As a long-time collector, born in the United States, I’m used to a certain type of coin show.
There generally isn’t plush carpet under one’s feet. Booths are typically a folding table or two, a clamp light and perhaps a table covering. There’s usually nary a person in a suit to be found and rarely a long line to enter the show.
Berlin’s World Money Fair, this year held Feb. 7 to 9, is an entirely different kind of coin show for those conditioned to American coin shows.
First, there is the attendance. During the show’s three days, around 15,000 visitors attended — making it Europe’s largest. That’s around 50 percent more than attend an American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money convention. On Saturday, Feb. 8, the line to enter the show at 10 a.m. snaked around the lobby of Berlin’s Estrel hotel and took nearly 10 minutes for the last person to enter.
Second, there’s a heightened sense of professionalism. Dealers were generally dressed up, as were the attendees. In Europe, more so than the United States, numismatics is a profession, complete with specialized education.
Third, there’s the history and longevity of European mints. The Austrian Mint was the guest of honor at the show and hosted an opening reception on Feb. 5, where it celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Vienna Philharmonic gold bullion coin series. Today, the Austrian Mint is its country’s oldest industrial company, founded by the Babenberg dukes in 1194.
The World Money Fair covers all aspects of coins, including their manufacture. A five-hour technical forum included topics related to the minting process, security, surface finishing, along with tooling software and using lasers to create dies.
More than 50 mints — both public and private — set up what were often elaborate displays to help showcase their new coins. We’ll showcase these new coins, and the stories behind them, over the next few months in the pages of Coin World and online.
There were some American influences. Both Professional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corp. had a presence to help promote third-party grading to audiences beyond the United States.
After seeing the array of wonderful coins that many of these public and private mints are producing, it’s hard not to get excited about the innovation currently happening around the world with coins.
From licensing of popular characters for coin designs to creating products aimed at introducing a new generation of people to coin collecting, it is certainly an exciting time to be sharing the wide world of coins with our readers.