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Anyone remember going to coin shows before there were slabs?

VetterVetter Posts: 774 ✭✭✭✭✭

I’m am old timer and I can still remember going to coin shows before PCGS started slabbing coins. It was quite a difference experience than going to coin shows today. Oh, the good old days

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  • ShaunBC5ShaunBC5 Posts: 1,596 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nope. My first show was in the early-mid 90s. There were certainly less back then, though.

  • DisneyFanDisneyFan Posts: 1,550 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yea, I went and didn't buy anything because I couldn't grade.

  • Manifest_DestinyManifest_Destiny Posts: 3,047 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yep. Late 70's to mid 80's

  • jacrispiesjacrispies Posts: 671 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I wasn't around, but am very curious to see what how the experience was. Does anyone have a cool story to share?

    "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 6:23. Young fellow suffering from Bust Half fever.

  • raysrays Posts: 2,326 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes, I went with my father to a few shows n San Jose in the early ‘70’s. I would describe it as the Wild Wild West.

  • MapsOnFireMapsOnFire Posts: 171 ✭✭✭

    Surely. My first major show was at the Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles about 1961, well before the first Long Beach show.

  • Insider3Insider3 Posts: 167 ✭✭✭


    I was at the door when it opened and last to leave. We would sit at a dealers table and look through red boxes of coins. Most dealers had no idea about varieties and picking were great :) until Cherrypickers was published. :( I can't remember if it was before 1980. I learned very quickly to buy something at each table I visited and to stay away from a very busy table conducting "big" business.

  • JimTylerJimTyler Posts: 3,004 ✭✭✭✭✭


  • Tom147Tom147 Posts: 1,409 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I remember a few shows, late 70's. BU & gem were terms tossed around very loosely. As a collector and never selling any coins, I still have 2 X 2's with these markings. A few years ago, going back through old boxes I ran across several of these. Had to laugh at coins that I now realize were cleaned XF and AU that I bought as BU and gem.

  • Mr_SpudMr_Spud Posts: 4,221 ✭✭✭✭✭

    No, just coin shops and flea markets since the 60s, didn’t attend an actual coin show until about 2003 when I moved to Charlotte and slabs already existed.


  • WalkerfanWalkerfan Posts: 8,848 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 13, 2024 1:04PM

    I started going to shows around 1994. Although slabs were available, a lot of dealers still sold mostly raw stuff back then. I bought raw but never spent more than a few hundred dollars. Then again, $250 could buy a whole lot more back then, than it can, now! The most that I ever spent was about $400 or $500 for a raw AU 1820 bust half. it was highly lustrous and I held it for many years, until I finally had it straight graded AU 55 by PCGS.

    “I may not believe in myself but I believe in what I’m doing” ~Jimmy Page~

    My Full Walker Registry Set:


  • bob48bob48 Posts: 445 ✭✭✭

    late 70's, bought a 1799 dollar (VG) at the show in Denver, but I had to have a dealer friend of mind buy it for me and I put in lay-a-way with him. Sent it to PCGS years later, and sold it in 2002. I still have many of the coins and a lot of them have been Cleaned. Those days I was working on my 7070 type book. Still have the book today completed but in need of some upgrades, not sure I will do that. Just this year I did rebuy the 1799 dollar, PCGS VG08. I guess I did miss that coin. Not the same one though but I looked for it. My first one had a cracked die on the reverse from 12:00 to 6:00 always like that one.


  • epcepc Posts: 107 ✭✭✭
    edited February 13, 2024 6:38AM

    In the 70s I went to the George Washington Motor Inn (I think that's what it was) in Allentown, PA for the annual Lehigh Valley coin shows. I had to ask my mom to take me, as I was too young to drive. I didn't know much, but I do recall "negotiating" with dealers, building my sets of Lincoln and Large cents, sets that reside in Whitman albums to this day.
    I stopped collecting when I went to college in 1979, and came back to the hobby in 2004, to a whole new world.

    Collector of Liberty Seated Half Dimes, including die pairs and die states

  • mark_dakmark_dak Posts: 1,058 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Used to go to a local small show at the Livonia Mall in Livonia MI. They had a small auction on Saturday mornings in a small back room. Early to mid 70's I was in school or making a couple bucks an hour after school so budget was slim. For some reason I have kept these separate from all the coins I have bought and sold over the years.

