October 2013 Archives

Arriving at Southern Cross Station in Mlebourne at 9AM on Saturday October 19 I could see the imposing Etihad Stadium across the other side of the railway line. This interesting stadium with a retractable roof usually hosts Australian Rules Football but on the weekend of 18 to 20 October 2013 it was hosting the Melbourne International Coin & Banknote Show. After fortifying myself with a double shot espresso I walked across the footbridge toward the stadium and what I hoped would be the best Australian coin show I'd ever gone to. And I promptly got lost because there were no signs showing where the show was. And no surprise I had trouble because a stadium that holds 50,000 people is BIG. After wandering around the huge edifice for 15 minutes I finally found a solitary A4 sheet taped to a column telling me that the show could be accessed from Gate 9. I found Gate 9, took a lift up to level 2, walked out and this was the view that greeted me. Cool.

The View of Etihad Stadium Upon Entry

I was an hour early to the show and took the opportunity to chat to my fellow attendees who were waiting in line with me. All advised me to buy two of the very limited (300 released) Birth of a Prince PNC's that were being sold by Australia Post. Normally I don't go in for such things but given the recent success of the PNC from the World Stamp Expo I thought it might be an opportunity to help pay for my airline tickets. The show opened at 10AM and the line of about 30 people (myself included) made their way to the Australia Post stand where we all handed over $15.95 each for our alloted 2 PNC's. Yay. As we stampeded (slowly) into the show I happened to notice John Mulhall of the Australian Coin and Banknote Magazine taking pictures of the oncoming horde. So there's some chance (however small) that you'll see a picture of one of the authors of this esteemed blog in an up-coming CAB magazine.

Enough jocularity. Onto the show itself. It was held in the Medallion Club room of Etihad Stadium and one wall of the room was glass opening out to the inside of the stadium giving a spectacular view of the playing field. Awesome. The room itself was kitted out with high quality professional exhibition grade stalls and signage. Certainly a step above the usual grouping of mangy tables and home-made signs we see at a normal ANDA show. Looking behind the glitzy accoutrements the show itself was little different to any other coin show held in Australia in recent years. Sure, there were a few international exhibitors I've never seen before but these were purveyors of mint product (Royal Mail and the Royal Canadian Mint) or sellers of bullion product (Coin Invest Trust). PCGS Asia had a table (and some cool freebies) but given that we are already converted to the gospel of PCGS we are not exactly their target market. And the RAM showed up with their portable press unlike the last 2013 ANDA Show in Melbourne. The press was putting M counterstamps on 2013 holey dollar and dump dollar coins. But other than that it was the usual suspects. But kudos to those usual suspects for showing up and having a go!

The View from Inside the Show

Exhibitors I spent some time with included Drake Sterling, Pacific Rim Coins, VP Coins, Peter Strich Coins and Stamps, Universal Coin Company, Steel Waterman Coins and Banknotes, JPW Coins and Banknotes, Global Coins and Banknotes, and John Eccles of New Zealand. Special mention must go to the ebullient Klaus Ford with whom I spent some time with discussing the meaning of the word ebullient! I also spoke with the volunteers in the ANDA information booth who were very cheerful even if (I believe) some of the volunteers were there not entirely voluntarily. The people at the RAM stand were as helpful as ever and thanks to Guy, the operator of the portable press who let me take the image below. Apologies to those I didn't visit (or perhaps they are lucky I didn't) who included Tony James Banknotes, the Silver and Gold Stackers stands, the Perth Mint, and the previously mentioned Royal Mail and Canadian Mint.

The RAM Portable Press and Operator, Guy

I only had a few hours to spend at the show so was rushing around looking through dealers books trying to find some nice coins to make the trip worthwhile. There were a lot of people I didn't talk to that I wanted to, and more people who I wanted to talk to longer. I was expecting more from the show and left feeling vaguely disappointed with both the dealers who were present and the numismatic material that was on display. Mainly because I'd seen so much of it before. Perhaps next year the show organisers may be able to attract some dealers from the USA or the UK. I, for one, would love to see a quantity of material that was fresh to the country. So let's hope the Inaugural Melbourne International Coin & Banknote Show has a sequel.

The Royal Mint Stand

Coinex 2013 Show Report

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The UK's Premier 35th International Numismatic Show
Organized by the British Numismatic Trade Association Ltd

Coinex Venue in Mayfair, London

Guest blogger and gold sovereign dealer Eric Eigner, from Drake Sterling Numismatics, was in the United Kingdom last month for London's largest coin show. Like last year's show, the Coinex Coin Show 2013 was not to be missed. Eric is still overseas attending various coin-related events at the moment, but had the chance to type up a report of the show last night. We've published a copy of his show report below.

