The world is changing — that we all know. Although labor-saving
devices are in greater profusion than ever before, somehow in 2012
time is also more precious than ever before. Much of our available
“capital” in terms of hours per day is spent on electronic media —
television, iPhones, the World Wide Web and more. Less time is spent
In terms of numismatics the computer age has been a dynamic portal
to the marketplace. Who would have dreamed a generation ago that, if
you wanted to buy, for example, a 1955 Lincoln, Doubled Die Obverse
cent, with a few clicks on your computer keyboard you could find quite
a few offered, and if you desired something numismatic that is fairly
common, say an 1884-CC Morgan dollar in Mint State, you would have
hundreds of choices.
No need to write a check and post it in the mailbox, no need to
walk to a coin shop, no need to attend a coin show.
Any coin auction house can tell you stories of “public” auctions
where just a handful of people were present in person, and yet record
prices were established.
This happened quite recently with Stack’s Bowers Galleries when an
incredible offering of Civil War related monetary substitutes —
printed envelopes, scrip and the like — crossed the block.
Not many faces were in the audience, but thousands of people were
tied into the World Wide Web for these and other offerings, and
runaway record prices were achieved.
In fact, today, far more lots are sold to bidders on the Web than
are sold to floor bidders in auction galleries.
People are electing to stay at home for other activities. I
recently read that in the past decade the square footage of available
convention exhibit hall space in the United States has increased by
more than 30 percent.
However, the number of people attending trade shows is lower than
it was 10 years ago. “If you build it, they might not come,” seems to
be the rule.
In any event, coins can be enjoyed at home or at a show.
Take your pick or, better yet, do some of each.
Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries
and numismatic director of Whitman Publishing LLC. He can be reached
at his private email, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or at Q. David Bowers LLC, Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894.