If dealers had any common plea on the bourse floor of the World Money Fair in Berlin this past weekend it was for the return of Russian and Chinese coin buyers.
A dramatically weaker ruble on the foreign exchange markets of the world has restrained the Russians.
General worries about the state of the Chinese economy seem to have kept Chinese buyers at home.
But this is still not enough to keep Berlin from being a great show.
"I think we are pretty pleased with the fair," said Graham Byfield of Britain's A.H. Baldwin. He noted the wide variety of coins and medals present.
Another dealer from Great Britain, Paul Davies, said, "The Russians were less active, but other Europeans have been generally keen to buy. I think the market is going to have a good year for 2016."
Raymond Sleet was looking for American dealers to do some buying. That did not happen. "The dealers aren't spending, which is surprising since the dollar is stronger." He also noted the Chinese market is down.
But of collectors generally he said, "Dropping gold since 2011 doesn't seem to have frightened them."
Steen Hoy, a dealer who attended from Karup, Denmark, said, "It was quieter than it used to be years ago." He specifically cited the fall in the ruble. "It takes (away) part of the excitement." he said.
Frits Piso of Ijesslstein, The Netherlands, said of the show, "Not as good as it used to be." But he said he did OK. From his vantage point of 35 years of experience and his trips to about a dozen shows a year, he said the trend in the last three years is one of improvement for his business.
" I had a reasonably good show," said first-time attendee, Richard Walshe of Hibernian Coins & Notes of Galway, Ireland. "There were certainly good crowds. There was a huge variety of material. I am impressed by the scale of it."
The size of the fair is huge. There aisles were always packed by the public. There were long lines waiting to get in at the opening on Sunday morning. This is something that never happens in the United States.
From Guenzburg, Germany, longtime dealer Ernst Neumann said, "I have old German and Austrian coins. Business for those coins is very good. It always depends on how many new ones you have."
British dealer David Fletcher was staffing his table along with his wife Yan Zhao. "Its been slower than last year," he said. He cited the Russian ruble. He recalled at a Hong Kong show that people from China are not buying so much presently.
New Zealand dealer John Eccles said it was worth the 36-hour travel time he spent to reach Berlin.
He called the show good. "It's worthwhile coming, but not as good as six years ago." He also had noticed the crowds and said it was very busy.
But Berlin is an event that must be attended. There are so many angles from which to look at it.
Joachim Schwiening of Ma-Shops was giving a demonstration of he new features of his sales website to Thomas Pollandt, owner of two coin shops in Berlin. Pollandt is already a power seller, but he was interested in the new features serving the Chinese market as well as a new category for U.S. coins.
Jason Bradford of PCGS Currency, a paper money grading firm, was attending his firm Berlin show. "It was terrific," he said. "The European market for currency grading is still in its infancy." He said they were becoming more accepting of it as they realize it levels the playing field between buyer and seller.
Besides a traditional dealer bourse that Americans are used to, the World Money Fair is a huge trade show for the world's mints and the suppliers to the mints. Every meeting room in the hotel and convention center was booked from morning to night.
Once the fair has finished, you know that these meeting participants in Berlin have the year planned for the rest of us.
More Collecting Resources
• Come on down to the Chicago International Coin Fair in Rosemont, Ill. on April 14 to 17, 2016 to see impressive world coins, meet new collectors and participate in Heritage Auction’s fantastic coin auction.
• Keep up to date on prices for Canada, United States and Mexico coinage with the 2016 North American Coins & Prices guide.