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Vol 09 No. 01 January 1995

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About This File

It always amazes us when people walk up and ask, "What are you going to write about this show?" As if we're in a position to pass Judgement! Sometimes the question is rhetoric, merely a way to facilitate conversation, but in other cases it is a serious concern. There are, naturally, a number of people who are quite concerned about the future of shows and conventions in general, and of course certain shows in particular. They are even more concerned if they think that the press might be about to pan their latest effort. They should know by now that we are solid supporters of the convention circuit and would never subject it to undue criticism. BUT... no one can deny that shows are in trouble.

Let's take New York for example, since we just returned from what remains the premier show in this country and probably in the world for ancient coin collectors. New York City is a vibrant place which attracts people from every point of the compass. Many collectors can only spare the time or funds for one "Mega-show" a year, and New York has been a favorite choice for years. On the floor at this year's NYI NC it was our pleasure to chat with collectors from California, Illinois, Florida, Missouri, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington D.C., Minnesota, Michigan, Kentucky, New Jersey, Wisconsin. and a few other places which have temporarily slipped my mind. From outside the U.S. there were collectors from Canada, Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Bulgari a, England, and some other countries I'm sure _ These people came to New York partly because of the many dealers and huge concentrations of coins. They also came because the convention is a major social event. One of the social highlights of this year's show was the reception hosted by Spink America (formerly Christie 's) to herald their reorganization. It was lite rally packed with professional and amateur numismatists of the highest caliber and reputation- a gathering which one does not often encounter. Although the reception had nothing directly to do with the convention, the Spink America guests were virtually without exception NYINC attendees. The social aspect of conventions is becoming more and more critical as traditional marketing patterns change and convention bourses become less viable from an economic standpoint.

In previous editorials we have expounded on the difficulties which plague the dealer setting up a bourse table at these large shows. In New York, only a few years back, there were four relatively large shows which attracted collectors of ancient coins. Today there is only one. and it has significant logistical problems. Not the least of dealer concerns is the nature of marketing patterns at shows. In the past, the dealer looked to shows as a major source of retail sales. Today, shows arc primarily a wholesale opportunity for many dealers. Several dealers have admitted that their primary revenues come from lists, and the shows are basically buying opportunities. Those dealers that do succeed at shows are generally selling coins that are either well below normal market prices or very uncommon and thus desirable. In the past, collectors tended to prefer a venue where they could touch and feel the coins they might purchase. This seems to be changing, as more and more dealers report increasing list sales and decreasing bourse sales.

Despite all of these observations, the NYINC drew respectable numbers at this year's show. And a few dealers did exceptionally well. So, what does one make of it all? It's clear that times are definitely changing, and the professional numismatic community will have to respond appropriately if it is to prosper. Collectors seem willing to support conventions of substance which provide diversified activities but are disenchanted with row after row of bourse tables touting shiny hoard coins and generic stock. Sure, they will buy generic coins from mail bid sales and fixed price lists, but not as readily at shows as in {he past. Show acquisitions need to be something memorable.

It seems that every NYINC has a little surprise. This year it was announced that some of the (modern) dies used to strike the infamous "Black Sea Hoard" diobols have been revealed and arc now in the West. We should see a report soon.

Kudos to Steve Rubinger for his outstanding production of Antiqua Catalog I. It is a breathtaking masterpiece of photography and an impressive offering of artifacts. We wish him every success.

We're getting a lot of ballots in for the Reader's Choice Award and have noticed quite a diversity of opinion. If you haven't voted you can still FAX us your input through December 31. By the way, the Celator Indexes and Best of '94 are now finished and available for shipment.

A special thank you is in order for the wonderful article about The Celator by Kari Stone in this month 's Coinage magazine. No one has ever told the story of our publication with such clarity and sensitivity. We certainly appreciate it.

As the mercury dips here in the land of the cheeseheads we dream of tropical beaches- but will settle for Orlando and the F.U.N. show. See you there to get your first hand point of view!


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