The First Emperor
Volume 44, Number 12, December 2007
A marriage of convenience SO the “season” is once again fully upon us and as we go to press the Token Team has been working for no fewer than eight straight weekends attending coin, medal and banknote fairs up and down the country—and there are more to come before Christmas too! As always the commencement to this frenetic activity was the “big three”—the showcase events in London for the three hobbies we are involved in. The OMRS Convention for medals on September 22, Coinex for coins the following week and the IBNS Convention for banknotes a week after that. The succeeding weekends were then taken up with myriad smaller shows in venues as far afield as Bristol, Aldershot and Leeds, shows that often had all three collectables on offer—making our job infinitely easier! Eddie Smith’s show at the Cedar Court Hotel, Wakefield (held on the last Sunday of each month) was a classic example of a fair that manages very well to have all three hobbies nestling side by side—there were banknote dealers, medal dealers, coin dealers and some with everything all happily stalling out next to each other and, judging by the numbers through the door, it was an arrangement that worked very well. Other shows, of course, do the same and it occurred to us that perhaps our work load, and that of many others, could well be cut, particularly early on in the season when there’s so much going on, with a strategic alliance or two. If it works in the smaller fairs why not for the larger ones? I know we’ve talked about this before but surely the time is right to address the subject again. The IBNS Convention has just moved to a new venue in Blackfnars and whilst it was reasonably successful no one can say the place was crowded and there are still rumblings in the coin trade that the Earl’s Court venue simply isn’t the right one for Coinex. Both fairs, it seems have yet to find their true home—so why not try and set up home together? OK, so the integration of the OMRS Convention may well be a step too far (three, after all, is a crowd and the chief reason for people staying away from the OMRS, if they do, seems to be the fact that it’s held in London in the first place and I can’t imagine the IBNS or Coinex wishing to leave!) but there is surely no reason now why the BNTA and the IBNS can’t start to come together with a view to jointly hosting a “weekend of money” somewhere in the Capital. The advantages of such a move would be huge—the choice of potential venues is immediately increased (both shows fall between two stools at present: too small for the big venues, too big for the small ones), there is far more likelihood of those dealers who consider themselves banknote and coin dealers attending (at present there are some who don’t have enough stock of one or the other to make a trip to either show profitable) and visitor numbers would be up—if only because you can add the two attendance figures together and spin it any way you like! However, by far the most important reason for holding the shows on the same weekend is to encourage all those visitors and dealers, particularly from overseas, who currently have to choose between the shows, to come to both. There is no getting away from the fact that London is an expensive place to stay—it’s all very well for those dealers who are based there to be able to attend two shows on two consecutive weekends but for those of us who come from further away it starts to get expensive: four nights in a London hotel, two lots of congestion charge, petrol, parking etc., etc., and it soon adds up. Couple that with the weak dollar and you can more or less guarantee that a vast swathe of collectors and dealers just won’t be able to come to both events—but hold them both at the same time, in the same venue, and suddenly it’s a very different prospect—one fantastic weekend devoted to coins and banknotes. Only one hotel bill, one lot of travelling expenses and think of the time saved too! Overseas collectors, who simply can’t wait a week (or can’t afford a week in a hotel) and are currently missing out on one or other event, would suddenly find everything under one roof—what more could they want? Most outsiders think it mad that we hold two such similar events as Coinex and the IBNS Convention separately, and to be fair so do many within the British trade. If you disagree then think for a minute how it would look if there were two such similar shows in Dublin or Paris or New York within the space of a week—wouldn’t you think the organisers had missed a trick by not combining them? It’s only because they’ve been “traditionally” separate that they continue to be so; start them up today and there would be a clamour for an amalgamation. Other events manage a combination of hobbies very well—York Stamp and Coin fair is a huge success despite its apparent differences, the Leeds fair, the Newcastle show, the Midland Coin fair and many others all manage very well to offer something for everyone and abroad we have the Autumn Valkenburg (Maastricht) show, Verona and the Dublin fair all of which see coin and banknote collectors and dealers turn up in droves. I may well have missed something of course, I am not a fair organiser and there may be very good reasons why the two big London “money” shows can’t come together, but if there isn’t then maybe, just maybe, a few people at the top of the relevant organisations can start talking and make Autumn in London one of the true highlights of the numismatic calendar as we all know it should be.
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