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The Celator

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  1. Vol 07 No. 10 October 1993

    A current CNG offering of numismatic books at auction includes one lot described as "a complete run of The Celator in magazine format." Our first impression upon seeing an offering like this-and there have been a few others previously- is one of amazement. We have become so engrossed in the day today operation of our little family business that we sometimes lose sight of what The Celator has become. While we were coordinating schedules bet ween printers, binderies, and shippers, selling ads, fulfilling subscription requests and ta kin g ca re of myriad details, The Celator was quietly taking on a life of its own. Our little baby has matured without us really noticing. We never anticipated that the day might come when collectors would bid fora "run" of The Celator. Seeing this auction lot also gave us cause to reflect on the changes that we have undergone over the years.   The magazine format that we enjoy (or struggle with) today is only about three years old. OUR earlier issues, as many long-time readers will remember, were produced in the tabloid newspaper format. This was basically a choice dictated by economics rather than preference. Thinking back to those tabloid days is like recalling an event from the ancient past. We started with a single Macintosh 512KE computer. We couldn't afford a laser printer, so we rented printer time from the local newspaper publisher and look our disks down to the Lodi Enterprise to be printed out. The layup was entirely manual, and our lack of experience made the task seem much more difficult than it really should have been. II was a glorious day when we bought our own laser printer, an old 300 dpi LaserWriter I. Believe it or not, the original Mac 5 12KE is still running and we use it in the office every day!   Most of our photo work in those early days was done by Enterprise staffer Karen Voeltzke, who also set type for us part time. In fact, still hanging on our office wall is a framed copy of Vol. I, No. I with a $1.00 bill attached to it. The dollar bill is inscribed "Congratulations Wayne". As we returned from the printer that inaugural day, Karen picked up the very first copy and it became our first official sale. The cover price of $ 1 didn't last very long!   Another Enterprise staff member, Kris Crary, also pounded the keys for us on those early issues. Today, virtually all of the work is done by computer, with Steve as the mainstay of production, and Nick Popp ably assisting. Nick is a Junior al Lodi High School and Editor of the school newspaper. Although we have come a long way, there are still plenty of hurdles ahead. We have much faster equipment, a 1,000-dpi printer, and marvelous software. We use three computer workstations, one of which is dedicated to color work. Desk top Publishing has come a long way in a very short time, but color reproduction on the desktop is still in its infancy. We have been struggling for some time with desktop color, which is as much an art as a science. Our readers must certainly be aware of the inconsistency of color that we contend with, but not a soul has complained. We appreciate that patience and have been working hard to improve the situation.   Our newest and most exciting acquisition has been a new home for The Celator. This summer we purchased a commercial building in beautiful downtown Lodi and are sort of semi moved in as we remodel. It's nice to finally have a place that we (Celator, Inc.) can call our own. Well, enough of this reminiscing. The next two months are going to be pretty active. We've been invited to speak at the September meeting of the Twin Cities Ancient Coin Club in Minneapolis. The talk will focus on "How to buy and sell ancient coins-profitably". Following that, we'll be attending COIN EX in London and then flying to Turkey for a three-week automobile tour with our steadfast travelling companion Bill Spengler. We'll be exploring the ancient sites along Turkey's western and southern coasts, at a leisurely pace, and then returning to Istanbul for a symposium which is being hosted by the Turkish Numismatic Society. Bill and I will be presenting papers at the symposium, which is being promoted as an English language event. The subject of our contribution is of course Turkoman figural bronze coins-or more specifically, "Christian Iconography in Mesopotamian Islam: the numismatic evidence.   For those anticipating Vol. 11 of our book on that subject, I can only say that we are still working on it and will move it along as quickly as possible. Following our return from Turkey is the New York International and a host of related auctions in New York City. Barring some unforeseen complication, the entire and combined holdings of Artuqid coins from the William F. Spengler and Wayne G. Sayles collections will be included in the CNG auction in New York. Details will follow soon.   That's about it for this month. As you can see, I've avoided controversial issues-for a change. BUI, if that's your pleasure you can always write and let us hear your point of view!

