Jump to content

The Celator

299 files

  1. Vol 03 No. 11 November 1989

    London is a fascinating city, with a rich history and superb monuments to the history and culture of world civilizations. It takes very little justification to precipitate (pun intended) a visit there, but perhaps the best excuse is the annual fall COINEX show.
    Every year, numismatists from all over the world descend on the city for nearly two weeks of virtually non-stop action including auctions, shows, markets, meetings and just good times. Just as an example, let me briefly mention some highlights from my own personal experiences on this year's trip.
    The flight to London takes about six or seven hours, but their clock is five or six hours ahead of ours so that an evening departure actually puts you into London the next morning. Arriving on Saturday, I checked into the modest but comfortable English hotel (£38 double, with full breakfast) which Bill Spengler and I shared a room in. We spent the remainder of that day at a local outdoor market which featured antiques, works of art and even a few ancient coins.
    Dinners are a real treat in London and one can choose from a truly international array of small quaint restaurants. We sampled Greek, Italian, Indian, British, and even a couple of good old American fast-food meals.
    Sunday was a lazy day, spent mostly at the British Museum admiring for the Nth time the magnificent treasures under that roof. Monday was auction day at Glendining's with a sale both in the morning and afternoon, and that evening Victor England hosted a birthday celebration for Andy -Singer complete with home cooked (by Vic himself) spaghetti and an ample supply of the fruit of the vine.
    The remainder of the week was filled with the Pre-Coinex show, the Spink auction, more research at the BM, Coinex itself, and a visit to a local book fair. We met many new friends and shared interests and experiences with some of Britain's foremost numismatists.
    On Sunday we were invited-to the home of Bob and Hilda Senior, who actually live in a Victorian castle (their son Ben refers to it as only a 'stately home') near Glastonbury, about two hours south of London by train. Bob is a coin dealer specializing in Indo Scythian coins. The experience was unforgettable and the hospitality beyond description.
    The week passed so quickly that it seemed only a weekend, but with plenty of work waiting at home it was time to say farewell to London on Monday. We're already looking forward to next year!
    One of the memorable things about Britain is its institutions. but we should not forget that we have some important institutions of our own here in America. One of the oldest and most respected among numismatists is the American Numismatic Society. Headquartered in New York City. the society maintains a major collection of coins and medals from all ages but is especially rich in coins from antiquity. Much of the scholarly numismatic research that has been done in this country has relied upon the collection and library of the ANS. Membership in the ANS is essential for anyone harboring more than a casual interest in ancient coins. Included as an insert in this month's issue is a brochure explaining the society and its benefits. We highly recommend membership.
    As we announced last month. the "Best of The Celator-1989" will be coming soon. Rather than introduce it December 1 as we did last year, we are planning a January 1 release date for the card cover, magazine format. issue. That will allow us to include some of the articles from the end of year issues. The price will be $6.95 postpaid, up $1 from last year due to postage and printing cost increases. 1be good news, however. is that it will be better than ever and something you'll want to keep as a part of your numismatic library.
    As predicted, the activity in ancient numismatics has increased as the leaves begin to turn color and we are in for an exciting fall and winter season. Much has been said about the lack of "interesting" material currently in the market What that really means is that there are not many very rare or very artistic coins in top grade being offered. For most collectors that actually means very little. Interesting does not necessarily imply expensive. as Simon Bendall so aptly pointed out last month. There are all kinds of interesting coins floating around between dealers. collectors. and miscellaneous sources.
    Thanks to all those readers who have written this month. your comments and views are appreciated. It is inevitable that people will not agree on every issue - we give you our point of view. why not write in and give us yours?
     
     

    44 downloads

    Submitted

  2. Vol 03 No. 12 December 1989

    May the holidays bring you joy and cheer and memories to last throughout the year
    It is paradoxical that in this, our holiday season, which is traditionally a time for expressions of peace and good will, we find it necessary to reflect upon the more sinister side of man.
    The recent robbery and tragic murder of Austrian dealer Ernst Lanz comes on the heels of a year full of crime and misfortune for those engaged in the business of trading in numismatics. Even while the armed robbery was taking place in Graz, Austria, California coin dealer Ron Gillio was being kidnapped in London and also relieved of a substantial investment in coins. The story is becoming all too familiar as coin dealers have become the "target of choice" for ne'er do wells and professional thieves.
    The old familiar snatch and run methods are escalating to more direct and personal attacks which inevitably lead to human as well as fiscal disaster, After the Greater NY Show this fall two dealers were robbed as they left the city. The same scenario has been repeated throughout the country as if there were some training camp for potential coin thieves. Break-ins are also on the rise, as Jerry Eisenberg and Simon Bendall will sadly affirm.
    The theft of gold bullion or modem coins may be relatively lucrative since the material is easily fenced, but one must wonder what happens to the ancient coins and antiquities which are stolen? This field is too specialized and the market 100 small for a local thief to "pawn" stolen material. Stolen coins must either be sold as bullion or laundered through some unscrupulous third party.
    We cannot overemphasize the importance of security and common sense in the handling of coins, both for dealers and collectors. Complacency will undoubtedly be rewarded with misfortune. To minimize risk, one should take advantage of the services offered for security at shows; move directly from the show to your destination in the most expeditious manner; and never allow yourself to be separated from your material for even the slightest moment. Distraction is the enemy's greatest weapon. Furthermore, hip pockets are definitely not the place for wallets when you are in the danger zone, as an American dealer was reminded at COINEX this year.
    Whenever possible, travel in pairs or groups. Avoid crowded public transportation. and when using a taxi, look for the driver's permit on the dash, as well as the number of the taxi before putting your bags in the trunk. Believe it or not, some unfortunates have watched their coins ride off into the sunset without them. Ever try describing a taxi to a police investigator? The worst places of all seem to be the check-in counter and security checkpoints at airports. DON'T leave your bags with a porter or set them aside while you search for your ticket! Also, be cautious about placing your bags on a conveyor where you cannot see the other end. Security officials will perform a private search rather than a machine scan if you so request.
    There are many other precautions that one might take, but the best precaution is to be slightly paranoid, BELIEVE that someone is ready to separate you from your assets and use a little common sense to make their job tough, if not impossible. Sometimes, as was the case with Ernst Lanz, there is little you can do to avoid becoming a victim, but you CAN reduce the risk.
    With this issue we wrap up year number three of publication. Next month will be special for us as we celebrate our anniversary with a number of excellent articles as well as the concurrent release of The Best of The Celator - 1989. This past year we have enjoyed some very entertaining and enlightening articles which will be reprinted in the more preservable magazine format. The 1988 edition is still available at $5.95, and the new edition will be available at $6.95, however, for those who wish to have both, the package price will be $10 postpaid.
    We enjoyed meeting a number of readers at Minneapolis and Chicago this month and hope to see many more at the NY International. We'll be on the floor and at the auctions from Friday through Monday. We all have differing opinions. but sharing them makes for better understanding. Write and let us hear your point of view!
     

    42 downloads

    Submitted

  3. Vol 03 No. 2 February 1989

    It has been our good fortune to be able to offer a wide assortment of stimulating feature articles in The Celator. While our stated intent has always been to entertain, we recognize also a need to inform and perhaps harbor a latent desire to educate. It is particularly gratifying when we are able to offer groundbreaking articles like those presented by Stephen Album and the excellent lead article in this issue which is shared with us by Simon Bendall.
    Numismatic scholarship in this century has been somewhat maligned, partly because of the emphasis placed on the technical aspects of the discipline. These studies are seldom entertaining in and of themselves - they are, however, necessary and important to our overall understanding of ancient cultures. Notably, the articles shared with us by Album and Bendall have demonstrated that serious scholarship can, at the same time, be very entertaining. It is our hope to be able to continue and expand this style of numismatic literary convention in the months and years to come. We have received promises of contributions from several other well-known authors and will be proudly sharing their observations in future issues.
    We are constantly striving to improve the appearance of The Celator as well as the content. Some of you will have noticed subtle changes in layout that we introduced in past months. In the coming months we will be experimenting with some new photographic techniques - to better illustrate coins and artifacts - as well as some heavier printing stock to enhance readability and durability. Your comments would be appreciated, since you are the prime beneficiary of these efforts.
    We receive about four or five reports each month from readers who have not received the latest issue. Realistically, five out of 1,300 is not indicative of a serious problem. We do want each of our readers to receive every issue, however, so let us know if you have a problem with delivery and we will forward a replacement. In no case should delivery be delayed past the tenth day of the publication month, and in most cases, readers will receive their copies by the first of the month.
    In anticipation of questions that may be raised over the coming months, we are pleased to announce that Dennis A. Sayles, brother of the publisher, is making his entry into the field of ancient numismatics under the business name "Elysian fields ". A news release is included in this issue.
    We have been asked by several dealers and agencies whether the mailing list of The Celator is for sale or rent. Our policy always has been and remains that the names of subscribers are confidential and will not be released to any other person or agency for any purpose.
    Since this month's "Point of View" has more or less served as a platform for announcements, we would like to put out a call for information about unlisted Turkoman coin types. If you have coins in your collection or know of coins which are not listed in Edhem, BMC, Mitchiner, or Poole we would like to know about them. A rubbing or photo would be especially helpful. Send information or inquiries to The Celator, Box 123, Lodi, WI 53555.
    We will be walking the floor at the Long Beach show on Saturday, February 4, look for us in the Ancients section. Until then, have a relaxing couple of months - curl up in front of the fire with your "Best of The Celator - 1988" (unless you live in Miami, then you can lake it to the beach). Spring promises to bring a lot of excitement as a growing number of collectors scramble for top quality coins at auction. Our readers aren't at all bashful, join the ranks of the outspoken and let us hear your point of view!

