Making the Right Move
Volume 41, Number 12, December 2004
Traditionally the hobby of Coin collecting in the UK, or at least the business of coin dealing over here, has had a distinct “season” – the autumn and winter months were always the busiest, spring was a little quieter and many of the dealers attended overseas shows and the summer was always the “rest” period with only the ANA to disturb the holidays. Part of the reason for this almost academic calendar was that the Premier British Coin show – The British Numismatic Trade Association’s Coinex – was always held in the West End of London on the first or second weekend of October. Knowing that big spenders from overseas came to the Capital for this event led the major auction houses to hold big sales around this date and soon it was acknowledged that that show, albeit unofficially, was the launch-pad for the rest of the “season” – and that has remained the same since the first show was held almost thirty years ago in the prestigious London Marriott Hotel in Duke Street, just off Grosvenor Square – the venue that it has remained at ever since. Everything starts with Coinex, Coinex is at the head both as the Premier show and as the trailblazer for the season it always has been thus and always thus will be – won’t it? There can be no denying that the event has come in for its fair share of criticism over the years and there have always been the conflicting views as to whether the show should be an elitist one attracting only the highest spending clientele or a populist one attracting collectors from far and wide. The BNTA committee has always tried to address any criticisms levelled at the organisation of the fair and the recent relaxing of the rules to allow non-BNTA members to take tables at Coinex is just one of the ways they have responded in an attempt to keep the event at the forefront of the hobby. However as you may have read in recent issues of COIN NEWS the committee has now gone far further than just allowing a few more dealers in, they have decided, in a very bold move to ensure that Coinex not only remains the premier UK event but indeed surpasses both itself and its foreign counterparts by becoming the World’s premier numismatic show, that after 27 years the fair is to move away from its traditional home and into a brand new location at the Excel Centre in Docklands. The recent Coinex is the last that will be held at the Marriott – next year we’re going East! There can be no doubt that this is a gamble, for nearly three decades the show has been in the same place and has been, to all intents and purposes a success – so why change it now? Well there are a number of factors both economic and practical but chief amongst those is, we believe, a desire on the part of the current BNTA committee to move away from the view that some collectors have of Coinex – that it is an elitist show only for he chosen, wealthy few. In the past that might have been the case but with the undoubted success of other fairs – both in the Capital and outside it has become quite obvious that the “average Joe” can make a show work just as well as a “high flyer” can and to this end the BNTA committee have decided that the way forward is inclusivity not exclusivity and they are dedicated to ensuring that the collector is not going to be sidelined but rather encouraged and welcomed. The doom-mongers will, we are sure, say that this will be the end of Coinex, that any move will be a disaster but why should it be? There can be no doubt that the location of the event up until now has intimidated some –with the horrendous parking costs (not to mention the lack of parking) intimidating others and the new venue has already very successfully held numerous conventions ad events – it is a purpose built convention centre with all the advantages of catering facilities, parking, convention hotels, excellent transport links etc that that brings – but even if that were not the case why should a move be the kiss of death anyway? The London Coin Fair has moved location very successfully and the old Paddington show has now moved twice (once to the Commonwealth Institute and now to Jury’s Hotel; Great Russell Street) with no ill effect so why can’t Coinex do the same? On a larger scale the ANA moves to a different city in the U.S. every year – no one complains that that is a disaster simply because it isn’t held in a prestigious hotel in New York every year. O So the end of an era or an exciting new opportunity? A disastrous move away from the exclusivity, and the money, of the West end or a bold attempt to take the numismatic hobby to the people that matter the most – the collectors? Who knows? We know what we would like it to be, we know what the organisers would like it to be but of course only time will tell; for our part we are more than happy to help the BNTA in every way we can and will do our utmost to publicise the event – we know it seems a long way off but we believe it starting early and so over the next few months we’ll be unashamedly plugging the show – and we’d also like to hear from you, what do you want in your showcase event? What would you like to feature at the UK’s top coin fair – this show is being run for you, so let us know what you’d like to see. After all without you it isn’t going to work at all!
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