINage has compelling advertisements filled with historic, intriguing coins offered for sale. But have you ever seen a nickel three-cent piece, or a silver one, in person? Do you know what a 20-cent piece and a gold Liberty Head double eagle look like up close?
If you haven’t seen these coins in person, I cordially offer four words of advice: Get off the couch!
Go to a coin show. Look at coins in person. Talk to other collectors and dealers in person and not at 240 or fewer characters per Twitter message. You’ll quickly discover those advertisements are more interesting than ever. You’ll also delightfully discover how much more you’ll enjoy collecting.
Whether it’s a local show with a dozen card tables at the neighborhood community center or a monumental event such as the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money® convention with 500 dealers, each show is an opportunity to actually see coins, ask questions, and interact with other numismatists.
I became an active collector in 1975, but I did not know historic Fractional Currency existed until I saw examples at the 1979 ANA convention in St. Louis. (The U.S. government issued small-sized paper money in denominations of 3, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50 cents between 1862 and 1876. I started collecting and enjoying Fractionals because I went to a show.
Some shows offer educational seminars and meetings of specialty clubs. For example, the ANA conventions offer daily, informative introduction to collecting sessions, “Coin Collecting 101,” for emerging collectors. There are also “Money Talks” seminars on advanced topics.
The Florida United Numismatists (FUN) convention, Long Beach Expo, Whitman Baltimore Expo, and other major club and commercially-organized shows also offer enlightening and useful educational programs.
The late discount clothing store chain founder, Sy Syms, used to proclaim: “An educated consumer is our best customer.” The same is true in coin collecting. Read articles in this magazine and other hobby periodicals. Read reference books. Regularly look at reputable online sources. Attend shows, club meetings, and seminars. Become a numismatic sponge, and absorb as much knowledge and first-hand experience as you can.
Attending a show in person is an opportunity to see many different coins in many different grades. Depending on the show, it also can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see fabulous numismatic rarities most collectors can only dream of owning, such as an 1804 Draped Bust dollar, 1913 Liberty Head nickel, or even a 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle.
The 2018 ANA World’s Fair of Money® will be held August 14-18 in the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia. Additional information is available at www.WorldsFairOfMoney.com. If you can’t get to Philly, then look for a local, regional, or other national show you can conveniently attend. Enjoy the hobby face-to-face. Get off the couch!
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