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  2. Vol 07 No. 11 November 1993

    This month, infallibility-or perhaps one should say the lack of it- seems to be the catchword. Media reporters headlined the latest Vatican encyclical which conspicuously omits the church's claim to Papal infallibility. This was, of course, a major departure from traditional Vatican dialogue. In a sense, the ancient coin collecting fraternity has experienced a simi lar phenomenon. While matters of the hobby may be less consequential than matters of the soul, there are times when we too need to reevaluate our processes and thinking.   Pliny, in the first century A.D., commented extensively on art and collecting among the Romans. One of his observations details the proliferation of forgeries among collectible art works (and presumably coins) during his age. Pliny, and his art conscious contemporaries, were relegated to their own senses as toots for detecting counterfeits, yet they apparently became successful.   With the passage of time, the tools of deception became more sophisticated, and collectors began to rely more and more on scientific analysis as a means of detection. Nonetheless, scientific instruments can only measure conditions. It is still necessary for an interpreter to anaIyze the data acquired and apply that data in problem solving situations. In the case of detecting ancient coin forgeries, one must establish a model against which the data is measured. We must know, for example, the metallurgical composition of a genuine specimen. Next, we must measure the composition of the suspect piece and compare it to the known standard. If it differs, we must evaluate the type of difference and the potential causes. If we cannot determine a natural cause the coin is certainly suspect. Likewise, if the comparison indicates that the composition is appropriate, we must ask ourselves whether it is possible for the forger to have duplicated this process. If not, the coin is probably authentic.   The problem with scientific analysis is that researchers and counterfeiters play a never-ending game of "leapfrog". As soon as the scientific community develops a new analytical tool, forgers seek and usually find a method of detection avoidance. It is grossly inaccurate to characterize modem counterfeiters (as did a Coin World feature) as ignorant peasants laboring in a mud hut in some Eastern European or Mediterranean country. Granted, there are counterfeiters of this ilk, but their products are of no concern to us.   Along with the tools provided to us by science, collectors have continued to rely over the centuries on basic instincts driven by experience, education, and the human senses. When I was a young boy. my grandfather taught me to hunt with a shotgun. One would think that hitting something would be easy with all those pellets flying about. Take my word for it, it is not easy! I did eventually become proficient with a shotgun, because of my grandfather's wise advice -"Don 't Aim". Instinct replaces the front sight of a shotgun. This is not to say that one never misses, but the percentage of hits is dramatically improved if one follows basic instincts.   Perhaps we should return to the point of this dissertation. Science is not infallible. In fact, aiming too precisely may increase the chances of error. This is precisely what occurred in the scientific analysis of the Black Sea Hoard. Al though the conditions measured, and the data recorded were undoubtedly accurate, the premise that these conditions could not be duplicated was flawed. Because someone put a front sight on the shotgun, instinct became secondary in the process of aiming.   The instinct that needs to be considered in matters of this sort is emotion. One does not spend a lifetime studying and handling ancient coins without developing some emotional instincts. These instincts are often accurate and valuable. Although they were scoffed at by the scientific proponent of the Black Sea Hoard's authenticity, in the final analysis it was instinct that prevailed. In the most current bulletin of the International Bureau for the Suppression of Counterfeit Coins (IBSCC, the anti-forgery committee of the IAPN has re considered the authenticity of the "Black Sea Hoard" diobols and boldly condemned the pieces as modem forgeries. This action by one of the hobby's most conservative and respected agencies in effect an acknowledgement of scientific fallibility-was certainly not spontaneous or impulsive.   We highly commend the IBSCC for its courage and integrity in carefully reconsidering this issue. Fortunately, we can all learn something from this experience, and we heartily echo the sentiment of the IBSCC. "What this imbroglio teaches us is that we should continue to rely on our eyes rather than always turning to scientific props."   It is with very mixed emotions that we witness this month the retirement of Tom McKenna from the numismatic profession. We hold the greatest respect for Tom, both as a numismatist and as a friend. He is a remarkable person with strong values and matchless integrity. In seven years of attending national shows and communicating with the vast majority of collectors and dealers in this field, we have never heard a single complaint or criticism of Tom. This is no small achievement, believe me! Since we are both retired military officers, Tom and I have had much in common. He too is a victim of wanderlust and we have shared many reminiscences. Included in this issue is a short but insightful and humorous narrative that Tom sent to us last year. It seems appropriate. Maybe we can reverse the trend and convert him into a collector? Godspeed Tom!   Next month's Point of View comes to you via satellite from Turkey!

