The Edmonton Coin Show & Sale was cancelled by organizers on March 12 due to the coronavirus outbreak. To read more, click here.
By Jesse Robitaille
With a bourse featuring nearly 40 dealers and spanning upwards of 100 tables of numismatic material, the biannual Edmonton Coin Show and Sale is set to return to the Alberta capital this March.
Hosted by the local Edmonton Numismatic Society (ENS), the two-day event – to be held March 14-15 – is “Canada’s largest coin show,” according to organizers with the club. Dealers are coming from across the country to offer their wares to Edmonton’s diverse collecting community, which includes the more than 200-member ENS.
“It’s a big bourse,” said show co-chair Pierre Driessen, who’s also the club’s treasurer. “It’s not the biggest ever, but it is one of our biggest ever.”
More than half of the dealers are from outside Alberta, Driessen added, with some coming from as far away as Ontario, Québec and the Maritimes.
“We’re a very diverse collecting community, and that’s what also makes the club very unique. We collect everything across the spectrum, from ancient Greek and Roman to medieval, Asiatic and U.S., we’re very diverse and not concentrated in one area.”
As with most shows, the major attractions for collectors are unmatched camaraderie and an opportunity to grow their collections, said Driessen.
“When different collectors come together at the show, it’s a way for them to exchange ideas, trade coins and meet their favourite dealers. It’s very interesting, throughout the show, in terms of what shows up. You might walk through on Saturday morning and not see anything, but then on Sunday afternoon, you’ll find what you were looking for. It’s a dynamic and exciting thing.”
And despite the spread of numismatics online, there’s no replacing the role shows play in a collector’s hobby, Driessen said.
“Even though you have websites and online auctions offering coins, I don’t think anything goes above the tactile opportunity of holding a coin or a note in hand. For me, it’s much more intimate; you have the coin there, in your hands, and you can make a true judgement—because sometimes, pictures can be deceiving.”
Show-goers will also be able to browse educational numismatic displays throughout the weekend.
“We offer museum-quality displays of ancient and antique coins that would put the Bode or British Museum to shame at times,” said Driessen.
APPRAISALS & ADVICE
While dealers will appraise collectors’ coins, medals, paper money, tokens, watches and other timepieces, ENS members will also staff a table offering free appraisals and guidance for show-goers who might have recently inherited a collection.
“A lot of times, when a collector dies and someone receives an inheritance, they’re not sure what to do with it. When it’s all of a sudden passed on to you, and you’re not a coin collector and have no idea what to do, we can offer a valuable resource to give people points that something is interesting, or something has collector value, or maybe it has more face value or intrinsic value. We give them more direction about what they can do.”
The ENS website – updated in 2018 and since wielded as a powerful tool for promoting both the club and the hobby in general – also receives daily inquiries from people about numismatic material.
“We always refer people to our free appraisal table, but if they can’t come to the show, we refer them to dealers,” said Driessen, who added the appraisal table is also a vehicle to teach people about best numismatic practices (like not cleaning coins).
PROMOTING WITH THE PLANCHET
The ENS also publishes an award-winning journal, The Planchet, seven times a year. Since 2010, the publication has won the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association’s Best Local Newsletter Award five times. “It’s something we use to market the show,” said ENS Treasurer Pierre Driessen, “but it’s also a nice bonus feature for members. Our Editor Joe (Kennedy) does a fantastic job putting it together, and it includes original research articles. A lot of scholarly work goes into it, especially with the writers who create the topics on ancient Greek and Roman coinage.”
FREE YOUTH AUCTION, SILENT ADULT AUCTION
Another show highlight is the youth auction – free for children aged 16 and under – which is held on March 14 from 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
“It introduces youth to the auction environment in a non-threatening manner, because it can be intimidating in an auction room,” said Driessen, who added an “orientation period” before the auction will show all participants the ropes.
The auction is conducted by ENS member Howard Gilbey, who’s a professional auctioneer, and uses play money for bidding.
“There’s a printed catalogue, too, so it’s a real auction – except for authentic money – and they actually get to take home what they’re bidding on,” said Driessen, who added the youth auction has been held at ENS shows for about four years.
In that time, participation has grown from about 10 bidders to more than 40 last fall.
“It’s planting the seed for future numismatists, and it’s been very positive and continues to grow.”
For the adults, a nearly 200-lot silent auction will also be held throughout the weekend. Consignments are open to current ENS members, and bidding is open to everyone.
“That’s a very popular feature for attendees,” said Driessen, who added this auction also has a printed catalogue.
TWO SHOWS A YEAR
The show this spring will be held at the Howard Johnson Hotel on 15540 Stony Plain Rd., just west of downtown Edmonton.
The bourse is open both days from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and general admission is $5 (children aged 16 and under are free).
The ENS’ spring show is one of two the club hosts each year – the other being in November – and the club has its dates booked at the same location through 2021.
“I can’t say enough about the volunteers who make the show function,” said Driessen, who added there’s a “phenomenal turnout” of volunteers throughout the weekend, with upwards of 40 people helping with setup and teardown plus more volunteers staffing the show’s admission table, club table, appraisal table, youth auction, bourse floor and hospitality plus reception services.
“We have a very famous hospitality reception on Saturday, when the show closes, and I think it’s the envy of the numismatic scene in Canada.”
For more information, visit edmontoncoinclub.com.