Lady at the top
Volume 55, Number 11, November 2018
Jolly good show THIS year saw the 40th Anniversary of the British Numismatic Trade Association’s (BNTA) flagship coin show, Coinex. In recent years the event has been held at the Millennium Hotel, Grosvenor Square, in the heart of Mayfair but this year that hotel is being refurbished and so a new home needed to be found for the 2018 extravaganza, which the organisation promised would be their biggest ever. When the new venue was announced as being County Hall, the erstwhile home of Ken Livingstone and the GLC, nestled on the banks of the Thames just by Westminster Bridge and the London Eye, a few of us who have been around a while were sceptical. We have seen Coinex move about quite a bit in the last decade or so, from the Marriott Hotel just off Grosvenor Square to the Excel Centre in the Docklands area, back west to Earl’s Court and then back to Grosvenor Square again, and so yet another change, no matter how necessary, didn’t fill us with much enthusiasm. The venue itself is superbly located but it is vast and there were a few worries about accessibility, not least for those of us with large amounts of stock, and there were also worries that the public would get lost in the labyrinthine corridors. Couple these concerns with the fact that the show was so big this year that it was to be held across a number of rooms rather than in one large space and you may understand why we were wondering what we were letting ourselves in for when we left Devon and headed east. As is so often the case though, the things we were most worried about all came to nought and whilst there were little niggles (the over officious gate guard when we came to unload, the sheer bewilderment of a new venue and not knowing the procedure etc.), they were soon forgotten as the sheer scale of the event became apparent. Admittedly Coinex was never going to attract the same numbers as the big American shows, but for us this was a biggie—there were over 100 coin dealers from the UK and across the globe “stalling out” and although yes, there were a number of different rooms, they were all interconnected and easily accessible—those of you who visited the NYINC when it was held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York will know how irritating a multi-roomed venue can be, but this was nothing like that. The natural light that flooded the building was a joy, so used are we to windowless ballrooms at coin shows in London that to have a view was a real novelty—and what a view it was for those lucky enough to be in the front room! What better way to spend the day than looking at the Thames idling by or gazing upon the majesty of the Palace of Westminster, even if the Elizabeth Tower is still under wraps? Although, to be fair, I’m not actually certain the dealers had much of a chance to gaze upon anything apart from customers, certainly not on the first day as the fair seemed to be heaving from the word go. The format meant it was difficult to see exactly how many people were in attendance and the fact that we were busy all day (we launched our brand new COIN YEARBOOK 2019) meant that none of the Token Team managed to get out too often to walk the bourse (and our position at the “junction” of the two main rooms made it difficult to see the activity on the floor)—but we could certainly hear the buzz and, having spoken to a number of dealers since, it seems a busy day was had by all. The Saturday was quieter as second days always are, but even then there were plenty of customers around to keep us behind our table until way past lunchtime. One dealer told us it was like the Coinexes of old, such was the feel in the room. Now I am certain every dealer who attended, as well as each collector that came through the door, will have his or her own opinion on this year’s show and some may well differ wildly from mine, but certainly everyone I spoke to on the day seemed to have had as good a day as we had. Now, of course, the question is what happens next year? This year, being a big anniversary year, non-BNTA members were invited to take tables at the show—will that happen in 2019? And if not, will the show require such a large space? If it doesn’t then is the County Hall the right venue? And should we stay there even after the Millennium Hotel has been refurbished? I don’t know the answers to these questions, I imagine the BNTA committee has some ideas but we will leave them to tell us of those at a later date, for now I will simply extend my congratulations to all involved in making the Coinex the success it has been for the past 40 years and especially to those who made this year’s event work so well. Let’s worry about 2019 later and for now simply say well done. It was a good show.
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