International fair expected to attract thousands of collectors, hobbyists

Collectors’ Fair 2009, photo:

This Thursday will see the launch of the 13th annual Collectors’ Fair in Prague’s Letňany, the largest such event in Central and Eastern Europe. Over three days an estimated 12,000 visitors will be able to view exhibits and items from traditional coins and stamps to objects more curious, such as the largest collection of air sickness bags or a new comic book stamp to be issued by Czech Post.

Jindřich Jirásek
Earlier I spoke to the head of the fair, Jindřich Jirásek, and asked him how many exhibitors were taking part:

“This year there are more than 240 exhibitors from around Europe: dealers of coins, gold, medals, stamps, minerals, old postcards, minerals and much more. Just about anything that it’s possible to collect. It really is an international event because more than one-third of exhibitors are from abroad: Germany, England, France and so on. Also, around ten percent of visitors come from abroad. They are especially interested in material from here and further east that is rarer: stamps and coins especially.”

By contrast, is there an area that is especially significant for Czechs? My understanding is that an illustrator of the Czech children’s comic book Čtyřlístek will be making an appearance…

Čtyřlístek stamp
“About our visitors - basically, you can group them along three categories: there are those who are there to buy new items to add to or complete their collections; still others want to invest their money in coins, medals and so on, because they know it is a safe investment and better than just leaving their money in the bank; and the third are the casual visitors, families and mothers with children who make their visit a day trip and buy maybe a few small items. We support female collectors and that is why women and children can enter for free. They can also visit accompanying programmes, such as the special launch of the new Čtyřlístek stamp by Czech post.”

Čtyřlístek being much enjoyed by Czech kids because of the animal characters…

“Yes. There are other attractions as well. Other exhibits include a collection of the largest and smallest bonds or even a large collection of air sickness bags.”

Collectors’ Fair 2009,  photo:
Generally speaking, what is it about collecting that attracts so many people?

“You know, it’s very democratic: it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, young or old, you can begin collecting at any age and even with just a small amount of money. What I think is most important about collecting is that you meet people. That is why online auction sites aren’t in competition with our fair: people want to interact with others and share the joy of collecting.”