by Bianca Bart | June 04, 2024

Tips + Tricks for Buying at Coin Shows

Top Tips and Tricks for Buying at Coin Shows

Attending a coin show can be an exhilarating experience for both novice and seasoned numismatists. With tables upon tables of rare coins, historical artifacts, paper money, and knowledgeable vendors, it's easy to get swept up in the excitement. However, to make the most of your coin show experience and ensure you’re making wise purchases, consider these tips and tricks.

1. Do Your Homework

Before you even step foot in the coin show, arm yourself with knowledge. Research the types of items you’re interested in, their average market values, and any key details that might affect their worth (such as mint marks, signature/ seal varieties, historical significance, rarity, and condition).   Websites, numismatic books, and coin collecting forums are often valuable resources for this.

2. Set a Budget

Coin shows can tempt you to overspend, especially when you come across that rare find you’ve been dreaming of. Set a budget beforehand to keep your spending in check. Consider bringing cash to limit your expenditures, as it’s easy to lose track of your spending when using a card. If the right item came at the wrong time, ask about interest-free layaway. Some companies, like Executive Currency, allow collectors to place a deposit and then make monthly payments with their customized interest-free layaway plan. 

3. Bring the Right Tools

Having the right tools on hand can help you make informed decisions on the spot. Many collectors choose to bring the following: a loupe/ magnifying glass, small flashlight, a notebook or app for taking notes, and a current price guide. 

4. Inspect Items Thoroughly

Never rush your inspection. Look at both sides of the coin or banknote, checking for wear, damage, or positive traits such as original paper wave, strong embossing, and great details.

5. Talk to Dealers

Dealers at coin shows are often very knowledgeable and can provide valuable insights about the coins and paper money you’re interested in. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about an item's history, provenance, and how it was acquired. Building a rapport with dealers can also lead to better deals and trustworthy relationships for future transactions.

6. Compare Prices

Take your time to walk around and compare prices from different dealers. You might find price variations for the same type of note or coin. Jot down information on the notes and coins you’re interested in and where you found them to make comparison easier. As bourse floors can be big, writing down the booth number and item details for each potential purchase will help you find your way back if you're ready to buy or want to take another look.

7. Look for Bargain Bins

Many dealers have bargain bins with coins priced below market value, often because they are duplicates or lower grade. Sifting through these bins can yield some hidden gems at a fraction of the cost.

8. Understand Grading

Grading significantly affects a coin’s value. Familiarize yourself with the basic grading standards.  Knowing how to grade paper money and coins can help you spot undervalued pieces and avoid overpaying.

9. Be Aware of Fakes

Unfortunately, counterfeits exist in the market. Educate yourself on common characteristics of fake banknotes and coins, and when in doubt, seek a second opinion from a reputable dealer or a certified grading service. Tools like scales and magnets can help identify fakes, as genuine coins have specific weights and non-magnetic properties. Paper stock, ink color, and potential areas of are frequent considerations 

10. Negotiate Wisely

Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices, especially if you’re buying multiple items from the same dealer. However, be polite and reasonable in your offers. Most dealers are open to negotiations but will appreciate respectful and informed buyers. It's important to note that "cash is king" so when asking for a discount, please remember that some

11. Keep Records

Maintain a record of your purchases, including details such as the coin’s description, the note's catalog and serial number, any applicable certification numbers, purchase price, and the dealer’s information. This will help you keep track of your collection’s value and provenance, which is essential for both insurance purposes and future sales.

12. Have Fun

Lastly, remember to enjoy the experience. Coin shows are not only about buying but also about learning, meeting fellow enthusiasts, and appreciating the rich history behind each banknote and coin. Take your time, soak in the atmosphere, and relish the thrill of the hunt.

By following these tips and tricks, you can navigate coin shows with confidence and make purchases that enhance your collection both in value and enjoyment.

Happy collecting!

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