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Berlin's fair like no other

There is no recession at the Hotel Estrel in Berlin, site of the World Money Fair. In fact, there is a big dollar sign on my back, on your back and on the back of any other person in the world who might be persuaded to buy coins this year.

The World Money Fair is like no show you have ever seen. In the center of things are world mint booths. Traditional dealer bourse tables are on the periphery. There are also booths by manufacturers of coining presses, firms that manufacture packaging and banks. In Europe, banks are players in a way that Americans are not used to. One of the tallest booths on the floor is the Russian Sperbank. It claims to have 20,000 offices throughout Russia and in neighboring countries.

The Austrian Mint has two booths. One is set to introduce a new one-ounce silver bullion coin this morning. It has the same design as the gold Philharmonic bullion coin series. There are high expectations for its success. How could it be otherwise with the current excitement over precious metals by the world’s investors? Ian Bennett of the Royal Canadian Mint said demand for its Maple Leaf one-ounce silver coins has gone from 150,000 a month to 600,000 a month. It is working hard to meet demand.

The second Austrian Mint booth located elsewhere on the floor is the B2B division. That is not something you run into at regular coin shows in the States. This is not for the small fry like you and me but for the big players. You want to buy coin blanks? Now you know where to go.

Then there is the surging tide of men and women in formal business attire. They break into small groups at the individual booths and flow along the aisles. Their purpose is to sell the products to each other that are intended to harvest your dollars and my dollars. Judging by all the evidence here, they are succeeding.