Bun penny smashes record

November 2009, Volume 46 No. 11
Coinex comes home

Last month I wrote about the (then) forthcoming Coinex fair, the British Numismatic Trade Association’s (BNTA) flagship show, and wondered whether the move to its new home of the Millennium Mayfair Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London would be a successful one. Well now, a few days after the event, I can say that yes, I believe on the whole it was. The location itself was nothing if not salubrious (even if it was very reminiscent of the “old days” and the Marriott just around the corner) and the main room (and indeed the foyer and smaller Waterloo Room off to one side) were plush enough to declare to everyone that this was going to be a top-class affair. Coinex has struggled in recent years to develop an identity all its own—was it trying to be a top-class, top-drawer bourse attracting serious numismatists (and serious money) from across the globe or was it trying to be the biggest “massmarket” coin fair in the country? At the DNW sponsored reception (and the International Association of Professional Numismatists’ prize giving) the night before the bourse opened, Chris Martin, the current BNTA chairman, set the record straight. This event was to be the crème de la crème of UK numismatics, the BNTA wanted to attract the best; the best dealers, the best customers and the best coins. The message was clear—there were many other coin fairs that you could attend to buy coins, every month sees a coin fair somewhere in the country and at least two very popular ones are held in the Capital regularly, but if you wanted the absolute best then Coinex should be the place to come to find it.

That wasn’t to say there weren’t affordable pieces in the room the following day, far from it, the range on offer was commendable—from the simplest Roman bronzes and modern milled through to the rarities seen only occasionally, there was still something for everyone and indeed the collectors themselves seemed pleased enough. Admittedly the best coins would have gone to those happy to pay the £30 “early bird” entrance fee on the Friday morning rather than those who used their free COIN NEWS ticket to come in Friday afternoon or Saturday but no matter, everyone knows that that is the way things are at coin fairs—and you can’t expect to pick up that elusive rarity or stunning bargain if you come in hours after the initial rush. What you did get though, no matter when you came in, was a good array of coins and a wide variety of dealers to choose them from. Admittedly there were perhaps fewer dealers than last year, one or two notable by their self-imposed absence, but to be honest the room’s size meant getting any more tables into the bourse would have been a problem. As things were the numbers, both of dealers and collectors, was just about right. In fact numbers for the Saturday were, if anything, up on previous years, certainly we at the COIN NEWS stand were busy throughout the two days rather than finding ourselves twiddling our thumbs half way through the second! Another sign, perhaps of the strength of the hobby as much as the strength of the event?

Inevitably it wasn’t all plain sailing, there were one or two unhappy faces in the room and the smaller number of dealers and the few noted absentees did draw criticism that the variety of coins available wasn’t as great as in previous years but that sort of talk was bound to happen, you’re never going to please all of the people all of the time, and there will always be those who won’t be happy no matter what the BNTA, or indeed any other show organiser, tries to do. As fair organisers ourselves (we now run the Britannia Medal Show at the Victory Services Club, just off Marble Arch, the next one is on November 22—come along if you’re at all interested in medals, free entry to COIN NEWS readers!) we know that despite our best efforts there will always be those who seek to tell us where we have gone wrong and that has certainly been the case with Coinex in recent years, but we certainly aren’t going to add our voices to that group. We believe that with the decision to be at the very pinnacle of the UK coin trade the BNTA has made the right move; there are, as was pointed out, plenty of other coin fairs to choose from—but there’s only one Coinex. We haven’t changed our view on a couple of things though—we would still be eager to see the BNTA join forces with the IBNS and create a wonderful “weekend of money” rather than see the two hobbies split as they were again this year and, most importantly, we would still urge the Association to remember that elite doesn’t necessary mean elitist and you can have a crème de la crème event that welcomes everyone; but all that aside we will give praise where praise is due and say “Well done”, Coinex worked this year and we look forward to the BNTA building on that success in 2010.

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In This Issue

Parthia verses Rome
A clash of empires
England’s Rose
The numismatic legacy of King Henry VIII
Islamic coinage—Part IV
Umayyad coinage in the Near East and Spain
On the fringe45
Accessing a global community
A man of many talents
Eddie Smith talks to John Andrew
Collectors notebook50
Coins that talk
Temptation beckons
Medallic miscellany52
The built environment . . .
Bridges on medals and medallions
Back to basics65
Errors to go V
Hub and die errors
Banknote feature72
A tale of two banks
The National Bank of Scotland and the National Commercial Bank
Depicting a hallowed icon
The portrayal of the Dome of the Rock


Editor’s Comment2
Coin news & views12
Around the World22
New issues coin update24
Royal Mint Bulletin26
Market Scene29
Price Guide to sixpences and fourpences54
The Lexicon59
Coin Clinic61
Coin Classroom63
The Sovereign66
Banknote News69
New issues banknote update74
Price Guide to National Bank of Scotland and National Commercial Bank76
Letters to the Editor83
Dealers’ lists87
Fair diary89
Auction diary90
Societies diary92
Semi-display adverts93
The Web Page95
Classified advertising97
Advertisers index99