Mail Bag – Is Going to A Coin Show Worth It?

Today’s Mail Bag question comes from Steve G. and as a new collector, he wants to know if going to a coin show is worth it. They write,


I’m new to collecting and have been slowing building up my collection. There is a coin show coming up in Denver in September and I wanted to get your ideas on if it is worth it. I’ve never been to one so I didn’t know if I could find any good deals at them.

Steve G

Steve, first, thanks for taking the time to write. I really appreciate it.

To your question, yes, coin shows are a great experience and well worth your time. Is one place where you can see hundreds if not thousands of coins in one shot, some of them being rarities, and talk to those who have been collecting for years. It is as much educational as it is a buying experience. That said, a couple of suggestions prior to going to your first coin show.

First, do you homework. If you are going to a show to look for particular coins to buy, make sure that you have written up a buy list as well as have a good understanding of the value of that coin in various grades. This is to assure that you don’t overpay for a coin, especially if it is one that you desperately want to add to your own collection. If you haven’t looked at the buying list article I posted last month, refer to it to get a template for a coin buying list.

Second, if you are buying a graded coin from PCGS or NGC at the show, don’t hesitate to use the PCGS Cert or NGC app on your Android or iPhone. Counterfeiting is an issue and while it is highly unlikely you would run into one at a show, it is possible. You won’t offend the seller by scanning the coin’s barcode and verifying it, especially if it is a premium coin.

Related to this is carry a loupe with you. Coin dealers are not going to be offended by you pulling out a magnifier to look at the overall quality of a coin you are considering buying. Indeed, they expect you to do just that. I personally always carry my Aiernuo 20x loupe with me at shows. They are inexpensive (about $8) and are small enough to fit into your pocket.

Third, yes, you can haggle – respectfully. Remember, these coin dealers have paid a fair sum of money to be at the show and, in the vast majority of cases, these shows and their stores (online or physical) is how they make their living. So be kind and considerate when you are negotiating a price for a coin. Keep in mind to that if you are only buying 1 or 2 coins from a dealer, they may not be willing to move much on the price. If you are buying a more expensive item or a several coins, they will be more open to it. So for example, if you are buying a complete 1960s set of Proof Lincoln Cents and the dealer is selling it for $22, respectfully ask if you can pay $20. If they say no, don’t get upset. Remember, this is their livelihood.

Fourth, and somewhat related to my third point, is shop around. You have dozens of dealers at a show and several of them may have that complete set of 1960s Proof Lincoln Cents. Ask, shop around, and keep track of the dealers you spoken to about that set.

Fifth, talk to the dealers. Get to know them. Yes they are there to sell coins but they are also there to meet fellow collectors just like you. So spend some time (again, respectfully) getting to know them and ask about their coins, their own collections, their stores, etc. Buying a coin should be a personal experience, not solely based on the price in my opinion.

Hopefully these tips will help Steve and I hope that your first coin show experience is great! By-the-way, if you are referring to the Denver Coin Expo in September, I’ll be there too!

If you have a question or comment about or coin collecting, feel free to use the Comment form on the About page to reach out to me.

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