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The Celator

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  1. Vol 05 No. 09 September 1991

    Marketing in today's " high pressure" society has become a serious guessing game where highly trained and correspondingly compensated professionals seek to develop an edge for their clients. Successful agencies are those that find ways to directly stimulate a sale or negotiation. In this environment, most major publications include advisory personnel on staff to assist their clients in developing effective advertising programs.
    At The Celator, we unfortunately do not enjoy the luxury of hiring this kind of expertise. Still, we feel a need and responsibility to do everything in our power to make advertising a viable and successful experience for our many commercial supporters. Afte r all, without their continued involvement we would cease to exist. On the whole, comments which we receive from advertisers about the impact of their ads are positive. Sometimes they are very positive, which always helps brighten our day. We have noted one area, however, where reader response has consistently been poor. Because we do not have the expertise on staff to analyze this area of concern we bring it to you, the reader, for some insight and feedback.
    Several firms have, over the past couple years, run full page ads featuring specific coins or antiquities for sale. These ads typically list anywhere from a few to as many as 40 or 50 items, and they have included objects in a variety of conditions and price ranges. While collectors seem eager to purchase the same type of material from dealer lists and catalogs, they frequently shy away from ads of this type in The Celator. This is mystifying to me, since the coins offered in these ads are exactly the same coins that will ultimately be sold on someone 's list. Not only is this the case, but the prices asked on a mail list will in almost every instance be higher in order to compensate for the costs of production and distribution. An ad in The Celator' is much cheaper and easier to produce, from the seller's point of view, than a direct mailing.
    For reasons which we do not understand, and desperately need to understand, this particular type of advertising has not been very effective. We know that our readers are making contact with our advertisers, and that consistent advertising does lead to sales. What we don't know is why this direct sale advertising has not worked very well, and what it will take to make it work better.
    Some readers have written expressing their interest in seeing lower priced coins advertised, bm as Sandy Wolf pointed out in last month's Letters section this does not seem to make the difference.
    This is a subject that you will probably never see broached in this way by any other publication, but then no other publication is quite as fraternal as The Celator. We depend on reader feedback (help from our friends) more so than many other publications might.
    Don 't expect to see your comments published in our Letters section, but if you have ideas that might help - we certainly welcome and solicit them. Even if you don't have an explanation for this perplexing phenomenon, remember to say you saw it in The Celator when contacting dealers about offerings or events. Since the number of collectors in this hobby is really limited every little bit of feedback helps.
    The Celator is more than just a magazine about ancient coins and antiquities, it has become the focal point of a very small and diverse group of individuals sharing a common bond. In many ways it is a "club" publication without the club. It is truly a publication by and for the readers. It has grown and improved because readers and dealers have chosen to support it. We should not lose sight of the fact that this support is one of choice and only from our mutual support do we derive a mutual benefit.
    We will be at the ANA convention, as this issue goes to press, and expect that it will be a gala affair. Hopefully we can hold back the Art & Market page from our printer long enough to include an " in-progress" report. With the Pre-ANA show, PNG Day, auctions and the convention itself (which lasts for six days this year) it should be quite a busy week.
    The Fall auction and show circuit will be upon us before we know it. Although we are still waiting for a formal press release, the big news this year is that the New York International Numismatic Convention has reportedly been sold to a consortium of dealers. According to a spokesman for the group, it will be reduced somewhat in size and will be held this year in early December at the Drake Hotel. Look for an announcement soon.
    As usual, we appreciate hearing from you so why not take a moment to share your point of view?
     

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  2. Vol 05 No. 10 October 1991

    We received a number of thoughtful replies to our editorial commentary of last month which, as promised, will not be printed here. It is ironic that we also received a letter from a reader who suggested that we should do (in the pages of The Celator) a complete buy/bid or auction sale in conjunction with some major dealer. The antithesis to this suggestion is a comment from one respondent who wrote "When I see an ad in The Celator, I assume the coin is already sold, overpriced, hard to move, or all of the above."
    The consensus seems to be that readers will buy from direct sale ads, but the offerings must be cither very special coins or very good bargains. We will take your comments to heart and pass them on to our advertisers.
    It's time to start assembling our Best of The Celator -1991. We thought that there would be less demand for the annual issue once we switched to magazine format - but we were happily wrong about that!
    We have been experiencing an increasing number of requests for the 88, 89 and 90 editions, and actually had to do a second printing of the 1989 issue to meet the demand. Therefore, we will certainly continue the series - in the same style and format as usual. This year's edition will be out in December.
    Not only have our readers become hooked on "The Best of the ..." The Numismatic Literary Guild recognized this project in their awards program for the third year in a row! We are very proud of that accomplishment and will strive to make this year's edition belief than ever.
    We are also very proud of the NLG recognition bestowed upon Eri c Kondratieff (Clement F. Bailey Memorial A ward) for his Celator article about the Gemma Tiberiana, and of the selection of James Meyer's article about the Baths of Constantine as "Best Article" in the World Magazine Class. We've had a wealth of outstanding contributions that we are very grateful for and are most pleased by the number of new contributors each year.
    Wc staffed a table at the Illinois State Numismatic Association convention in Peo ria recently and enjoyed meeting some collectors that we had not met before. The show circuit is really busy this month and next month, so we will be on the road a lot. Unfortunately, we can't make them all. but expect to be seeing a lot of you along the way.
    You will find among the advertisements in this issue an offering from Clio's Cabinet. This is, as many of you have undoubtedly surmised, the business name of our antiquarian enterprise. Under this name we conduct a variety of activities, one of which is the publishing of The Celator. We also publish numismatic and art historical books. and do the occasional local show as a table holder. We do not publish a list of coins for sale, and we are not active retailers of coins in a practical sense. However, we found ourselves unexpectedly with an empty page this month and thought you might enjoy a listing of some ready e so/eric coins that most ancient coin dealers seldom offer.
    We get a lot of peculiar looks when people see the name Clio's Cabinet - just as we did when people were first exposed to Celator. Clio, if you remember your mythology, was the Roman muse of history. You will find a representation of Clio in the series of Roman Republican denarii struck by L. Pomponius Musa. The cabinet of curiosities was a post-Renaissance mark of erudition and every "educated" person formed a cabinet of some sort. This marked the beginning of sophisticated collecting in the Western world. I like to think of Clio's Cabinet as an old leather pouch, filled with little treasures like The Celator, the Autobiography of Valentine Duval, a few antiquities, and a few Turkoman bronzes. Sharing and enjoying some of these treasures with our good friends is, and has for many years been, a real pleasure.
    Some of our overseas subscribers have noted a delay in delivery recently - we hope to have that remedied soon. Costs of production and distribution are on the rise aga in and we are determined to explore every prudent option available before we pass the increase along to our customers. Sometimes this means a "try it and see " approach with new vendors. Please bear with us.
    Thanks to all who wrote in this month, your comments are very much appreciated. While there don't seem to be any "hot fires" burning at the moment, we still like to hear your point of view.

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  3. Vol 05 No. 11 November 1991

    Proof! The conclusion reported by Cain World in its October 9th edition is that Dr. Stanley Hegler finally has the proof required to satisfy skeptics who spurned the Black Sea Hoard's authenticity. Dr. Flegler went to Bulgaria himself and surfaced "die-links" and stylistic matches in Bulgarian museums. For the amount of effort Dr. Flegler has expended in trying to prove his contention that the Apollonia and Mesembria diobols are genuine - we should all stand in awe. The sheer tenacity of this scientist from Michigan has to evoke a certain admiration. Dr. Flegler's much publicized "proofs" and the predictable rebuttals from certain members of the numismatic community have become old hat. Why don't we just accept the ''fact'' that Dr. Flegler is right, and the coins are genuine? In a full-page ad (contiguous with the Coin World article) offering the diobols for sale, Heritage Rare Coin (the primary holder of Black Sea Hoard coins) calls the controversy over authenticity" one of the biggest controversies the field of ancient numismatics has seen in years". The ad goes on to proclaim Dr. Flegler's new proof as "the triumph of science over speculation" and "proof that arrogance breeds ignorance". The ad refers to the diobols as "the little coins that stumped the big shots".
    Yours truly is alluded to in the ad as one of the "certain experts" [thank you] who "stubbornly refused to acknowledge the results of exhaustive scientific testing" and "could not bear to suffer such a loss of face at the h ands of modern technology".
    This criticism is barely worth response, but I will simply state that I have no personal interest or stake in this matter. My ego is not at stake, nor is my reputation. I have offered my opinion it is only that. I am not a scientist, nor am I a professional classicist. I hold a master's degree in Art History, with a specialization in ancient numismatics, but that is hardly a professional reputation to defend. I have absolutely nothing to gain by condemning the Black Sea Hoard coins. Why am I vocal about the issue? Because I would like to see all doubt removed before these or any other questionable finds are disseminated.
    What of all this new proof? I am sure to be roundly condemned by some, and re-branded as arrogant, ignorant, etc., but l still have deep reservations and the proofs I see offered continue to fall short of removing the lingering doubt. Scientific proof demands a scientific approach, and that means that all possibilities have to be accounted for.
    The Coin World article reports that the Black Sea Hoard is composed of two distinct styles, the "regular style" and the "wild style", implying that a hoard [of genuine coins] might have been salted with modem counterfeits. If this is so, what of the 40 specimens examined by Dr. Hegler in his laboratory? Some of them were "wild style", but all were proclaimed genuine.
    Actually, the facts (as well as reports from the field) support the "salted hoard" theory. Readers may remember some time back when John Cummings related to Celator readers his own experience in Germany where he found what he felt were genuine and fake coins of this type co-mingled. Other reports indicate that genuine coins have been "cherry-picked" from bulk lots of this material. Salting is a very common practice among certain suppliers of hoard material and the practice is well known to western numismatists who have learned to be wary of it. If this is the case, the real question of course is which coins are real? Unfortunately, the very coins that intuition tells us we should suspect as fake are the same coins that Dr. Hegler has declared authentic. As for the "die-links" that are supposed to exist in Bulgarian museums, the photos have been examined by very reputable and knowledgeable western numismatists and found not to be die-links at all. In fact, one prominent museum curator characterized the hoard coin as "imitative" of its non-hoard (Bulgarian museum) "link".
    Although we are all sick of the Black Sea Hoard, this issue is too important to ignore. We simply have to get at the truth - and We eventually will. The issue is far from dead and not even a mighty publication like Coin World can bury it in a gilded coffin. Meanwhile, the coins are being advertised and sold. With all the notoriety, they will undoubtedly become collectibles, whether genuine or not.
    Our mailbox was really loaded with letters this month. We are especially happy to see letters which relate to the articles published in past issues. This interaction is the essence of what we have been trying to achieve. It is very gratifying for us to be able to bring enthusiasts together in this way. Of course, they are your articles, and it is your response that makes it all happen.
    We have not been very active at national shows recently, partly due to an overload here at home, but the situation is much improved, and we should be on the road again soon. It'll be good to see some of our friends that time and circumstances have kept apart from us. In the meantime, we look forward to hearing your point of view.