    40 downloads

    Submitted

  4. Vol 03 No. 3 March 1989

    In the mailbag this month was an advertising flyer sent to us by Don LeFevre, one of our readers. Written across the top were simply the words "Mr. Sayles: your opinion?". The topic of the flyer was purchasing ancient coins as an investment. Since this column does reflect a personal point of view, it seemed appropriate to answer Mr. LeFevre's question here.
    Before launching into any philosophical discussion of the issue, it should be said that advice. although cheap, is often too freely given. It is flattering to be asked for an opinion. the inference of course is that it might be valued. but in reality, the rules of life are seldom so hard and fast that they can apply to all of us with equability.
    There seems to be, within the fraternity of collectors of ancient coins, a not uncommon distaste for the term Investment as it applies to the hobby. Some of the feelings in this regard may be a product of events past, particularly the events which transformed or ruined (depending on your point of view) the U.S. coin market and U.S. coin collecting in general. Collectors of ancient coins have tended to be very emotional about their acquisitions and protective of their coins. almost as if they were trying to protect and venerate the ancient sources themselves. It somehow rubs us the wrong way when an ancient coin is traded solely as a commodity for speculation. Nevertheless, ancient coins do appreciate in value, as do other fine collectables. Why do we object to investment in ancient coins when the same motivation for acquiring famous paintings fails to stir the emotions? The objection, one suspects, is more emotional than pragmatic. The purchase of ancient coins for investment is not immoral. illegal, dishonorable or necessarily destructive. It is simply a function of free market enterprise.
    Now, back to the flyer from a California firm which prompted this suggests that the entry of Merrill Lynch with Athena Fund II will drive market prices for top quality coins in an upward direction. perhaps significantly. The firm further suggests that the way to beat the rush and cash in on the fallout from this phenomenon is to buy now and buy aggressively. To do so, one may send money to the promoter in a lump sum of $2.500; $5.000; $10.000; or $50.000. Alternately, one may simply send as little as $IOO per month (charge cards accepted for automatic billing). In return, the firm will send the customer bought and paid for coins, apparently of the firm's own choosing. After a four-page dissertation explaining how and why coin prices are going to rise, the promoter caveats that he is not an investment advisor.
    Our opinion is that one should buy ancient coins first and foremost because they spark or satisfy some inner urge other than financial gain. To do this one must obviously choose the coins oneself based on some semi-rational ' approach. If one has a modicum of intelligence. it would make sense to buy coins which are personally stimulating and also have the potential for an increase in value. If one desires only to use ancient coins as a medium for storing and propagating capital, then it is advisable to trust an expert to make the choices. It is nearly impossible to ignore emotion when buying ancient coins. and emotion does not usually make a good bed partner with maximization of profits.
    We do not see a conflict of interest between investors and collectors. What is more important than the type of market is the stability of the market. A collector can get in and out of the market at any price level and still enjoy the hobby as long as there is some reasonable expectation of stability. One should differentiate here between investment and wild speculation; the latter will certainly affect the stability of any market. We do, however, discourage blind purchases for the purpose of investing. The smart investor will know precisely what he or she is going to receive in exchange for the cash-up front. Spending some of that money on books, and less on "hired expertise", pays a double dividend in knowledge while the books keep increasing in value too!
    As we have said many times in the past, it pays to establish a good relationship with a dealer one can trust. But how do I know who to trust? Rely on your instincts; avoid making your first purchase a large investment; understand the return/refund policy (or lack of it); ask others; compare and shop around. Fortunately, there are fewer "problem dealers" in the field of ancient coins than in some other fields of collecting. A collector may obtain information about a dealer from one of the major organizations like I.A.P.N. P.N.G. or A.N.A., but remember these organizations are very limited in their ability to "police the hobby. The old Latin phrase Caveat Emptor still applies.
    Thanks to those who commentated on our new paper stock, we'll be keeping it until something better comes along. We love to get mail, take a minute and let us hear your point of view!
     

    45 downloads

    Submitted

  5. Vol 03 No. 4 April 1989

    Last month we brought you, through Kerry Wetterstrom's article on fakes from the Black Sea area, a sad tale of apparent deception. This month, we see on the front page of another publication a claim to the contrary. The coins are not fakes! At least so says an alternate group with an opposing point of view. While we are certainly not in a position to pass judgement on the authenticity of the coins themselves, we are in a position to comment on the way this issue is being handled.
    The pronouncement of this Black Sea hoard as being spurious was undertaken by dealers who had no vested interest in the pieces themselves. Some had bought the pieces (others had not), but those who had bought them had sufficient recourse to be protected against financial loss. Their "breaking of the story" seems to have been motivated primarily by a sense of responsibility to their customers in particular and the entire hobby on the whole.
    The claim that these pieces are fake was not based upon limited advice, indeed, some of the most knowledgeable and respected numismatists in the world were consulted. The overwhelming consensus was FAKE. Now, it is not impossible for experts to be wrong, nor is it impossible for the consensus to be wrong, but one point must be remembered. A basic premise of buying ancients is that if you don't feel good about the coin - DON'T BUY IT. Forgeries have been around for as long as there have been collectors around, and that we know goes back to at least the third century B.C. and probably earlier. We generally think of contemporary counterfeits as having been struck for commercial use, that is to pass off in trade as genuine. It would not be a great shock to learn someday that counterfeits were also made to pawn off on collectors some 2,000 years ago.
    If some of the world's foremost numismatists "smell a rat", I for one would be hesitant to distrust their judgement. Now that doesn't mean they're right, it simply means that there is no overpowering reason to take the chance. I respect the value of scientific evaluation, and of modem technology, but I also respect the ingenuity of skilled artisans with motivation to deceive. If man can walk on the moon, man can certainly copy effectively something that was made by hand with relatively crude tools.
    The thing that protects us as collectors is that there are so many thousands of types and variations of ancient coins, and so many are found legitimately that counterfeiting becomes impractical except in very specific instances.
    The last thing we need, with a multitude of new collectors entering the hobby, is an incident like this to scare them away. Obviously, the initial purchasers are concerned. It has been estimated that the hoard might consist of some 4,500 pieces. At an average retail price of $300 each that amounts to $1,350,000 - not exactly small change. The potential loss to someone, somewhere, is indeed substantial. For that reason, it is a foregone conclusion that the condemnation will be challenged and rechallenged. That is only fair, but in the meantime, we don't need a rash of public controversy that creates unreasonable doubt in everyone's mind as to the market's ability to deal with this kind of threat. When all is said and done, and the ultimate consensus is reached, let's hear about it. In the meantime, let's keep the haggling out of the hobby.
    On a more positive note, we have a very strong agenda of articles for the coming months. Simon Bendall has entertained and enlightened us again in this issue and Hank Lindgren is sharing with us a chapter from his book Creal Expectations, The Psychology of Money. We'll be running his views on the psychological origin of money in a series of three articles during the upcoming months. Due to a foul-up in our schedule, we are running this month, instead of last mooch as we had planned, a remarkable bit of research by Bob Kutcher which teaches us "more than we ever wanted to know" about the Ides of March. David Hendin's entertaining vignettes about Biblical coins will continue on through the rest of this year. We also have another fine article by Ron Kollgaard, about Greek coins, in the wings as well as one by Colin Pitchfork about Hadrian's coinage at Aelia Capitolina. Larry McKinney will present insights to Seleucid coinage and its symbols, and Eric Kondratieff will share with us his knowledge of the Roman Procurators in Judaea. Of course, Stephen Album's epic about the coins of Islam will be continued as well. Even yours truly will be slipping in an article or two about those fascinating Turkoman bronze coins. And best of all, there's more coming.
    Thanks for all the kind words in our mailbag, and a special thank you to all those who sent in two-year renewals, your confidence makes the sunshine even in a Wisconsin winter. We'll be seeing some of you in Chicago, until then keep in touch with your point of view.

    40 downloads

    Submitted

  6. Vol 04 No. 01 January 1990

    As we go to press, the Archaeological Institute of America is preparing for its 91st annual meeting in Boston. The AlA is an organization which we have faithfully supported and which we have heralded for its contributions to the dissemination of knowledge about the ancient world.
    We have also supported the association's view condemning the plunder and destruction of archaeological sites. We now have serious concerns, however, about the direction the AlA is heading in their effort to preserve cultural resources. Coming before the membership this year is a new proposition affecting the AlA member code of ethics. The proposition states that a member of the AlA will refuse to participate in any way in the trade in antiquities that are derived from illicit excavations and refrain from activities that enhance the commercial value of such objects."
    In the AlA newsletter of November 1989, Clemency Chase Coggins. Co-Chair of the Commitee on Professional Responsibilities blasts the antiquities market stating that "Although it is not apparent to the ordinary purchaser, an ancient object has usually been looted and exported illegally from its country of origin, and the purchase price will help finance continued pillage."
    Coggins further States in the front-page newsletter article titled "On Loving Archaeology" that "Scholarly involvement tends to legitimize the antiquities market but collecting underwrites il ... Lovers of collecting can learn to collect something that is not endangered."
    As a member of the governing board of the AlA, Coggins urges endorsement of the code provisions by all members.
    One must assume that the placement and timing of this article reflects strong support of this position by the AlA hierarchy. In doing so, the AlA has seemingly declared open war on the collecting fraternity. It is incredible that an agency of such public minded spirit could undertake such a misguided, foolhardy, and counterproductive policy.
    In truth, the great museum collections of the world, in places like London, New York, Berlin, Copenhagen, and other collections that have served to illuminate the history of art and culture· were donated by collectors. The archaeologist's spade may have contributed a few study groups or placed certain issues in their proper context, but the great mass of information accumulated over the past three centuries, from the study of ancient coinage, came mainly from collectors.
    To flatly condemn trade in antiquities is an irrational and impractical reaction to an admittedly volatile situation. All of the "source" counties have laws concerning the export of antiquities. it is incumbent upon them to enforce those laws. If customs officials, museum officials, and diplomat's tum their heads in exchange for a gratuity "should we condemn the collector? It is simply not fair to lay the guilt of site destruction upon innocent collectors by inferring that all antiquities were obtained illegally.
    Since it is legal to sell and export antiquities in some "source" countries, how could the collector ascertain the provenience, the date of transfer, and therefore the legality of any particular piece? Is it to be assumed, in every case, that exportation was illegal1 Is the collector guilty until proven innocent? Is the AlA now to assume the role of judge and jury?
    We have previously stated our disagreement with many of the current laws governing the exportation of antiquities, especially from the Middle East, however, we respect the right of those countries to implement and enforce those laws. We feel the matter should be left in their hands and in the hands of the appropriate courts.
    We believe the AlA would be well advised to rethink their position on this matter.
    This issue marks the beginning of our fourth year at The Celator. We sincerely thank all of our readers and advertisers for their loyalty and support. We pledge to do everything in our power toward further improvement in 1990.
    That's it for this month. we enjoyed meeting so many of you in New York and look forward to seeing our California friends at Long Beach. In the meantime. write and let us hear your point of view!
     

    43 downloads

    Submitted

  7. Vol 04 No. 02 February 1990

    In our mailbag this month was a letter from a newcomer to the field of collecting ancient coins. We receive many such letters, with a broad range of questions, but this one raised a point that we feel is too seldom made and too often misunderstood.
    The reader, who preferred to remain anonymous, questioned the difference between the "British" and the "ANA" grading systems and how they relate to published prices. What standard, he asked, does the American dealer follow?
    The question implies that ancient coins may be graded on a clearly definable scale, and that congruity of the scales used will result in a sort of "translatability" in determined value.
    This concept is one which has arisen from the sterile world of modem numismatics, where every machine-made coin is measurable against a preset standard. It is, of course, necessary to be able to grade ancient coins if we are to maintain an orderly market, but the process of grading is much more complex than it is with modem coins.
    There are many conditions that affect the "value" of ancient coins other than the amount of wear exhibited on the coins surface. Since modern coins are rather generic in all other aspects, their grading has become essentially a measurement of wear. If a coin has flaws, the detracting elements are mentioned but the grade is still determined by wear.
    It is ludicrous to apply the same criteria to coins struck over 2,000 years ago, by hand. under great technological disadvantage.
    The main purpose in grading is to be able to affix a price to the graded coin. Therefore, a coin graded Extremely Fine, should command a higher price than one of the same type graded Very Fine. When the reverse is true, the first impulse of the buyer is to question the propriety of the price assigned.
    There are a multitude of factors that influence the desirability of an ancient coin as a collectible. Lack of wear is one of these, but equally important are such elements as surface condition, centering, boldness of the strike, style of the representation, uniformity of the planchet, condition of the metal and others. A coin that grades EF to point of wear may in fact be an ugly coin. Conversely, a coin struck from a superbly executed die may be of less value if important detail is lost to excessive wear.
    As a practical matter, the price of a coin may double with the improvement in condition of just one grade. Does that mean that the ugly EF example is worth twice as much as the lovely but worn VF coin? Not logically, it isn't, and neither is it in practical terms. The appealing coin will undoubtedly outperform the less appealing one.
    In trying to cope with the "grade by wear" mindset, dealers in ancient coins have devised a plethora of descriptors which modify the impact of the grade assigned. One will find such adjectives as superb, choice, good, nice, attractive, appealing, gem, desirable, etc. etc. If a series usually contains recognizable defects, such as weakly struck reverses or poor metal, the cataloguer will often comment that a coin is "typical for the series, or "nice for one of these".
    In reality, the grade does change by series. For· example, a cast Roman Republican bronze graded VF would never stand up to the VF aureus of Septimius Severus in terms of preservation of detail. We become accustomed to seeing coins of a particular type, in the conditions that they are normally found, and within that context grades develop. This of course has nothing to do with price, unless you are trying to compare apples with oranges. What it does have to do with is flexibility and compromise.
    Dealers who grade coins day in and day out will inevitably become more flexible in their grading determinations, perhaps favoring the coin with slightly more wear but nicer in all other respects to that one graded a technical EF. Is that wrong? Is that misleading?
    Moreso than in any other field of numismatics, the buyer of ancient coins is reliant upon the judgement, veracity, and trustworthiness of the dealer. It is impossible to look. up the value of an Athenian tetradrachm in David Sear's catalog and then walk down the aisle of a coin show and pick out the ones that are underpriced or overpriced. The real value of any ancient coin is exactly the amount a knowledgeable buyer is willing to pay for the coin, regardless of grade. This may be dictated by the number of coins of that type available, and the amount a dealer had to pay to obtain an example, but it still boils down to "How much am I, the collector, willing to pay?"
    We regard very highly the reference works which assign relative values to ancient coins. For the most part, they are useful guides. There are, however, too many market and individual coin variations to base one's acquisitions solely on the "values" indicated. We advise collectors to think. about the direction of their pursuits, look for specific items of interest and learn what the market should bear for typical examples. In simple terms, be a smart shopper and don't get caught in the grading trap.
    We sincerely appreciate the feedback: from readers about the articles we have run in recent issues. We repeatedly hear from those claiming to read The Celator from cover to cover and take that as a real compliment these days in which all of us are challenged with so many demands on our time. If you have a spare moment, drop us a line and let us hear your point of view!
     

