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We've been noticed

I have returned to my desk after attending the World Money Fair in Berlin.

I am a bit bleary eyed and mentally foggy from the long trip home, but I am glad I attended and doubly glad to be home again.

Competition is fierce in the world bullion coin market.

Austria has added a one-ounce platinum bullion coin to its Philharmonic series of gold and silver bullion coins.

Governments are noticing.

There has always been at least one ambassador involved in events surrounding the World Money Fair, that of the guest of honor country, but this year ambassadors were much more numerous.

The French embassy hosted a reception at midday the day I arrived.

Unfortunately, my schedule got me too late to Berlin to attend.

South Korea’s ambassador was given quite a workout at multiple events in recognition of the country as the guest of honor.

The Australian ambassador to Germany was at the Perth Mint reception.

He said coins were Australia’s largest export to Germany.

Can you believe it?

Coins are Australia’s largest export to Germany.

No wonder governments are becoming more officially involved.

At the Coin of the Year Ceremony I had the honor of giving the top trophy to Rhett Jeppson of the U.S. Mint.

One comment of mine that got smiles from the audience was my apology that as host of the reception I could not provide an ambassador.

We’ll have to work on that to compete on equal footing with the other countries of the world.

Even though the Chinese numismatic market is down, Chinese numismatics was as prominent and visible as ever.

Those who think their government might somehow have others beaten in support of the nation’s business will have to revise their views a bit.

I had one conversation with a dealer who told me that many of his colleagues will never do another coin show in China as long as the government customs agency aggressively hassles them. The exception, of course, is Hong Kong.

We did not get into the specifics of the current Chinese customs approach, but if coin dealers are staying away from such a major economy, they must have good reasons.

It is helpful to remember that one of the reasons why Berlin is now host to the World Money Fair is many coin dealers did not like dealing with the customs agency in Switzerland, the previous host country.

Berlin has hosted the fair now since 2006 and the German finance ministry is taking the country's numismatic programs so seriously that they are looking to make improvements.

In the numismatic field, classical coins from ancients to medieval to 19th century are still very active.

Modern issues have slowed. Mintages have fallen for new issues.

People are more sober minded. The economic pressure was in evidence.

At meetings with old friends I found a number who have changed positions among the mints, distributors and other firms active at the Berlin event.

Performance is the watchword in 2016.

There is reason to hope. There is reason to worry. But one thing is for certain, the present market is not handing out financial gifts as it did at the prior bullion peak in 2011.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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