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  4. Vol 05 No. 12 December 1991

    In last month 's issue, one of our regular advertisers, Dr. Arnold Saslow, made the statement " ... it seems our instincts work as well as those who spend hours trying to research a coin, so that they can figure out how to substantiate the price asked." This statemen t followed the explanation by Dr. Saslow that he buys and sells coins solely on the basis of " ... quality, what the coin cost to buy, and current market conditions." The statement seemed to us to be simply a statement (rational or not) of Dr. Saslow's methodology. However, in reaction, we received a stinging letter to the editor from another dealer who was deeply offended because he felt that Dr. Saslow's statement was an attack on classical numismatists (including himself) and their professional reputations.
    It should go without saying that we wholeheartedly support numismatic research and would take a dim view of anyone demeaning the efforts of researchers. If research leads to the recognition of rarity, and thereby increased value, so much the better (for everyone, including the collector). Although we are frequently engaged, personally, in numismatic research, and have on rare occasion benefited financially from that research, we did not perceive any personal attack in Dr. Saslow's statements. Maybe we have developed thicker skin over the past five years.
    We have tried diligently to be noncontroversial in our editorship of The Celator because we do not believe that hostility and controversy are high on the list of things that readers would like to see in a recreational publication. Nevertheless, we sometimes (more so lately) find ourselves drawn into this arena of confrontation in spite of our preference to avoid it. For us, this is not a question of choosing sides (if indeed there are sides to be chosen). These words are not in defense of Dr. Saslow, because he knows very well that his comments sometimes have a tendance to inflame even the pure of heart.
    As a matter of policy, we will not consciously publish, within the pages of The Celator. personal attacks against anyone. In keeping with this policy, we have decided not to print the dealer's letter of complaint.
    We could simply ignore the issue, and some might think we should, but it brings to mind a distressing and growing trend in our hobby which someone needs to speak up about. One can hardly attend a coin show any more without having to listen to deliberate character assassination, some "hot" new gossip, or some "shocking" revelation of misdeeds. This garbage, which circulates all too freely, is not professional; it is not becoming; and it is not productive or effective. Misdeeds or unacceptable business practices (whether real or perceived) need to be dealt with aggressively - but not in the public arena. Neither should the bourse floor be used as stage for the clashing of puffed-up egos. We all deserve better than this.
    We have all chosen a very prestigious hobby and inherited a noble tradition. In the Age of Enlightenment, the newly educated and cultured society pioneered the modem collecting of ancient coins. In 19th century Europe, great minds created volumes of priceless numismatic literature. What is our legacy? What will we be remembered for, the revival of jousting? We should dedicate ourselves to a more productive use of our energy.
    This issue marks the close of our fifth year. Some of you will remember our first anniversary, it was a real milestone, and we were very proud and encouraged. The encouragement never ceased, and we have grown substantially as a result. Our family of readers now numbers over 1,700, with subscribers in every state of the U.S. and 30 countries around the world. Perhaps the most visible measure of our success is the rapidly growing number of major numismatic research centers and universities who subscribe to The Celator. This reflects very highly on the efforts of our contributing authors. For a popular journal, we have broken a tremendous amount of new ground. We still are proud of The Celator but recognize - more so than ever - how important the contributions of our readers and advertisers have been. We will continue to improve as technology and resources permit, and we plan to bring The Celator into your homes for as long as you continue to enjoy it.
    That's enough for now. We hope you'll have a wonderful holiday season, and we look forward to seeing some of you in New York. Until next month, we'll be watching the mailbox for your point of view!
     

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  5. Vol 06 No. 01 January 1992

    Since returning from the New York International Numismatic Convention, we have repeatedly been asked about the condition of the "market" for ancient coins. Many collectors, and dealers, apparently felt that the strength or weakness of trading at this major event would tell us what the new year is going to be like. If there were any great revelations, they managed to elude us, as the signals were definitely mixed.
    The consensus, throughout the past year, has generally been that "collector" coins have been in demand, while hoard coins and upper-end generic types have not done as well at auction or on the bourse floor. By collector coins, we mean those types that generally show up only in singular appearances, and somewhat infrequently. They tend to appeal to the collector who has waited patiently for some time and is willing to compete for the coin when it does find its way into the market. These are not always inexpensive coins. although that erroneous connection is sometimes made. Neither are collector coins necessarily rare. A collector of coins with some specialized motif might find a very desirable specimen in an otherwise unremarkable type. Even within a series of generally "inexpensive" coins, like Constantinian bronzes, for example, one will find that there are distinct differences between collector coins and generic types.
    Anyone who attended the Superior Galleries sale of the Bromberg collection of Jewish coins should realize that collector coins can become very expensive. In most respects, the NYINC confirmed the consensus opinion which had built over the past year. Extraordinary coins from extraordinary collections brought extraordinary, indeed record breaking, prices. Auction attendees were also treated to some elementary lessons in world economics. As currencies fluctuate, and the popularity of certain issues increases or decreases within various countries and regions of the globe, we can see an unmistakable " now" of material across the seas. This was particularly evident in prices realized for Roman Republican coins in the Numismatic Fine Arts sale. At the moment, the tide is ebbing for American collectors, but the pendulum always seems to find its way back eventually.
    Is the market in trouble? The answer seems to be that business is not as good as some would like, but not as bad as the economy in general. Optimism still seems to prevail. For example, we enjoyed the participation of 44 dealers in last year's Best of The Celator 1990, and this year (1991) the number climbed to 48. Shows are clearly not as successful, from an economic point of view, as they have been in the past. Lists, on the other hand, seem to be rising in popularity, and the mail-order business is doing very well for some dealers. With the U.S. dollar weaker, there has been less American dealer travel to Europe this year, and we see an increasing number of dealers from Europe attending U.S. shows. This is all rather curious, but perhaps not unexpected. The world is truly getting smaller each day. The market is unquestionably hindered by our current economic malaise, but it is not down and out by any means, and the relative strength, compared to other segments of the economy, is encouraging.
    This month we celebrate our fifth anniversary at The Celator. It's been a wonderful five years, and we have plenty to reminisce about. We've had a few "hot" topics along the way -does anyone remember the Hobby Protection Act? Micro-letters? The Decadrachm Hoard? Slabbing? or The Black Sea Hoard? It's interesting to look back and observe the changes. In Volume I, No. I of The Celator we announced the preparation, by Dr. Martin Price, of a new work on the coinage of Alexander the Great. Dennis Kroh reported on the results of the 1986 New York International, and we reported on the retirement of Harvey Hoffer and the sale of the Harvey Hoffer Collection of the coins of Hadrian. We also announced, in that issue, the addition of Nick Economopoulos to the staff of Edward J. Waddell, Ltd. Somethings never change, and among old familiar faces in that issue were the "Coming Events", "Trivia Quiz", and "Coin File".
    In a letter to the editor, one of our first, Tom McKenna wrote "I do wish you luck but have seen many such ventures launched, and quickly fail." Well, Tom sent us an ad anyway - as did Pegasi Coins, Royal Numismatics. The Time Machine Company, Frank Robinson, and Empire Coins. That's right - six ads (not counting a ton of house ads) and 12 pages of tabloid newspaper format. Last month's issue of The Celator included 60 pages, in a much-improved format, with 84 advertisers participating. Still, we are proud to say that the old faces remain, and the heart of The Celator (soon to become Celator, Inc.) beats on.
    Just a reminder for those who might have procrastinated, The Best of The Celator 1991 is now in stock and available at $6.95 postpaid, or $20 for all four issues of this increasingly popular classic. We hope that the holiday season has been a very special one for all of you and look forward to hearing from you in the coming months with your own point of view!
     
     

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  6. Vol 06 No. 02 February 1992

    Happily, the deep-winter winds in Wisconsin also bring with them a certain air of dormancy which allows us to collect our thoughts and regenerate for the rush of Spring activity. Having survived the trek to Atlanta for the Peach State Coin Show, and to Orlando for this year's P.U.N. show, we look forward to that bi t of respite. Just because we have a period of hibernation here in the fa r North does not mean that the rest of the world goes on hold - Long Beach and Dallas are only weeks away - but, as the saying goes, "When in Rome do as the Romans do". Therefore, we think it would be a good idea to take a break along with the bears and the groundhogs and let winter run its course.
    Well, so much for the stuff that dreams are made of. The IRS has other plans for our free lime. and we have more than a few aging letters to answer. not to mention the final pages of Volume I (the Turkoman book). We also will be taking some time to look more deeply into that quagmire commonly referred to as the Black Sea Hoard.
    No, the issue is not dead. Neither, however, is it a hot and controversial subject any longer. The simple fact is that most people don't particularly care about it anymore - and thank God for that! At the NYINC in December, we had a long discussion with Marc Emory of Heritage Rare Coin Galleries, and he gracious I y shared his observations about the coins. At the same time, he provided a large and varied assortment of the hoard coins as well as some recent and unusual acquisitions for our inspection. We also have been provided, by Dr. Stanley Flegler, with a complete set of photos from coins that he examined in Michigan and in Bulgaria. More importantly, we have received encouraging invitations to work in concert with the individuals mentioned above to try to sort fact from fiction and reality from rumor, and maybe shed some light on the origin of these bizarre pieces. 11 should make for an interesting winter, even here in the tundra. If anything, substantial develops you may rest assured, it will be shared with the fraternity-and not in the form of a front-page expose.
    We have received a lot of comments about last month 's cover, with the spiffy Port of Ostia sestertius. It was a great illustration for a very enjoyable article by Marvin Tameanko. Our thanks to Sotheby's for sharing the photo, and of course to Mr. Hunt for making it available. Coins like this one are so extraordinary that they defy description. Amazingly, the composition looks better and better as it is enlarged. This is an extremely rare circumstance in the world of art, and it reflects the incredible skill of The Celator employed in the coin's creation. I distinctly remember the slide of this coin being flashed on the large overhead screen at Sotheby's, during the Hunt sale, and even under that tremendous magnification it was magnificent. No wonder that it brought $18,700. There are a surprising number of coins from antiquity which possess this special quality of spatial relationship. Auction catalogers tend to sort them out for us by including blow-ups in the plates, but they seldom (especially in a major sale) string all of the pearls. Among ancient coins, an astute connoisseur can find some lovely works of ancient art which, presented in larger scale through the use of photography or other visual media, rival anything the great museums of the world have to offer. Some or the most delightful images are to be found on those tiny little silver fractions which proportionately are a real bargain for the collector who has more taste than money. Sometimes a dealer will ask a premium for a relatively common coin executed in a superior manner, this is certainly to be expected. and it would not speak very highly of the dealer if the additional merit and value were not recognized. As a rule, paying a reasonable premium for superb execution is money well spent.
    Why not, then, collect nothing but common coins with superb execution? The answer is simple, the coins may be common but the superbly executed examples are not. Furthermore, not everyone in the world cares about artistic presentation. To some collectors. historical importance far outweighs any concern about condition or execution. Others collect by type, or by category, which might necessitate settling for whatever examples are available. There are hundreds of motivations and methods of collecting ancient coins, and all are rewarding, but don't overlook those treasures of ancient art as you search for the coins on you r want-list.
    We thank all of our faithful readers for their continued support and their many kind words - which we seldom have the chance to acknowledge. You can believe that every comment is noted and appreciated. the problem is that we can read a lot faster than we can write, even with our friendly Macintosh. We love to get your letters so take a moment this month to share your point of view!
     

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  7. Vol 06 No. 03 March 1992

