World mints have homecoming in Berlin
- Published: Feb 17, 2016, 6 AM
The 45th annual World Money Fair, hosted in Berlin for the 11th year now, was a homecoming of sorts for the hobby.
The show (this year conducted from Feb. 5 to 7) included the remarkable sale of an early Holey dollar that is now returning to Australia after a very strong bid at auction.
In addition, special ceremonies and exhibits at the show marked the return to Germany of German-made tooling and dies for Chinese coins.
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Finally, the show itself acted as a homecoming for the members of the vast worldwide “numismatic family,” according to show chairman Hans-Henning Gohrum, who used the phrase several times to define the attendees at the show.
Mixed results for show
Though final attendance figures are not yet available as of Feb. 12, attendance did not appear to be as high as in 2013 or 2014. However, the bourse floor in 2016 was anecdotally busier than it was last year.
Multiple dealers linked the continued weak Russian ruble (the result of falling oil prices and economic sanctions) and soft market for Chinese coins to the show’s mixed performance.
At the low end of the market, numerous collectors and small dealers swarmed dealer booths to snap up individual and wholesale quantities of circulating commemorative €2 coins, the most widely and popularly collected aspect of modern European numismatics. Lines congested the aisle around the Monnaie de Paris booth, as dozens of collectors daily queued to swap euros at face value for the new 2016 French circulating commemorative €2 coin for the UEFA soccer tournament.
Other dealers offered a bounty of new circulating coins from the Middle East, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Morocco, Oman, and Syria, as well as other nations.
Vatican City coins of Pope Francis were a hot seller at several booths. Also robust during the show was the retail and wholesale market in modern paper money.
The largest and most visible group of transactions began the day before the show’s public open.
Künker auction sizzles
Fritz Rudolph Künker’s auction No. 271, on Feb. 4, realized a total hammer price of more than €6.6 million (about $7.2 million U.S.), according to the firm, though no precise figure was available. The estimate is about 38 percent higher than the pre-sale estimate, but does not include the buyer’s fee and Value Added Tax of 20 to 23 percent, which applies variably depending on where the item is being delivered.
Leading the sale was an 1813 silver Holey dollar (of a 5-shilling face value), an example of emergency coinage from colonial Australia.
The dollar was struck from a 1777 silver 8-real coin of from the Mexico City Mint, for King Carlos III. According to Ken Downie, of the Australian coin firm Downies, this example of the Holey dollar features one of the earliest undertype or host coins, with one 1776 example edging it out.
Both the host coin and the counterstamp were graded Extremely Fine by the auction firm, an uncharacteristically nice condition particularly for the host, considering the time between that coin’s production in Mexico City and the Holey dollar emergency period.
The Holey dollar realized a hammer price of €230,000 ($252,140 U.S.).
Downies bought the coin for a client in Australia, so the coin was heading home after decades in European collections, Ken Downie told Coin World.
German-made coin dies come home
Another homecoming was celebrated with an exhibit on the bourse floor as well as a special handover ceremony on Feb. 6.
A collection of 42 dies and 36 punches from the German manufacturer Otto Beh were returned to the nation, for exhibit at the German State Coin Cabinet in Saxony-Anhalt. The tooling had been used to strike some of the early machine-struck coins in China’s history.
The collection was first offered at auction in 2012 by Künker, and between Künker and Champion Auction’s Michael Chou, the pieces were bought and donated to the museum; officials did not say when the donation was made. The fair was the first presentation of the dies in Germany, though they were on exhibit during a coin show in Macau last December.
Chou and Künker cooperated to commission the Shanghai Mint to produce Panda silver and gold coins honoring the exhibit and handover, and both serial No. 1 examples were sold during the Künker auction, the gold example selling for €9,250 ($10,140 U.S.) and the silver example realizing €2,200 ($2,412.)
Chief museum curator Ulf Dräger was on hand to accept the donation along with a check raised from the sales of the two associated commemorative medals. American dealer Robert Mish, also a partner in the donation, was on hand to present the check.
Coin World will offer additional, in-depth coverage of the show in print and online in the coming weeks.
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