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  3. Vol 07 No. 12 December 1993

    As stated in last month's commentary, we are on the road this month- Travelling with Bill Spengler, as often is the case. Our first stop was London. COINEX has traditionally been a great place for Americans to find ancient coins. Although the fluctuating exchange rate has sometimes played a role in one's ability to buy in London, there always seemed to be coins available. This year, the currency exchange was favorable to Americans. The rate of S 1.50 to the £ sterling has dramatically improved, from our point of view, since last year's COIN EX when the rate was $2 to the £. Unfortunately, the healthy supply of coins that London boasted in previous years has diminished. Sure, there were occasional coins to be picked up by the discerning coin sleuth but spending money at COINEX was not as easy as it once was.   Like the New York International, COINEX is an experience that extends well beyond the bourse floor of the show, and it is still a worthwhile experience. We spent eight days in London and took in the Paddington Coin Show as well as the Saturday bourse at Embankment. This small market for collectors of coins and stamps is improving each year. II is held weekly, in a basement room around the comer from the Embankment Underground Station and is worth a visit. Several vendors offer ancient coins, many of them found in Britain with metal detectors.   COINEX week usually includes several auctions, and we attended parts of the Spink & Sons and Bonhams auctions. We also enjoyed our annual pilgrimage to the British Museum, where we examined the museum's collection of coins from Anazarbus and viewed the spectacular Hoxne Hoard of late Roman gold and silver coins. As a side note, it should be remembered that anyone wishing to use the museum's student room should write for permission in advance and include appropriate introductions.   We attended the monthly gathering of the Royal Numismatic Society, which featured Roger Bland speaking about the Hoxne treasure. The Society holds its meetings in a hall adjacent to the Royal Academy. It's an impressive site, and one feels a little in awe of the atmosphere considering how many great numismatists have shared discoveries in this hall. It was a special occasion for "yours truly'' since this was the first meeting attended in person and cause for official "initiation" into the membership.   Earlier in the week, we attended the Royal Asiatic Society meeting in London and heard an informative lecture about archaeology in the Arab Emirate of Ras-al-Khaima. Of course, we also made the obligatory side trips to the outdoor antique markets of Porto bello Road, Covent Garden and Camden Gardens.   At the time of this writing, we are relaxing in Istanbul and enjoying a very friendly climate-both politically and meteorologically. The purpose of the trip to Turkey is partly for research and partly to participate in a symposium honoring the 25th Anniversary of the Turkish Numismatic Society. We were welcomed here by Mr. Yilmaz lzmirlier, President of the TNS, who graciously extended the hospitality of dinner at his home and helped us greatly with information about the late Artuqids and other Turkish tribes.   We were happy to renew our acquaintance with Dr. Ismail Gunay Paksoy, Curator of Islamic Coins at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, who showed us a group of silver vessels from the notorious "Croesus Hoard " which had recently been repatriated to Turkey following litigation against the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Unfortunately, the magnificent display of ancient Greek and Roman coins-which we saw two years ago and again briefly on this trip- is still housed in an area of the museum which is closed to the public. On the positive side, the museum's recent renovation is very striking and encouraging.   We saw a few ancient coins offered for sale in the Turkish bazaar, but hardly any of collectable merit. Among the coins openly displayed (which are presumably directed to the tourist market in spite of the government 's severe prohibitions and warnings against export of antiquities) were a high percentage of poor-quality forgeries.   We enjoyed a pleasant tout of the Bosporus by boat and saw a number of fortified ancient sites. As we dined at a seaside restaurant, Bill and I daydreamed about Jason and the other ancient mariners who had passed through the narrow straits before us.   Following four days in Istanbul, we will be travelling by automobile along the western and southern coasts of Turkey and then returning to Istanbul for the symposium on November S. All in all, it will be an adventure lasting a little more than a month.   This being the December issue, we would like to wish all of our readers a very special holiday season and a healthy, happy new year. We appreciate the warm sentiments that many of you have expressed over the past months, whether it be in a six-page letter or six words on a postcard. Unfortunately, we do not always get the chance to reply. Still, we do take heart from your comments and hope you'll continue to enjoy The Celator in Ihe year to come. How about kicking off our eighth year of The Celator with some comments from your point of view?    