    Before the letters stan pouring in from offended connoisseurs, it seems appropriate for me to comment on this month's "Back Page". For some time now, Dr. Saslow has expressed in this paid advertisement his often-controversial views about ancient coin collecting, the coin market, players in the market, collector mentality, and just about any other facet of the hobby that one might envision. Many of our readers enjoy his witty, satirical, and usually blunt commentary - some are offended. We really hate to offend readers, in any fashion, but sometimes there is no perch high enough to avoid getting our heels nipped. Dr. Saslow has a right to his opinion, and we allow him to express that opinion, within reasonable and mutually agreed upon constraints. His views are obviously his own, as he himself has often stated, and are not necessarily those of The Celator. We allow a fairly high degree of latitude in these ads because we believe that most ancient coin collectors are erudite enough to make their own decisions and follow their own instincts regardless of the advice or opinions of others. We also hope and believe that The Celator helps them to do that.
    This month, Dr. Saslow suggests that "Artsyness" is a current fad and that some people, especially "Europeans" are paying exorbitant prices for coins due to the "artistic nature of the die work. He suggests that the "expression" of a Hellenistic portrait, for example, is not justification for substantially higher estimates and prices realized al auction.
    On behalf of connoisseurs world· wide we have to take exception to Dr. Saslow's view. I am reminded that a well-known British dealer remarked to me at the New York International in December that American collectors are overly preoccupied with catalog numbers and subtypes. Strangely enough, Dr. Saslow picked up this same theme in a recent "Back Page". Perhaps he was right, but if we don't develop an appreciation of nuances, and we don't concern ourselves with artistic rendering, we are left pretty much with collecting whatever happens to hit the market on a given day. BINGO?
    Ancient coins are really extraordinary works of art. As in all art media, there are varying degrees of competence among the artists (Celators) who created the motifs. Competence in art has always been admired, as well as rewarded - sometimes handsomely. We believe that this is a natural phenomenon, an appropriate condition of life, and a justified determinant for valuation. We do not believe that art appreciation is a "fad" (see my article this issue) or that individuals who have refined their taste are "ridiculous" for paying multiples to obtain the piece of art that they want. Not everyone wants to or has to become a connoisseur of art - but those that do, have every right to exercise their choice by bidding or buying at whatever level they find appropriate. Often, connoisseurs are attracted to the preferences of those who came before them and seek out coins from famous collections. While pedigrees, in and of themselves, are useless, the fact that a great work of art was owned by a universally recognized connoisseur is of some significance. Each coin must stand on its own merit but having a "track record" doesn't hurt.
    If Europeans consistently outbid Americans for great works of numismatic art it may say something about the differing perceptions of value, or the world economy, but it does not mean that Americans are unable to appreciate fine works of art or that sales of artistic coins are not "geared to Americans".
    We agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Saslow's advice "buy the coin because you like it", but let's not condemn a fellow collector because he or she likes it more and is willing to pay more for it than we are. Well, now you have the "Front Page" view and the "Back Page" view, and you can decide for yourself how you want to collector go another way altogether! That's the joy of numismatics.
    It is lime for another leap forward in the evolution of The Celator and we are poised to make some big improvements, but we need help. Quality can sometimes be improved through effort, but there are elements of production that we cannot improve without added cost. We are committed to retaining our subscription rate at the current level, at least as long as the U.S. Postal Service will cooperate, and we feel that our present economical advertising rates arc beneficial to collectors as well as dealers. The one area of potential increase which would sustain growth and improvement is in subscription levels. We need to DOUBLE our paid readership and we need to do it NOW! We are embarking on a new campaign to in· crease sales, but we have found through experience that nothing works like word of mouth. Therefore, we appeal to you to spread the word. As an added incentive, between March 1 and April 30 (1992) we will extend the current subscription term of any present subscriber by three months for each NEW paid subscriber received as a referral. Simply mention the referral at the time of request. This applies to either mail-ins or credit card call-ins (Previous sub· scribers are being offered another incentive program by mail and qualify for only one of these offers). Here's a chance to get that "Life" subscription you've been wanting - just multiply your life expectancy times four and start signing them up.
    We've warned the postmaster to put on extra staff to handle the response so there should still be enough manpower to pass on those letters sharing your point of view!

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  8. Vol 06 No. 04 April 1992

    We live in a rather sheltered world here in rural Wisconsin. It is true that we read about the social problems of the world, and we see the TV news reports which portray incidents of religious or racial prejudice. We realize that there are people who are oppressed and that there are people who are oppressors. But somehow, in this tiny little community where kids smoking behind the schoolhouse is a big issue, it never quite sinks in. Well, this month it hit us directly in the face when a reader wrote to inform us that we arc publishing an "anti-Christian" magazine. This accusation has caused me to step back and look critically at our editorial content and policies. Since I am personally responsible for the nature of this publication, its content is necessarily a reflection of my own perceptions of propriety. I am not a deeply religious person, in the congregational sense, but I'm certainly not "anti-Christian" by any stretch of the imagination. If the publication were to take on a prejudicial note, then it would, by extension, reflect some personal prejudice or naivety. After some careful introspection, I am convinced that neither is the case. Rather. I believe that certain comments have been taken out of context, have been interpreted in a manner not at all consistent with the aims of those who wrote them, and offense has been taken where none was ever intended. We certainly do not intend to offend anyone. But as I said last month, sometimes there is no perch high enough. Nevertheless, we do not take these concerns lightly, nor do we dismiss them offhandedly. We will be on guard lest the prophecy become self-fulfilling.
    I believe that we have done extraordinarily well in building the support base of loyal readers, about 1,700 at the last count. Largely this is because we derive mutual benefit from this effort. Also, we have tried to appeal to as broad a range of collectors, within the field of ancient numismatics, is possible. We have included articles about ancient art and artifacts, as well as an occasional article about medieval coinage, but we have not really developed a "following" in those areas. Consequently, our market area is rather limited. We feel that it is important that we serve the collector in these other fields because there are very few publications doing so, and interest in these areas is relatively high. Many collectors of ancient coins also harbor an interest in antiquities and/or medieval coins. Of course, our primary focus is and always will be ancient coins; after all, this our area of expertise and a great love besides.
    Over the coming months, in an effort to expand our market area and better serve our readers, we will be improving our coverage of medieval numismatics, but not to the detriment of ancients. We have a significant backlog of articles about ancient coins which we will share with you as quickly as possible. We are always receptive to articles contributed by our readers and do our Utmost to get them in print as quickly as possible.
    It was nice meeting several of our readers at the ANA Mid-Winter Convention in Dallas. George His wins the early-bird award for being the first to collect his three-month subscription extension for referring a new subscriber. Not only did he refer the gentleman, but he also dragged him to the show and made him pay in cash. Now that's a man of action! Don't forget, you have until April 30 to cash in on this opportunity. Refer a new paid subscriber to us and we'll extend your subscription by three months. Best of all, there's no limit on the number of extensions you can earn. I repeat, this offer applies to new subscribers only. Maybe the three months isn't worth much to you, but the referral is extremely important to us, so please pitch in!
    We have several projects underway here, more than enough to keep us out of trouble, and one of them is about ready for the printer. NO, I'm not talking about the Turkoman book, although that too is not far from the printer's desk. We have been selected by Frank Robinson to publish his forthcoming monography Confessions of a Numismatic Fanatic: how to get the most out of coin collecting. This is a general work about collecting, but Frank is very involved with ancient coins and much of the text relates to them.
    Frank's approach is innovative, in that he intersperses personal experiences, most of them fascinating, with a broad treatment of the hobby and its many facets. He answers virtually all of the questions that a new collector might ask and gives experienced collectors some valuable tips about how to get more "bang for the buck". We found this to be one of the few general works that a collector of ancient coins can benefit greatly from. We will be announcing its availability soon.
    This issue goes to press as we head for the Chicago International Coin Fair. The CICF promises to be a winner again this year and we look forward to it. We expect to see a lot of familiar, and I hope friendly, faces in the Windy City. Steve will be holding down the fort, so if anyone has a complaint to register, he is appointed official receiver of points of view.
     

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  9. Vol 06 No. 05 May 1992

    The International Bureau for the Suppression of Counterfeit Coins, based in Zurich, Switzerland, has released Bulletin on Counterfeits Vol. 17, No.1 for 1992. In the current release, the agency unmasks the activities of two clever and extremely competent forgers who had deceived much of the numismatic fraternity for several years. According to the report, the two forgers, who are assigned the pseudonyms "Costodoulos" and "Gulyas", developed an intricate system of production and distribution which included the creation of hand-made modem dies; the re-cutting of dies made from actual specimens of ancient coins which were in turn restruck and enhanced; and the introduction of corrosion and crystallization to lend credibility.
    Many of the dies created by the forgers were reportedly made from models acquired in the form of British Museum electrotypes. These pre-WWI electrotype copies were originally made for scholarly research and artistic appreciation and, although no longer produced, arc still widely collected. Because of the many forgeries created from these models, the IBSCC dubbed the duo" The British Museum Forgers", undoubtedly an unsavory term from the museum's point of view. The forgeries, however, were not limited to BM prototypes.
    The report lists several hallmarks of the forgers, including higher, more rounded and fuller reliefs: damaged areas on the prototype coins are usually repaired or masked with the addition of some detail; fields on gold coins had to be perfectly flat, like "'melted chocolate"; pattern of wear does not make sense, e.g., sharp detail on high points but wear on lower parts of the relief.
    Although 30 specimens were listed in the IBSCC report, one party close to the problem has indicated that more are likely to be announced as the situation unfolds. The bulletin very clearly indicated that this deception was discovered and exposed by members of the numismatic trade who had handled the coins, with refunds going to the disfranchised buyers. The IBSCC is an arm of the International Association of Professional Numismatists, whose code of ethics is among the most respected and best enforced in the numismatic field.
    Fortunately, the scope of damage is relatively contained. Although some firms have suffered significant financial loss, the threat to most collectors is minimal. The natural tendency of all collectors, whenever an incident like this is revealed, is to question their own holdings. I am repeatedly asked the same question ~ How can you be sure that the coins are authentic? Whenever a forgery passes undetected for some period of time, it weakens the credibility of the "system" that assures buyer confidence. Basically, that system - in spite of scientific advances - is one of acquired expertise. It is a trite but true statement that detection of forgeries usually starts with a feeling, not with a discovery. The reason that expertise can be acquired in this area is that there are so many coins of absolute authenticity passing through the coin market each year that one who spends a lifetime working in this field cannot help but develop an instinct about these coins. It is probably not far afield from Pavlov's dogs (no offense to coin dealers) that conditioned response manifests itself in the unconscious reaction of an "expert". This suggestion may be hard to accept for those who have scientific and analytical minds, but I assure you it has merit.
    So, if these "experts" are so instinctive, how did they miss the BMF forgeries for so long? Well, another feature of the human experience is that we sometimes allow enthusiasm to override caution. In a market craving new and exciting material, it is hard to be cynical when a rare beauty comes along. Much of the market is built on trust, and the source of these forgeries was a highly trusted individual. Defenses were down and trusts were violated - it's an age-old story. On a coin-by-coin basis, with no comparative analysis to guide one, these coins were splendid fakes. As usual, however, greed seemed to get the better hand of common sense, and the forgers dipped into the well a little too often.
    Had they not been greedy, would they have succeeded? Perhaps. Have others who were not so greedy already succeeded? Undoubtedly! Is this a cause for great concern? Probably not. The percentage of forgeries residing in collectors' trays has \0 be very tiny, but they are there. Every "old" collection that comes to a dealer will have a few. That's how dealers build their "black" trays. It's kind of an annoyance, but not really a disease unless you have numismatic cardiac arrest from your prize possession going under. The best protection is simply to buy from a dealer where you have recourse if the coin later proves false. If you choose to buy elsewhere, you merely have to evaluate and accept the risk.
    Don't lose any sleep, unless perhaps you want to burn some midnight oil sharing your point of view!

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  10. Vol 06 No. 06 June 1992

    This issue affords the reader a rare and exclusive opportunity to buy or bid on coins from a well-known and published collection. The remaining Greek bronze coins from the collection of Henry Clay Lindgren arc being offered in a special four-page center section advertisement by the "soon to be venerable" Frank Kovacs of San Matco, California.
    Within this column we do not normally promote the offerings of specific dealers, but this is a very special event in a number of ways. On the one hand, it answers the perennial requests from our readers for a major listing of inexpensive coins. Many of the coins in this sale are able to be bought out right for less than the cost of a single dinner; some for less than lunch at McDonald's. Every coin is a plate coin from the Lindgren collection. It is the perfect opportunity for "die-hard" collectors of Greek bronzes who have budgetary limitations.
    On the other hand, it reflects recognition of The Celator as the prime market vehicle for this kind of a sale. We could not ask for a more reputable numismatist than Frank Kovacs to undertake a venture of this magnitude, and we feel very comfortable about recommending participation in this sale.
    The two-volume reference, published by Lindgren and Kovacs in 1985 and 1989, is actually the catalog for this sale. The reference is still available through several booksellers, including those advertising herein. The catalog is not only useful as a visual guide to the coins offered for sale, but it is also a very helpful reference to coins that are frequently ignored and seldom illustrated in other collections. Included are many types which are often difficult to attribute. Whether one buys, bids, or passes in the sale, this reference is worth having.
    We are mailing the Celator a little earlier this month in the hope that we can compensate for some of the postal delays which inconvenience our readers. We are especially concerned with deadlines and have not missed one in the five and a half years that we have been publishing. If your issue does not arrive at the regular time, it is almost 
    certainly, due to delays in transit, over which we have less than no control! I say "less than" because it seems that attempts to "rattle the cage" only end up in greater frustration. If your issue is lost, we will replace it without charge. It is expensive, however, for us to send replacements separately - so please be patient.
    Although the Kovacs sale closes on June 19th, this month's early mailing should allow ample time for ordering the reference and responding.
    Speaking of deadlines - our deadline for copy and advertising has been changed from the second Friday of each month to the 1st day of each month. The deadline line for the July issue is therefore the 1st of June, and for August the deadline is the 1st of July, etc. Hopefully, this will be an easier date to remember, and the extra lead time will allow us to mail earlier.
    Dennis Kroh reminded us that our "Point of View" last month about counterfeit coins did not emphasize the fact that these particular coins were exclusively "high ticket" items. He apparently has received queries from collectors who are concerned about recent acquisitions of coins in the less than $1000 price range. There is always cause for concern about the authenticity of certain ancient coins, but not any more so than usual, since the coins produced by the "British Museum Forgers" were not made for the "average" collector. This danger to the hobby is not going to diminish in years to come, but I do believe that professional numismatists have done and are doing a reasonably good job of culling the bad material from circulation. As we have said repeatedly and will continue to say until everyone is sick of hearing it - BUY FROM A SOURCE WHERE YOU HAVE RECOURSE.
    We met a few hardy souls who braved the civil strife to attend the NAB in San Francisco this month. As we were leaving the city, a torched warehouse was billowing smoke across the freeway. Actually, we were in Los Angeles (Inglewood) when the rioting broke out. Fortunately, we slipped out unnoticed, and only heard about the magnitude of the problem as we headed up I-5 to the Bay Area. It makes one reflect soberly upon the wisdom of carrying a bag of ancient coins around the country!
    We will be attending the Long Beach Expo on Saturday, June 6, and the NYINC in New York on June 26 and 27. From what we can determine, the New York show is ga the ring momentum, and promises to be a well-attended and exciting affair. It will be interesting to see how the event is received, as generally show participation has been rather slack this past year. The economy seems to be putting on a better face, however, and the timing is right, so we will remain optimistic about this one.
    We encourage you to support your local shows - it's good from everyone's point of view.