Coinex 2013 at the Millennium Hotel

Like London itself, the Coinex Coin Show, held in the Kingdom's capital each September, was a hive of activity. Although the sky the morning of the show was full of clouds, not one of the clouds was grey, which was good weather by London's standards. Meanwhile, not far away on Oxford St, I bumped into a collector friend who told me that the line at the door of the show, where they were selling tickets, was one of the longest he had ever seen. I frowned. If you're looking to pick up bargains at a coin show, as I was, long lines are a bad sign. Fortunately, the line wasn't as long as I had expected. I paid the ??5 entry fee, and was inside within two minutes.

The show is held in the main ballroom of the Millennium Hotel, Mayfair. If fact, that's not correct. The show is held in the ballroom and the large marble-floored anteroom that leads into the ballroom. Having only attended the show the last two years, I get the impression that the show must have begun as a much smaller event in the main chamber, only to expand into the columned entrance hall as the years progressed.

Before I could even approach a table, I bumped into a dealer friend who owed me some coins. Amongst them was the single-finest graded 1911 proof sovereign, graded PCGS PR67DCAM. The coin was a screamer, and after a quick examination of the coin (and after recapturing my breath), I wandered over to the stall from Coin News, whose monthly magazine is eagerly read by thousands of collectors worldwide. I'm always keen to see how much numismatic magazine readership has expanded, so I asked about how their subscriptions were going. The staff there confirmed that online subscriptions were booming, with new subscribers being signed up all over the world, from Mongolia to Australia. The sun never set on the British Empire. It seemed the sun never set on Coin News either.

Unlike Australian coin shows, there is wide variety of world dealers at the English shows. Coinex was no exception, and I met a number of dealers from continental Europe and a dealer from the United States -and that was just in the anteroom. The range on display there was broad, with everything for sale from English proof long sets (all sets after 1887 were represented) to Egyptian burial figurines and jewellery (ancient and contemporary). Of particular interest was what appeared to be a 1917 London sovereign sitting unpretentiously with no label or price in a display tray of one dealer. (This great rarity is worth at least US$20,000 in Mint State.) Even before I had noticed the date, the colour of the coin seemed wrong, so when I asked the dealer about it, his first question to me was "What do you think about it?". We both agreed that the coin was sadly a jeweller's copy.

The Main Ballroom

In the main ballroom, which was as large as two basketball courts and just as loud, the bulk of the dealers had their tables. My first stop was KB Coins, who always has a decent range of gold coins on sale, including gold sovereigns, two, and five pound pieces, which I have a particular interest in. I had seen them last May at the Birmingham Coin Show, and the staff there seemed very positive about the Coinex show, as well as the London Coin Fair, which was going to be held the following month.

As I examined the display at the Spink table, I bumped into a familiar face from home. Joe Dettling, from M. R. Roberts, Sydney, had also flown up to Europe for the Coinex, as well as a few other coin-related events. He was in a good mood, but commented about how strong coin prices in London tended to be (both at auction and at the coin shows). As I looked at bullion-grade sovereigns priced at about 50% over spot in one display cabinet, I had to agree with him. If there were bargains to be had, I could not find them.

Paul Davies, one of England's largest gold dealers, was also present, and his range of sovereigns never fails to disappoint. I was after a 1937 proof sovereign for stock that would grade up well, but sadly, the 1937 sovereigns he had available were all of a lower quality. Paul gave me the impression that the higher-quality coins did not make it to the coin shows and were sold off long before they could appear on dealers' tables or price lists.

Over at the Baldwin's table, Director Steve Hill pulled out a tray of wonderful Victoria and later sovereigns. There was a good range, including the rare 1859 Ansell Sovereign in NGC MS62 (retails over $20,000). I managed to pick up a few scarcer Mint State later-date sovereigns which would grade up well with PCGS.

Overall, the general sentiment was positive. A lot of dealers professed to being exhausted by the end of the first day, but, it seemed no amount of exhaustion was going to talk them out of coming to the next show in 2014.

Eric from Drake Sterling Numismatics Browsing for Coins

2013 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Dollar

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Australia 2013 60th Anniversary of the Korean War $1

It's now 60 years since the Korean War armistice was signed. A special day of remembrance is held annually on United Nations Day, Thursday 24th October with a special service held at the Australian National Korean War Memorial on Anzac Parade, Canberra. To commemorate this auspicious occasion, the Royal Australian Mint has produced two $1 coins, in aluminium bronze and fine silver proof. In 2003 the 50th Anniversary was commemorated with a similar 1 dollar coin release.

Even though the Korean War is often called the "Forgotten War" (mostly because World War II, Vietnam and Desert Storm wars take the limelight) we should still remember and pay homage to the "17,000 Australian sailors, solders and airmen who served; 358 Australians who died (340 in battle, the majority buried at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery, Busan, Korea; 18 killed whilst serving in Korea after the war; 1,216 wounded; 29 prisoners of war; and 43 still listed as missing in action".