    Won these six BU Mercury dimes at the auction. They were raw then and they still sit in my collection raw... probably the first coins I purchased outside of adding pocket change to my "collection" at the time.


  • oldabeintxoldabeintx Posts: 1,564 ✭✭✭✭✭

    To spend serious money one had to work with a dealer who was not only honest but also knew what they were doing. The local guys all had day jobs and didn't know much more than the collectors who walked in the door. Made it hard to sell anything of real value as many dealers didn't have the confidence to make a reasonable offer, especially with gold. Once one learned who the real pros were, one could proceed with caution. I was able to make myself knowledgeable with Lincolns as that was my focus, but I made many mistakes when I strayed outside my comfort zone. The fun part was picking up some real beauties on the cheap IF one knew what they were doing. Did that with Lincolns (only). Sometimes I wish I had stayed with it, but work and family rightfully dominated.

  • johnny9434johnny9434 Posts: 27,333 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes, as far back to my first coin show when it was all raw (1977)

  • mark_dakmark_dak Posts: 1,058 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @291fifth said:
    The grade when buying from the dealer: XF

    The grade when selling to the dealer: VF

    I'll be honest, when I buy raw that's my MO. I wouldn't blame dealers for doing the same, especially now with TPG. (Maybe not so much back then when they could place any grade they desired) I always drop 1 grade in my mind. If I can purchase there, I'm a buyer. It's just too easy to miss one grade which could be an expensive mistake.


  • TiborTibor Posts: 3,153 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I remember 1979-80 when the Redfield hoard was everywhere. I bought
    20 asst. DMPL from a few dealers at a show in Ashville. At the time I thought
    they were neat looking coins. Probably 62-64. Paid around $25 each.

  • RichRRichR Posts: 3,841 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes...every year the weekend after Thanksgiving in the late 1970s/early 1980s would find me and my family up at the "big" Westchester County show in White Plains.

    And I miss my parents dearly...

  • BLUEJAYWAYBLUEJAYWAY Posts: 7,836 ✭✭✭✭✭

    No. Just to the 2 local shops weekly for my Coin Worlds and some books.

    Successful transactions:Tookybandit. "Everyone is equal, some are more equal than others".
  • ElcontadorElcontador Posts: 7,406 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The best game in town were the George Bennett auctions, which were in Van Nuys, California. Bennett was an older guy with a walrus moustashe (think he was English). He went on like a North Carolina tobacco auctioneer, and if you looked at him, belched, or farted, it was considered a bid.

    Lighting was terrible. You really had to know how to grade, and if there were coins that had a lot of counterfeits (like the 09 S VDB and 14 D Lincolns), I stayed away from them. Everything from truly nice, expensive coins to the worst of the cleaned crap was all there. It really was the Wild West. You could get some bargains if you stayed until the end of the auction, because no one was there and I don't think they accepted mail bids (certainly not phone bids). Picked up an Unc. set of Roosevelt Dimes and numerous circulated rolls of IHCs that way.

    "Vou invadir o Nordeste,
    "Seu cabra da peste,
    "Sou Mangueira......."
  • Glen2022Glen2022 Posts: 836 ✭✭✭✭

    Not a coin show, but in the early sixties, we had a relatively large coin club meeting once monthly. Usually had 8-10 dealers tables and around 100 -150 people in attendance. I remember some of the dealers would have stacks of $20 Saints literally sitting on their table asking around $55-$60 each. I wish I had bought a bunch.

  • CuprinkorCuprinkor Posts: 192 ✭✭✭

    Everything was raw, of course. I remember getting to hand pick nice BU 38-D Buffalo Nickels from an original roll that was laid out on a felt pad for around $8./coin.
    I will say the advent of PCGS allowed me to sell a certified MS65 coin for MS65 money. Before that I didn't have the clout to get that kind of money.

  • CommemDudeCommemDude Posts: 2,186 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I returned to collecting in 1985 and attended the Westchester County shows religiously. I bought lots of choice unc type coins at bargain prices; I later found out they were all AU sliders. Those were NOT the good old days of collecting for the inexperienced.