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  11. Vol 06 No. 07 July 1992

    There are certain aspects about the hobby of collecting ancient coins that always seem to cause a degree of consternation, not only to collectors, but to dealers as well. The issues of grading, authentication, and pricing arc among the most commonly questioned or debated. We received a request this month from a dealer who wanted copies of any previous Celator articles about these subjects. Not surprisingly, the pantry was rather bare.   We have printed a fair amount of information about forgeries, and we have discussed pricing and grading in our editorials and "Just for Beginners" feature, but the reason that we do not receive more articles about grading and pricing is simply that no one has come up with a standard that works on every coin. The very nature of ancient coins precludes any success in devising neat categories. Every collector has seen coins with exceptional detail that were "plug ugly", and others with heavy wear that were like precious gems. The difference, of course, is in surface condition - which equates to eye-appeal. If one dealer assigns a grade based upon de tail, and another assigns a grade based upon eye-appeal, someone is going to be confused or misled. If one assigns a grade based upon some combination of the two aspects, the level of subjectivity becomes an insurmountable barrier in itself. Actually, the grade of the coin means nothing until one attempts to equate price with grade.   Herein lies the "rub". Is price driven by degree of wear, or is it driven by eye-appeal? Well, the practical answer is that it is driven by both, and also by rarity. Because of that, and the inability to fix precise objective parameters, one finds that prices for ancient coins sometimes vary to the extreme. Unfortunately, one will also find that two coins of equivalent eye appeal and degree of wear may also differ dramatically in price.   Why is this? Simply because there aren't precise quantifiers, and dealers, being hu man, tend to weigh different factors in different ways. Even perceptions of rarity can differ greatly. A collector (or dealer) who turns to Roman Imperial Coins, the "bible" for Roman coins, and finds a rarity factor of "4" (2-3 known specimens) applied to a coin, may be astonished to learn that the type regularly appears for sale at auction.  Mainly this is due to the sampling method used by the authors of RIC, and partly it is due to finds which have entered into the market subsequent to publication of the work. Just how rare is the coin? Often, nobody knows for sure. Perceptions are based upon how often the coin appears for sale, or how many published collections might be lacking the type. These are understandably and admittedly vague criteria.   Combine the subjectivity of grading with the uncertainty of rarity and one can readily see why there is a certain lack of consistency in pricing for anything less than very common types. How does the collector deal with such vagaries? For that matter, how does the dealer avoid overpaying for a coin that might be very attractive emotionally, but difficult to justify objectively? If we had the answer to this question, we could certainly dominate the market - unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, we do not have the answer, nor does anyone else. In the final analysis, the value of a particular ancient coin is no more nor less than what the seller will accept for it and what the buyer will pay for it. While this may be a distasteful condition to some, it does factor into the equation all of the variables. Subconsciously, the buyer and seller jointly determine the coin's merits and short comings. Thai having been done, every sale is a good sale, and every purchase is a good purchase.   So, we've handed over our cash and walked down the aisle only to find a nicer example of the same coin for less money. Did we fall victim to a scam? Hardly. We could have waited, and perhaps should have, for a better deal to come along. It is certainly advisable to check the market carefully before making a selection, but this is, after all, a hobby, and we indulge ourselves by buying coins to add to our collections. Why spoil the fun by lamenting that we didn't find the bottom of the market to play in. Over time, these price variations tend to even themselves out   To sum things up, pricing and grading are very subjective elements of the ancient coin market. They are variable for understandable reasons, and the situation is unlikely to change. The best thing that a buyer can do to maximize his or her buying power is to learn a series well, stay with a fairly well de fined objective, and spend a lot of time absorbing price trends and making price/ condition comparisons. When the right price attaches itself to the condition of preference, don't hesitate for even an instant. In 35 years as a collector and 28 years as a dealer, I have long forgotten the coins that I paid too much for. I will never forget the coins that I foolishly passed on! Let us hear your point of view!

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  12. Vol 06 No. 08 August 1992

    We are saddened this month by the unexpected passing of our mentor and dear friend, Professor Warren G. Moon. Warren not only brought distinction to the University of Wisconsin, as a dual professor of Art History and of Classics, he did much to promote ancient coins as major works of art. Although his most notable accomplishments were in the field of classical Greek pottery, he maintained close contact with developments in the field of ancient numismatics. A former collector himself, Warren was a long-time member and supporter of the American Numismatic Society and the Archaeological Institute of America. He regularly used slides of Greek and Ro man coins as visual aids in his lectures and related the iconography of coin motifs to other classical media. Warren Moon was a teacher with a special gift and a remarkable flamboyance.   My enrollment at UW in 1984, following retirement from the U.S. Air Force, was a spontaneous act with little sense of direction. The only criteria was that I wanted to be involved somehow in the study of ancient coins. Little did I know that universities no longer specialize in such Humanistic pursuits. Fortunately, Warren Moon was one of the first people that I met on campus. I didn't hold an undergraduate degree in Art History, but a love of ancient coins was enough to induce the professor into taking a chance with another protege.   We hit it off famously, right from the start. Although his inferior in training and experience, and intellect as well, I was his elder by three years and never let him forget it! For a "mature" student, with no background in classical languages, we both knew that a specialization in ancient art would be a difficult undertaking. It was through Warren's indulgence and beneficent efforts that we built a program centered on connoisseurship and collecting.  Enlisting the help and cooperation of his close friend and esteemed colleague, Professor Jane Hutchison, the three of us devised an approach that crossed disciplines in a most rewarding way. The result was an M.A. Thesis examining the influence of ancient coins in the life and work of Peter Paul Rubens. This crossing of disciplines allowed me to take all of the classes that an Art History major specializing in ancient art would take. These classes were, of course, taught by Professor Moon. I took them all, and our friendship grew into something very special.   It never occurred to mc that an opportunity for employment might spring out of this endeavor - the job market for Art Historians is dismal to say the least. Under Warren's tutelage I had developed a new understanding of the images on ancient coins, and an appreciation for their symbolism. It was this "enlightened" view that eventually led to the germination of The Celator.   Warren was certainly aware of his role in this chain of events, and I think he harbored some pride and pleasure in watching the publication grow. In November 1989, he co-authored an article with his colleague Professor Paul Plass which appeared exclusively in The Celator. The article was a masterful, and intensive, treatise on the influence of the philosopher Plotinus in late Ro man art.   We will miss Warren, as will literally thousands of students who enjoyed a class with him.   The summer seems to be slipping away at warp speed, and we will soon be basking (or baking) in Orlando. The ANA convention promises to be as ex citing as ever, with a strong lineup of educational events, displays and exhibits. Bill Spengler and I have been rescheduled to speak at the Numismatic Theater on Saturday instead of Sunday. This is bound to improve attendance, since everyone will be rushing over to Ormond Beach on Sunday for the Empire Coins shindig.   If you happen to be in the Minneapolis area on Thursday, July 23. yours truly will be presenting a slide show about Turkoman coins to the Twin City Ancient Coin Club. The club meets at 7:30 pm at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 104 S. Snelling Ave., in St. Paul.   There seems to be a lot of consternation lately about forgeries of ancient coins. The history of forgeries is prob ably as ancient as the coins themselves. Yes, I said "forgeries", not counterfeits, because some collector (human nature being what it is) was undoubtedly being deceived two thousand years ago. Although we responded rather defensively to a reader's comments last month, we do understand the fears and concerns of collectors. While we cannot turn col lectors into authenticators with the stroke of a pen, our next issue will focus specifically on forgeries. with some practical information for the typical collector.   Your questions, comments. concerns and criticisms are welcome and encouraged (we do reserve the right to respond), so take a moment this month to write and share your point of view.

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  13. Vol 06 No. 09 September 1992

    The great forgers and copyists of the past have earned a place in the annals of numismatic history alongside the best-known collectors and researchers. Wc remember these individuals for their great skill and also for their love of antiquity. Although the motives of some were far from laudatory, not all of them set out to deceive their fellow man. In fact, some were very open about the nature of their work and took great pride in it. Cavino, for one, clearly treated medallic art as a medium of expression, and copied ancient coins and medals as a means of promoting Humanism. There is something of a mystique about people like Cavino, Becker, and Christodoulos - as if they were not "Real People". It was my very good fortune to know one of their kind on a personal level, and to acquire a better understanding of what one notable copyist was all about.   Peter Rosa was born on January 2, 1926. He started collecting coins and medals at the age of nine but found that he could not afford to own the pieces that he admired most. At a very early age Peter developed an appreciation of classical art, and especially of the art on ancient coins and medals. He began collecting casts of the most exquisite examples, especially from the collection of the British Museum. He continued this effort for many years, and ultimately assembled hundreds of casts of the rarest and choicest Greek, Roman, and Judean coins. He also ad mired intaglio gems and showed me on one occasion a substantial collection of 19th century plaster casts from important European private collections.   The First International Congress for the Study of and the Defiance Against Coin Forgery (IAPN Pub. No.2, 1965) referred to Peter Roser (sic.) as one of the greatest manufacturers of imitations in the United States. The report claims that during the holiday season of 1964 alone he manufactured some 15,000 imitations. He marketed these copies under the trade name "Becker Reproductions", and literally worked from his kitchen table using a hydraulic automobile jack and hand casted dies. The results were not extraordinary, but certain strikes could be mistaken for authentic, especially if part of a larger group of authentic coins.   I first met Peter Rosa in 1987. He had been forced to curtail production of his copies some fifteen years earlier because of the passing of the Hobby Protection Act (H.R. 9448) by the U.S. Congress. Peter felt that the defacing of his copies by stamping the word "COPY" on the face of the replica was an unbearable concession. Instead of offering coin replicas, Rosa had decided to try to market plaster cast reproductions and uniface silver on lead laminates. He approached me about helping with the marketing of these, and we had a number of discussions about the project, as well as some limited success.   He was an extremely energetic and amiable person, but quick to anger if he felt that he was under attack. His correspondences with various publishers who had denied him advertising privileges was caustic to say the least (Incidentally, we also refused his ads after we were advised that he had offered unmarked silver reproductions to readers answering his plaster cast ads). He held the ANA in disdain and had no respect whatsoever for the PNG. Still, Peter Rosa had a way about him that one couldn't help but admire. He was "crusty" and very outspoken, but he did love ancient coins, and devoted his entire life to their study and appreciation. He was a rugged individual who had not had an easy life, but he was as sensitive on the inside as he was cantankerous on the outside. In a personal letter, he once told me, "no matter what happens, I am committed to protect and nurture the growth of numismatics in its pure form."   The "pure form" to Peter Rosa was the appreciation of artistic beauty in classical coinage. In this regard he had his supporters. Even the director of the American Numismatic Society agreed, in a letter to Rosa, that "... these fine reproductions have an educational value of presenting 'art in miniature' to a public for whom this may be the first contact with artistic Greek coinage." The ANS did not agree with Rosa's stand on refusing to mark copies, however.   Peter Rosa died of cancer on October 5, 1990, at Staten Island, where he had lived for many years. He never did stop fighting the "bureaucracy" that he considered his enemy. To many, he was a thorn. To others, he was a riddle. To the hobby, he was a piece of history.   This issue focuses on forgeries and copies of ancient coins. They are a part of the hobby that has always been with us and probably always will be. In reality, they are simply another facet of the hobby which collectors must learn to understand. We'll be waiting to hear your point of view!  