It's also referred to as the "Korean Conflict" as neither side ever declared war - the North just invaded the South. Nor has this war really ended - the Korean Armistice Agreement was a "ceasefire" with both sides agreeing to end "all acts of armed force" until a "final peaceful settlement" was found. They're obviously still looking ....
A few interesting facts have arisen out of the Korean War:

It's the last time that Australian volunteers were called for an overseas military intervention.

The Korean War saw the rise to prominence of Australia's first Indigenous commissioned officer - Reg Saunders of Portland, Western Victoria.

Australian war correspondent, Wilfred Burchett was accused of treason because he wrote about the war from the North's side of the front.

During this war, the helicopter was used in warfare for the first time. It was also the war in which jet airplanes saw widespread use for the first time, replacing propeller-driven aircraft with P-80 Shooting Stars and Soviet MiG-15's.

The 38th Parallel, the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea today and a no man's land, was first proposed in 1896 by the Japanese government (who controlled the South) to the Russian government (who controlled the North).

The 38th Parallel because of it's isolation, has been recognized as one of the most well-preserved temperate habitats in the world, despite heavily fortified fences and landmines. This area is home to several endangered animals, namely the red-crowned & white-naped cranes, Korean tiger, Amur leopard and Asiatic black bear.

The world-renowned television series M*A*S*H produced during the Vietnam War, follows a team of field doctors and support staff of the "4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital" during the Korean War (based on the 1968 novel "MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors" by Richard Hooker). The series' clever script writing was able to make comparisons and commentary about the futility of war without actually protesting about war - groundbreaking television for it's time.

The 25 millimetre $1 NCLT (non-circulating legal tender) 60th Anniversary Korean War coin has been minted in two coin choices:

1) In uncirculated aluminium bronze, with an unique 60th Anniversary of the Korean War display package; retailing at $13.50. This issue weighs 9 grams and has the same specifications as a dollar coin you'd find in your change. The mintage of this coin will be determined by collector demand, see the 2013 1 dollar issues and mintages table for the most up to date mintage numbers.

2) In proof fine silver, with a unique boxed presentation, retailing at $55.00. Because of the differing composition in .999 fine silver this coin weighs 11.66g. It's mintage is capped at 5,000 coins.

The reverse design by Aaron Baggio depicts a dove in flight, with the word 'peace' in Korean, with the obverse portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley. Interestingly the coins denomination 'one dollar' appears on the obverse of the coin on this issue.

Adelaide Coin and Stamp Show

The weekend of October 12 and 13 saw a Stamp show held in Adelaide that was a hive of activity for coin collectors too. Amongst the tables of stamp dealers and stamp collectors it was a surprise to see so much interest in coins. Canberra dealer Leo Jakimow mixes stamps with coins as does Gerry McGinley from At the Toss of a Coin and Cover Connection. Specialised coin sellers such as The Purple Penny and Ye Olde Coin Co attended as well as Barrie Newman from The Adelaide Mint and displays from the Numismatic Society of South Australia. Numismatics aside the show offered a host of Stamp dealers and a stamp auction each day to fill in the time. There were also philatelic exhibits for browsing. Australia Post was in attendance doing something stamp/postmark related which we can't report on -our apologies there for not being stamp minded. Special Congress souvenirs including overprints and special cancellations were also available. There was also a surprising interest in postcards.

The Adelaide Mint

All this was held in the Drill Hall, at the Torrens Parade Ground in Adelaide city -the historical place where we saw off our troops to the Boer War, First and Second World Wars. Even though it's right in the city there's plenty of free parking and ample lighting inside for an event such as a stamp show. My comments to show organisers after the show was that it be renamed a stamp and coin show because of the increased interest by coin collectors teaming with the stampies for this occasion. Not having any dedicated coin shows here in Adelaide and very few ANDA events it was a show we had looked forward to.

The two days flew by and hosted by the Philatelic Society of South Australia their 125th Anniversary event was very successful. The free entry to show visitors was also well received and at a $30 a table fee the cost to be part of the event was very affordable. Named the "SAPC State Congress" for 2013 such a grand name didn't immediately leap out as "Adelaide Coin and Stamp Show -come on down" but collectors did and a grand show was had by all.

Numismatic Society of South Australia Members Medallion Display

2013 Fine Silver Proof Hawthorn Premiers 1 Dollar Coin - Image Courtesy Royal Australian Mint

On Saturday the 28th of September 2013 the Hawthorn Football Club defeated the Fremantle Football Club by 15 points to win the grand final and take out the 2013 AFL Premiership. The Royal Australian Mint is releasing a series of coins to celebrate the Hawks win as they did in 2012 with the Sydney Swans Premiership dollar coins. Last year the RAM released two different types of aluminium bronze 1 dollar coins, one in a PNC and one in a collector card.

