With the right know-how, you can coin it in

People collect all kinds of things, and most families have an eccentric relative with a weird and wonderful collection of napkins or matchboxes from around the world. Stamps and coins are probably the most popular and timeless items for collectors, as the Copenhagen Coin Fair 2012 will once again bear witness to.

Until the end of the 1800s, coin collecting was the exclusive pastime of the nobility: the hobby of kings. Frederik III’s coin collection can be still seen in the Royal Collection, which is part of the comprehensive coin collection at the National Museum. In modern times it has become a highly popular activity: the king of hobbies. Numismatics really took off in the 1970s as increasing amounts of leisure time led to an explosion in interest, and many local clubs and associations were formed − clubs that still exist today. With the advent of online auction houses, a lot of the fun of trawling Denmark’s small coin and stamp collecting shops in pursuit of that rare coin has been adversely affected – and values have plunged with the focus shifting to banknotes, medals and older coins. However, coin collectors are by no means a dying breed, and on November 3 they are converging on the Radisson Hotel in Frederiksberg for the 2012 Copenhagen Coin Fair.

The fair, which tends to attract over 400 guests, gives the dedicated numismatist a chance to mingle and swap coins and stories with fellow aficionados, while also perusing the exhibitors’ wares. Coin collectors fall into different types, from the just-for-fun casual collector to the commercial buyer looking for a long-term investment. Most fascinating are those who have chosen to narrow the focus of these mystical objects of desire. A complete set of coinage, year by year, for a particular denomination, perhaps a fascination with coins from the Third Reich, or an obsession with the so-called error coins − ones with flaws accidentally made during the minting process. For these people, the value lies not in the coins themselves, but in crowning it all off with the completion of a long-awaited set.

Thirty different stands on the day will provide plenty of variety. From well-known institutions such as The Royal Mint, and auctioneers Bruun Rasmussen, to the other side of the coin represented by smaller dealers hoping to make their mark with their coins lovingly indexed into ring binders. Also in attendance are coin clubs, like the Danish Numismatic Association, now in its 127th year of existence.

Starting your own coin collection is a relatively easy, but potentially addictive affair. Many inherit a coin collection, develop a yen for it and take it from there.

Starting from scratch is also a possibility as even many ancient coins now go for surprisingly affordable prices.

For those interested in Copenhagen coin collections, the impressive collection of more than 500,000 exhibits at the National Museum, Ny Vestergade, is a must-see. But be warned about trying to sell any you find: treasure trove laws dating back to 1241 mean that ‘finders, keepers’ is not the rule for the metal detector enthusiasts. A smaller collection can be found in the confines of Rosenborg Castle, near Nørreport station. Here the collection of the aforementioned Danish king of coins, Frederik III, has found its final resting place. The Royal Mint itself, at Havnegade 5, has a recently opened permanent exhibition in the Foyer of the National Bank, open on weekdays from 9-17. If these whet your appetite for Danish coins, then the website www.danskmoent.dk is the truly amazing online home of Danish currency throughout the ages, complete with photos and information you can only begin to imagine.

Yes, you might spot the odd anorak or two, but numismatists will be in their element at the Copenhagen Coin Fair, for these are people who truly know that money does indeed make the world go around.

Copenhagen Coin Fair
Radisson Blu Falconer Hotel, Falconer Allé 9, Frederiksberg; Saturday 10:00-17:00; tickets: 60kr; www.cphcoinfair.dk