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  14. Vol 06 No. 10 October 1992

    Headlines in the numismatic press read "ANA show good considering the times", and "Activity moderate at Orlando ANA ". I guess the media is kinder to "'numismacrats" than to politicians. Having followed the field from the opening bell to the final wire, through an agonizing mud track, my impression of this yea r's ANA is that it was a flop. That's right, READ MY LIPS - the ANA convention was a flop!   I hesitate to agree publicly with the inimitable Dr. Saslow, who elucidates his point of view - often controversially - at the other end of this publication, but most ancient coin dealers might as well have stayed home and counted their zero revenue as a profit.   Maybe it was the economy, maybe it was the location, maybe it was the weather, and maybe it was just the same old B.S. (that stands for "Bureaucratic System"). I can already hear the wheels grinding - "It's that mercenary Sayles taking the side of the dealers again. Is that all he thinks about is profit?"  Well, truthfully, I think very little about profit. If I did, I would probably have ulcers by now. What I do think about, quite a lot, is how much fun it used to be to go to a big coin show with a lot of hustle and bustle. I can remember when a person could actually trade coins at a coin show. Better yet, I can actually remember when a collector could sell coins at a show.   Today, the only coins that solicit bids are those precious heirlooms that were bought 50 years ago for pennies and might now slip through an unwary hand for nickels. Let's face it, coin shows have been choked by insensitive management and a steady shift in priorities. Long, long ago - in a land of milk and honey - coin shows were a social event, Mom and Pop came out with the kids, and the whole family enjoyed a sort of indoor treasure hunt. Little Johnny or Susie could spend half their allowance on exotic coins that opened wide horizons, and actually helped kids to learn. What happens today?   Mom doesn't want anything to do with coins because Pop spends too much of the family's recreational budget on them. So, in penance, Pop drags along little Johnny - but of course it's little Johnny who's the drag. The only coins Johnny wants are the ones that fit into a one-inch slot and whisk him off into a fantasy world of bells and whistles. So, after a few excursions into this abysmal purgatory, Pop stops coming to coin shows, and goes back to drinking beer and watching Monday night football.   Who's to blame? Mom? Pop? Johnny? How about declining family values? How about a declining educational system? How about the guys (and gals) who orchestrate these huge shows that are little more than monuments to their own arrogance?   In a slow economy, it takes a lot of pavement pounding to make a living in the coin business. It is not unusual for a dealer in ancient coins to hold another full or pan time job as a supplement. There are few incentives, and many disincentives, to selling up a bourse table when the travel, lodging, and table fee starts to approach the $2,000 mark. Think about it for a moment. With a 25% markup (which in many businesses would be considered healthy) the coin dealer has to sell over $8,000 worth of merchandise before the first nickel goes into salary. I personally know of several dealers who did not gross that amount at the Orlando ANA.   Not only is the dealer squeezed by the overhead, but the reduced volume of business dictates higher unit markups. This, of course, translates into less buying opportunities for the collector, which in tum leads to disenchantment, diminished enthusiasm, and ultimately loss of interest.   Why do we face this deplorable condition in the hobby? Partly because the so-called "non-profit" organizations, that purport to enrich the hobby, spend too much of their time and energy enriching the self-inflated egos of corporate leadership, and no! enough lime helping the hobby to survive. While the average coin dealer is holed up in Motel 6 and eating fast food, a whole gaggle of "numismacrats" is wining and dining in plush hotels and heaping incredulous praise upon each other. Maybe this is a simple fact of life, but does it have to be so blatant and obvious? Maybe someone in that mythical arena of decision making called a "board room" should consider ways of reducing costs for a dealer to set up at these mega-shows. Just maybe that would translate into lower markup and maybe into better buying opportunities for collectors. Sound like "trickle-down" economics? Maybe, but it sure couldn't hurt to try!   Yes, l do support ancient coin dealers, and I make no apology for that. Without the dealer network we would not have a hobby at all. Without the dealers, these lines would not even be written. Without the dealers there wouldn't bean ANA. How about a little leadership that helps the poor dealer make an honest buck? How about going back to the basics? Wake up ANA!   Enough steam for this issue - write and let us hear your point of view!

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  15. Vol 06 No. 11 November 1992

    AII it takes to fill the mailbox, it seems, is a little controversy. Between our editorial comments about the ANA and our article about the Black Sea Hoard, we've managed to generate a little activity in the "pen and ink" department. Most of the response to our Black Sea Hoard article was favorable   We did get a substantial rebuttal from Dr. Flegler, which we certainly expected, but have decided to endure the inevitable criticism and not publish it. In summary, he claims: 1) the dental technicians don't exist; 2) no individuals with or without connections to dentistry have been jailed; 3) dental drills are too big to engrave the lines found on Mesembria coins; 4) a dental drill lacks the ability to produce the "fine, sharp detail" seen on hoard coins; 5) it is "impossible" for the metal to have come from silver coins of the 1930's; 6) "ridges arc not at all unusual  on genuine ancient coins"; 7) five laboratories in Europe analyzed the coins and came to identical conclusions as Dr. Flegler; 8. Dr. Regier knows all about the origin of the Black Sea Hoard, and those who "transferred·' the coins out of Bulgaria; 9) there is nothing unusual about random die linking in coins of Greek colonies of the Black Sea region; 10) Dr. Flegler denies acknowledging that there are fakes in the hoard, he instead says there are fakes o/the hoard; 11 ) Dennis Kroh has "changed his mind" and believes the coins held by Heritage are authentic; 12) There are "many coin dealers, including many that advertise in The Celator. that accept the hoard as genuine and offer the coins for sale"; 13) Dr. Flegler has effectively demonstrated that all of the observations made by your editor over the past three years are erred.    He also pokes a little ridicule at provincial Lodi, Wisconsin, and accuses us of being "ethnocentric" because of a reference to Sozopol, Nesebur, Burgas and Varna as "rather obscure muse ums". Further, because I suggested the possibility that coins in the Varna and Nesebur museums might be from "salted" finds, I am accused of questioning the integrity of Dr. Ivan Karyotov, "one of the most respected numismatists in eastern Europe." Finally, Dr. Regler points out that Bulgarians "have a level of numismatic scholarship that would put most of us Americans to shame."   There you have it, the condensed version. If you want the whole story, and probably a lot more, call Dr. Stanley Flegler at (517) 353-9430, or maybe you'll be able to wait and read it on the front page of a numismatic tabloid.   I recall, now with amusement, an event that occurred some twenty years ago. A friend and I were standing-tall before a stern Air Force Colonel, who was not at all happy with the current state of affairs. The Colonel said to my friend, "Captain, how long did it take you to get this stupid?" After reading Dr. F1eger'sresponse, I remembered all too well that feeling of twenty years ago, and what I thought of that pretentious Colonel   As far as I am concerned, the arguments have all been made. I have never claimed to be any smarter than anyone else in detecting fakes. As a matter of fact, I am not particularly well qualified to pass such judgements. I have stated the case as I see it, and Dr. Flegler has stated the case as he sees it. Ne 'er the twain shall meet.    There are some things in this world that we have come to trust and rely on. Science is one of them. I sincerely hope that among the readers of these lines is an impartial, qualified, and objective scientist who will find a way to set the matter to rest.   On the subject of the ANA, I was heartened by the number of readers in agreement with my assessment of the situation on the hill. I expected that the dealers would be singing Amen, but a lot of collectors were in the choir too! Evidently, there are a lot of collectors who really feel deeply about the personal re wards of this hobby. There are a lot of them who want to see things the way they used to be. We can always hope and dream! Speaking of dreaming, Brian Brown sent us a remarkably sensitive poem which was apparently inspired by our comments about the joys of collecting. You'll find it in this issue, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.   On, a sadder note, it seems that the postal system has done it to us again. Several reports have come in from our overseas subscribers indicating that the September issue fell out of an airplane or was stolen by the International Federation of Fish Wrappers. Hopefully they'll be found, because we don't have many extras! We've been placing the date of shipment on our U.S. distribution and starting this month we'll also place it on our overseas shipments. Maybe that'll help keep the postal workers on their toes. We appreciate your patience   We're off to London for COINEX this month, and then will be visiting the numismatic departments at the University of Tubingen in Germany and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. We'll be back in two weeks to hear your point of view!

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  16. Vol 06 No. 12 December 1992

    This issue marks the completion of our sixth year in publication. It's been a very rewarding experience, never mind the occasional slings and arrows, and we have many people to thank for the huge success of The Celator. Some of our benefactors are obvious, and you can (and should) count their numbers by the advertising here in. We have also enjoyed the faithful and too often unheralded support of a dedicated and professional group of regular feature writers. They provide the solid core around which we build each issue. This month, we are proud to add another regular feature contributed by professional numismatist Harlan J. Berk. Harlan's column, titled '"The Celator's hand", will focus on the technical and artistic nature of ancient coinage. We try to feature three or four articles each month and have received some wonderful contributions from our readers over the past six years. Many of these articles have contained ground-breaking discoveries or hypotheses and eff eel i vel y bridge Ihe chasm between scholarly journals and numismatic tabloids.   We feel a little bit like Ross Perot (except for the checking account balance) in that we have reached out to "the people" and the response has been gratifying. We've said from the start that this is YOUR publication, and we sincerely try to keep it that way. Hardly a day goes by that we are not rewarded by kind words of encouragement from our readers. More importantly, you have confirmed that encouragement with each subscription renewal. At the last count, we were approaching 1,900 paid sub scribers, with about 200 of that number living outside the U.S.   Several months ago, we added a message to our mailing wrapper which encouraged readers to renew in advance of their expiration date. The object, of course, is to avoid sending from one to three renewal notices. These notices cost us approximately 30¢ each. No big deal unless you are sending out 150 or more per month. That adds up to $540 per year just for the first notice. Every delayed response forces another card, and the cost multiplies. One subscriber returned his card with a note suggesting that the least we could do for the $24 we charged him was to provide a return envelope. OK, now triple the above figure.   If we were running megabuck ads from car manufacturers or designer jean companies, the "trickle-down" would probably pay for envelopes. Fortunately, our readers do try to help, and the renewals are starting to come in early. All of the foregoing is mentioned simply to illustrate how Ihe help of our readers, authors, and advertisers makes the whole program viable. It is impossible for a publication like this to exist any other way (as others have sadly discovered). So, be a part of the process. Support The Celator with your subscriptions, your comments, your advertising, your articles, and your recommendations to friends and we will be here for a long time to come!   Now that the ugly process of Ameri can politics is behind us for another four years, there seems to be a mood of opl1mtsm among people in the "coin business .... The recent Bay Stale Coin Show in Boston was reportedly a breath of fresh air, with more activity in ancient coins than some of the "major" shows held earlier this year. Coinex, in London, was rather slow, as was the competing expo at Long Beach. Auction results this Fall have been mixed at best and, except for some tenacious competition on isolated types, prices have been soft. The Spring auctions will be interesting to observe, and the tone for that round may beset this month at New York. The NYINC is always a magnet for buyers, sellers and auctioneers, but this year it seems more intense than ever. The show's return to the Sheraton Hotel has helped to revive memories of past glories, and the event may very well become a venting place for the pent-up enthusiasm that recent years have dampened.   With the impressive program and associated events on this year's card, the NY INC must be considered the premier show for ancient coins in this country if not Ihe world. If it is at all possible, try to make this one!   Finally, I have Ihe pleasure to announce that Volume I of Turkomen Figural Bronze Coins and their Iconography is on its way to the primer. This volume covers figural coinage of the Artuqids and will sell for $35 in a 6"x9" hardback edition. See our ad in Book News for ordering instructions. It is primarily a book for collectors, but the historical and art historical aspects of it should appeal to a very wide audience. Tentatively, Volume II will cover the figural coinage of the Zengids and Ayyubids. Volume III will cover the figural coinage of the Seljuqs of Rum and Erzerum, Danishmendids, Salduqids, Begtiginids, Begtimurids, Mangujakids and Mongols in the Jazira.   Also going to press immediately following this issue is The Best of The Celator- 1992. With approximately 100 pages of really great reading, this is the biggest and best ever. And it's still $6.95 postpaid making it the best buy in the field of numismatic literature today.   We at The Celator wish you and yours a very happy holiday season, and hope that you'll find some leisure time to share your point of view.

