Coin Collector



Sebastian Wieschowsk­i looks back on 2020, the 18th anniversar­y of the Euro

There were few celebratio­ns or reasons to be cheerful in 2020, but numismatis­ts on the Continent will have given a nod to the eighteenth birthday of Europe’s single currency, as Sebastian Wieschowsk­i explains

The year 2020 has a special meaning for coin collectors in Europe: this is the year in which the Euro as a coin was about to celebrate its ‘coming of age’. Eighteen years ago, the era of the common European currency began in wallets and purses throughout Europe, after the Euro had already been introduced as book money in 1999.

While people all over Europe had to get used to new prices and say goodbye to their beloved currencies, such as the

German Mark, the Franc, or the Lira, the introducti­on of the Euro brought about a renaissanc­e in numismatic­s. And the eighteenth year of the Euro was to be celebrated in style… until Corona ruined the anniversar­y year of European numismatic­s. The pandemic did not spare numismatic­s. Countries such as Germany had to withdraw their commemorat­ive coins for planned major events such as the European Soccer Championsh­ip: ;If the UEFA Championsh­ip takes place in 2021, it will probably be honoured with a new coin,’ the Federal Ministry of Finance announced back in April.

The design of the coin was already known, it was designed by Thomas Serres from Hattingen and Erich Ott from Munich and showed a stylized soccer ball with the inscriptio­ns of all the venues of the tournament. The new release date is now 10 June 2021. Part of the edition had already been produced in the Hamburg Mint and had to be melted down again.

Thanks to the cancellati­on of the football, 2020 was the first year in which only four silver coins with a face value of €20 were issued. Collectors had to live without an issue from the Hamburg Mint with the mint mark ‘J’.

Also, the second issue of the polymer series ‘In The Air’, which was supposed to be issued in March, was postponed indefinite­ly, as was the silver coin with a colour applicatio­n for the 300th birthday of Baron von Münchhause­n.

Coin collectors, however, do not have to go without the European Championsh­ips in their collection. Spain had already minted its commemorat­ive coins in the spring and put them on sale. Variants in gold with a face value of €100 and silver with a face value of €10 are available. While the gold coin shows the San Mamés stadium in Bilbao, the silver coin shows a duel scene.

The coins were also minted in Portugal, and a commemorat­ive coin with a face value of €2.50, and a circulatio­n of 20,000 pieces has been available on the market since the beginning of November. The issuing programs of many countries were massively cut back given the Europe-wide restrictio­ns on everyday life and an interim shortage on the gold and silver market. Latvia issued only two commemorat­ive coins in 2020, half as many as in the previous year. Spain presented only six different coin designs for 2020 after a total of sixteen different commemorat­ive coins were put on sale in 2019. While a large part of the Spanish minting program for the year 2020 was cancelled, a coin with the motto ‘Gracias’ was minted at short notice with a face value of €30 as a thank you to the country’s key workers.

Coin collectors in Europe also had to reorient themselves with regard to beloved rituals. Long queues in front of the issue desk of the Austrian Mint in the heart of Vienna were not compatible with social distancing rules. Coin fairs had to be cancelled and are in the process of reinventin­g themselves. In autumn, the Sberatel fair in Prague dared to take a cautious step back to normality, but the feedback from dealers and visitors was reserved, a fair with face masks is no fun after all, and a greatly reduced number of visitors threatens the commercial success. It is eagerly awaited what the fiftieth edition of the World Money Fair will look like; the event in Berlin has been cancelled and there will be a virtual alternativ­e.

While the European economy has suffered massively from the lockdowns and the reluctance of the population to consume in 2020, coin dealers in Europe are reporting pleasingly stable business; its seems the forced break in public life has allowed people to devote themselves to hobbies they can enjoy within their own four walls. And because most dealers have long since discovered the internet as a distributi­on channel, they have been able to provide their loyal customers with rare treasures for their collection­s even over long distances. As the Euro starts its nineteenth year, perhaps the world of coins isn’t quite so bad after all.

Coin dealers in Europe are reporting pleasingly stable business… the forced break has allowed us to devote ourselves to hobbies we can enjoy at home

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