I am just back from China.
I was in the country for five days to attend the Beijing International Coin Exposition.
It was my first visit.
I learned much.
The differences between American coin conventions and the one in China are stark.
Imagine how it would be if the United States Mint owned and organized the national coin show, had its own grading service, its own magazine, its own national organization and officially franchised all the dealers who are present on the floor (including a statement of that fact in their signs).
Coin dealers are all merely sales agents for the new issues of the Mint.
Historically valuable coins of the past were nowhere to be seen.
That in a nutshell is how numismatics operates at the show.
There are exceptions.
Some world mints were present.
But it is difficult for them to actually bring in their new coins to sell at the show.
Gold especially is heavily regulated.
There are private dealers present as we know them, but they are there to promote auctions in Macau and Hong Kong, not to sell historically valuable coins on site.
There are even American grading services present.
Paper money is more loosely regulated, so dealer tables actually looked more like their American counterparts. Collectible notes were on display for sale. Many were in slabs.
There were also crowds at these tables to do business.
Banks that act as sellers of new coin issues, I was told, are required to attend the show, so they had booths.
Packaging companies and other kinds of product firms had booths.
In that regard, the show was primarily a trade show.
Now as with all generalizations, there are good reasons and exceptions that need explaining.
China did not have the luxury of having a developed coin collecting community for many years.
Collecting and the services for collectors are being developed, and government-owned institutions jumped in to make it happen.
I was present as the guest of China Gold Coin Incorporation, which mints and markets new gold and silver coins.
It celebrated its 30th anniversary this year.
It is wholly owned by the central bank and in turn owns and organizes other things.
CGCI was a perfect host. I do not remember ever being so well treated (and I am certainly treated well in other places). I owe CGCI huge thanks.
I gave a speech Nov. 11 at the Congress of the Coin & Medal Art Committee of the China Numismatic Society (CMAC).
I signed a memorandum of cooperation with CMAC Nov. 9 to facilitate China’s participation in the Coin of the Year Awards Program, which was created by World Coin News and the Standard Catalog of World Coins.
These awards have been given annually since 1984.
In recent years, I have been the event host and public face of the COTY awards. The founder of the COTY Awards, Clifford Mishler, was also visiting China with me.
Going to China is an education. It is an experience well worth having
My visit has also made me more aware of the fact that China is going to have a prominent and influential role in the development of numismatics.
In that regard, it is a good thing, because Chinese collectors are just as enthusiastic, friendly, curious and knowledgeable as collectors anywhere else in the world.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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