Welcome to my "Madrid Stamp and Coin Fair" description page, for photos & videos of this event click --> HERE.
Don't let the name fool you for you will find a lot more here than just stamps and coins. Today's Plaza Mayor of Madrid (Main Square) is one of the major showplaces of the city and one of the most traditional events that takes place regularly there is the "Feria de Filatelía" (Stamp and Coin Fair). This weekly Sunday morning (9am to 2pm) spectacle attracts both tourist, long term visitors to Madrid (Ex-Pats so to speak) and resident "Madrileños" and Spaniards alike. I personally got the low down on the fair after having visited it many times and watching it from my bacony on an uncountable number of Sundays, so here it is.
The fair began as a very humble reunion of stamp and coin collectors in the early 1930s, mostly a male dominated tradition, the gentlemen would gather in the Plaza, both around the statue of Felipe III and under the 114 arches and columns that adorn the Plaza's circumference and trade, buy and sell their collectibles (stamps, coins, bills, etc). Well, the story goes that one of these traders suggested that they bring tables to the Plaza and make the fair "official", a big event! The idea went over well with the rest and said gentleman began to rent the tables on Sundays and the traders set up (although a primitive version) the stands that we find today. These days, on any given Sunday morning, if you are early enough (or if you tune into my live PlazaCam) you can observe the trucks that drop off the tables and chairs in the Plaza Mayor as the traders gather around to collect and set up their individual stands.
At the fair you can find stamps (both Spanish and international, old and new), coins and bills from all over the world dating from the Visigoths and Romans to this years collectors sets, metalic soldiers and war machines, old postcards from Spain and all over the world, deeds and antique insurance writes, etc... One of the more popular items these days amongst the regulars are the pre-paid telephone cards and there is a huge variety of both national (Spain) and international cards from other countries. Not just anyone can have a stand here, the vendors/traders have permission to sell and trade at the fair and many of them have been at it for years, some stands are even passed down from generation to generation. Most of the stand owners do not have stores but a few do and they can be found in and around the side streets leading into the Plaza Mayor.
You can still see the origins of the fair on any give Sunday, the older gentlemen who do not actually have stands but instead gather in the center of the Plaza and trade, buy and sell directly from each other. There are a few photos of this tradition on my Photo Pages of this event.
As for the authenticity of the goods traded and sold, I have it on good word that you can trust 99.9% of the stands. I was however told that there is one trader who sells fake coins, bills and anything he can get his hands on. Most of the stand owners only accept pesetas (soon to be Euros) as payment for goods but there are a few stands that will take almost any form of currency (at a slightly higher price of course), so come as you are if you do not have time to change money.
The fair is pretty safe as far as pickpockets go (it is not the Rastro) but as in any place, use your travel smarts and watch your money and valuables (ie. don't put your camera down on a table to examine a coin more closely).
For more coin and stamp action, see also my photos on the National Stamp Fair by clicking HERE.