I jumped on an early flight to Midway and made it to the opening day dealer setup before 9 am when the doors would open. The Illinois State Convention is a smaller show, probably 100-150 tables but a nice venue with good security. My hope was to go to a moderate size show with only a handful of national dealers showing up. Unfortunately, the market is starving for fresh material so many of the larger dealers that I always see at the big conventions were there walking the floor. Needless to say, there was too little material to spread among too many dealers.
I spoke at length with a couple of show regulars and they lamented the fact that the shows are not attracting the same type of coin enthusiasts as they did 10 years ago. Everyone attributes this to the ease of being able to search the internet for any coin you wish in the comfort of your own home. Welcome to advanced technology coming to the coin industry. The internet buyer will never learn the nuances of grading. They will never be able to tell the difference between a high-end, low-end or a total mistake in a holder. They will subject themselves to falling for every low-end coin ever certified. But if you think you’ve figured it all out, good luck! Just check auction results for a run of the exact same coins graded exactly the same way. A case in point are two back-to- back 1921-D Morgan Dollars in MS-66 PCGS: the first one sells for $2,820 and the second one sells for $591. With a little bit of effort to get out and understand more about grading and evaluating the coins you are interested in, the reason behind the difference would be much clearer.
If a person wants to do everything from home, at least think about buying a CAC coin. It doesn’t mean that every CAC piece is great, but it will enhance your liquidity and the desirability for your coins. To me, a person that doesn’t care about CAC, doesn’t know a thing about grading or care about protecting the interest of their client. Beware of a coin that escalates well beyond your comfort level in an auction. It may mean that the coin is truly premium quality or that the coin is protected to such a high level with a reserve bid that is a bad deal. Also, beware of collusion to bid a coin up to unrealistic levels. Before you try it on your own, consult with a real pro to help you learn the ropes. You’ll be happy for the education.
I really enjoyed the atmosphere at this show. Smaller venues have a neighborhood feel to them. If you are in the area, it may be a good idea to attend the spring show. I highly recommend any serious collector or buyer of coins should look for these shows in their area. The laid back feel is more conducive for dealers spending time with you and learning a lot.
On a bad note, these shows may be going the way of the dinosaur. Many attendees are older and support for these shows is dwindling. Get to one in your area while you can.