    40 downloads

    Updated

  8. Vol 04 No. 03 March 1990

    In this month's mailbag was a letter from a long-time reader of The Celator asking the question, "What ever happened to --- magazine?" We omit the name because we are not really sure what has happened to the publication. While the collecting of ancient coins has been a consistently strong pursuit for centuries, the publication of material related to this narrow field has been as unpredictable and erratic as the weather in Wisconsin. Countless attempts have been made to provide a viable periodical, and as many have failed. Not because of any shortcoming on the pan of their organizers, but primarily because of the economic realities. Given the meager circulation of such a specialized publication, it is nearly impossible, without a benefactor, to generate the resources necessary for a quality product to their great credit, many have tried. Just as many have failed.
    It is remarkable to some that The Celator has managed to survive, even thrive, in such a market. In actuality, it is not so remarkable because the publication does have benefactors. The faithful and consistent advertisers, who month after month support this publication, provide an essential base without which the effort would be doomed. A diverse and talented group of contributing authors donate their labors of love and research, foregoing compensation, for all to enjoy and contemplate. We have been fortunate to have had contributions from some of the most prominent numismatists of our time. We have also been able to appreciate simpler expressions of joy, wonderment and satisfaction from newer collectors who want to share their experiences. From the book reviewers to the letter writers, the commentators to the critics, everyone who has taken an active part in supporting The Celator has become a benefactor. This month we wish to give a tip of the hat to those people (you know who you are) that have made The Celator possible.
    Where do we go from here? Not to a glossy format with a big editorial staff! We will remain a small, family operated, publication doing what we do best. We will try to iron out some of the wrinkles and provide our readers with a constantly Changing and improving product. We've added new equipment over the past year, and plan to add some more this year, but our emphasis is on improved quality not on rapid growth. We hope you've noticed the improvement in photo quality, and believe it or not, we have reduced (certainly not eliminated) the number of typographical errors. We are producing about 85 column feet of copy each month (not counting ads) and it is all related to antiquity. In 1990 look for more of the same.
    As an addition to our monthly publication, we have undertaken the annual reprint of some of our best articles in magazine style format. The project has been very successful and has encouraged us to look at other suitable subjects for this type of format. Its primary advantage is the very low cost. Anyone interested in literature about ancient coins knows a too well the sad. story. We intend to expand the production of these card cover, saddle stitched, publications to include a series of inexpensive reissues of some classic works as well as the introduction of some original material. We use the term reissue rather than reprint, since these will be entirely reset on modem equipment and in some cases illustrations and commentary will be added. The works selected will be out-of-print and generally unavailable to the average reader or collector. 'They will be uniformly priced at $9.95 plus postage.
    The rust issue planned in this series is a captivating autobiography, edited by Anne Manning in 1860, of the life of Valentine Duval. Duval preceded Eckhel at Vienna and was responsible for the formation of the Royal cabinet of coins that later made Eckhel famous. Look for it in a couple of months.
    Getting back to our reader's question, "What ever happened to ---?" We regret to inform you that your publication is missing in action. About all we can say with any certainty is that The Celator is here to stay. And yes, by the way, there are some things in life that you can make book on.
    Thanks again to all who have shared their points of view with us in the past They are always respected, if not always agreed with. We hope the new season brings you a lot of enjoyment in your hobby. As the days get longer, how about putting pen to paper and letting us hear your point of view!

    41 downloads

    Submitted

  9. Vol 04 No. 04 April 1990

    One of the more perplexing things that a new collector faces is the question of how best to store and display a collection of ancient coins. No one has yet devised the perfect system for these irregular and incredibly varied artifacts, but there are several approaches which offer relatively satisfactory results.
    In the early days of modern collecting, the problem of security was less pressing. Collections were primarily in the hands of nobility or clergy, who more or less eliminated any problem causers. Their collections were housed in "Cabinets" - literally as well as figuratively - with flat drawers which pulled out for viewing. A visit to some of the more venerable of Europe's numismatic firms will reward the collector with a taste of the antique as some of these magnificent cabinets are still in use today. The advantage or such a system is that the coin is easily extracted for viewing, is not obscured by any foreign material, and entire drawers of similar coins may be removed for study. Most museums use a similar or modified version of the old cabinet approach. Lined with velvet, these drawers can be quite beautiful.
    There are two obvious disadvantages to the cabinet approach. The first is space. Coins layed flat in a drawer take up much more space than the same number stacked in a box. The second is security. Unless a cabinet is actually built into a safe (and some are), it is rather easily accessed. The average collector simply does not have the means to obtain or secure such a cabinet.
    Alternatively, one might simply store coins in Mylar (inert) plastic flips and fill up 2x2 boxes which store easily in a bank safety deposit box or home safe. The aesthetic value of such a system is absolutely nil, but it does provide secure long-term storage for a great many coins.
    There are compromises which combine to some extent the advantages of each of these systems. Stacking type trays of 8x to" or tOxl2" proportions are manufactured by several companies to house and display coins and small antiquities. Some of these are Quite lavish and facilitate a lovely display. The stacking trays will usually fit into a large safe deposit box or small home safe without too much difficulty. There are also carrying cases made for these trays to allow one to transfer them back and forth between home, bank, show or club meeting. The total number of coins is still rather limited, but nicer coins may be stored in these trays while duplicates or study pieces are placed in the 2x2 boxes. Two types of trays that we have found quite satisfactory are those produced by Abafil in Italy, and those by Lindner in West Germany. Both companies have North American representatives.
    As for safety, ancient coins are not as often affected by the horrible chemical reaction caused by some flips, but any long-term storage should be in either the hard mylar type or in paper envelopes.
    Another type of display that has met with varying degrees of success and popularity is the Lucile holder. Some holders are equipped with rubber inserts to conform to the varying size and shape or ancient coins. The Lucite holders provide a safe and durable method or displaying coins in areas where they might otherwise be damaged. They also allow for framing or tabletop display of small groups or single coins with both sides of the coin easily viewed.
    Every system devised for storing and displaying coins has its up and down sides (pardon the pun), the collector must choose which system comes closest to satisfying his or her own interests and needs. Maybe it's just storing coins loose in a cigar box; what matters more is how much enjoyment you get from them!
    Welcome to the many new readers who have joined us these past couple months. We hope you'll find The Celator to be a useful adjunct 10 your collecting pursuits as well as a means of keeping in touch with the fraternity.
    We enjoyed meeting many of our East Coast readers at the New York CNB last month. By the time this is in print, we will have attended the CICF in Chicago and the Northwest Show in Minneapolis as well. Although our travel plans are still tentative, we plan to attend the Greater NY show in May, the Long Beach show in June, and the ANA in August Hope 10 see some of you there! In the meantime, keep those letters rolling in, we love to hear your point of view.
     
     

    38 downloads

    Submitted

  10. Vol 04 No. 05 May 1990

    In last month's issue, we presented an enlightening survey about Renaissance medals and their patronage by Dr. Stephen K. Scher. Dr. Scher is President of Scher Chemicals in Clifton, New Jersey and enjoys a distinguished background in the fields of an and numismatics. Among his many credits are former Chairman of the Art Department of Brown University; Fellow of the American Numismatic Society; Guest Curator and Fellow of the Frick Collection; and contributor to a wide variety of major art publications internationally. We failed to point out that Dr. Scher originally delivered this paper as the Stack Memorial Lecturer in 1988. It was generously shared with us by Dr. Scher through the ANS.
    It never ceases to amaze me when the mail arrives a week after publication, and I discover which current topic has prompted reaction. Well, this month it was the note by Lyn Wilson about chemically toning coins.
    Some dealers and collectors are of the opinion that coin cleaning and toning is akin to debauchery. We disagree. If I may parallel the automobile analogy (see letters to the editor, page XXXlIII), a re-chromed hood ornament on a 1950 Studebaker doesn't exactly make the car worthless.
    Ancient coins usually come out of the ground in less than pristine condition. Silver, for example, oxidizes and turns an ugly black. Most collectors don't like ugly black silver coins, so dealers don't buy ugly black silver coins. Guess what happens in every little hamlet where coins are found in the ground? Now, the dealer has a handful of nice shiny silver coins· but some collectors don't like nice shiny silver coins. They like coins with "old cabinet" toning or "iridescent" toning. What to do? You guessed it!
    There are a couple dealers in this country that professionally clean and tone coins. They are not looked upon by the fraternity as "defilers" but rather, are highly respected for their talent and in fact are usually backlogged with work. Some "big ticket" coins sold at public auction in the past year have come through their hands.
    The question is not really whether a coin should be cleaned or treated, but when a coin should be treated. When bronze statues are retrieved from the sea, they are virtually unrecognizable and certainly not admirable as works of an. Every major museum has a staff of restorers who regularly work miracles on these nearly obliterated artifacts. In fact, The British Museum has developed an effective process for repatinating bronze and uses it, when necessary, on coins. Bronze coins are often badly corroded or terribly encrusted with mineral deposits and verdigree. If the coin is a mess, leaving it untouched is hardly a blessing.
    It is certainly unethical for a dealer (or collector) to enhance a coin. by Obscuring its flaws, and then pass it off as unblemished. Still, sooner or later, a "doctored" coin may innocently find its way into the market. An experienced dealer will note that it is not original and discount it appropriately. An experienced collector will also note the ft enhancements" and pay more or less accordingly. What about the inexperienced collector? If a collector is capable of being misled or poorly advised, due to inexperience, there is little to prevent that from happening except dealer integrity. Without that integrity, I'm afraid that cleaned and toned coins are the least of the poor soul's problems.
    I have purchased coins that I knew beyond a doubt were toned artificially. I received no warning or advice from the dealer. Was I deceived? I don't think so. Now, if I unknowingly bought a coin that was plugged or epoxied, and went home and discovered the repairs, I would be rather upset and would expect a refund or appropriate discount. One can see that there is a fine line of distinction between the two conditions.
    That leads us to another question worth considering. It is reported that certain "hoards" of bronze coins have been completely retoned or repatinated (literally thousands of them). They are extraordinarily beautiful. Is the whole · hoard one big deception? I suppose it depends upon your point of view. Personally, I think not. and am happy to own a few of these gems.
    We have repeatedly urged caution in the use of any cleaning or toning process. We especially urge extreme caution in using unfamiliar chemicals, since proper controls are necessary to ensure safety. Cleaning and toning is highly specialized field, and the results are often unpredictable. We never recommend altering a coin which you cannot afford to throwaway if the results are negative.
    As for deception, it takes more than a laundry list of chemicals to become a master of the art of deceit.
    We will be at the CNB in San Francisco April 27 - 28; The Greater NY show in Manhattan on May 4-5; and the Rare Coin Expo in St. Paul on May 5- 6. Make a point of saying hello, and of course we'll interested in hearing your point of view.

