Grabbing at History
Volume 38, Number 7, July 2001
Not long to go now, not long before some of the most significant currencies in the world are consigned to History. This is not the place for debate on the rights or wrongs of the single currency system for it goes far beyond our simple hobby but if we look at it from a purely numismatic point of view there can be no denying that these next few months may well see the end of an era without necessarily heralding the start of a new one. For decades now the New Issues market has been exceptionally strong in Europe and yet with the introduction of the Euro there is no guarantee that it can stay that way. Certainly each member state will be “allowed” to retain a reverse pertinent to them but whether or not these reverses will be changed from time to time remains to be seen and as to the issuing of “Commemoratives” and “specials” that are the lifeblood of the New Issues hobby it seems unlikely that we will ever see them in such numbers again. After all issuing a commemorative in say France that is accepted and acceptable to every other Eurozone member would seem to be a logistical nightmare and when you add the inevitable layers of Bureaucracy necessary to issue such a coin or note the possibility of it ever coming to pass seems remote. Of course it isn’t all bad news and whilst the long term future of the New Issue hobby in Europe may seem a trifle shaky, in the short term it is booming. Those of us who can remember decimalisation in the UK, and more importantly the run up to it, will fully understand the current climate in the Eurozone and beyond as collectors and general public alike scrabble to pick up examples of the last ever Franc, Mark, Peseta or Punt. Whether the coins and notes are being bought as investment, out of sentimentality or as a curio to show the grand children what money used to be like does not matter, what matters is that they are being bought, and in vast numbers with banks and dealers reporting stock flying out the door faster than they can get it in. And so it should be, for this time next year, six months after the Euro currency is first introduced those coins and notes many of which, in these days of package holidays and cheaper travel, will have become almost as familiar to us as our own currency, will be withdrawn forever. Whatever comes after, whatever the rights, wrongs or practicalities of the single currency, there is no denying that the final day of transition will be a sad one for many, so who can blame those who want to grab a piece of history now before it is lost for good.
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