US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Oct. 11, 2021: The hobby's new normal

Attendance at the fall 2021 Long Beach Expo suggested that the hobby may be headed to a new normal, in which coin conventions can be held with pandemic protocols in effect.

Coin World image by Rick Amos.

Signs indicate that the numismatic community is edging back to normal, or at least a new normal. Whether it will ever return to the pre-pandemic era is unclear.

A failure to return to the old normal is not necessarily a bad thing, though. A lot of the changes made to the hobby and marketplace since March 2020, when the world and our little corner of it began shutting down, were positive, especially in moving planned in-person educational events online instead, as pandemic restrictions made public gatherings impossible.

The Sept. 30 to Oct. Long Beach Expo in California was one barometer of what a “new normal” might look like for coin shows. At the show, strict adherence to medical protocol was being taken seriously, with requirements including vaccination records, acceptable COVID test results and mask compliance, according to attendees. Such protocols will remain prudent as long as the coronavirus continues to widely circulate among the population. Fast COVID-19 testing and mask requirements are small inconveniences to pay if the alternative is a canceled convention.

Attendees at the expo described good crowds eager to search dealer inventories for desired coins and other numismatic items. Clearly, some pent-up desires to attend a physical coin show were finally being addressed. Collectors and dealers clearly missed the personal interactions available at a physical convention.

Hopefully, long-standing coin shows like the Long Beach Expo, the American Numismatic Association and Florida United Numismatists conventions, the Whitman Baltimore shows and regional club shows like those sponsored by the Central States Numismatic Society will thrive under the new normal. Some in the hobby have their doubts, though; see the Sept. 25 “Hot Topics” column at Legend Numismatics’ website.

One unanswered question remains: What is the future of convention-based auctions? Since early 2020, most auctions have been conducted entirely in the digital realm. As the ANA seeks new auction house contracts, we will be watching this closely.
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