While we're not exactly sure what the RAM is doing this year they've just released news that there will be a 1 Oz Fine Silver 2013 Premiers Dollar Coin available. You can see an image of this coin above. There's just going to be 5000 of these coins released and they will not be available until mid-November. Given the popularity of some of these limited silver coin releases this year you may find it tough to get one of these into your collection if you do not order early.

There's also a standard size aluminium-bronze 25mm 2013 $1 Hawthorn Premiers coin being released in mid-November riding on the the success of the 2012 Swans $1. We'll assume for now that this coin is going to be available in a collectors card and not in a PNC just yet. No doubt Australia Post and the RAM will collaborate on a PNC which should be available in the up-coming months. Stay tuned for further news.

Australia 2013 Fifty Years of the Bathurst Endurance Race 50c

Mention Bathurst, NSW and the first thing to pop into your mind is undoubtedly the Bathurst 1000 kilometre endurance race at Mount Panorama, now celebrating 50 years of motor sports racing and fondly referred to as "The Great Race", the highlight of the V8 Supercars calendar and worthy of a special release commemorative coin from the Royal Australian Mint.

It was the vision of Bathurst Mayor Martin Griffin to develop a first-class professional racing circuit and on 17th March 1938, he opened the Mount Panorama Scenic Drive, which became the venue for the 1938 Australian Grand Prix attracting 20,000 visitors - an amazing feat considering Australia was still suffering from the fallout of the Great Depression.

Since then, Bathurst has held the Australian Grand Prix an additional three times (1947, 1952 and 1958), as well as being the home of the Australian motorcycle Grand Prix from 1984 to 1987 and a variety of other sports competitions.

The Bathurst 1000 Endurance Race actually began it's life as the Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Victoria in 1960. This race was specifically developed for Australian made or standard-assembled production cars. What was undoubtedly the forerunner of modern advertising norms, the shock absorber manufacturer Armstrong York Engineering became a sponsor with the sole intent to increase it's business with major car manufacturers - in particular, Ford and Holden. And so the rivalry began ....

However, in 1963 when the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit was declared too damaged for professional racing, the Armstrong 500 moved to Bathurst, NSW, under the management of the newly formed Australian Racing Drivers Club. In keeping with the race rules that racing cars had to be identical to those cars found on Australian car sales showroom floors, the race became famous by showcasing car manufacturers products.

The early races were won predominantly by small cars such as the Ford Cortina GT 500 and the Mini Cooper - they were economical on brakes, used less fuel and handled corners beautifully. So when a minimum number of pit stops were introduced in 1967, this signaled the beginning of the end to the small car racing advantage; more so when the V8 Ford Falcon GT was introduced, and then later the Holden Monaro GTS. By this stage, the racing rivalry was now amongst the "Big Three - Ford, Holden and Chrysler - leading to the development of "muscle" cars affectionately known as the "Bathurst Specials".

By 1973, the racing distance had been increased from 500 miles to 1,000 kilometres, in keeping with Australia's move to the metric system - the Bathurst 1000 was born.

Besides being a significant factor to the development of the Australian motor car industry, Bathurst has also been the stomping ground for many a racing legend - most notedly, the legendary Peter Brock. Debuting in 1969, he won the Bathurst 1000 nine times, mostly associated with Holden. He was lovingly referred to as "Peter Perfect', "The King of the Mountain" or just "Brocky", and tragically died in a car rally accident in September 2006. The section of the Bathurst track, Brock's Skyline, is named in his honour.

Advertising and sponsorship has been the key in the naming of the 1000 kilometre event with the title changing a number of times over the years. This year for the 50th Anniversary in 2013 the race is named the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. It's also been named the Bob Jane T Marts 1000, FAI 1000, AMP Bathurst 1000, Tooheys 1000 and the James Hardie 1000 just to name a few.

This weekend as you sit back to watch the Great Race with beer in tow cheering as a Holden fan or a Ford fan just remember the tally so far. Holden wins -29, Ford wins -18.

The NCLT (non-circulating legal tender) 50 cent Bathurst Endurance commemorative coin is struck in 2013 for the anniversary of this major Australian sporting event. Struck in cupro-nickel in a dodecagonal shape (12 sided) this uncirculated coin is not issued in any other set or packaging.

The image of a racing car with background mountains is designed by Daniel Neale, with the obverse portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley. It's packaged in a unique Mount Panorama Bathurst Information Card. The 50 years of Bathurst Endurance Racing coin retails at $9, at present with unlimited mintage but to be determined by collector demand.

Australia 2013 Fifty Years of the Bathurst Endurance Race Card (image courtesy www.ramint.gov.au)