Coin News

Volume 46, Number 10, October 2009

Reform of the Umayyad coinage

Volume 46, Number 10, October 2009

Getting together AS I write this Editorial the skies are grey, the wind is whipping up and there’s a definite chill in the air—yes, I accept that this description could have been of any given day in our “barbecue summer” of 2009 (overseas readers will just have to bear with us on this —UK readers will know EXACTLY what I’m talking about!), but in fact it’s now September and autumn is coming in, and with it so the new numismatic season gets under way. The launch pad of the season has always been the British Numismatic Association’s “Coinex” show in London, for years held at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square. However, the fair has moved about in the past few years, first going to the Excel Centre in the Docklands and then moving latterly to Earl’s Court. This year it is on the move again, heading back into the centre of the Capital and again to Grosvenor Square in the West End of London: the Millennium Mayfair Hotel being its new home. Coinex has always been something of a unique show, with no-one quite sure whether it should be seen as an all-inclusive coin fair for the masses or an elite event for the hardened numismatists. Personally I feel it should be a mixture of both: an elite trade show showcasing the best numismatics has to offer, whilst also welcoming all with open arms—let us hope that this new venue allows them to do just that. Of course no matter what the BNTA do, they will never be able to compete with some of the larger international shows —as we saw when we visited the American Numismatic Association’s (ANA) “World Fair of Money” in Los Angeles in August. This huge event is attended by dealers and collectors from across the globe but, more importantly, it is supported by hundreds of dealers from the USA. Like so many things American it is vast and as the hobby in this country doesn’t have the same following, or anywhere near the number of dealers involved as it does Stateside, there is no chance we’ll ever be able to hold an event on such a sprawling scale—but then would we want to? The ANA is held over the best part of a week—it needs to be to both allow collectors to visit every table and to encourage those who have to travel vast distances to get there to attend (after all, would you travel 3,000 miles just to attend a fair that was all over in a few hours? I doubt it), but is that something we would want to embrace over here? There are moans enough from some quarters about two day shows, with the second day always being far quieter than the first, and it is hard to see how anything longer would ever take off in the UK. Our British mentality seems very much to treat the coin show as a means of acquisition, a place to buy coins and little more. Yes, of course, collectors do get together in the venue’s bar or in nearby restaurants to pore over their new purchases, but in the main the fair is just a “shop window”, a place where coins can be bought and sold in person rather than on-line and little more. It is very much “in and out” and once the dealing is done, the show is over and everyone goes home, there is nothing else to do. There are conventions and “congresses” over here of course and they do sometimes have small bourses, or at least members’ own offerings available, but even they are generally weekend only affairs with everyone keen to get back to the “real world” come Monday. Is there any mileage, I wonder, in trying to stretch things out a little? Maybe amalgamate a convention, with its dinners, speeches, etc., with a coin fair? Personally I feel not, the hobby here is different from that in the US. I can’t say exactly why and every time I try I fail—it isn’t that our numismatists are less passionate than theirs. It isn’t that we don’t have people keen to sit and talk coins for days and it isn’t that we aren’t as keen to see this hobby prosper as they are. But there is a difference although I just can’t quite work out what! That all said, I will jump on my soap box briefly and say that whilst I don’t see the UK ever hosting a huge ANAstyle “World Fair”, I do think that we need to somehow get our act together when it comes to the fairs that we do hold. Once again this year the International Bank Note Society Congress (IBNS) and Coinex clash, which means that there are two hugely important “money” events going on at the same time in different parts of London. Surely it would have made more sense to somehow combine the two, wouldn’t it? OK, so we’re never going to have a week-long “money fest” in this country, but a weekend spent in one good central venue, with both coin and banknote collectors and dealers (who like us with our related publications are often one and the same) able to make the most of both sides of the hobby in ease and comfort, certainly holds some appeal! Maybe next year . . . !

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