Last 27 January, many intelligence collided on my desk: Gibbons Stamp Monthly's editor-in-chief losing his composure for one sentence (February 2010, page 94), French journalist Pierre Jullien amusing himself with an administrative note and Dominique proposing a numismatic link.
Common point: beside Guy-Michel Crozet, recently former Director of Monaco Office for Postage Stamps Issues (OETP), many philatelic operators and agents are angels of compassion with their prodigous philatelists.
Another common point: how you can create in Monaco one of the rare scene of violence since the Cunning by selling coins.
Because I did not want to run from train to train for only one day on the French Riviera and want to recover from Autumnal leisure expenses, I renounced to discover MonacoPhil, Monaco's prestige exhibition on Saturday 5 December 2010.
Anyway, the event took place on the opening day: Friday 4, 10am: clients rioting. Quite seldom in French philately... yes, some quick paces, but just to avoid waiting for too long at Phil@poste's queue.
Here, the monegasque police was forced to intervene... Damned! And I believed its only role was to protect the five kilometers of borders from rusty cars and ill-fashioned tourists.
Many witnesses are available: Gibbons Stamp Monthly's editor-in-chief and coin collectors in Bulletin numismatique of the Comptoir général financier, a coin dealer.
Very early crowds in front of the Canton Room. Some coin collectors, many coin dealers and much more coin dealers' unofficial employees. Not many stamp collectors, it seems or that fact was not of merit for the coin witnesses. The room was one of the three places of MonacoPhil: the one dedicated to stamp dealers and postal administrations.
Crowds because three thousands uncirculated Monaco euro coins boxes were going to be sold, one thousand per day during MonacoPhil for those who missed them in Spring and not wanting to wait the three thousands more in January 2010.
Rules were announced: you could buy no more than three boxes at 50 euros each (for 3.88 of face value... sigh). But, to do that, you must before have bought 80 euros worth of Monaco postage stamps (or 160 or 240).
Doors were opened and the drama began: the collective or massively speculative wave went through... submerge... may have destroyed... the room to reach OETP-stamps at the furthest corner possible of the room. There, hostesses provided already-packed-80-euro-stamps bags... When these were paid and proofs of purchase given, the first rewent through... fight against... could have beaten... the belated rest of the mass. Their new goal: came back to the entrance where OETP-coin was selling the coin boxes.
Three top... in theory :)
Against a OETP-stamp proof of purchase... in theroy :))
Facing that, the second thousand of boxes were put on sale, perhaps the third one despite they were reserved for the two next days.
Things were not going better: innocent stamp or coin curious children and parents are fighting for their life and breath capability against speculative vampires (I know I should stop reading Twilight) and coin collectors in the terror of discovering they were not alone to have thought of...
The better story, the shorter ones: while mass hysteria was zeroing on OETP-stamps, police forces blocked the entrance. No one can enter, even the Prince. People trying to approach OETP-coin must show proofs of purchase, etc. Outside in the streets, transactions began: Hugh Jefferies of Gibbons testimonied of sums up to 650 euros in the same evening!
Members-readers of the Bulletin numismatique expressed their bad feelings against everyone (OETP, speculators, immigrant workers,...). Yeah, but when you accept to pay 13!!! times more than the face value for, sometimes, speculate yourself with it...
Mass buyers connected with their employees-for-a-day are happy: buy and sale at high prices in a few hours of hundreds of boxes that the Saturday and Sunday visitors would not see.
Certainly, satisfaction of OETP's chief-accountant: forced sale of thousands of euros of unused postage stamps and of thousands of euros in little money change, bearely sufficient to pay a drink in a Monaco café.
Problems rised quickly.
If he may prefer Polar exploration than the daily managing of the fatherly compagny, Prince Albert II (and its Manager of State) certainly had not appreciated this kind of advertissment.
Then, we all know that the vast majority of philatelic magazines rarely express grave negative opinions. It is so shocking to read Hugh Jefferies concluded its report by a suggestion dressed like an order. The Gibbons' booth was next to OETP-coin... "If other show organisers plan a similar promotion in order to bring extra visitors to a philatelic event - they do it away from the main part of the exhibition!" :(
French coin collectors long term solution: more boxes without stamps!
Short term solution: fire someone. As soon as 17 December, following a governmental deliberation on the 9th, replaced recent OETP Director Guy-Michel Crozet by Magali Martini. Certainly, he will keep a low profile somewhere in the Monaco government the time coin collectors forget things.
Shame there seems to be not video footage of these events :'(