by Walter Grasser
From a Bavarian regional coin day to the European coin fair with international flair
December 30, 2009 – 1970 was the year of birth of the now international NUMISMATA Munich. It happened in a 400 m2 room adjoining the Löwenbräukeller at Stiglmaierplatz. This was the location of the tentative beginnings of what has for decades been one of the largest numismatics fairs in the world.
The actual founding fathers of the Bavarian coin day in Munich – the translation of its initial Latin name Numismata Bavariae – were: Benedikt Laib architect and coin collector from Augsburg; two coin dealers, Zlatko Tudjina and Horst Otto; and a coin collecting employee of Bayerische Holzbank. Otto Kozinowski and Olaf Zierl, a keen motor journalist and PR Manager, joined later. At that time, the Bavarian Numismatic Society did not want to take on the not inconsiderable risk of such an event.
The sole purpose of the Bavarian coin day in Munich was initially to provide a transregional meeting for a few motivated dealers, in order to create a greater product range and above all better sales possibilities independently of stock lists and auctions. From the outset, Numismata enjoyed a very active appeal to collectors and, already in 1971, it was able to expand to the 900 m2 Löwenbräukeller ballroom. After 1972, it also occupied all the adjoining rooms.
Erich Modes acquires NUMISMATA
In 1982, when the fathers of the Bavarian coin day were unable to agree on the payment of the expenses incurred, a great opportunity was created for Erich Modes, who had previously attended NUMISMATA only as an exhibitor. Therefore he was very familiar with the numerous problems and desires of his colleagues dealing in coins and medals. He changed some details in the organization: The booths and tables were no longer allocated simply in order of registration. It proved to be far more logical to compose groups. There used to be dealers who wished or who did not wish to stand directly adjacent to their competition. This is naturally taken into account in the planning. Erich Modes, a former officer / employee of the German federal post office, is considered by the entire industry to be an outstanding and above all very reliable organizer.
NUMISMATA Munich has experienced continuous expansion both in terms of exhibition area and in the number of exhibitors and visitors. The successful coin fair at the Löwenbräukeller ended suddenly because of the great roof truss fire in 1986. For the next five years, the now annual fair (two fairs, one in spring and one in autumn time, proved not to make sense) was held in the conference room of the German museum, with an exhibition area now of 1,200 m2. Here, the event had found a very worthy and appropriate setting, although the illumination of the individual booths caused great problems. Particularly when buying coins and medals, the light plays a very important role.
The renovation of the conference room of the German museum and the ever-increasing interest from domestic and foreign dealers forced Erich Modes to expand further and change the location again in 1992, when the fair moved to the exhibition centre of Munich, close to the Theresienwiese. A total of 1,800 m2 were available here. From this venue, NUMISMATA Munich initially moved to a very spacious hall in the new exhibition centre in Riem, then finally to its present accommodation at the M.O.C. in Freimann with an area of 3,800 m2.
In recent years, the number of visitors has fluctuated between 3,500 and 5,000, although there is an increasing trend. Around 250 to 300 dealers assemble at their tables and booths.
The collectors and dealers come from all over Germany and neighboring countries such as Austria, Italy and Switzerland as well as from England, France, Spain and the US. In recent years, the number of visitors from the former Eastern block has also seen continuous growth. These visitors are led by the Russians in first place and the Poles in second place followed by the Czechs, Hungarians and those from the Baltic States such as Latvia and Lithuania. Buying behavior has changed accordingly. Today, there is great demand for coins and medals from the Tsar era, which were previously non-sellers.
Erich Modes succeeded in increasing the attractiveness of the NUMISMATA Munich in such a degree that NUMISMATA has become a brand: There are now NUMISMATAs in Berlin, Frankfort and Vienna organized by Erich Modes.
Numismata Munich is one of the largest coin shows of the world and, for many visitors, it has an appeal that is equal to or even greater than that of the famous Oktoberfest of Munich.