World paper money is the place to be right now judging from what I saw at the paper money show in Memphis, Tenn., over the weekend.
There were more buyers who came from overseas to do business than has been the case in many years if ever. I have now been to 20 shows in a row.
Prosperity in Russia has given collectors from that country the means to go on a buying spree in the United States as their counterparts in the coin field have been doing.
The strong euro has armed European buyers with the means to take huge quantities of material home with them.
One American dealer said that stuff is not ever coming back in his lifetime.
A Chinese Ming note that had a hammer price of $33,000 on Thursday night at the Lyn Knight auction was talked about. That was more than four times the high estimate of $7,500.
Even the low end, the notes that are used for countless promotions have gone up in price. Another world dealer said the common notes bought by the thousands or tens of thousands are now more than a dime apiece.
Boy. the dollar is weak when it takes a dime to buy one note of a modern defunct or near worthless currency. But such is the compelling power of the idea of collecting these days.
What of the American market? The balance of opinion seems to weigh in on the underachieving side, but that was as much a function of the lack of fresh material as it was the slightly weaker attendance. All the major players were there looking to buy.
I am glad I was able to attend the show and even gladder to be home. I owe a special thanks to show chairman Mike Crabb and a double special thanks to his wife Julia for all their help this year.