COVID lock downs and restrictions have changed how business is done. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the currency conference and auction businesses. With recent re-imposition of lock downs in Europe and the further postponement of the World Money Fair, it is hard to predict when conferences will return to normal or if they will ever return to normal.

World Money Fair | Coin booth at a currency conference |
Source: Numismag

The collectible currency business is similar to most businesses. It is based on person to person relationships. Banknote printers and governments meet at currency conferences to learn about new technologies and to discuss new business. Mints promote their new products and close deals at global numismatic shows. Coin and banknote dealers buy and sell their inventory at exhibitions and strengthen relationships across a wide range of local dealers. Zoom calls seem impersonal and email communication imperfect. At nearly every exhibition you will find buyers and sellers squirreled away in quiet areas, speaking in low voices to each other. Discretion and secrecy are important. How does that work when you have to wear a mask, keep 6 feet apart and have reduced attendance at a show?

Example of banknotes and coins sold by dealers at currency expos
Source: AS

Even auctions have been affected. While Heritage, Spink and other auction houses have built strong internet-based systems, in-person bidding has always been a key part of the auction experience, especially for high value items.

Some Currency Conferences Still Taking Place

Long Beach Expo
Source: LongBeachExpo

There are two shows coming up in the next couple months – The Long Beach Currency Expo and the FUN Show in Florida. Both are still on the calendar. Both have typically drawn very large crowds. One is in California which has had more extreme restrictions. The other is in Florida which never really shut down. I hope these conventions do take place and are great successes. For certain, masks will be required and there will be hand sanitizer stations every few feet. However I expect to see dealers selling to other dealers, and public buyers looking for bargains. 

At least for now, we will all have to be patient and deal with the restrictions put in place. Sooner or later, we will return to some semblance of normality.

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