    41 downloads

    Submitted

  11. Vol 04 No. 06 June 1990

    At a recent coin show, one of the few where I actually participate as an active dealer, I sold a small but very attractive bronze of Constantine the Great to a relatively new and refreshingly excited collector. Prior to making the selection, he had shown me a nice reduced follis of Constantine and asked for an evaluation. I ventured that his coin should be worth about $25 - $40 retail. It turned out that the $40 mark was exactly what he had paid, just minutes earlier. Falling in love with the little bronze in my tray, he wondered what I would be willing to pay for his coin? Hesitantly, I offered $25 in trade against the new purchase. My hesitation was not because of any problem with the coin he had just purchased, but more so out of fear of offending or discouraging him.
    How could a coin worth $40 depreciate to $25 in five minutes? Obviously. the cost of doing business is a factor. as is the very reason for being in business - profitability. Another factor which entered into the picture is that I already had in stock ten or twelve exceptional Constantine bronzes. Because of that, I was actually willing to accept a cash offer of less than the $40 "sticker price" on my coin. All-in-all, his coin seemed to be losing value by the minute. The "smart play" was to buy my coin at the cash discount price and keep his earlier purchase which actually complemented the new purchase quite nicely. Logic prevailed and the collector went home with two nice Constantinian bronzes.
    Behind this little tale. is a moral which most "old-timers" have come to learn the hard way. Measure the market before you buy! IJ a collector takes the time to travel to a show, it makes perfectly good sense to look over the material carefully before making a selection. This is certainly not to recommend shopping for the "cheapest" coin on the floor, each coin has its own price level and its attributes which justify or invalidate that level. The object is to choose the coin which pleases you most within the limit of your resources.
    As I write this. I can already hear the gasps of coin dealers across the country. Every dealer has had to contend, at some time, with a collector who spends two hours looking through every coin in stock and asks to "set aside" three or four coins while he thinks about it. You guessed it • the collector never returns. Of course, this is not going to work out to cover show expenses and make anything near a reasonable income for the time spent, it is essential for a dealer to sell coins. Showing coins is fun and instructive but it doesn't pay the bills and doesn't foster regular participation on the show circuit.
    How can collectors measure the market and still be fair and reasonable with dealers? Have you ever noticed how many dealers will ask "Is there anything in particular that I can show you?" Don't ask to look at everything Roman if you abhor Republican Denarii. If you are a bargain hunter - say so! Let the dealer show you which coins have been in stock too long or those which are especially attractive deals. There is no way you can measure the stock of a dealer better than the dealer himself. If you insist on looking at every coin. in every box, at least have the courtesy to sit off to the side so the dealer can continue nominal transactions. It is a great help for both the dealer and collector if the latter has some idea of what their interest is. If you're new to the field and really don't know, say so. Most dealers know how to feel out your inclinations as well as or better than you can yourself.
    Another courtesy is to keep the coins on the table - that is - in plain sight! Just because you are as honest as the day is long doesn't mean that everyone else is, and dealers face enough anxiety without worrying about how many coins are going to be left in the box when a customer is through.
    A pet peeve of mine is the collector (and a dealer or two) who takes a handful of coin flips out of a box, looks through them, sets them down and grabs another handful. Then, with no regard to order, stuffs them all back in the box with some upside down, backwards, sideways. you name it. When a collector does come along and asks for that special coin, there isn't a chance in hades that you can find it.
    Yes, it is important for the collector to measure the market before buying a Coin, and it is equally important for every collector to respect the needs of the dealer. especially at a busy show. With a little common sense, the process can be great fun and very rewarding. You might even go home with the coin you've been looking for!
    This was a busy month for us, with shows in San Francisco, New York, and Minneapolis. We saw a lot of the old faithful readers and made some new acquaintances. We'll be out on the West Coast for the Malter and Superior auctions at the end of May and at the Long Beach show on May 31. In June we'll be back in New York for the Sotheby sale and Antiquarian Bourse. If you see us in the crowd, make a point of saying hello. If not, drop us a line and let us hear your point of view.

    42 downloads

    Submitted

  12. Vol 04 No. 07 July 1990

    Although this editorial is actually being written prior to the Hunt Sale, being held in New York by Sotheby's, it is clear that this numismatic event will be one of the most memorable in this century. We will be returning from a very compacted week on Sunday night and printing The Celator on Monday morning. Therefore, the news report of this sale will probably be written somewhere over Pennsylvania or Ohio as we wing back to the Midwest. With true dedication, and the kind of zeal only a fledgling publisher could muster, we'll be typesetting the account sometime late Sunday night and early Monday morning. Look for our comments in the "Art and the Market" section of this issue.
    We have always looked at coins from the point of view that they are indeed major works of art. Several numismatists over the past century have propounded this view, but it took a collection of this magnitude, offered for sale by a house noted especially for dealing in major art, to really drive the point home. The catalogs alone are masterpieces. The coins. collected by Nelson Bunker Hunt, were clearly selected for their exceptional style and execution. Portraits are spectacular and represent the finest work of Greek and Roman celators. Also included are such incidentals as a complete type set of ancient decadrachms - that is. one of each known major variety, including a Poros Decadrachm of Alexander the Great.
    The sale itself will undoubtedly be as much a gala social event as a spectacular auction. Enthusiasm and anticipation have been building for months, and the air in New York City promises to be supercharged. Wild estimates of an overflowing auction room, some projecting over a thousand bidders, may be rather optimistic but time will tell. According to Sotheby's, the auction room will hold approximately 600 people. The firm has arranged to reserve 25% of the seating in order to assure room for their regular customers.
    Some dealers, who might normally be in attendance, apparently see little chance of success in the bidding arena and have chosen not to make the trip. One can certainly expect estimates to be greatly exceeded in this sale, not only because of the inevitable competition, the outstanding pedigrees and the exceptional coins, but because the estimates are in most cases very conservative. Never-the-less, participation in this event would seem to be worth the effort even if it results in an empty buy sheet.
    An event of this type always raises doubts about the strength of the market and its ability to absorb such an influx of material. It would seem inevitable that some impact would be felt, the numbers are certainly staggering enough. These same doubts are raised each time a new hoard of coins appears. Initially. prices for like items previously in the market tend to drop, but even the largest of hoards seem to disperse rather routinely. When a collection comes up for sale it is of course different in the respect that the coins are all or mostly different. The imagined impact, in this case, is that from the total resource available to purchase coins, money will be drawn and not replaced. Therefore, theoretically, other desirable coins on the market will find less support. It is clear that the Hunt sales have already affected the buying and selling of coins. Pre-sale stockpiling of funds has definitely caused a ripple in normal trading. It has not, however, caused any major disruption. Furthermore, it has had very little effect on the vast majority of collectors. It would seem natural that the post auction period will also see some minor turmoil, but like the stock market phenomenon most of the effect has probably already been absorbed.
    We will have a table at the Mid-America show in Milwaukee (MECCA) on 29-30 June and 1 July, and also at the one day show in St. Louis (Sheraton Plaza) on July 8. Stop by and say hello if you're in the area. Our normal stack of letters didn't materialize this month. as many are enjoying the summer sun, I'm sure. Have a great vacation, and when you get home let us hear your point of view.
     
     

    41 downloads

    Submitted

  13. Vol 04 No. 08 August 1990

    The next time you read this column it will look considerably different Starting with the September issue. we will be presenting The Celator in a signature format. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, that essentially means magazine style format We have always felt that quality production was an important ingredient in our special "mix" and have done everything possible to set and maintain a high standard. After nearly four years of working with the tabloid newspaper format, we feel we have reached a point where future improvement dictates a change in approach.
    Our readers who have ordered the "Best of The Celator - 1988" and "89" will immediately understand the difference. The signature format is printed on a sheet-fed press, which allows for greater control and finer screened photographs. It is easier to store, easier to read, lends itself better to indexing, and lays out more coherently than a newspaper. Another "factor, which affects distribution, is improved newsstand marketability. We feel that the change is a significant step forward, opening many new avenues for future improvement, and will result in a much-improved product. It will take us a few issues to "get the feel~ of our new format, but we expect very few problems.
    Other than an improved format, you can count on The Celator being pretty much the same as always. Our philosophy and editorial policies will not change. We will continue to focus on numismatic art and artifacts from antiquity, especially as works of art. We will be changing the look of some features, due to the new layout opportunities and limitations, we do not, however, anticipate any immediate changes in the content of features or types of articles offered.
    The subscription rates, frequency, and distribution will remain the same, and our advertising program should be stronger and more attractive than ever.
    We hope that you will enjoy the new look of The Celator and thank all of the faithful subscribers and advertisers that have helped make this big step possible.
    As if we didn't have enough excitement here, we are also proud to announce the impending publication of our first book. Going to the printer at about the time you read this, Valentine Duval: an autobiography is a story that romantics will love. It is a story about coins and gems, collecting and connoisseurship, and the personal feelings of one of the greatest antiquarians of the 18th century. The original English edition by Anne Manning, published in 1860, is written in a captivating style that few modem writers could hope to duplicate. See our ad within for details.
    In our mailbag this month were more letters about the "Back Page". We can only reiterate what we have said in the past Dr. Saslow has the right, and one which we clearly recognize. to conduct his business in any fashion he chooses and to promote his activities and his philosophies actively therein. We recognize, and Dr. Saslow realizes, that his opinions will not necessarily be shared by all readers, or the editor, of The Celator. However. as long as the comments and practices of Dr. Saslow do not violate the editorial policies of The Celator, he will be accorded every courtesy and privilege given any other advertiser.
    We deeply regret the fact that some of our readers have from time to time felt insulted by comments published in the "Back Page" and can only recommend that those parties deal with individuals or firms more closely aligned with, and supportive of their own personal preferences. The Celator, as a matter of policy, does not in any way endorse the claims or opinions of any of its advertisers, contributing authors, or responding readers beyond assuring the conditions of advertising as published
    As editor of The Celator, I have often stated my own opinions about buying and collecting ancient coins. The fact that I collect Turkoman bronze coins should bear witness to the fact that I do not personally have a penchant for traditional market-leader types. Still, I do not feel any compelling need to criticize the buying habits of collectors or investors of another persuasion.
    We are, unfortunately, travelling in troubled waters within ·our small fraternity. With patience and caution. however, the controversies of today will become only a passing episode in the long history of a fascinating discipline. Above all, we should concentrate on enjoying our hobby, each in our own way, and discount the petty disagreements that waste our precious time.
    Our travels in August will include the ANA Convention in Seattle and the Rare Coins Expo in Minneapolis. In mid-September we embark upon a month-long trip to Turkey, along with travelling companion and co-author Bill Spengler, to gather final information, photographs, and details for our forthcoming book on Turkoman coins (yes, it is still alive!). We will be visiting the sites of virtually all of the Turkoman dominions in eastern Tukey.
    Steve will get his feet wet in a big way as we leave him in charge of the editorial desk as well as a new format Fortunately. he is very much up to the task.
    We could use a fresh start in the "Letters" section. If you've got a tale 10 share, a new discovery, or just an idle observation. we could use it now! Sit down for a couple minutes, take pen to paper, and let us hear your point of view.

