The World Money Fair in Berlin is a numismatic event unlike anything ever seen in the United States.
Held Feb. 1-3 in Berlin, it is part trade show where mints, suppliers and coining equipment makers have booths, combined with a traditional bourse with dealers buying and selling their wares.
This year?s event, held at the Hotel Estrel, attracted an international roster of more than 11,000 participants.
An auction conducted by Fritz Rudolf Kuenker GmbH & Co. KG realized 3.95 million euros, or nearly $6 million.
?I was very surprised by the overall quality of the show, mostly because the professional exhibits are very elaborate like a trade show in the United States,? said Ron Guth, president of the Professional Coin Grading Service.
?The mints had bodacious booths, incredible displays. We got to experience striking a medal at the Berlin Mint to having a photo with a $1 million Canadian coin.?
Guth also added that he ?enjoy(ed) a couple liters in the local Berlin pubs.?
Max Stuerken, managing partner of Leuchtturm, an album and coin holder supply house known in the United States as Lighthouse, noted the U.S. Presidential dollar program was gaining some interest in Europe.
?We?re very happy about the show from two sides,? he said, ?the collector side and more important, though is having business contacts.
?The market is rapidly growing, especially the euro market in the euro zone.?
Among the mint booths, the New Zealand Mint showcased coin issues including a special Sherlock Holmes set in a Hollywood-clapboard case that looked like the old boards used to identify each scene as it was filmed.
Another set marked the 60th anniversary of the Kalashnikov rifle. The case was shaped like the curved ammunition clip.
Tereza Horvath, commercial director of the Hungarian Mint, Ltd., spoke about numismatics in Hungary at her booth. She noted that the country has a collector society with over 10,000 members. Some 3,000-4,000 form the core.
?The publicity of the issues, the National Bank is going to the public to educate the Hungarian people,? she said. ?When the National Bank is better known, the mint is better known. It is 100 percent owned by the bank.?
She said the mint?s business sees 40 percent of collector coins going to dealers and 60 percent directly to customers.
The Royal Dutch Mint was selling personalized medals to the public. For 15 euros, or roughly $22, you could walk away in about two minutes with a medal that featured your own portrait on one side. Tom Michael of the Standard Catalog of World Coins staff took advantage of the opportunity.
The true star of the show was founder Albert Beck, who is now 71. He seemed to be everywhere. He also personally introduced every one of the 22 presentations at the media forum Feb. 1 where mints announce their new programs.
He said there are more mints that want to participate than there are time slots.
His title now is an honorary one, though you would not know it from his keen eye for detail. Hans-Henning Goehrum is his successor as president of the show. But as he noted, he likes to collect friends, and time and changes in title have not slowed him down in that regard.
Every year the show has a mint guest of honor. This year it was the People?s Republic of China. Next year, it is the Royal Canadian Mint, an institution that Beck often mentions because it was the very first mint to attend a World Money Fair back in 1981. It was the pioneer. Now about 45 attend and it is the place for top mint officials to confer with each other.
Back said 30 meeting rooms were continuously engaged for business meetings between mints and suppliers throughout the course of the show.
Beck would like to see the show continue to grow. More business would then be done there and he would have the opportunity to collect more friends.