Volume 59, Number 12, December 2022
An odd year indeed AS we watch 2022 draw to a close, I can’t help but reflect on what a very odd year it has been. The first year since 2020 with no lockdowns has meant that coin shows are again open and auctions can have live bidders attend once more, but in reality things are not what they were. The trend for more people going on-line to bid rather than appearing in person has been gathering pace for some time now, and Covid simply accelerated that. Bidding platforms like the Saleroom and Easylive have helped, as have the in-house systems many auction houses have developed. This has meant that even in a post-Coronavirus world with things opening up once again, live attendance at an auction was never going to be what once it was and, as more people were forced into bidding online because of the pandemic and found they liked it, I fear we have seen the last of the packed auction rooms. Not that that seems to have affected results in any way, or if it has it’s only positively, for the prices being fetched are still very strong indeed and there have been some superb collections coming under the hammer, both here in the UK and abroad. Auctions, it seems, haven’t suffered very much in the past two years. Coin fairs, though, are a different matter, the numbers attending most of the ones we’ve been to are not yet back to pre-Covid levels with many collectors still deciding to steer clear of crowded enclosed spaces. Thankfully as the year has gone on, and the media’s obsession with scaring us witless about the virus has shifted to them scaring us witless about the cost-of-living crisis, numbers have started to creep up and I hope that by the time 2023 rolls around we’ll once again start seeing some of the faces we’ve been missing. Whether the aforementioned “cost-of-living crisis” has any effect on the hobby remains to be seen, the fact is that whilst it’s impossible to ignore (the media will make absolutely sure of that) it won’t necessarily be affecting collectors as much as it might others, simply because as people able to buy coins we are, by definition, people with a little bit of disposable income. Whilst the amount we have at our disposal may be shrinking in real terms we are unlikely to be the hardest hit and we also know that in world of financial volatility putting our money into something that has traditionally held its value is a better option then many other things out there. We never give investment advice here but for me putting money into something physical that I can actually enjoy owning rather than, say, a savings plan or shares in a company I’m not that interested in, is a no brainer, particularly when inflation and threatened recessions make those latter ideas less appealing to me by the day. As I said this is not investment advice, but I always think that if I buy a coin and it doesn’t hold its value at least I’ve enjoyed the process of tracking it down, enjoyed owning it, enjoyed knowing it’s part of my collection—I’ve never felt that way about a share, a premium bond or an ISA in my life! As collectors, we know what joy adding to our collections brings and if that also means our money is safer than it might be elsewhere in these troubled times then so much the better. This year hasn’t just been about Covid and inflation of course, other major events took place in 2022 too. Normally saying goodbye to paper money after three centuries would be the headline numismatic story of the year, the demonetising this autumn of the Bolton and Watt £50 note and the Smith £20 in England and their equivalents from the Scottish note issuing banks means that as of the end of October this year the only notes in circulation in the UK are polymer ones. Paper money is no more. That’s huge but, of course, this autumn brought a far bigger story when another era ended and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth passed away. This will, over the next few years, see the biggest change to both our coins and notes in 50 years as her portrait is slowly replaced by that of her son, King Charles III. When 2022 started, I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief, we were all looking forward to a period of normality after the craziness of Covid but it didn’t quite work out like that and it has been a very odd year indeed. I’m not sure I’ll be sorry to see it gone. Here’s to 2023!
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