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  17. Vol 07 No. 01 January 1993

    The New York International Numismatic Convention has come and gone, and the eyes of the hobby will turn now to Chicago to measure the long-awaited rebound in the economy and in the ancient coin market. Dealers and collectors use shows as a gauge of market prices and availability by simply observing the asking and selling prices on the bourse floor, or the prices realized at auction. Therefore, the regular show attendee develops a sense of what a coin should be worth on the current market. This unwritten "sense" is a floating perception more than a fixed value, since the prices of coins are affected by so many intangible factors. Nevertheless, one does over a period of time develop a "feel" for value. The collector who buys coins strictly through mailed lists or auctions can also develop a sense of value, but it is not always the same as that acquired at shows. It is hard to judge through lists whether the appearance of a normally scarce type is related to a hoard find. If it is, how many coins are there in the hoard? Is it still scarce? The bourse floor may be inundated with coins from some particular site, but they will probably appear as singles on mail lists. Conversely, a mail list might contain the only three available examples of a rare type-making it seem relatively common. Most dealers know better than to do something this foolish (from a marketing perspective), but the point should be clear. To be able to develop a sense of value, one must be exposed to as many offerings as possible. Furthermore, those offerings-whether by mail or at shows-must be real competitive offerings, not artificial or isolated situations.   We have received a number of letters over the past few years in which the writer asked where to find a good price guide to ancient coins. We have tried to explain the seemingly mystical nature of ancient coin pricing, both in this column and in our "Just for Beginners" column, but it is still a perennial question. As collectors switch from modem to ancient coins, they are often put off by the vagueness of the pricing and grading disparities in this field. They are used to picking up the Krause catalog or Coin World and finding the "standard" catalog price. This is simply not possible for ancient coins-or is it?   Readers have undoubtedly noticed that we have been running a market capsule, contributed by Numismatic Archives (Tom Simmons), along with our Coin File each month. This market capsule is the result of a computer database query, and it reflects the results of major auctions over the past several years. The database has now been made accessible in printed form by Numismatic Archives and is available through The Celator. We heard a report at the NYlNC that a price guide or compendium of prices is also being developed from the Mail Bid Sale results of a very active dealer who specializes in "discount" ancient coins. If this transpires, the information should prove useful as a basic guide to coins not often found in major auctions. Still, the very nature of ancient coins will stymie the creation of any firm price guide equivalent to those used for modem coinage. When it comes to the pricing of ancient coins, we can only reiterate what we have said many times before. If you really love the coin, if you can afford it, and if you are buying from a reputable source, let your heart make the decision. More often than not you will find that your first impulse is the right choice.   Another subject of perennial interest, closely related to price, is that of investment in ancient coins as a Profit-Making Venture. Are ancient coins a good investment? Certainly! If you buy the right ones. Choosing the right coins is, unfortunately, not as easy as one might think. Buying high priced rarities in superb condition is not always a recipe for profit, as some have discovered in the past few years. Buying generic Byzantine gold, because it's CHEAP, doesn't seem to work either. Certainly, there isn't much profit potential in buying low grade common bronzes of 4th century Rome (although Dan Clark might argue the point). One thing that does seem to work fairly well is to buy coins that are beautiful in terms of composition, production, and preservation. These coins generally increase in value faster than the average, simply because they are rare and desirable. Even the ubiquitous Constantine bronze- when skillfully engraved, perfectly struck, and beautifully reserved~ an become a rarity. If you want to buy coins for investment, buy coins of this nature. Some people hire connoisseurs to make value judgements for them. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Europe was fill ed with connoisseurs who served the nouveau riche in their quest for grand collections of the finest works of numismatic art. Today, collectors tend to make their own choices. Some do so with exceptional skill-some don't. The difference between investing and collecting is that the investor can I afford to gamble on his or her own taste. Some advice to investors is hire a top-notch connoisseur and listen. My advice to collectors is- follow your heart, have fun, and expect to pay something for your entertainment.   Until next month, we'll be watching the mailbox for a note sharing your point of view.  

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  18. Vol 07 No. 02 February 1993

    In last month's Point of View, we commented about ancient coin pricing and potential for appreciation. Not too surprisingly, we stirred a response or two. One, in particular, brought up some interesting observations, and has prompted us to continue the discussion this month. The letter is signed "A West Coast Collector", and we encourage you to take a temporary break here and read the letter (p.4), to which we have added the header "Observations on Investing".   The writer suggests that most ancient Greek coins are vastly overpriced and terrible investments because they are neither rare nor desirable.   The writer claims to have sold the lower 15% of his or her collection for a net loss of 60%. This ostensibly occurred because the collector, out of ignorance, bought poorly. The good news is that the remaining 85 % (the choice pieces we presume) need increase in value by only 10.5% in order to break even. This is not an insurmountable margin, and our collector/investor may be in reasonably good shape after all. Practically every collector that I have ever known has at some time made purchases that one might describe as a poor investment. This, frankly, is how we learn and grow.   The writer's contention that a glut on the market makes many Greck coins valueless is terribly simplistic. It is clearly an exaggeration to say that there is "virtually no demand" for Philip II or Lysimachos tetradrachms. Both of these coins are very popular issues, and many collectors would like to add specimens of these coins to their collections. The perception of a "glut" is fostered by two circumstances. Recent finds have increased the shortened availability of these types, and the typical price point of these coins falls precisely in a range that has been hit hard by the slow economy of recent years. Many collectors have preferred to wait with purchases of these types because they would rather spend their discretionary income on pieces that may not tum up again. This may indeed cause a temporary "glut", but it does not mean that the market is forever dead for Philip II or Lysimachos tetradrachms. In fact, what it means is that the astute collector can now pick up a choice ex- ample of one of these coins for little more than the traditional price of an average specimen. Now is a good time to buy these coins, not a good time to sell these coins-and certainly not a good time to look for profit on the sale of one of these coins bought several years ago. They are usually not thought of as investment coins, but in reality, they are probably better than average as far as coin investments go. Ancient coin investors tend to be a lot like pork producers-when the price of pork goes up farmers buy more hogs, when the price goes down, they sell their hogs. It doesn't make any sense at all to me!   The overall price of Greek coins has, contrary to our collector's belief, advanced over the past fifteen years. There are certainly cases where a specific coin sold for a higher price fifteen years ago than it did in recent sales, but there are also scores of coins, mostly less expensive coins, that have become more ex pensive over the years. Alexander drachms, for example. are selling for much more today than they were fifteen years ago. Why? Because they are increasingly popular in jewelry, and there aren't enough of them to go around. Greek bronzes have also increased in value. as have silver fractions and archaic issues. Why? Because they are comparatively scarce and proportionately inexpensive. The idea that Greek coins are "vastly overpriced" is a perception that is not supportable in fact. Greek coins that are absolutely unique, no published example anywhere, have been sold for much less than $1,000. Some have sold for under $100. When was the last time a comparably rare U.S. coin sold for that kind of money? The argument that there are more collectors of U.S. coins is meaningless, because an auction only requires two bidders to set a new record.   Many coins are sold in "inexpensive mail-bid sales", and rightfully so. It is genera II y true, however, that choice and desirable coins will be offered privately or in a dealer's stock before they ever make their way to a mail-bid sale. While coins can often be purchased more in expensively in that venue, remember that the first pick is probably going somewhere else-admittedly and properly at "dealer's retail". Our collector's comment that "only one half of one percent...are worth buying at anything like 'dealer's retail''' really boils down toa persona l opinion about what constitutes "choice and desirable". I haven't seen two collectors yet that can agree every time on that issue.   The market is unforgiving of lapses in quality as our collector points out; but frankly I wonder how intelligent the "market" is when an EF-but plug ugly - portrait coin brings more than its VF+ counterpart which is a wonderful work of art. Centering and surfaces are important, but they aren't everything. If my advice to "buy what you love" is the worst advice that one can follow, I would guess that may also be interpreted as "none of us have any taste". Fortunately, not all of us are investors, and we can still humor our own artistic sensibilities-even if the market makes us pay for our ignorance and poor taste. Education has never been free.   We sincerely appreciate the comments from our mysterious West Coast Collector and look forward to hearing your point of view!

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  19. Vol 07 No. 03 March 1993

    No, it's not a misprint, they really do have over one hundred million coins and banknotes in stock! At least, John Aiello swears that it's true. In fact, he says the count is conservative. The Educational Coin Company's ad which ran last month, and is repeated in this issue, raised a few eyebrows with its seemingly outrageous claim and caught the imagination of readers from Minneapolis to Mineola. Actually, Aiello admits that the number of ancient and medieval coins in stock falls a little short of this number-only about 200,000 coins fall into that more limited category. Although the ad apparently did not result in a sellout-they still have a couple million pieces left in the comer of the vault-it did prove that people read the fine print!   Reports from the field seem to indicate a reawakening of the ancient coin market as Spring nears. Shows are becoming more active, and trading has been rather brisk in comparison to the doldrums of the past two or three years. The steady increase in buying power of the U.S. dollar has helped American collectors who had gotten rather used to a poor exchange for their soft green backs. Last Fall at COIN EX, in Lon don, the Pound Sterling sold for $2.00. Now, it's hovering around $1.50. The dollar has also climbed against the German Mark for the first time in a long while. The difference is critical, not only practically but psychologically, for American collectors and dealers buying in European markets. The net result should be influx of new material into this country. We should also expect to see an increase in the number of European dealers selling at U.S. shows. Since the Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF) typically draws a fair number of dealers from the European market, this year's show may be the first real measure of the changing conditions.   Although the world economy staggered a bit in recent years, enthusiasm for ancient coins seemed to remain strong. Collecting patterns and buying habits might have changed in reaction to the times, but the overall interest level increased. The number of subscribers to The Celator, for example, increased by nearly 200 in the past year- bringing our current subscriber list up to almost 1,900. We have always seen 2,000 subscribers as an important milestone and a specific objective. It looks like 1993 will be the year that we get to celebrate this achievement. Another indication of the growing interest in ancient coins is the relative stability of the market. Although prices for individual types did vary in response to a variety of factors, the overall market for ancient coins seemed to be much less influenced by external pressures than, for example, the World coin or U.S. coin markets. Another indicator of the continued and growing popularity of ancient coins is the active market for numismatic literature about ancient coins. Prices continued to increase for scarce, out-of-print editions, and several new works have entered the market. At the same time, we have seen clubs and societies becoming more active. More of the speakers on convention programs present topics related to ancient numismatics. Younger people are starting to take an interest in ancient history again, after nearly a generation of apathy toward the subject. Even the art and entertainment fields are reawakening with more and more specials and exhibitions related to the ancient world. For those of us who are fascinated by coins as elements of art and history, the future is looking a lot brighter than it did two or three years ago.   On the subject of new works in the field of numismatic literature, we have become quite active ourselves in this regard. Although we have been publishing The Celator for over six years, and The Besl of The Celator for five years, it is only recently that we have become involved in the publishing of hardbound books for the trade. Our first effort was a reissue of the rare and long out of print Valentine Duval: An Auto biography, by Anne Manning. This was followed by Frank Robinson's Confessions of a Numismatic Fanatic and by Turkoman Figural Bronze Coins and Their Iconography: Vol. I, The Artuqids, by William F. Spengler and Wayne G. Sayles.   We are now preparing to go to press with From the Coin's Point of View, by Bob Levy. This latest title is a unique and delightful example of collecting and connoisseurship at its best. The Levy collection, which consists of only 63 coins, is extraordinary in every respect. The large format (8-1/2 by 11) book features an introduction by David R. Sear and is divided into three main sections. The first section includes a compilation of articles written by Levy for The Celator. These whimsical, but historically enlightening tales relate to specific coins within the collection. The second section features background information about the coins and the period of their issue (lmperatorial Rome to the time of Nero). The third section features a magnificently illustrated catalog of the collection -with enlarged photos, descriptions, and historical comments. The work is being produced with great care, on high quality stock, and will be a welcome addition to every numismatic library. Watch for pre-publication details soon.   That's about it for this month, we hope that you'll enjoy the pages that follow, and take the time to share your point of view.