    43 downloads

    Submitted

  14. Vol 04 No. 09 September 1990

    Welcome to the newest ancient coin journal in the world! Well, that's not exactly true. By Webster's definition, the term "journal" can be applied to any newspaper or magazine. By those criteria, we have already been in the journal business for four years now. Never-the-less, we proudly present the all-new journal before you.
    For some reason, the word journal seems to command a little more respect than "tabloid." Not that we felt like Rodney Dangerfield, but let's face it - newspaper has its limitations.
    For those of you who are reading these lines for the first time, perhaps an explanation is in order. This issue marks the beginning of a new era in the life of our publication. Starting (literally) on a kitchen table with a 12-page tabloid some four years ago, we have enjoyed heart-warming support from our advertisers and readers and are now able to return a dividend on their investment by dressing up the package.
    We are committed to providing the best publication about ancient coins and antiquities that we can possibly assemble. We are also very serious about those little intangibles like dependability, service, and integrity. Everyone in business likes to think that they take care of these virtues (bankers like to plaster those words all over their walls) but we really do try. If we slip up, we expect that you will let us know!
    Although we have arbitrarily adopted the title "journal", please do not confuse The Celator with journals of the oilier type. That is, journals of a Society or Association whose primary purpose is the dissemination of scholarly research material. True, we have published several exclusive articles, revealing major new discoveries or interpretations; we have presented catalogs of types previously unpublished; and we have enjoyed articles written by some of the most well-known and respected numismatists in the world. Still, we are not a scholarly journal and make no claim to that effect.
    We attempt to inform, educate and entertain. We offer articles of substance, alongside articles written especially for beginners in our hobby. We also offer articles and features which are intended only for humor, relaxation, and enjoyment. The specific goal of The Celator is, and has always been, to advance the appreciation of ancient art, especially as reflected in numismatics and antiquities.
    The passing of the original format is a little sad in a way. As we watched the last issue roll off the press it seemed like an old friend was fading away. We had become so comfortable with the layout, and technical details, that it really was beginning to get easy. Perhaps too easy! Quality is never static, and it was becoming difficult for us to continue showing improvement. The alternative was unacceptable. We will undoubtedly learn from mistakes along the way, but we believe the opportunities before us are vastly improved and we look forward to a bright future.
    Since this is a sort of farewell, we feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to the many contributors who helped make The Celator what it is today. It is impossible to name them all, but there are a few who simply cannot go unmentioned. We will always be indebted to Dennis Kroh of Empire Coins, who was the salvation of Vol. 1, No.1, with a full page and a lI2 page ad. Without his support at that critical juncture there might never have been a NO.2. Editorially, no one has contributed more faithfully than David Liebert of the Time Machine Company, who has voluntarily written for 36 of our 38 issues. Other substantial and long-term contributions, in the form of articles, have been made by Stephen Album, David Hendin, Simon Bendall. Ron Kollgaard, Marvin Tameanko, Bob Levy, Larry McKinney and Keith Emmett. Many other authors, too many to mention, have contributed excellent articles as well. Certainly not of less importance have been the regular advertisers who support this publication day in and day out, 12 months a year. Their loyalty and patience have been exceptional.
    We have taken the liberty of using this column, The Celator's Point of View, as a platform for general announcements, philosophical discussions, self-defense, opinion airing, and just plain rambling. It is, after all, one of the few benefits we publishers can enjoy (no company car or executive washroom). Often, it feels like writing a letter to an old friend - sometimes moralizing but knowing that the intent will be understood. For that, my personal thanks to our many faithful adherents. Now, on to an exciting new issue of The Celator and an equally exciting new era. Remember, we also have a section for you to express your point of view!
     
     

    49 downloads

    Submitted

  15. Vol 04 No. 10 October 1990

    Everyone we've heard from liked the cover of last month's issue; it only tends to illustrate the power of really great art. For the opportunity to feature that magnificent Etruscan bronze horse, we thank Sotheby's of New York and of course William Herbert Hunt. Thanks for the superb color should be directed to Harlan J. Berk, whose advertising support made it and future color covers possible.
    There is a somewhat mysterious quality that places work like the Etruscan horse on a special plane; in fact, we often sense that same quality gracing the images found on ancient coins. It is not always easy to put this quality into words, but we generally try to do so by describing images in terms of style. In this issue, and the next few issues, we will discuss certain aspects of style that are sometimes overlooked or under appreciated.
    We are still making changes in layout and presentation of articles and features, so please bear with us as we experiment. Our apologies to Marvin Tameanko and David Hendin. who's articles last month suffered from the inevitable crunch.
    The Celator fared well again this year in the Numismatic Literary Guild awards program. For the third straight year we received awards of merit in the Numismatic Newspaper and Magazine divisions. Our greatest pleasure this year was the selection of Matthew Rockman as "Clemy" award winner. That honor is bestowed upon the best new writer of the previous year, Matthew, a 17-year-old when his article about coins of the year 44 B.C., appeared in The Celator. holds great promise as a classical numismatist and we are proud to have been chosen for publication of his work.
    As you read these lines, we (Bill Spengler and I) will be braving the unknown and immeasurable perils of the Turkish hill country, our quest is for information about the people and places that are represented on an enigmatic series of coinage known as Turkoman. We plan to visit, notwithstanding the whims of certain regional tyrants, such exotic places as Diyarbakr, Mardin, Malatya, Erzerum, Erzinjan, Sivas, and of course the jewel of the Ancient Orient - Istanbul - more comm only referred to by numismatists as Constantinople. Our adventure will take almost exactly one month including stops in Athens, Rhodes and London. We will be travelling the length and breadth of Turkey by automobile, as long as Petrol is available.
    The dangers, some real and some perceived, include hungry wolf packs, highwaymen, separatists. Turkish buses, vicious camels, and a rather discomforting condition of the human constitution brought about by drinking bad water. We will, hopefully, have a lengthy report upon our return.
    On the way back from Turkey we will be visiting COINEX in London and look forward to visiting with a host of new Celator readers as well as some old friends. The week leading up to COINEX is full of antiquarian activity and London bristles with collectors and dealers from all of Europe, Asia and North America. It is a truly international affair and a social event in itself. Although smaller in size and scope than the New York International, it is in many respects similar in that numismatists from a wide variety of nations meet in a sort of "Olympic" setting. We would not, of course, miss the obligatory visit to the venerable bastion of ancient numismatics, the British Museum. Taking in London during COINEX week is like a pilgrimage to one of the holy shrines of ancient numismatics, and very highly recommended for the adventurous spirit.
    If you have any questions or problems during the month, Steve will be in the office from 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. CST Monday through Friday. At other times, our friendly answering machine will take your message.
    Happy trails to you, until we meet again, have a refreshing fall season and take just a moment to let us hear your point of view!
    Corrections: On page 33 of the September issue, in Marvin Tameanko's article, we inadvertently duplicated and pasted a copy block out of position. Lines 31 through 51 of column 1 should be deleted. They do appear in the proper sequence later on page 34. Photos on page 37 of David Hendin's article were also in error. The photos in column 1 and column 2 were accidentally swapped. The photo in column 3 is not a silver shekel and should be omitted. We apologize for the inconvenience.

    66 downloads

    Submitted

  16. Vol 04 No. 11 November 1990

    It took Odysseus 10 years to find his way home, and us only a month, but like the wandering Greek we experienced some memorable adventures along the way.
    Athens was the first stop on our itinerary, as Bill Spengler and I set off on our quest in search of the elusive Turkomans. Those who have visited the venerable cradle of democracy will know that it is, above aIl, unpredictable. We arrived amidst a general strike which paralyzed transportation, utilities and services. Trekking up and down the stairwell to our 5th floor hotel room (no electricity for the elevator) toughened us up for the days ahead.
    The highlight of our stay in Athens was a visit to, and very cordial reception at, the Athens National Museum. Ms. Mondo Oikonumedes, director of the National Numismatic Collection, was most gracious in showing us the displays as well as making her offices and staff available for our research. Although the collection of Turkoman coins in Athens is understandably limited, we found some valuable information and were able to obtain photographs of some exquisite pieces. We were particularly impressed by the courteous and helpful assistance of Dr. Touratsoglou and Mrs. Pennas, who went out of their way to share time with us.
    Travel between Greece and Turkey is not the easiest passage in the civilized world, so we chose to fly to the island of Rhodes and then cross into Turkey by ferry. It turned out to be a real highlight, as the harbor at Rhodes is something not to be missed and the ferry ride was punctuated by rough seas and healthy spray.
    We rented a car (?) in Marmaris and drove along the entire coast of southern Turkey, stopping in Alanya and Adana. Along the way we took time to visit the citadels of a Seljuq fort called Yilan Kale (Snake Castle) as well as the impressive Greek/Roman/Byzantine/Armenian city of Anazarbos. We also visited ancient Issos where Alexander met and defeated the forces of Darius.
    Our first stop in Turkoman country was at the very ancient site of Edcssa which is now called Sanliurfa. Achance meeting in the bazaar with Mr. Kadri Cetiner, local director of tourism, led us to the recently inaugurated museum of archaeology which features a multitude of finds from the nearby site of Harran. The collection reportedly includes over 37,000 coins, however they were "unavailable" for us to see except for some recent stray finds which had not been accessioned.
    Diyarbakir, the ancient Amid, was a remarkable site and deserved more time than we could spare. In our four days there we saw an impressive mix of cultures and began to realize how important this city is, and was, as a crossroad between the East and West. We were disappointed to find the Archaeological Museum closed but managed to arrange an office call with the museum director who also was limited to showing us stray finds in a heterogeneous group (translate that as junk in a bag). Fortunately, our earlier work in major western museums had provided a comprehensive catalog of types and our current trip was more historical ill perspective. At Malatya, the ancient home of the Danishmendid rulers, we found a few coins on display, but the lack of attribution, orderly arrangement, or descriptive information rendered the display next to useless. At Kayseri, we found a nice display of attributed Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins, but all of the Islamic coins were in another museum which was closed for renovation. It is peculiar how much of the Turkish museum system is "under renovation". The trip between these sites was spectacular and stops at out of the way places like Harput (the ancient Khartpirt) and Mardin were very rewarding.
    At Istanbul, although the archaeological museum was also undergoing restoration, we were very warmly received by Dr. LG. Paksoy, the head numismatist. The numismatic displays, which have been closed to the general public for the past twenty years, were very impressive and we were most fortunate to have been able to examine them through the courtesy of Dr. Paksoy and his associates. We were also cordially received by Ms. Shanur Aydin, curator of the Yapi V Credi Bank Museum in Istanbul. The bank possesses one of the world's finest collections of Turkoman coinage.
    After a pleasant five days in Istanbul, we flew to London for the week-long activities associated with COINEX, the British Numismatic Trade Association annual show. The events of that week are detailed in the "Art and the Market" section of this issue.
    The opportunity to visit these sites in eastern Turkey was of great value in developing a real sense of who these Turkoman princes were and what kind of lands they ruled. It was a very rewarding numismatic experience and a trip to be remembered for a lifetime.
    Finally, a tip of the hat to Steve and Janet for picking up the extra load while I was gone. They did so well I should probably get away more often! Our next event is the New York International see you there. Until then, keep the lines of communication open and take the time to share your point of view!
     
