Coinage of Edward VII
Volume 50, Number 10, October 2013
A world of difference? IT is the autumn again and with the mists, dark evenings and turning leaves comes the start of the numismatic “season” heralded by a plethora of big auctions both in London and beyond and of course the British Numismatic Trade Association’s (BNTA) ”Coinex” at the Millennium Hotel, Grosvenor Square in the heart of Mayfair. Now the reason the “season” starts in the autumn is obvious to many—in that the summer months are pretty quiet, people are away, the long, hot days (we had some this year!) aren’t conducive to productivity and few people want to head into the capital to sit in a sweltering auction room or wander round a hotel’s ballroom. July and August are holiday months across the northern hemisphere and realistically business doesn’t really get going again until the nights start drawing in. Except that doesn’t seem to be the case in America. Every year, at the height of the summer, the American Numismatic Association (ANA) holds its annual “World’s Fair of Money” (the air conditioning in American hotels and conference centres makes the August heat far more bearable) and this year the Token Team headed to Chicago to attend the event (well, it made sense—the OMSA Medal Fair was held in Milwaukee, an hour and a half north, the previous week and we always attend that) and we were bowled over by the sheer scale of the show. I’m not sure of the exact attendance but it was busy on all five days (yes, five) and with 2,000 booths for 1,100 dealers, covering a huge area in the Donald E.Stephens Convention Center [sic], five days was probably needed. If you come to Coinex you won’t see 2,000 tables, nor anywhere near 1,100 dealers. You won’t need five days to look round and to be honest if you turn up on Saturday afternoon after 2.00pm you’ll find people already beginning to leave. The two shows, their respective associations’ flagship events, are very, very different—Coinex has positioned itself as an elite show, a fair to showcase the very best of British Numismatics, with a number of high profile international dealers in attendance too. The ANA on the other hand attracts numerous Mints, the US Treasury Department (who had some amazing displays to wow the public) as well as hundreds of auction houses, insurance companies, gold and precious metal brokers, book and accessory sellers and, of course, coin and papermoney dealers offering everything from ancients to new issues, with items from just about every country imaginable. Just about everything a collector could want or need was there, buried somewhere in the vast conference room and few attendees would have been disappointed. Now this may sound like I’m criticising Coinex—wishing for something in the UK that is bigger and bolder than the show the BNTA has decided to put on. However ,I do not consider the two the same but I do feel the UK has a place for something akin to the ANA (or the Berlin show held every early Spring)—it would be smaller than the American affair of course, as our market place is smaller, there are fewer dealers and fewer collectors, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do something along the same lines—neither does it mean that I feel Coinex in its current form is wrong. The BNTA have experimented with their show in the past few years and the current format is one they are happy with that works and I am happy to support their decision. But that doesn’t mean that I think that the British can’t hold something like the World’s Fair of Money, because I am sure we can. One look at the wonderful lots in the Stacks Bowers ANA auction, as well as a large number of pieces on offer on the dealers’ tables at the show and you realise that British coins are immensely popular across the globe. This being the case it stands to reason that collectors will travel to find them. However, will they travel for one and a half days of only top notch coins? Maybe not. Put on a four or five day extravaganza, invite the Mints of the World and hundreds of dealers from this country, Europe, the US, Asia, etc., and perhaps you will find the collectors will make the effort to fly in. Perhaps an annual event is pushing it a little but what about something every two or three years? Is it possible we in the UK could put on a Global Money Fair? Could we really attract the same number of collectors, dealers, Mints, etc., that the ANA does? It wouldn’t be Coinex—that should stay as it is, but couldn’t we do something else? I believe we can and whilst it is not COIN NEWS’ place to organise it, we would support it in every possible way. It’s worth a thought isn’t it? And if you don’t think so then might I suggest you head to the ANA next year and see the difference between it and anything we have to offer in this country and then come back and tell me something like that wouldn’t be great over here. I’ll bet anything you can’t.
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