„THERE IS NO STOPPING IN IMPROVEMENT” – DENARIUS’ INTERVIEW WITH LÁSZLÓ NUDELMAN
DENARIUS: Like everyone else even the big personalities began somewhere, sometime. When were you first ’caught’ by the charm of numismatics and what was your first collector’s trend?
László Nudelman: I have been dealing with coin collecting since I was 14 years old. Initially the coins of the Árpád Dynasty had attracted me mostly and subsequently I changed my mind and started to collect groats, of which I managed to create a unique compilation that is in the collection of the Hungarian National Bank now.
DENARIUS: The first ’Nudelman’ auction took place 15 years ago. You almost burst in the market of numismatics both with the numismatic material and the high quality catalogue. There had to be a lot of work behind the auction. What were the first reactions of the Hungarian numismatic society for your auction?
László Nudelman: Nearly a year of active preparatory work preceded the first auction. It wasn’t all in vain, as it won the prestigious Auction of the Year Award from the Art Dealers Association of Hungary. It can be said that the catalogue of the auction has become a work of reference in professional circles, and nowadays it is almost unobtainable.
DENARIUS: Nearly ten years had to pass until your next auction, but I think it was worth to wait, because both the catalogue and the material were fantastic. What caused that long break?
László Nudelman: At the first auction I had pretty high standards. Keeping up a high standard is at least as hard work (if not harder) as setting up a standard. For me quality is always more important than quantity. The fundament of my auction is mostly a base collection. It took such a long time until an acceptable material was compiled.
DENARIUS: Your fifth auction catalogue has become nearly a reference work. I think that an auction compiled of test mounts was novelty and not only on the Hungarian numismatic market. This auction put these coins in the focus of attention in many countries. What is your opinion about that?
László Nudelman: The purpose of the fifth auction was reference work. And it had the desired success, since the results of the auction caught the attention of the international profession as well, and the publication became a recognized subject catalogue. This auction diverted the attention of collectors and dealers towards the modern times coins. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that since then they have become very popular among collectors.
DENARIUS: When will the next, 9th Nudelman auction take place and what can we expect from it?
László Nudelman: The next 9th-11th auction will take place between 11-13 of June. On the first day of the three-day auction series it is expected that we start with the Hungarian material, following this there will be a unique antique collection under the hammer, and finally a systematic Hungarian award collection will be auctioned, which covers the period of the 19th-20ieth century. We hope that the following auctions will be as successful as the previous ones.
DENARIUS: I think I am not exaggerating when I say that what you have achieved in the field of numismatics is the top. Do you think there is still room for improvement, or is there anything else that you are trying to achieve in the field of numismatics?
László Nudelman: Thank you for your appreciation. I think there is no stopping in development, in progress – the only limit is life. In the future first of all I should like to finish and publish my ongoing works on this special subject: publications about the Medieval Hungarian gold forints, the money and counterfeits of Transylvania, the book draft with the work title of Proof Pound – Fantasy Pound – Restrike, and last but not least I should like to finish and - after the introduction of the Euro in Hungary - to publish my work on the forint system. The base of that latter volume has been substantially completed with the catalogue of the fifth auction – only the post-2008 data should be added to it.
DENARIUS: Following with attention your auctions and the ones in the West the price of the good quality coins goes up to the starry sky. What do you think is causing this rapid increase in prices and really the sky’s the limit?
László Nudelman: Yes, this is true. Probably this phenomenon is caused by that as an outcome of the crisis the financial and market uncertainty many investors attention has turned towards blue chip. In the near future it will be decided whether it will have or can have a limit.
DENARIUS: A lot of numismatists, especially those who have not tasted numismatics so long ago focus on only the ‘big’ coins. I think slowly we forget about the ’small’ coins (denarius, obol, parvus, quarter…). As a businessman, this is certainly good, but what do you think about this as a numismatist?
László Nudelman: The collection structure has been changed, this situation must be handled as a fact and it is difficult to do anything about it. Unfortunately the collection of „minors” is currently in a disadvantaged situation probably its reason is that it requires much more contemplation, time, patience and expertise than other, well catalogued areas.
DENARIUS: Fortunately here, in Slovakia the numismatic activity has also started. There are more and more numismatic actions, and there are more and more new and serious numismatists. Can you feel it in your auctions as well?
László Nudelman: Yes, it can be really stated, that nowadays the collectors in Slovakia and the Czech Republic are in such a financial position, that their presence on the international market cannot be dispensed with.
DENARIUS: In recent years it has become ’trendy’ to invest in numismatics. Many of the ’investors’ are not interested in numismatics, only the spending of money and profit. What is your opinion about it?
László Nudelman: There is some truth in it, but the overall situation is perhaps not so bad. It is not necessarily about the profit but rather the security. If somebody pays a huge amount of money to collect on a certain area – understandably – he wants to know it is in a safe place on a longer or shorter term. And the collection of numismatic items is appropriate for this.
DENARIUS: If we have already put aside the ’numismatic ethics’ and just look at the investment. What do you think it is worth investing?
László Nudelman: The market will decide this. Contemporary trends show that there is a priority of modern gold coins, the especially rare age-groups, and gold coins of historical eras, taler denominations, and naturally comprehensively the particularly nice condition.
DENARIUS: As for the Hungarian numismatics. The books of Lajos Huszár and Emil Unger are considered to be standard works, but are slowly disappearing from the market and almost unattainable for the young numismatists. Don’t you think it’s time for a new and serious numismatic catalogue which would deal with all the Hungarian government minted coins from Stephen I to Franz Joseph?
László Nudelman: Yes, as I have previously mentioned I have been working on this stop-gap almost for ten years. I hope I can succeed to finish these books in the coming years and they’ll get to the shelves of those who are interested in.
DENARIUS: Finally, I would like to thank you this meaningful interview. What message would you send to the readers of the DENARIUS Numismatic Magazine?
László Nudelman: Thank you for the opportunity. I wish a successful professionally productive year to the readers of Denarius and naturally everyone is welcome at our auctions in May.