     

    46 downloads

    Submitted

  17. Vol 04 No. 12 December 1990

    We found a recent series of articles (featured in another numismatic publication) by Turkish journalist Ozgen Acarto be rather entertaining. Hopefully, some of you missed them. Entertaining - because having lived in Turkey for better than two years we could easily conjure up a vision of little old forgers feeding coins to roosters. Worth missing - because the articles presented a ludicrous scenario which accomplished little more than to foster an irrational fear among neophyte collectors.
    The production of "tourist quality" replicas is a thriving cottage industry in Turkey and has been for many generations. Only last month, having spent more thana few hours wandering through Turkish bazaars, we saw plenty of examples. The fakes seemed at times to outnumber the tourists, as many Westerners apparently felt that even Istanbul was a little too far east at the moment.
    Acar's suggestion that these fakes are so good that even the "experts" are fooled is the ludicrous part of the whole episode. There have certainly been forgeries which fooled the specialists for some time, and there are probably some forgeries passing for real in important collections today. If great master paintings, Greek bronze sculpture. and Ming Dynasty ceramics can be forged successfully, it is only rational to assume that the same can be done with ancient coins.
    Successful forgery takes time, skill and money. The end result obviously must justify the forger's investment and fortunately, for this reason, good forgeries are as rare as the pieces they imitate.
    To suggest that the ancient coin market is full of mass-produced forgeries and that they flow undetected into Western markets - is certainly inaccurate, if not malicious. It is hard to imagine that this series of articles, which portrayed the Turkish forger as a poor victim catering to Western greed in order to eak out a living for his impoverished family, could have been published with a straight face three or four years ago. The set-up for this article's perceived credibility is to be found in the bizarre controversy surrounding the infamous Black Sea Hoard. If the "experts" disagree about the Black Sea Hoard's authenticity, how could they be so certain about detecting these Turkish forgeries?
    First, we should not overstate the supposed Black Sea Hoard controversy. The numismatic community was not nearly so divided on the hoard issue as press accounts would imply. Secondly, the nature of the coins involved differs significantly. The Black Sea Hoard, whether genuine, fake or ancient fake, represents original art and reflects the talent of a particular Celator. The question is essentially one of dating the period of the work. The Turkish fakes mentioned in the Acar articles, which are made primarily for tourists, are simply reproductions of earlier originals. Reproduction is the least expensive and easiest method of forgery to employ and consequently, the easiest to detect.
    Without belaboring the point, we hope that our readers are not misled into believing that there is a greater danger than really exists. As always, we recommend buying from dealers who have proven reliable and provide an unlimited guarantee of authenticity with each purchase. The next step in easing one's mind about the authenticity of individual pieces is education. Since there are few "schools" teaching this subject, we are largely dependent upon our own ability, and the ability of our compatriots to read the available literature, understand the process of minting, and analyze the objects before us.
    We are presenting, in this issue, an article about fakes and forgeries by Dennis Kroh, a recognized expert in this field. The article is a summary of Mr. Kroh's lecture which was presented this past summer at the American Numismatic Association annual convention in Seattle. For greater detail about specific coins, the author has included a short bibliography. Societies such as the American Numismatic Society in New York, and the Royal Numismatic Society in London, as well as the American Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs, maintain excellent libraries which cover the subject in greater depth.
    We received a letter this month from a reader who reminded us of our responsibility to confront the issues important to our hobby. We totally agree, however. we choose to accomplish this task through education and rational dialogue rather than sensationalizing and banner waving. We try to be timely, but seldom deal with "breaking news" or investigative journalism.
    We hope all of you enjoy a very happy holiday season. Snow has already visited us here in the north land, and it feels like fireplace time. Thank you to our many friends and contributors who have helped make this a successful year. you are the ones that make it all happen. We close out our fourth year with this issue and look forward to year five - a milestone of some significance in this business!
    Please keep the channel of communication open by taking just a moment to share your point of view!
     
     

    49 downloads

    Submitted

  18. Vol 05 No. 01 January 1991

    This issue closes out four years of The Celator and gives us cause to reflect upon the events of these past years. We have grown in many ways, due largely to consistent help from our many friends, but we still have improvements to make and procedures to refine. We are poised for significant t growth in 1991 and look forward to challenges, especially in the area of distribution. which will be new to us.
    As readers, you can look forward to some major editorial enhancements in the first quarter of the coming year. We are looking at the strongest lineup of articles that The Celator has ever enjoyed and will be continuing the outstanding features that we all look for each month. We will also be presenting an index of past articles with abstracts for those who might have points to research.
    During the past year, for better or worse. we have been asked on an increasingly frequent basis to mediate or arbitrate disputes or disagreements between subscribers and advertising dealers. We have been "expected" to boycott and condemn individua ls because of their policies, or lack thereof, or because they did not act "fairly"' in a transaction. For reasons which are difficult to fully understand, we have been perceived as some sort of judge or policeman for the hobby.
    We recognize the need to assure that material advertised in The Celator is fairly presented and that the potential buyer is protected from fraud. Accepting an ad, however. does not make us the advertiser's keeper and il is not our responsibility to "ride herd" on any individual just because they at one time or another advertised in The Celator.
    We have a policy of denying advertising space to any firm or individual if we have on file three written complaints which are unresolved. We have exercised that policy on two occasions in the past year. In both cases, the disputes were resolved, and subsequent advertising was accepted. Considering that we have. on average, about 75 advertisers per month, this is not a serious problem. It is an inconvenience, however, for the customer and it is our intention to continue this policy for our readers' protection. With this in mind, we will become involved when necessary, however we hope that this is a last resort option.
    There is another aspect to this issue which deals with our responsibilities in respect to non-advertisers. If we witness an action detrimental to the welfare of our readers, is it our responsibility, or even our right, to intervene? This is a really tacky area because it is impossible to draw a line beyond which point, we become involved. All we can really do is warn our readers about potential dangers. And this we do quite often in our editorials, letters, features and articles. This month you will see a somewhat more direct warning in the form of a full-page announcement. We have observed recent offerings, circulated to some of our readers, which feature extremely rare coins at prices and in quantities that are absolutely impossible. We have to believe that there is a clear and present danger in these offerings and implore those who might be tempted by an incredible bargain to get a second or third opinion from any other dealers advertising on our pages before putting any cash on the line.
    The beginning of this month was dominated by the activity surrounding the New York International Numismatic Convention. We have related a few of the exciting highlights in this issue, but there is one element that did not set well with many of those in attendance. The show was held at the New York Hilton, which would seem to suggest excellence of accommodations, but in reality, the facility is more suitable to stabling horses. In addition, the show was split into two levels. with the "veterans" on the lower level and others literally hidden upstairs. It is our opinion that a continuation of this policy will result in the serious degradation of this show if not in its demise.
    With the holidays now behind us we should be able to relax a bit and catch up on our pile of correspondence (which I 'm sure many of you are patiently awaiting). You 've probably noticed that Steve is assuming more responsibility these days, and we have recognized that expanded role with a promotion to Associate Editor.
    We will be in Orlando for the FUN show in early January and in Long Beach the first week in February - who says the market is dormant over the winter? We look forward to seeing some of you there.
    This was a good month for reader response (some of it not too favorable). Keep those letters coming so we can benefit from your point of view!

    44 downloads

    Updated

  19. Vol 05 No. 02 February 1991

    It seems that controversy and difference of opinion are inescapable components of the human experience. As we go to press this month the world is torn by differences of opinion that will greatly impact all of our lives. In a world where we have so many things in common, it is a pity that we are engaged in so much controversy and confrontation.
    Having been dragged involuntarily into more than a few controversies and caught directly in the middle of some differences of opinion, we can say without reservation Ihal the experience of confrontation, whether verbal. physical or psychological, is not it pleasurable one.
    Controversy and confrontation have become common place in our lives that we have learned to expect them in our leisure experiences as well. This editor has been sharply criticized by some for not following an editorial line which is more probing and investigative, one which confronts the "issues" head on. Call it "lack of editorial courage" or "soft-soaping" if you will. The simple fact is, we are not in the expose business, and it is not our inclination to get into that business. We see our role as one of providing 'In informative, educational and entertaining publication for hobbyist. Most of us adopt a hobby to escape from the pressures of our super-energized world and it seems pointless to drag that world into our retreat. Utopian? Idealistic? Unrealistic? Maybe so, but we have more than enough controversy in our lives. We don't have to let it dominate our "fun" time.
    Usually, we find controversy within our hobby occurring as a reaction to some perceived injustice. Someone did not deal fairly with another, or some perceived right was violated. As often as not, the facts are obscure and sometimes even misrepresented. There are times when the controversy itself becomes the focal point, overshadowing the actual incident. As a result, views become polarized, and objectivity disappears. It's difficult and usually inappropriate for us, as publishers, to act judgmentally in controversial affairs. We do not always possess all of the facts, nor the expertise, to accurately assess the elements of controversy. Therefore, it would be pretentious of us. and essentially a disservice to our readers. if we actively sought a role as spokesperson, mediator, or judge in controversial affairs.
    We do not offer these thoughts apologetically, but simply in explanation of our long-standing and continuing editorial policy.
    The Spring auctions promise to bring more excitement than ever this year and very soon will be upon us. You'll find announcements for some of the more prominent auctions within this issue. Even collectors whose budgets are limited should not overlook the importance and value of these sales. With the cost of numismatic publications being what it is, subscriptions to the auction and sale catalogs of major dealerships (who produce some very impressive works) are a cost-effective way to build a useful and beautiful reference library.
    Policies regarding subscription fees vary greatly, as does the actual willingness of some dealers to send out catalogs or lists to those who are not active buyers in their sales. We have seen some very emotional and heated discourses over the fulfillment of list or catalog subscriptions. In our opinion, the decision to charge for catalogs or lists, how much to charge for them, and who to offer them to, is essentially a personal one which rests solely in the hands of the dealer or auction house. Even though an advertiser in The Celator may offer free lists, we do not interpret this type of offer as a binding or continuing obligation and will not hold any particular advertiser accountable for specific fulfillment terms concerning free merchandise. The fulfillment of paid subscriptions is of course another matter. The Spring marketing season is coming in early and aggressively this year (let's hope the weather follows suit), get ready for a good time!
    We received some real words of wisdom in the mailbox this month and thank those who have taken the time to share their views with us. The idea of a "Classical" education is really an archaic notion, much to our dismay and regret. To those of us who love the mystique and challenge of understanding the past, it is a very personal loss. This month, when you curl up with The Celator and a glass of Sherry or cup of tea, why not take just a minute more to share with us your point of view?
     

