Your First Coin Show

Attending a coin show for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. Most shows are held in hotel ballrooms, local community centers or major convention centers, but if you don't know what to expect when you walk in the door, you're at a disadvantage.

First, you'll need to know when and where the next show will be. At, you can search for most (but not all) upcoming shows in your area. Once you've found a show to attend, research how many dealers are coming, which dealers will be set up and the hours of the show. Generally, smaller shows will last one or two days and attract primarily local dealers. Larger shows last three to four days and attract dealers from all over the country. For your first time, a smaller show will be more manageable.

Next, prepare a "want list" of coins you want to buy and set a budget.

Be aware that some shows charge a nominal admission fee, usually $1 or $2. The fee helps cover the cost of the event location, security and/or door prizes. Near the registration desk there will often be a table with free numismatic literature and upcoming coin show flyers. Make sure to stop by this table and pick up anything of interest to you.

Once you're in the show, browse for awhile. Try to look at what all of the dealers have to offer before sitting down at a specific table. At larger shows, you may want to write down table numbers so you can find them again later. One of the benefits of a coin show is the variety of shopping options. Regardless of what you're hunting for, there's a very good chance you can find it at a coin show.

When you're ready to begin shopping, consider these general etiquette rules before sitting down at a dealer's table:
  • Always try to keep your hands visible. Shopliftting is a concern for all coin dealers.

  • Never ask to see a box/binder of coins that someone else is actively looking at. Unfortunately, you'll just need to wait your turn. Bargain boxes are usually an exception.

  • Never open a glass showcase without the dealer's permission. If you need a closer look at something, just ask.

  • Never handle coins while eating or drinking and put all food and drink containers on the floor, away from the coins. A simple soda spill can be disastrous--and you could be held liable.
After you've made your selections, let the dealer know you're ready to checkout. If you ask, many dealers will offer you a discount, depending on the quantity and amount purchased. The amount of the discount will vary by dealer, so always be prepared to pay what's marked on the coins--just in case.

If you find a dealer you want to visit again, make sure to grab a business card. If they're local, they might even have a shop you can visit in-between shows. If not, you'll at least remember who to visit at the next show. Happy hunting!

Due to market volatility, price and availability are subject to change without notice.
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