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  20. Vol 07 No. 04 April 1993

    Readers who happen to glance I at the list of staff members who make The Celator happen each month can't help but notice that this is very much a family affair. This month we add another family member, my daughter Stephanie, to the roster. Stephanie has been involved in retail sales for the past six or seven years; much of that time as a store manager for a national chain. Her academic training in marketing and management, along with the experiences gained in her former position, will allow us to expand our overall marketing program and provide much better support to our growing clientele.   Her past assignments have been in St. Louis and Minneapolis now she has settled in the Madison area and wedding bells will ring this July. We're looking forward to her help, and it doesn't hurt to have a pretty face around the office; no offense intended Steve! Stephanie is not a numismatist, but she is interested in ancient art, history and coinage. Of course, she's been ex posed to ancient coins her entire life. My first experiences with ancient coins occurred when she was less than two years old. We lived in Adana, Turkey, and it was not unusual for her to find father scrubbing wretched bronze coins with a brass brush well into the night. I doubt she remembers much of that, however. At lunch the other day she asked big-brother Steve how we get people interested in ancient coins. Well, that's a topic of more than casual interest to the commercial element of our fraternity!   I'm not sure that we do "get people interested". There seems to be a natural instinct within all of us, more sharply honed in some than in others, to search for information about the past. One would think that our educational system might be responsible for striking the spark, but I wonder. The amount of ancient history taught in today's typical high school curriculum is hardly inspiring, much less thought provoking. I believe the seed is planted much earlier, and all we have to do is nurture it.   At one time, it was unthinkable that an educated person is not schooled in the Classics. Today, the average person on the street thinks of a 1957 Chevy hardtop when you mention the word Classic. We try, within the editorial content of The Celator, to fan the flame a little, but the print medium really has its limitations. The publishing business is rapidly becoming a multi-media activity, and the dissemination of information is gaining in speed, quantity and quality at an exponential rate. Newcomers to our hobby (especially the younger ones) absorb information at an incredible rate. It is a great challenge to provide vehicles for disseminating that information.   Last month, in this column, I mentioned our growing involvement in book publishing. This, of course, ties into the discussion above. While I do not have a specific announcement to make at this time, I will say that we are also working on some multi-media projects which will greatly aid collectors, researchers, and educators in their pursuit of information about ancient coins, art, culture and history. We are truly engulfed in the Information Age, and you can rest assured that The Celator will continue to develop delivery systems that place as much information in your hands as possible.   At the Chicago International Coin Fair, Bill Spengler and I entertained [I use the term advisedly] a group of Turkoman coin enthusiasts under the auspices of Numismatics International. The organization, which is composed of members specializing primarily in World, Ancient and Medieval coins, sponsors educational programs at a number of conventions around the country. The audience numbered about fifteen, a typical turnout for one of these events.   During his introduction, Bill asked how many present were subscribers to The Celator. The result was impressive and heartwarming, with all but three responding affirmatively. Still, we need those other three collectors if we are going to expand and improve. You can help in this regard, by recommending us to your friends who have an interest in antiquity. Your recommendation is the very best form of advertising in the world. We are happy to send out free sample copies to potential subscribers who are recommended by our current readers. Just clip out the response form on our throw-away cover. And, by the way, thanks for spending the 29¢ on our behalf!   This seems to have been a particularly taxing month (pardon the pun) and two of our regular contributors found themselves overcome with commitments. In place of David Hendin's regular column we have graciously received permission from Ed Janis to present his article about Nerva 's Fiscus Judaicus sestertius, which previously appeared in The Shekel. In addition, our highly respected and popular Reference Reviewer, Dennis Kroh, turned up missing in action during a long and meandering trek across the North American continent in search of ancient coin shows and collectors [OK, I know you can 'I "turn up" missing-it's an old Wisconsin phrase probably attributable to an unspecified ethnic group]. We expect to see the return of both contributors next month, and sadly mourn their temporary absence.   Till next month, happy hunting for ancient treasures, and take a moment to let us hear your point of view!

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  21. Vol 07 No. 05 May 1993

    It's at the printer and will be ready to ship within 30 days. What's that you say? Another book about ancient coins? The past year has seen a number of welcome additions to the field of numismatic literature and collectors have some ex citing new choices   The book we're referring to is, of course, From the Coin's Point of View, by Bob Levy. The format and content of this new work are a departure from the norm and combine a sense of history with whimsical humor to offer real entertainment. This is no small accomplishment in the somewhat staid environment of ancient coin collecting. Levy has built, over a relatively short span of years, an incredible collection of ancient coins. The collection is not re markable for its size~ it consists of only 63 pieces. It is not remarkable for its rarity (although there are some very rare examples included), or for its breadth. The collection includes imperatorial and Julio-Claudian coins, mostly in silver.   The most remarkable aspect of Bob Levy's collection is the level of connoisseurship which it represents. Many of the coins in this collection bear impressive pedigrees, but it is not a collection about pedigrees. The reason that coins from famous old collections reappear in the Levy collection is that the merits of these particular coins were appreci3lcd by great connoisseurs of the past.   The book is divided into three main parts. The first section includes a series of articles which Bob wrote for The Celator over the past four years. The book includes an unpublished article as well. These articles follow the recur ring theme "If this coin could only talk what a story it would have to tell." Levy's pen brings the coins in his col lection to life as they relate, in their own words, wonderful tales of intrigue, discovery, and a gamut of human-like emotions. The second section provides historical background and technical numismatic details which are of real value to the collector of early Roman coinage. The third section is a catalog of the collection itself, with provenance and very detailed historical descriptions. Prefacing the three sections is a substantive introduction by David R. Sear. A glossary and bibliography are also included.   The format is befitting the contents, with 8- 1/2 x 11 pages, hardbound and sewn, color dust jacket, and it is printed on heavyweight satin finish paper stock. This book is profusely illustrated, with hundreds of photos, many of them significantly enlarged. It is as much a joy to look at as it is to read. Adding to the joy is the price tag of $29.95 (plus $3.50 postage in the U.S.). This is a book that no collector of ancient coins should pass up at that price! It is available through Clio's Cabinet (our publishing banner) or from your favorite bookseller.   We are about to embark upon another venture that should serve both our readers and our advertisers. Beginning in May, we will begin distributing decks of reply-card offerings on a quarterly basis. We would anticipate that these decks will include offerings of books, coins, services, announcements and solicitations. The number of cards will be limited to 32 per deck. They will be mailed in a plain white envelope, so as to protect the confidentiality of the recipient.   These decks will be sent to our list of active subscribers and to our inactive list, which is comprised of fanner sub scribers or individuals who have re quested sample copies of The Celator. In all, the decks will be mailed to over 3,000 potential customers.   We 've also added some new titles to the list of video tapes produced by David Lisot and sold through The Celator. We will be expanding this list over the next few months and will be adding some of our own titles produced by Clio's Cabinet.   This month 's Point of View has taken on a pretty commercial flavor, and I apologize for that, but we are always looking for ways to generate growth capital without increasing our subscription or advertising rates. These projects, and your cooperative support, will help.   It's been a while since we did a show in southern California, and we miss the camaraderie of that erudite group of numismatists, so we have included the early June Long Beach show in our travel plans. The next two months will be pretty hectic. We will be attending the Central States convention in Chicago; followed by Long Beach, the New York International, and the Mid America show in Milwaukee. Although the travel can be tough on these aging bones, the chance to see so many old friends make it worthwhile. The show/convention circuit is quite a phenomenon. It has, in some ways, the mystique of a floating crap game. People converge on a site, generate a flurry of activity, and then vanish into the four comers of the globe. It's always interesting to see who will turn up at the game next time. The shows listed in our Coming Events section generally attract dealers in and col lectors of ancient and medieval coins. If at all possible, attending one or more of these events is an experience that I highly recommend. It is not only fun and entertaining; it is also educational, and in the long run potentially profitable.   Thanks to all of our faithful readers who pass along little notes of encouragement with their subscription renewals. We read and appreciate every one of them. Have a great new season of discovery in ancient coins and take a moment along the way to share your point of view.

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  22. Vol 07 No. 06 June 1993

    What is one to believe? I can't think of another hobby where the signals are so mixed or confusing as in this pastime of collecting ancient coins. For example, Eric McFadden- who writes an insightful column about the ancient coin marker for Minerva magazine- recently pointed out that, adjusted for inflation, ancient coins are selling at 1960s prices. That would mean, by most capitalist standards, that there is either a shortage of buyers or there is a surplus of product. There can hardly be a shortage of buyers- the ancient coin market has benefitted in the past few years from massive defections from the U.S. and modem coin collector ranks. It may be true that certain types of coins are not selling as well as they did in the pre-recession days, but there are plenty of new buyers for the brand of stock generally referred to in the trade as "collector coins". Are there so many of these "collector coins" around that their sheer mass holds prices down? Well, apparently not. Dealers from coast to coast are bemoaning the fact that attractive stock is getting hard to replace. What then is the cause of this apparently undervalued market?   I think that a good share of the blame-or the credit, depending on your point of view-goes to that old nemesis of all businesses: Cash Flow! As a group, dealers have been tightening their belts for the past few years. When sales fall off, and the overhead doesn't, the first thing to feel the pinch is replacement stock. Of course, the nicest coins disappear first. The remaining stock becomes stagnant, and the dealer is forced into a buying pattern that is limited to coins which will "turn" quickly. Coins which sell quickly fall into two basic categories: those coins that everyone covets and those coins that a few collectors with very deep pockets covet. In either case, dealer activity centers on these issues because this is the area where sufficient quantities of cash will flow. The remainder of the market is virtually abandoned, and dealers will often sell older stock at cost or below simply to raise capital so they can buy more quick-turn stock   The net result of this subtle but insidious trend is that the real wealth of the hobby, the art and history of these ancient treasures, is left untended and unnurtured. Rare is the dealer that did not begin as a collector, and rarer yet is the dealer that did not originally specialize in "co1lector coins". Many of the prestigious firms in business today should well remember the day when mint was not a condition but a place; and ancient coins didn't come with "original luster". Isn't it ironic that those were the days when ancient coins were really worth something? Sure, we have our $million decadrachms today, but at what price?   Since this is a forum where I get to exercise my editorial license, here's my opinion about why ancient coin prices, on the whole, remain low.   Ancient coins come in myriad varieties and the vast majority of them have never been studied in depth. This is especially true of certain general categories like Greek bronzes; late Roman issues; Byzantine and Islamic coins. Regardless of rarity, many of these coins are treated by a growing number of "upscale" dealers as junk box coins. Aside from the occasional cherry-picking col lector who happens to take a fancy to a particular series of coins, these accumulations are generally sold as curiosities.   Once someone takes the time and effort to make a series accessible, prices jump dramatically because the supply is understandably far short of demand. This accessibility might come in the form of a publication, or a notable collection, or even in the form of a hoard. I recall not too awfully long ago that folies of the tetrarchy were a dead horse. They were visually unsellable. Along came a nice hoard and the whole series came to life. Stock that sat in dealers' trays for years suddenly vanished overnight. A little closer to home, have you seen any $5 Turkoman bronzes lately? $10.00? How about $20.00? The Sassanian dirhams that used to go for $2 a piece is history (pardon the pun) and Parthian drachms are no longer treated like intermission at the big auctions.   The prices that coins bring are definitely related to popularity, but aside from the ubiquitous Owl and the Alexander tetradrachm, popularity can dry up the supply pretty quickly. It is obvious that the market needs a broader popularity base. The broader the base, the better for both dealers and collectors. Consequently, it behooves all of us to learn more about the coins we sell and collect. If we continue to focus strictly on a few "hot" issues, the hobby will become boring and lose favor with its many new converts.   One of our objectives in The Celator is to present a broad variety of information about ancient coins. We are dependent, however, on the submissions from our cadre of authors. If there is an area that you see lacking in our coverage, send us an article. If you're a little intimidated by the prospect, call or write and ask for our help. We're pretty easy to deal with- most of the time! If you won't write an article, at least take a moment and send us your point of view.