    44 downloads

    Updated

  20. Vol 05 No. 03 March 1991

    I received a telephone call this month from a collector who wanted to sell his entire collection of ancient coins and put the proceeds into "something more rewarding - like CD's", It was not a case of flagging interest, this collector is an ardent student of antiquity and has become very knowledgeable in his chosen specialty. The decision to quit collecting was prompted by this individual's negative feelings about the coin market in general and his experiences with coin dealers in particular.
    Without going into particulars, the essence of this dissatisfaction seems to stem from the profit motive coming into conflict with the purism of collecting. This conflict is a condition which extends far beyond the experience of the collector mentioned above. It is perhaps not as acute with some as it has become in this case. but most collectors and most dealers are well aware of the conflict.
    At virtually every coin show, dealers are approached by collectors who want to sell., trade or upgrade material. If the collector paid $ 100 for a particular coin, he or she might find that dealers are only willing to pay a fraction of that amount to buy it back. This, of course, causes some very real consternation and leads to claims of profiteering and gouging. In actuality, there are a multitude of conditions which enter into the equation.
    First, is the difficulty of fixing a "true market value" on any particular coin of antiquity. It is not possible to measure and compare with the same exactitude as with modem coinage. The market price (value) of any particular ancient coin is precisely the amount that a knowledgeable buyer is willing to pay, and the owner is willing to accept. Prices do vary, for a variety of reasons.
    A dealer specializing in coinage of a particular area or period, for example, might ask a significantly higher price for a rare variety in that specialization than another dealer who is more of a generalist. Likewise. that dealer is likely to offer more to buy the same variety. Obviously, if one buys from a specialist and sells to a generalist there will be a disparity in perceived value.
    Another factor affecting price is the availability of a particular type at the moment (supply and demand). The appearance or dispersal of hoards, sale of large collections, and release of dealer stock ail affect price on an unpredictable basis. Likewise, the popularity of a series greatly influences its resale value. For instance, in the current market, resale value of 1st century Roman coins in better grades is relatively high. Resale value of Antoniniani of Gordian or late Byzantine gold, on the other hand. is low.
    A dealer, in order to survive, must carry a fairly broad range of coinage. This will include some issues with fairly high mark-up potential as well as some with very little margin. When buying, the prudent (and successful) dealer will try to maximize the profit margin when possible as a hedge against those issues where profit is minimal. It is an indisputable fac t that overhead in the travelling coin dealer's budget is substantial. There are a number of dealers that fail to cover expenses at any given show. Simple arithmetic provides the rationale and justification for buy-sell spreads that might tum off the collector.
    Buying ancient coins with the expectation, or hope, that one will profit financially is not the same as collecting ancient coins. One can choose either path, but seldom do the two mesh completely. If one really considers the purchase of ancient coins as an investment, then esoteric and low-grade rarities are not the most likely choice. On the other hand, if one really loves the challenge of discovery, interpretation, analysis and adding to man's knowledge of the past, there is a world of adventure that cannot be measured in profit and loss.
    It is sad when a collector becomes disenchanted with the market, because the relationship is really symbiotic. Without the market and dealer assistance, private collecting would virtually cease. Without collectors, dealers would obviously perish. Ancient coins have in many cases generated a profit for prudent and thoughtful investors. More often, they generate a profit for those handling the sale-just as stockbrokers' profit from the sale of stocks. These profits are not unfair or unreasonable. they are a part of the world market and a necessary component of trading. Danger Iies in the notion that all ancient coins are good investments or valuable entities. What is important is that buyers and sellers are aware of their interdependence and that buying decisions arc based on a foundation of knowledge. Where knowledge is lacking Caveat Emptor!
    Thanks for the flood of mail this month, it was nice to hear from so many of you. It would be great to see this kind of response on a regular basis. Why not take a moment to let us hear your point of view?

    46 downloads

    Updated

  21. Vol 05 No. 04 April 1991

    The events of the recent war in the Persian (or Arabian, depending on your preference) Gulf highlighted not only the value of real-time information, but also the declining value of disinformation in the modern age. The world is too small and people, on the whole, are too intelligent to buy into rhetoric without evaluating it within their own experiences.
    As we listened to Saddam Hussein's pronouncements of victory in Kuwait, even as his army was being decimated in the field. we wondered how any rational person could accept such blatant disinformation. Well, the answer is simple, they don't.
    Numismatists in Chicago for this year's Chicago International Coin Fair were exposed to their own local case of disinformation, perhaps not as incredulous as that coming out of Baghdad, but still very real. On page one of the Business section of Saturday's Chicago Tribune we read the headline "Professor proves old coins are the real diobols". We should excuse the staff writer, Jon Van, since one would not expect him to be fully aware of Ihe Black Sea Hoard controversy. The article, although written in the tones of an independent report, was essentially a news release. in that the statements and opinions rendered undoubtedly came from a single source.
    For starters, the article reported that the now infamous Black Sea Hoard diobols were pronounced counterfeit it by the British Museum's curator of Greek coins. Dr. Martin Price, because "He just didn't like their looks". It goes on to say that "after applying what may be the most intensive scientific scrutiny ever focused on ancient coins, a Michigan State University researcher [Dr. Stanley Flegler] has persuaded the numismatic fraternity that these coins were, indeed, made more than 2,000 years ago."
    To suggest that the basis of Dr. Price's condemnation was as superficial as "the look" of the coins sounds not only foolish but insulting. The implication that Dr. Flegler has exposed the British Museum's error assumes first of all that there was an error, and secondly that the resuIts of Flegler' s tests are unchallengeable - neither of which do I feel are the case. The statement that the numismatic fraternity is "persuaded" that these coins are of ancient origin is, at the very least, a distortion of the facts. Having personally discussed this issue with a great many ancient coin collectors and dealers, I have found the consensus opinion definitely to be that these coins. in spite of all the evidence presented, are fake. Few have been "persuaded" otherwise.
    Naturally, some of our fraternities are unwilling to discard the evidence offered by Dr. Flegler because it is wrapped in the banner of scientific research. This being the age of technology, we have great faith in our machines. Having spent most of my adult life in the electronics field, I too am a believer in technology. I have learned from experience, however, that what you see is not always what you get.
    The Tribune article explains Dr. Flegler's contention that the diobols are genuine. if debased, coins from ancient times". The article further states that last fall the International Bureau for the Suppression of Counterfeit Coins "issued a bulletin supporting Flegler." This is again a distortion of the facts. The bulletin (Vol.15, No.l, I990) says nothing of the sort. Reconciling the arguments of Flegler and those who condemn the coins, the lBSCC pronounced the coins to be "ancient counterfeits."
    With Hussein's recent victory claims still ringing in my ears, I read Dr. Regier's latest pronouncement "It was a victory for science and modem technology over the traditional numismatic reliance on appearances." As the inimitable Dr. Saslow would say. "We shall see what we shall see."
    Not to further the cause of disinformation, but just as an aside, rumors were rife on the bourse floor that a British dealer has been offered a die from the Black Sea Hoard. Wouldn't that be an interesting acquisition?
    The facts are what they are, and every collector or numismatist is free to interpret them as they care to, but we should really stay with the facts, without distortion, and identify opinion and rumor for what it is.
    We bid farewell this month to two numismatists who have served the hobby long and well. The passing of Edward Gans in Berkeley and Dr. Aaron Hendin in St. Louis will leave a void in the hearts of those who knew them well. Their contributions to ancient numismatics, like many dedicated numismatists before them, will serve as a living monument and their spirit will burn on through those inspired along the way.
    Edward Gans was a noted connoisseur of ancient Greek coinage and founder of the original Numismatic Fine Arts. Dr. Hendin specialized in Judaean coins (see the reprint of one of his informative articles in this issue). Each, in his own way, chose a path to follow, and they shared their hobby with relish, giving as much as they received.
    Thanks again for the letters, our Hendin/Vardaman crossfire drew a spirited response to say the least. It's good to see such enthusiasm among our readers - both pro and con. If the mood strikes you, take a moment this month to let us hear your point of view!

    47 downloads

    Updated

  22. Vol 05 No. 05 May 1991

    One of the subjects that I frequently encounter in conversations with collectors around the country is that of ethics within our hobby. Occasionally this comes in the form of a complaint, but usually it is broached in the form of a question or comment. I received a call this week from a subscriber who expressed his concern over an observation at a recent show.
    I! seems that this collector happened to witness " wholesale trade between two dealers. The collector later overheard the buyer discussing (with another member of his own firm) steps that could be taken to alter the coin and make it more saleable and theoretically more valuable. This seemed, to the collector, to be an unethical practice. It bothered the collector to the point that he had real concerns about the extent to which such alterations might be taking place, and whether coins in his own collection might have been altered.
    There are really two issues to consider here, and they both relate to integrity. On the one hand we are dealing with the integrity of the coin itself, and on the other we are dealing with the integrity of the seller. There are surely many opinions about these issues, but the purpose of this column is to offer you mine.
    Let's start with the question of a coin 's integrity. There are some who believe that any alteration to the condition of a coin, other than that produced by nature itself, is undesirable. These advocates would rather see a group of coins fused together and encrusted, from their centuries of interment, than separated and cleaned. Conversely, there are those who would burnish and polish everything in sight. From my personal point of view, neither are reasonable approaches. The joy of admiring, or owning, an ancient coin is mainly a product of the beauty or historical romance of the artifact. If the piece is so enc rusted that the image is not discernable, it is certainly not enjoyable as a work of art, and probably not as a piece of history. Some coins really do need to be cleaned.
    If the cleaning of a coin enhances its desirability, what about correcting other little detractions? How about plugging holes, or smoothing the fields? Is it a good thing to fill those pits with epoxy or give the coin a nice new patina? Well, these are tough questions. The answer, I think, is SOMETIMES!
    Major museums have never seen an ethical problem with doing this - they call it restoration. When a Greek amphora is found in 65 pieces and one of the handles is missing, no museum in the world would hesitate to fabricate a replacement. Some museums are careful to let you see the restored areas by using subtly different colors and fabrics, but others simply replace the missing parts and blend everything together. The integrity of an altered coin is certainly affected by its changes, but the net effect is not always negative. When an altered coin is sold, without a full disclosure of the changes, there is a breach of integrity, on the part of the seller. It is this situation which causes the greatest concern, because the buyer fee ls cheated and victimized by misrepresentation. The coin might be better than it was originally, but the buyer saw it as "virgin" and fee ls a real sense of betrayal when the alterations become apparent. Here, we enter the sphere of ethics. Is it unethical to professionally restore coins? NO. Is it unethical to sell restored coins? NO. Is it unethical to sell restored coins without full disclosure? YES!
    If you have any suspicion that a coin might be "enhanced", and if that bothers you, ask the seller specifically about your concern. To dealers, in general, I would ask for a more forthright approach toward voluntarily identifying and disclosing known alterations. The hobby really deserves it.
    This month we inaugurate the integration of ROMAN COINS AND CULTURE into The Celator. Former RCC subscribers will be provided with three issues of The Celator as compensation for the final RCC issue which has been cancelled. Those Celator subscribers who also subscribed to RCC will receive an extension to their current subscription by three issues. Look for the new renewal date on your mailing label. Our cover story this month is the third pan of Magna Mater, by James Meyer. We earlier reprinted parts I and 2 for the benefit of Celator readers and will now bring parts 3 and 4 to our combined readership.
    We are also including a special pull-out centerfold this issue, with a listing of all feature articles published in The Celator since its inception. It's a pretty impressive list (no modesty here) and we are tremendously grateful to all who have contributed. We still have copies of certain back issues, but quantities are limited. Another place to look for many of these articles is in The Best of The Celator - published in 1988,89 & 90.
    This is Spring convention time, and we will be off to San Francisco for the NAB, New York for the AINA, and SI. Louis for the Central States Convention. Hope to see some of you along the way! In the meantime, take a moment to write and share with us your point of view.

