Numismata 2023: A Paean to Coin Fairs

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I like the Numismata. I have liked this coin fair ever since I first distributed auction catalogues to visitors as a complete newbie for my then boss. I like the Numismata because there is no other fair where you can meet such a unique mix of top-class collectors, ambitious auction houses and old acquaintances from student days. I am originally from Munich, so I am definitely biased regarding my sympathy for the Numismata. But even if I had not liked the Numismata before, this year’s event would have changed that.

An Overcrowded Venue

The organisers had been warned. They knew how many people were currently flocking to coin shows. And yet, they had not expected such an incredible crowd. Although some visitors were annoyed at the long waiting time at the ticket office, this was not the actual problem. The problem was that “only” 2,000 people were permitted in the hall at the same time. The security guard of the MOC Center counted mercilessly and closed the venue less than an hour after the fair had started. Nobody had ever experienced something similar, and the visitors, some of whom had come from far away, were correspondingly annoyed. They had already been through an unpleasant adventure at this point because the gigantic parking garage of the MOC was just as crowded as all parking spaces in the surrounding area. Therefore, getting to the coins required much effort and patience. New visitors were only admitted to the hall when the first left again. The organisers estimate that there were 3,500 visitors. It felt like there were many more. One dealer even spoke of more than 10,000 visitors when talking to us. He was visibly satisfied with his sales.

Sales, Sales, Sales

Those who made it into the hall only had one thing in mind: shopping. The tables were packed with an enormous crowd. And nobody just wanted to have a look. They all had money with them to invest in coins – and to take physical objects in their hands once again! It was clear to see how much collectors enjoyed this moment before they put the money on the table without further ado.

While business usually slows down around late lunch time at coin fairs, no coin dealer had time to eat that day. For one, the MOC Center’s very popular restaurant right opposite the Numismata was closed, and there was just one somewhat overcrowded alternative in the back of the hall. Moreover, with all these customers, dealers simply could not leave their tables. The day flew by and even in the last hours of the first fair day, there were almost more visitors around than at the beginning of pre-covid shows.

We asked around and long-time coin dealer Ernst Neumann from Günzburg described the situation best: “Yes that’s exactly how it was in the 1970s. The problem is not selling – but you just don’t have enough coins!”

The Numismata: A Coin Fair without Frills

The Numismata is one of very few coin fairs where the focus is entirely on the fair proper. Although Gorny & Mosch usually coordinate their auction with the date of the Numismata and Künker offered a viewing of auction lots, auction sales are not given priority at the Numismata. There is no lecture program and certainly no exhibition. The Numismata solely relies on the contact between collectors and dealers.

At the Heart of Europe: The Most Important Coin Show for Classical Numismatics

Before Covid, you could always expect to meet the most important American coin dealers at the Numismata. And there were also quite a lot of Asian colleagues. Not this time. Except for a few private visitors, all exhibitors and customers came from Europe, from the whole of Europe to be precise – from the far north to the very south. French and Italian collectors love the Numismata anyway, and the fair is virtually a must for Germany’s neighbouring countries to the east.

Even a journalist of the German Focus Online magazine, probably not so familiar with the numismatic world at all, noticed that Munich is rather a meeting point for lovers of classical numismatics. He contrasted helpless and naive pensioners who spend their money on overpriced commemorative coins via tele-marketing with the competent coin collectors you meet at Numismata.

However, the journalist is wrong about one thing: It’s not “mostly old men with thick glasses, holding books with titles such as ‘Coins of the Roman Imperial Period’” who attend the coin fair. On the contrary, this year, there were many young visitors, too. Even families with children, and it is great to see that there are many young faces among the coin dealers as well.

Of course: Visitors to coin shows will never have an average age that is comparable to that of events such as the Comic Con. Visitors neither wear colourful customs nor suits and ties. And serious collectors prefer books over smartphones. But no, their glasses are not thicker than the European average. And the public has not become older but younger since Covid.

A Lack of Mints

However, the journalist is right about one thing: there were hardly any mints at the Numismata and comparatively few modern commemorative coins. Only the Austrian Mint had their usual booth and apparently enjoyed good business. Many collectors looked in vain for the Münze Deutschland (German Mint), which refrained from attending Numismata just like Swissmint although both had been regular exhibitors in the years before the pandemic. We gladly sent those who asked for them at the CoinsWeekly booth to the Vatican mint as a substitute, as this mint had come to the Numismata for the first time and had brought an extensive offer.

Right by the Entrance: The CoinsWeekly Booth with Photo Wall

In general, many visitors stopped by the CoinsWeekly booth to ask questions. And even more came just to say “Hello”. We were very happy about the great feedback we received from our readers. It is always good to hear that the work we do at our offices in Lörrach is appreciated all over the world.

A special attraction was our photo wall, where many visitors took a picture with their loved ones to remember a very special Numismata.

The Numismata team can be proud of this fantastic event! Photo: Peter Kopitz.

It was truly a very special Numismata. And perhaps the visitors will say in a few years: “Do you remember the first Numismata after Covid? What? You weren’t there? You really should have seen it.”


If you want to see some live podcasts and more pictures of the Numismata, take a look at our event website.

And if you had your picture taken at our photo wall, you can find a link on the website where you can download all your pictures.