Crowds overflow venue at World Money Fair in Berlin

World's mints, banks unveil and release new coins during show
Published : 02/17/12
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The venue that bills itself as Europe’s largest convention hall, the Estrel Convention Center in Berlin, apparently isn’t large enough.

At the hall, the World Money Fair, which organizers call the “most important international meeting place of the industry,” added eight new booths in what had previously been the entrance to the sprawling show, and sent patrons spilling out into the enormous lobby during much of the time the show was open to public attendance Feb. 3, 4 and 5.

Public attendance, which organizers report was around 15,000 people, wasn’t the only barometer by which to gauge interest in the show; attendance at the pre-show technical forum Feb. 2 was pegged at 300 participants, filling the forum hall in the second year after the forum was moved from a smaller venue elsewhere in the center.

The show and its large bourse floor brought together more than 50 mints and central banks from around the world, a handful or more of private companies driving the issue of collector coins, numerous companies focused on the technological and production side (many of them German), and dozens of auction houses, dealers and distributors from at least 31 different countries.

Royal flair

2012 is, as Royal Mint CEO Adam Lawrence said many times, “a great year for Great Britain,” which held status as the guest of honor for the 41st annual World Money Fair.

To celebrate the momentous year, the Royal Mint at its booth (which anchored the entrance to the largest section of the bourse) displayed single examples of its Proof .999 fine silver £500 coin and Proof .999 fine gold £1,000 coin celebrating the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games, respectively.

As a tie-in to Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, the Royal Mint brought Alan Fiddes, a member of the Body of Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London and a member of Her Majesty’s Bodyguard, the Yeoman of the Guard (in Extraordinary). Yeoman warders, popularly known as the Beefeaters, are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London, which housed the Royal Mint for more than 500 years before it moved outside the tower (but on the site). The Royal Mint moved to Llantrisant, Wales, in the 1960s.

Visitors posed for pictures with Yeoman Warder Fiddes, who also answered questions from many attendees about his role in service to the queen.

On Feb. 4, the soaring harmonies of the Treorchy Male Choir from Wales filled the hall during performances at the Royal Mint booth; about one-third of the choir was in attendance, including the six members who also work at the Royal Mint in Llantrisant.

All about coins

Dozens of world mints announce coin programs at the show during the media forum, which is always held the opening day of the show. Some mints also use the show to release coins to the collectors who flock there from around the world.

Germany’s mints released the 2012 circulating commemorative €2 coin that is part of the Bundeslander series (which made its debut in 2006) honoring each of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. One coin is released annually, coinciding with a state’s presidency of the Bundesrat (a legislative body), and the coin is launched at the World Money Fair.

Five versions, differentiated by the Mint marks A (Berlin), D (Munich), F (Stuttgart), G (Karlsruhe), and J (Hamburg), were issued at the show, and collectors swarmed to obtain all of the coins when they were released Feb. 3.

The Royal Dutch Mint released at the show Netherlands’ circulating 2012 commemorative €2 coin marking the 10th anniversary of euro currency circulation. Interest in the coin was high, but the crowd was noticeably down from 2011 when Netherlands’ first circulating €2 coin drew large numbers of hopeful customers who formed lines that snaked through the bourse.

The Perth Mint’s show special of a colorful Year of the Dragon 1-ounce .999 fine silver coin sold out its 5,000 mintage limit, even with a €50 price tag.

Finland launched its first two collector coins of 2012 Feb. 3 at the show, the first a Proof .925 fine silver €10 coin honoring Faberge designer Henrik Wigström (the coin is part of the European Artists theme for the 2012 European Silver Program) and the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 coins, a Brilliant Uncirculated €5 coin and a ringed-bimetallic silver and gold €50 coin with the gold portion inset in the center of the design.

The Royal Canadian Mint offered its customary show set of Uncirculated coins, and several other issues from multiple mints were available only to show attendees.

The Staatliche Munze Berlin (Berlin State Mint) booth resembled a photo studio, for good reason: visitors could pay €19.90 to have their photo taken, to claim later a medal bearing the image. Through the first two days of the show, about 100 people used the proprietary service, according to Mint Director Andreas Schikora, who declined to share details about how the mint affixed the image to the medal.

The annual Coin of the Year Awards, bestowed by F+W Publications, was awarded to the Bank of Israel for the 2010 Proof .925 fine silver 2-sheqel piece featuring the story of Jonah in the Whale.

Auction record

The show isn’t only for collectors of modern coins, and one of the annual accompaniments is an auction of historic issues.

Fritz Rudolph Künker’s Feb. 2 auction established multiple records for the firm, including the highest price ever paid for a coin in Germany at auction.

An 1835 silver Family ruble of Russia’s Czar Nicholas I, an example described by researchers as a Type I variety, realized €747,500 including the 15 percent buyer’s fee (or about $980,406 in U.S. funds) and dominated the auction, breaking a record established the year before for a Chinese coin sold at the World Money Fair auction.

The Family ruble was one of five different types struck, as the firm offered a complete set of all known types, and the auction room erupted with applause each time one of the rarities was hammered down.

The 2013 World Money Fair is scheduled for Feb. 1 to 3, when the Monnaie de Paris from France will be guest of honor.

Coin World will offer complete coverage of the show and the programs announced in coming weeks and also in exclusive content at ■

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