    Dr Mikey
    Commems and Early Type
  • Klif50Klif50 Posts: 658 ✭✭✭✭

    In 1976 I was stationed at the National Security Agency. I had been collecting coins for a long time but had very little clue about grading with any skill. They had a monthly coin and stamp auction. I went and was the only bidder on an "uncirculated" 1949D Franklin Half and an also Unc 1949-S Franklin Half at about $23 each. Was very proud, took them home and put them in my album. Took them to a dealer to look at about a year later and he showed me all the scratches where they had been polished which accounted for the shiny surfaces and the lack of fine detail.

    I was luckier buying stamps as everything started with the information on the Brookman Fine Condition stamp price and most went for less, even when they weren't fine, but many slipped through the auction in better condition at great prices. Unfortunately I held on to my stamp collection too long and when I went to sell it everything was pennies on the dollar. 1053 $5 plate block that I had bought for $500 went for $200.

    Not having what we in the Ham world called an "Elmer" who showed us the ropes for radio, I had nothing like that in the coin world and no one to show me the fine art of grading. Having TPS graded coins back then would have saved me (probably) from some very expensive errors.

  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,383 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 13, 2024 11:28AM

    @Glen2022 said:
    Not a coin show, but in the early sixties, we had a relatively large coin club meeting once monthly. Usually had 8-10 dealers tables and around 100 -150 people in attendance. I remember some of the dealers would have stacks of $20 Saints literally sitting on their table asking around $55-$60 each. I wish I had bought a bunch.

    If they were made of gold, yes. There were lots of fakes around in those days. They came from the Mid East. That's why I paid a premium for this one from a trusted source. It's now in an MS-64 holder.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
  • I certainly do. My dad had a pocket of cash for the good stuff, and I was given about $5 or $10 to buy stuff from the “bins” of loose coins that I’d rifle through looking for treasures. Good fun as a kid.

  • NicNic Posts: 3,335 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway said:
    By about 20 years.

    You are not alone sir. I've attended many more coin shows without slabs than with. I remember 38 in one year. The good old days! :)

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,607 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Stores yes...shows no.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • WillieBoyd2WillieBoyd2 Posts: 5,028 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I was a teenager in the late 1960's and attended many coin shows within driving distance.

    My interests were foreign coins and sometimes tokens, these were usually in coin dealer "junk boxes" for 10 cents to a dollar.

    The silver coins were usually priced near the equivalent size US coin. Grading wasn't an option unless two coins were together.

    I never even thought about counterfeits of such low-value coins but I later discovered I managed to buy a few fakes.

    This is my favorite example of a counterfeit foreign coin.

    Portugal Silver 10 Escudos 1954 - Counterfeit
    White metal, 30 mm, 9.72 gm (The real coin would weigh around 12.50 gm)


    The Mysterious Egyptian Magic Coin
    Coins in Movies
    Coins on Television

  • RichRRichR Posts: 3,841 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 13, 2024 12:28PM

    I also religiously haunted the coin counters at both Macy's & Gimbels!

    Prices there either changed slowly or never!

  • AllentramAllentram Posts: 85 ✭✭✭

    My only one was in 1983 when I was 14 years old, small show in Monterey, CA. I tried selling, but no one wanted to buy my "junk". I was really turned off because I got the sense that most dealers there were pulling the "sell as BU, buy as AU" game.

    When I got back into the hobby in 1993 after I graduated from college, with PCGS and NGC around for a few years and plenty of slabbed coins in the market I felt it was a welcome change.

  • sellitstoresellitstore Posts: 2,368 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @RichR said:
    Yes...every year the weekend after Thanksgiving in the late 1970s/early 1980s would find me and my family up at the "big" Westchester County show in White Plains.

    And I miss my parents dearly...

    I worked for Murray Altman at the Westchester show for several years during the early 1970s and had my own table at that show later during the 1970s and occasionally afterwards. Yes, there were no slabs back then but the nicest coins didn't command as much of a premium. Vince Filpi (?) had some of the nicest coins at that show and had the nerve to ask two to four times as much for his gem unc material, which most thought of as too much. He still sold plenty since everyone agreed that he had some beautiful material. I remember buying an 81S Morgan from him for $11 that had the deepest mirrors that I've ever seen on a P/L Morgan. It was priced at $2 more than the other P/Ls which were $9 each. At the time ordinary BU Morgans were $5-$6 each. That was probably mid 1970s.

    Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,442 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I went to local shows in the late 1960's. My first big show was the 1971 ANA in Washington, DC. One nice dealer had three original rolls of 1880-P dollars. He let me pick 20 coins out of the three rolls and I got 17 pieces of the 8/7 VAM-10. The other three were just to fill out the roll. Total cost to me for the 20 coins? $60.

    I later sold the 17 pieces to The Old Roman for $10 a coin!!!!

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • tyler267tyler267 Posts: 1,233 ✭✭✭✭

    My first big show was the ANA in Miami in 1974, I was 12 and was relentless in bugging my father to drive me to the show from the Fort Lauderdale suburbs where we lived, I eventually wore him down and he took me to the show. As a kid it was amazing, and my father got interested in coins and became a lifelong collector. So overall a great day.

    I've been to a lot of shows since then, In some ways the shows were better in those days, but in some ways they weren't, if you didn't know how to grade, and identify counterfeit and altered coins, you could easily lose a lot of money at coin shows. Slabbing is not perfect but it does make the coin market safer.

  • BustDMsBustDMs Posts: 1,561 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Loved it then.

    Used to go and walk the floor until they closed then lit to dinner with friends. Would check in with dealers I knew that would be tied to their table and ask them what they needed. Would shop the Flor for my customers and to find coins for my stationary friends. Would always make enough to cover expenses including dinner!

    As said before, not many dealers attributed their coins and cherry-picks were there for the knowledgeable.

    Q: When does a collector become a numismatist?

    A: The year they spend more on their library than their coin collection.

    A numismatist is judged more on the content of their library than the content of their cabinet.
  • goldengolden Posts: 8,965 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes. I started going to coin shows in the late 1960's.

  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,383 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @golden said:
    Yes. I started going to coin shows in the late 1960's.

    The first coin show I attended was in Salisbury, Maryland in 1967. The big bear in the room had a high grade AU 1793 Wreath Cent. He wanted $2,000 for it.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
  • alaura22alaura22 Posts: 2,495 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I remember it well, the 60s, fun times :)

  • Klif50Klif50 Posts: 658 ✭✭✭✭

    And for a long time the Greysheet has Unc, BU and I think Gem prices. When they added the numbers and we had 60 and 65 there was a huge jump in the price column between the two grades and there was a wide disagreement on what a 65 really was. Many sliders were being priced and some times being sold at the 65 price. Wild west show for real.

  • LiquidatedLiquidated Posts: 110 ✭✭✭
    edited February 14, 2024 5:34AM

    In the mid 1990s held an amazingly toned Morgan in a slab. Felt priced +$30 over what should have because it had a slab. Could not let myself buy it and walked. Regretted it for a long time.

    Early on I did a lot of buying from yahoo auctions and eBay prior to images. A image required a photograph scanned and hyperlinked. It was uncommon and people prided themselves on accurate descriptions. Would ask if coin was toned and if any colors existed. Auctions were so fuzzy would enlarge and stand back 5’ from monitor for better feel. Got some really good stuff.

    Only time recall being burned was $100 fake trade dollar. Only recourse then was negative feedback to the seller if unwilling to accept return.

  • 17751775 Posts: 72 ✭✭✭

    The 80's ; Went to all the Long Beach Shows, ANA,FUN, Central States, Silver Dollar Convention,Monthly shows in Nashua NH. Always wanted to figure a way to be like Silvertowne. THey would have 3 or 4 tables. THere would be lines waiting to get 3 seats at their buying table, boxes of coins would be moved to the back table with their buy price written on the 2x2. There would be lines waiting for 3 seats at their selling table. The boxes would come out from the back and you could buy anything at something over their cost. No fairer way to make a market in raw coins!!

  • rnkmyer1rnkmyer1 Posts: 332 ✭✭✭✭✭

    No to shows; only coin shops. Some great stories here, though - thanks for posting!

    “The thrill of the hunt never gets old”

    PCGS Registry: Screaming Eagles

    Retired sets: Soaring Eagles

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