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  23. Vol 07 No. 07 July 1993

    Although we have had quite a few readers respond to the attribution challenge in our June issue, the mystery coin remains unidentified. One of the respondents, Dr. R.J. Hubartt of Florida, wrote "This is a very interesting and educational experience. You should consider doing this in more issues." Perhaps we will!   Practically everyone figured out that the coin is a didrachm, and most guesses were of cities in mainland Greece or the Greek Islands. Sorry Ross, it's not from Crete. One reader guessed that the coin is from Heraclea in Ionia, not a bad guess from an art historian's point of view as the styles are quite similar. Others guessed Athens, which is altogether too obvious for a competition of this magnitude. At least two readers guessed that it was an issue under Sulla.   We hate to see the offer of a free subscription go unclaimed, so we are going to give everyone another chance. The deadline for submissions is hereby extended to August I, 1993, and we will announce the winner(?) in our September issue. For those who missed the details of our little competition see page 12 of the June issue of The Celator. Those who have already submitted unsuccessful guesses, and that includes all of you who have written in, may send in another three guesses.   Since this is admittedly a tough challenge, we are going to give a couple of hints to guide your search. The coin is indeed a didrachm, and it is unpublished, but another specimen was cataloged in a sale which took place on July 2, 1928. The reverse includes the city name and the name of a magistrate, along with an archaistic Athena Promachos. Now, here's the big clue: This city belonged to and was sometimes the meeting place for members of an important League.   It is a little surprising that we did not receive a single response from a dealer. I'll bet we do now! Let me see now, where did I put those 1928 catalogs?   Having just stepped off the plane after a week in California, followed immediately by a week in New York, things are buzzing around pretty good here. If you're still waiting for an answer to that letter, you sent two months ago, don't give up it's coming! The siting of this Spring's NYlNC was much improved, and the show was well organized. Attendance was not re markable, but it was certainly adequate. We had a table on the bourse floor and enjoyed meeting many of the area collectors that we do not normally see when we're on the other side of the table.   The auctions held in New York during the week of NYINC defy explanation. The Christie's sale of the McClendon Collection of ancient Greek and Roman coins was very successful, with quality coins bringing respectable prices in spite of an uncertain economy. The sale included 234 lots which netted a total of $1,144,451. The sale set a record for ancient coins at Christie's, with 100% of the lots being sold. Exceptional Roman gold coins did particularly well.   It was another story at the NFA and CNG auctions, as floor bidders sat on their paddles and let some remarkable coins slip back to the consignors at amazingly low opening prices. Greek gold coins of exceptional rarity, that in the past were highly coveted and commanded high premiums, went to any buyer willing to raise a paddle for one bid. It was truly a sad state of affairs and points out all too clearly just how fickle the ancient coin market can be.   Of course, there are always kibitzers that will offer their expert assessment of what went wrong, but the bottom line is that too many coins sold for too little money. As a collector, one might ask "What's wrong with that?" What is wrong, is that the market that supplies thousands of collectors, day in and day out, needs and relies on a certain order and stability. That order has been challenged in recent years by the advent of mega-hoards and super counterfeits (Black Sea Hoard excepted). Price instability is a dangerous topping for this banana split. Let's hope that the condition is temporary. We'll have more to say about the auctions next issue, after the results are all in and we have a chance to digest the information   The preceding week, at Long Beach, we heard an interesting tale about a dealer that had so many coins he decided to leave a few behind to lighten the load. Actually, he only left one behind, an EF decadrachm from Syracuse. Fortunately, a colleague retrieved the piece from a deserted backup table. My understanding is that florists and Indian restaurants are going to be doing a brisk business for some time as the debt is repaid. We won't mention the name of this absent-minded dealer, but Bob Levy claims that if you bend over the case and listen really close you could probably still hear the coins talking about it.   We are proud to introduce the work of another well-known author in this issue. David Vagi, formerly a staff writer for Coin World, will be contributing a continuing column titled "Through the Looking Glass". David was formerly employed by Christie's of New York as a specialist in ancient coins, and currently heads the ancient coin department at Superior Galleries. We have admired David's work for several years. He is a rising star in the numismatic fraternity, and we think you'll enjoy his articles.   Thank you to everyone who came out in New York to say hello and for all of your kind words of encouragement. And to Eric McFadden and Tom Cederlind, whose encouragement, although something less than commendable, was at least memorable.   Have a great summer, don't forget the Coppertone, and drop us a note with your point of view!

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  24. Vol 07 No. 08 August 1993

    Will it ever die- this beast of the Black Sea? Oh yes, and with a puny whimper unbe coming such a hideous monster. All it took to end the Black Sea Hoard controversy was a capitalist merchant in a Bulgarian museum gift shop doing what comes naturally- selling useless trinkets to souvenir-hunting tourists (see the article on page 6).   The handwriting was on the wall last fall when dealers began showing up with fresh bags, full bags, of the Mesembria and Apollonia copies at prices that wouldn't park a car in Chicago. It was only a matter of time until a reputable source could be nailed down. It's a pitiful commentary that all of the arguments presented by knowledgeable numismatists over the past four years fell on deaf ears, and now the numismatic world is enlightened by a gift shop merchant in the Sofia, Bulgaria museum.   We could rave on and twist the dagger a little, but there is a more somber and sobering side to this whole affair. The credibility of the professional numismatic fraternity has suffered greatly during this episode. and it is not something that we can take lightly or dismiss as incidental. As a fraternity, we were faced with a serious and substantial challenge, and we failed to meet it.   We applaud those dealers who stood up and openly cautioned their clientele against acquiring coins from this "hoard"; in some cases, it might have been much easier, and safer, to simply ignore them and press on with business. By the same token, we are saddened by the inability of our fraternity to produce a leader who could and would coherently argue the case.   The "scientific" evidence presented in favor of the hoard's authenticity is clearly unreliable, at least for the purpose at hand, and has been from the start. Every rational challenge to the scientific argument was met with a barrage of doubletalk. I wouldn't be surprised to wake up in the morning and see an article in World Coin News or Coin World claiming that Mr. Kochev is actually selling authentic Mesembria and Apollonia coins in the gift shop because they are so much more common and so much cheaper than the fakes. How bizarre can this whole mess get?   Speaking of World Coin News and Coin World, I seldom criticize my com patriots at these venerable institutions. For the most part, they do a creditable service to collectors of ancient coins, and they help expose a lot of neophytes to the world of ancients. On this issue, however, they both laid a big egg. So, where do we go from here? I personally think that all dealers who sold these copies as authentic should attempt to recall the pieces and refund the purchase price. Collectors who purchased them should contact the seller and request a refund. Trade in the pieces should cease immediately, and the International Bureau for the Suppression of Counterfeit Coins should publish a retraction of their previously stated position that the coins are ancient counterfeits.   Does this mean that counterfeiters can fool the most sophisticated equipment available to modern science? No, it simply means that the tests used to authenticate these coins are not foolproof. They are still good tests, but we should not rely on them to the exclusion of all other tests and indicators.   Are there other fakes lurking in the shadows? Certainly. Pliny the Elder (ca. 1st century A.D.) commented that in his time counterfeit gems and antiques were of substantial interest, and often brought higher prices than the originals. Renaissance collectors were plagued with forgeries, and the nineteenth century spawned a fresh wave of counterfeiters. It seems only reason able that in this age of technological development we should find forgeries of all types, good and bad. The good news is that counterfeiters are not the only ones getting smarter!   Dealers' can sometimes find themselves in a position where they do not have recourse if a coin is determined to be a forgery. The collector should never be placed in this position. Try to buy coins only from firms that guarantee authenticity without reservation or limitation. If you do buy from some other source, be forewarned that you have assumed the entire risk. In the midst of all this warning and concern, however, keep in mind that there are thousands upon thousands of perfectly authentic ancient coins being sold every year. Al though the sting is very real when you get bit, the chances are you can collect for a very long time without falling victim-and longer yet if you use a little common sense.   Guess what! We have winners in the mystery coin contest-see the People page for details. August is a very slow month for ancient coins, so you'll have to take up sailing if you want to share your point of view!

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  25. Vol 07 No. 09 September 1993

    We've been very fortunate to have an outstanding cadre of contributors to the pages of The Celator these past seven years. Many of our authors and columnists have been recognized by the Numismatic Literary Guild for the excellence of their work. We are as proud of their accomplishments as they themselves must be. The NLG award program is open to international competition, and The Celator is a relatively small publication in comparison to many of those considered for awards. The selection committee meets in the weeks preceding the ANA summer convention each year, and their choices are announced at an annual NLG Bash which is held on one of the convention evenings. It is a rather irreverent affair, all things considered, but the awards are highly coveted and a source of pride to the recipients.   This year, in Baltimore, The Celator was recognized, through its contributors, in several areas. Anthony Milavic's article "Olympia: The Place, The Games" was selected as Best Article in the World Numismatic Magazine Classification. This classification is essentially the only one in which The Celator is eligible to compete. This year, we not only competed, we dominated. In the Best Column category, David Hendin won the NLG award for his regular Celator feature "Coins of the Bible". The Best Issue award went, for the third time, to "The Best of The Celator".   In the Numismatic Book classification, Frank Robinson's "Confessions of a Numismatic Fanatic" was recognized with an NLG award of Extraordinary Merit. While Frank richly and solely deserves the credit for his delightful dissertation, we are nevertheless proud to have been the publishers.   We have greatly enjoyed another extraordinary column, which the NLG sadly failed to recognize. Their omission is perhaps understandable if one considers that few on the panel of judges could ever begin to comprehend this column's tremendous value to collectors of ancient coins. We all understand and appreciate its enduring value and owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Dennis Kroh for sharing his seemingly inexhaustible and candidly rated bibliography with us. You all remember the Good News- Bad News routine; well, we have some bad news. Dennis' bibliography is not inexhaustible. In fact, this month's "Reference Reviews" will be the last of this fine series. The good news is that Dennis is publishing his entire and much expanded set of re views, and it is expected late this year. More bad news; we didn't get the publishing job, so the competition will undoubtedly stiffen in the Book Category next year. We extend our deepest appreciation to Dennis, on behalf of myriad Celator readers (OK, a slight exaggeration, we have something less than myriad readers) and wish him great success with his forthcoming publication.   Some months back, I announced that my daughter Stephanie Sayles had joined the staff of The Celator as Marketing Director on a part-time basis. We have an update. Stephanie's last name has changed to Schultz. The lucky guy, Bryan, (no parental prejudice) and Stephanie tied the knot on July 8th in Madison, Wisconsin. It was a lovely wedding with family, close friends, and a bourse in the back room. I have to do something about this sick humor, one of these days it's going to get me into serious trouble!   Further update! Stephanie is no longer part-time. Effective the day she and Bryan returned from their honeymoon, she was elected Secretary Treasurer for Celator, Inc. and assumed the full-time job of Office Manager for The Celator. Many of you have already spoken to her on the phone or corresponded with her. She's really taken control of our record keeping and office management (frankly, it was getting a little untidy) in addition to managing our new card-deck program.   We often hear comments from readers to the effect that they read The Celator from cover to cover, some might say from the front page to the back page. As a matter of fact, I have often seen readers, when handed a fresh issue, tum directly to the back page. There can be little argument that Dr. Saslow's rhetoric, as controversial as it can sometimes be, draws the attention of readers. Some find it amusing, others find it insightful. Some are appalled, others are enraptured. Unfortunately, some have been of fended.   We have tried each month to assure a balance between Dr. Saslow's right to express his opinion, and the rights of the "accused" in his discussions. For the most part we believe this has been achieved. On occasion, however, we have failed to recognize and excise a potentially offensive comment. For this we beg the indulgence, patience, and understanding of our reader.   With Summer vacations over, and the Fall auction and show activity still before us, it's time to sit down and drop us a line sharing your point of view.

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