Last week’s World Money Fair was considered an overall success in its 45th consecutive year, with a steady stream of collectors and dealers alike passing through the turnstiles. The annual three-day event concluded on a positive note Sunday with end-of-the-day and last-minute deals for some lucky collectors.
Held at the Estrel Conference Center on the east side of Berlin, this year’s guest of honor was the Mint of Korea, or KOMSCO. As part of the welcoming committee, the Republic of Korea’s ambassador, His Excellency Kyung Soo Lee, joined KOMSCO president Kim Hwa Dong, the World Money Fair’s lifetime honorary president, Dr. Albert Beck, and its current president, Hans-Henning Gohrum, to formally open Europe’s largest numismatic fair.
Much of the European continent is experiencing a mild winter and Berlin is no exception; the weather did not deter or hinder attendants making their way to the popular venue. Together with pleasant temperatures and just a bit of rain, enthusiasts lined up more than an hour in advance to wait for the doors to open. This year saw over 50 official mints, central banks, or private mints on hand to display their products, along with over 200 private dealers and coin suppliers from all over the world.
The main auditorium highlight for 2016 was the pavilion for KOMSCO, which dominated the landscape. As South Korea will be hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics, images of coins celebrating the event were prominently displayed.
The UK’s Royal Mint took the opportunity to give interested collectors a first glimpse of the 2017 twelve-sided pound coin which will be entering circulation early next year.
Of particular interest this year was the inclusion of the Central Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea, which both sold and exhibited coins and bank notes for the very first time. It was reported that delegates from both KOMSCO and the North Korean Central Bank enjoyed their encounters with one another, enabling them to exchange ideas and findings without the hindrance of government ministers.
Thailand’s Royal Mint utilized the occasion to unveil its new wildlife series of gold and silver coins featuring the white elephant, a national symbol that is reportedly a favorite animal of Thailand’s King Rama IX. The coins feature an updated portrait of the King on the obverse, with a charming and detailed reverse image of a mother elephant and calf.
The Monnaie de Paris did not disappoint with its display of coins from its upcoming 2016 issues program. One particular coin that received considerable attention was the MdP’s new Europa silver coin, which featured an image of Yves St. Laurent and color images of his familiar 60’s-style fashion. The coin is part of this year’s common theme highlighting the modern 20th century. Another first for this popular series will be a common reverse design for the participating countries.
The Royal Australian Mint unveiled new commemorative coins celebrating the country’s 50th anniversary of its adoption of a decimal currency, which occurred in 1966.
The Republic of Belarus took the opportunity to display its new currency bank note series; reminiscent of the euro in design, it will be introduced later this year.
The Royal Canadian Mint, a popular participant of the World Money Fair, introduced a new DNA feature to their bullion coins, enabling authentication of the pieces with the addition of readable laser technology.
The Federal Mints of Germany also introduced a new commemorative coin product with two significant updates: the face value of their 18 gram silver commemorative coins will go up, while seeing a welcome increase in silver content for the issues from 62.5% to 92.5%. The first coin released with this new specification is dedicated to the children’s tale, “Little Riding Hood,” by the Brothers Grimm.
Dealers and exhibitors reported a noticeable decrease in sales due to the conspicuous absence of Russian and Chinese dealers and collectors, mostly due to downturns in their economies and the devaluation of both currencies against the euro and the dollar. Bullion pieces continued to show vigorous sales levels and, as was noticed last year, high-priced graded and encapsulated or “slabbed” pieces were also in demand from the investor side of the business.
Next year’s fair is expected to be event-packed as the South African Mint has been named as guest host. They last hosted in 2010, but as the coin world will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the world’s most well-known gold bullion coin — the Krugerrand — it seemed most appropriate that the South African Mint handle the festivities for 2017. The dates for the 46th world Money Fair will be February 3-5, 2017. Mark your calendars!