    40 downloads

    Updated

  23. Vol 05 No. 06 June 1991

    It was bound to happen sooner or later. The one element that has separated the field of ancient numismatics from that of U.S. and modem coinage has been the individuality of each coin from antiquity. The intrigue and romance of holding in one's hand a coin that might have been held by a Roman soldier, or a gladiator, perhaps by Alexander the Great or by one of Christ's disciples, has set this field aside from all others. The very essence of collecting ancient coins reflects a sensitivity that is vanishing at an all too alarming rate. Virtually everyone that I have come into contact with in the five years that we have been publishing The Celator has at some time opposed the slabbing of ancient coins, yet today that feared possibility is a reality. With Numismatic Guaranty Corporation's recent announcement of an authenticating, grading and slabbing service for ancient coins we are witnessing what surely will be a milestone in this hobby.
    It is not likely that slabbing ancients will destroy the market, or result in anything nearly so morose, but the subtle changes could bring long tern negative effects. In fact, the process may actually stimulate sales of certain types of generic coinage in a market that is clearly, saturated at the moment. No one will care too awfully much about the slabbing of antoniniani or Alexander tetradrachms; there will always be enough of these coins around to satisfy collectors and accumulators alike. After all, it wasn't too long ago that William Herbert Hunt seemed to be well on the way to depleting the market of Byzantine gold coins. Well, Mr. Hunt didn't, and Byzantine gold prices haven't risen in ages.
    The concern is really more personal than economic. Most collectors of ancient coins actually come to love the wretched little beggars. They steal our time, empty our wallets, and tum us into compulsive creatures, but we find life rather dull without them. Many feel, and I must echo the sentiment, that the slabbing of ancient coins is merely one more example of our changing values as a society. The technological era is supplanting the age of enlightenment, and even our most precious traditions and institutions are being devoured by the fast-paced hi-tech world around us.
    My first experiences with an ancient coin dealer were in 1966, at the office of Dr. Busso Peus in Frankfurt. The firm was operated in those days out of a lovely residential building on Neuhaus Strasse. To this day, I remember my visits and the young men who welcomed me, Peter Schulten and Dieter Raab. None of us are quite so young anymore! The most memorable feature of those visits was the opportunity to browse through their considerable array of coin trays which were housed in a magnificent old wooden cabinet. Each coin was nested on felt in a circular cutout - no flips or 2x2s - and was accompanied by tags brown with age and written in the most delightful hand. It saddens me to think of all the incredible old tags that have been swapped for heat-sealed plastic holders in the auction prep rooms of the last decade.
    What I really fear, is that someday there will not be a Peter Schulten or a Dieter Raab for the next generation. Something pure and good will be lost, I think to the detriment not only of our hobby but to all of mankind. The world has seen similar episodes, where classical ideals were abandoned for more "progressive" thinking. In the end, humanism and classicism have always prevailed. The great revivals of classicism in the days of Charlemagne, in the Arab and Byzantine worlds of the 12th century, of the Italian Renaissance some 300 years later, and of European Neo-classicism in the 19th century were all prompted by interludes of darkness. It seems that we are again entering such an interlude and perhaps ancient coin collectors will be the "monks" of the 21st century who silently preserve a worthy ideal. If that is to happen, we must be careful to pass the torch and not snuff it in plastic.
    Perhaps this admittedly emotional reaction is unwarranted, perhaps it is unnecessarily cynical, and perhaps there isn't any threat to the old ideals and institutions. Perhaps education in this country is better than some of us perceive and perhaps the Golden Age is before us and not behind us. Let us hope for those who follow that it is so.
    As for slabbing ancient coins - it is a fact of life. It is probably not going to go away, regardless of the feelings of those who will protest the loudest. We operate in a free market and must accept the fact that we will not always agree with the policies and practices of others. As long as those practices are legal and ethical, we should try to be tolerant and exercise our own freedom of choice while others do the same.
    Although CNG will probably take some "heat" initially for agreeing to lend credibility to the slabbing, it is probably better that a firm like theirs is involved than not involved. Without some rather substantial expertise making the inevitable judgements, chaos could reign. We must say that this is a very bold move on their part, and we sincerely wish them well.
    Time to run, drop us a line with your point of view about slabbing!
     

    42 downloads

    Updated

  24. Vol 05 No. 07 July 1991

    Open Letter from Harlan J. Berk:
    Dear Editor,
    I have read your editorial in The Celator on page 2 and I find it disheartening that someone of your stature in our little community would take such a weak stand on such a potentially damaging program as the slabbing of ancient coins. And then at the end of your editorial taking the blasphemous position of wishing the slabbers "GOOD LUCK". It is unbelievable that you could do that especially when you normally put yourself in the posit ion of being impartial. All of the collectors and dealers I spoke to were incensed, upset, angry and disagreeable to the idea of slabbing ancient coins.
    I am enclosing my article published in the last issue of World Coin News which I give you permission to print as I own the rights to all my articles. This wi ll explain why slabbing would have been a bad thing.
    Wayne, if everyone took your position, slabbing would be a reality. My article and the reaction of many people who care about our field have caused the cancellation of the slabbing program. Now rather than it being a reality, it's only a bad dream.
    Sincerely yours,
    Harlan J. Berk HARLAN J. BERK. LTD.
    To those whom it may concern:
    While it is flattering to be thought of as a person of "stature" in our fraternity, I fear that one voice does not cause the winds of change to subside. Rather, the voices of many cause ears to listen and minds to react. This is exactly what happened with the recent NGC proposal to slab ancient coins. Although I did not personally or professionally react an "incensed, upset, angry and disagreeable" party, I did quietly and clearly express my views to NGC, CNG and the numismatic fraternity. Because many of our readers did Ihe same, the decision of NGC to slab ancients has been reversed. This does not mean that NGC will never slab ancients, or that no one else will ever slab ancients, but for the time being, the issue has been laid to rest. Ken Krah, of NGC, told me personally that the decision not to proceed was made in response to literally "hundreds" of letters from concerned collectors. Indeed, we received many letters here, some of which are included in this issue. We simply did not have room to print them all.
    I feel that NGC has acted responsibly and fairly in this regard and that they should be applauded for their sensitivity to the wishes of the collector fraternity.
    Let there be no mistake about my position in this matter- I do not support the slabbing of ancient coins, will not utilize such a service myself if it ever becomes ava il able, and will not recommend such a service to those who might solicit my opinion. Neither, however, will I use the power of this press to interfere with the legitimate business practices or ambitions of others simply because I disagree with their philosophy. While I respect the right of Mr. Berk to challenge the NGC position, and of World Coin News to run the adversarial article mentioned in Mr. Berk's letter, I do not feel it is appropriate for reprinting in The Celator in light of NGC's announced decision to withdraw from this venture. The issue, after all, has been settled.
    Finally, "If everyone took [my] position" in this issue there would never be a slab sold in this country - there simply wouldn't be any buyers!
    Mr. Berk's letter really addresses an issue much broader than that of slabbing ancient coins, that is, the editorial philosophy of this publication. We have been chided in the past, by a few of our readers and a few dealers, for not taking a more vocal stand on certain issues, and for not sensationalizing certain market events. While we certainly have strong personal views on some of these issues, it has been our policy to consciously avoid confrontational issues because we prefer to emphasize and promote The Celator as an "entertaining and informative" publication. The type of "investigative" reporting and news feature reporting found in publications like World Coin News and Coin World is not our "cup of tea". We have neither the staff, nor the budget to support this type of reporter-intensive editorial content. Therefore, we are pleased to leave this type of news in the hands of those who can do it much better than we can. We do not apologize for this fact; we simply choose this route as an editorial policy.
    On a happier note, the ANA Convention in Chicago promises to be a spectacular event and we are looking forward to spending several days there - hope to see some of you all the many activities. Thanks to the aspiring (and veteran) authors who have sent us manuscripts this past month, we have a very strong and exciting line-up for the rest of the summer. If you enjoy their work or have feed-back to offer, take a moment to share your point of view.

    54 downloads

    Updated

  25. Vol 05 No. 08 August 1991

    In the commentary prefacing Empire Coins fixed price catalog #57, Dennis Kroh addresses the question "Where have all the EF's gone?" Mr. Kroh sees a disturbing trend in which many new collectors to the field of ancient coinage are interested in purchasing only coins graded EF or better. The trend is a reflection, he feels, of habits and prejudices acquired in the collecting of modem coinage which is "crossover". This trend ostensibly has removed much of the available higher end material from the market and collectors are becoming frustrated. As a result, Kroh advises "acquiring coins for their individual historical merit and 'eye-appeal' rather than strictly by grade. This way you can obtain interesting items that are within your budget without being frustrated."
    This is an interesting assessment, which may or may not have a correlation with "new-collector" habits. It stands to reason that a major shift in buying habits would affect the obviously limited supply of material. It is a slight exaggeration, however, to suggest that one cannot buy EF+ coins in today's market. Now, the price one might have to pay is another manner!
    Regardless of market condition and the causes thereof, the advice offered by Mr. Kroh is superlative. It is, indeed, the very essence of collecting ancient coins. Collectors will always try to obtain the most perfect specimen of a type available, but unreasonable expectations only hinder the enjoyment of an otherwise exciting pastime.
    11 must seem very confusing to the new collector when one is advised to buy the best that one's budget can support, and in the next breath is advised not to be too condition conscious. Knowing when to buy a coin in Fine condition, because it will probably never show up in EF is as much an art as a science. It takes years of knowing your specialization and knowing the market. So, what does the inexperienced collector do? READ and LOOK! Sale catalogs are one of the most informative and least expensive tools in preparing the collector for an intelligent purchase. Most catalogs illustrate at least some of the lots, and comparisons are easily made - keeping in mind that photos do not always tell the whole truth. When the coin you seek appears only occasionally in sales, and almost always in wretched condition, don't be afraid to snap up a Fine or VF when it does come along. Buying common coins in low grade is recommended only for the joy of attribution and research, don 't expect to get any money back out of the coin. Rare coins, however, are another matter. Many coins that a collector seeks are much rarer than catalogs might imply, they seldom show up for sale and therefore should not be hastily condemned if less than pristine.
    The issue of "eye-appeal" is another aspect which is too often ignored. An example of a particular type in nice Fine condition, with pleasing style, smooth attractive patina, and nice centering is a beauty by anybody's standards. At the same time, a technically for example of this coin, with mottled and flaking patina, executed by a butcher of an artist, and struck 20% off center, is not going to win any beauty contests. This should seem fairly obvious, but the FDC mentality is sometimes overwhelming - if not irrational.
    We second Mr. Kroh's advice whole heartedly and believe collectors will benefit greatly by it.
    It is really remarkable that we have received so many excellent articles over the past five years and still, they continue to come. 1 want to express my sincere appreciation to the many contributors who have made The Celator worth reading. Sometimes we get behind on our correspondence and don't acknowledge receipt as quickly as we should (no excuses offered), but we do very much appreciate the effort that goes into these articles and never cease to be impressed by the wealth of knowledge resident in our small fraternity. We are currently running about three months behind in printing accepted articles, but wherever possible we add additional "copy" (as in this issue) with the wonderful confidence that there will be replacements. Our thanks and kudos to all.
    We are in San Francisco for the International show as this issue goes to press and will be attending the ANA convention in Chicago in August. We'll also be at the Rare Coins Expo in Minneapolis on August 24-25.
    Thanks for the interesting and provocative letters last month and this month, it's been anything but dull! If the mood strikes, take pen to paper and let us hear your point of view.
     

    49 downloads

    Submitted

×
×
  • Create New...