I have just returned from the World Money Fair in Berlin, Germany. One of the advantages of being able to personally view the state of the coin market in Europe is that I come back with impressions.
Collectors in the United States have worried for years that they are not doing enough to encourage young collectors. That may be an issue, but we are light years ahead of the Europeans. If anything, hobbyists in Europe seem older than their American counterparts.
Can I prove this contention? No. My impression hinges on the hobbyists I interacted with at the Krause booth and on the bourse floor.
European hobbyists seem less inclined to use the Internet and much preferred books to the compact disks we were giving away. The few kids I saw at our booth did like the CDs.
While the European hobby may or may not be older, there are young and dynamic collectors there as well. I renewed my acquaintance with Sebastian Richter and Florian Dyballa. I met them last year as they introduced the first edition of their 2 Euro Muenzenkatalog. The denomination is the standard circulating commemorative coin vehicle.
This year’s edition sees the addition of color photos and all of the descriptions are in both German and English. The book is a great success. Its print run is more than doubling this year, allowing the authors to devote full time to their numismatic business, which was originally based on their Web site.
Their ages? Twenty-three and 19, respectively.
But, perhaps to reinforce my impressions, they have also launched a new quarterly magazine at this show, the Muenzen Journal. It is distributed free of charge to collectors. It is supported in two ways.
One edition is a typical magazine with advertisements from many advertisers. Another edition contains only ads from a major dealer who sends it out to his customers along with his latest price list.
Imagine Numismatic News with only Heritage or Bowers and Merena ads and you get the idea.
However, the approach apparently works. I asked Richter when he would know whether his new magazine is a success. He replied that it is already.
Even with the roots of their business online, Richter and Dyballa believe print is still where it’s at in Germany. From my experience with Krause products, I understand why they come to this conclusion.
A final impression relates to the importance of coin collecting. I attended a ceremony at the chancellery Jan. 29 at which Angela Merkel, the chancellor who heads the government, introduced the Bremen 2 euro.
The last coin-related ceremony I attended at the White House was in the 1980s. Wouldn’t it be nice to have support for new U.S. coin issues at the highest level once each year?
While introducing the new cent Feb. 11 in Springfield, Ill., was appropriate, why not one Illinois President introducing a coin honoring the other Illinois President?
These are some of the issues that arise in my mind from my journey to Europe.