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  4. Vol 08 No. 01 January 1994

    Last month we rattled on about the first half of a numismatic travel adventure to England and Turkey. Well, not only have the intervening days brought us home safely, but we can also now add our annual excursion to New York to the travelogue.   Picking up where we left off, Bill Spengler and I rented a car in Istanbul and spent two weeks touring the ancient sites along Turkey's western and southern coasts. We had undertaken a similar trip a couple of years ago and had a fairly good idea of what to expect as far as the logistical details were concerned. We visited the ruins at Troy. Pergamum, Ephesus, Sardis. Halicarnassus, Neapolis, and Anavarsus, as well as a number of lesser sites. We also visited the ancient cities of Antioch and Konya (or Iconium) and two interesting religious sites-the houses near Ephesus where the Virgin Mary allegedly spent her final days, and the church of St. Nicholas (yes, that's jolly old St. Nick!) on the coastal road west of Antalya. We were shocked to find that poor St. Nick's sarcophagus is empty. Apparently, his bones (at least most of them) were stolen and removed to Dari, Italy, a couple of centuries ago. We don 't really want to get into the "repatriation of artifacts" argument, but this seems like an issue with international interest.   Although the trek through Turkey was fascinating, the real highlight of our trip was the symposium at Istanbul hosted by the Turkish Numismatic Society in honor of their 25th anniversary. It was truly an international symposium, with a remarkable cross-section of participants ranging from museum curators to collectors and professional numismatists. Seldom does the numismatic community enjoy such interaction, and the TNS is to be highly commended for its role ill bringing together a group of this type.   The warm and boundless hospitality extended by the TNS, and its officers was extraordinary, and very greatly appreciated by this participant, as well as by the others, I'm sure. They did everything possible to assure that the symposium was both rewarding and enjoyable. The symposium papers are to be published, both in Turkish and English, this Spring.   Following a 23-hour Odyssey by air, which included a transfer of airlines and airports at London, we arrived back in placid Lodi to a mountain of correspondence and immediate preparation for the New York International. This year's NYINC was very upbeat! The traditional December storm tried to encroach on collector enthusiasm, but it fizzled and was hardly noticed. Attendance was strong, and more importantly, confidence was clearly resurgent. The tone was set prior to the actual bourse opening by strong participation in the pre-convention auctions (see Art & the Market). The educational events also drew active attendance. It was especially encouraging to see the program for young numismatists receiving special attention from the show organizers and national media, including television coverage. Most dealers seemed relieved by the improved retail market, which has been suffering in the past couple of seasons under recessionary pressures.   We had the rather unusual experience, following our return from Turkey, of picking up 'The Celator' and being updated on the latest "news" in the fraternity. The announcement of Rob Freeman and David Sear's new partnership was for us an unexpected but pleasant surprise. We have the greatest respect and admiration for these two professionals and wish them every success in their new venture. Actually, the firm could be named Freeman(s) and Sear. Rob's wife Tory (nee Fleming), a classicist and former NFA employee, is certainly no stranger to ancient numismatics. Much to their advantage, Tory's presence fairly illuminates the Freeman and Sear table.   We also learned that the activity of our long-time friends George Beach, Steve Huston, and Frank Kovacs has been somewhat tempered by doctors' orders. This must be a tough business! Nevertheless, all three of them were busily engaged at the NYINC and looking good. Let me rephrase that-they all looked healthy and two of the three were good looking (you figure it out)! We wish them all well.   A number of readers approached us all at the NYINC to introduce themselves, say hello, and offer encouragement. This is perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of our involvement in these conventions. Being a die-hard collector, it's always a great pleasure to meet other collectors. There are not many hobbies where instant rapport is so Typical. Steve and Stephanie (my children), who essentially run the day-to-day operation of The Cefalo', also attended the convention and enjoyed meeting a lot of dealers and collectors for the first time. Stephanie thought the Big Apple was GREAT!   It's been an eventful year end, and we rather look forward to a short period of hibernation. This is a good time of year to curl up with a comforter before the fireplace, take a pen in hand, and share a line or two with your point of view!

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  5. Vol 08 No. 02 February 1994

    An astute member of the professional numismatic fraternity suggested to me some months back that if The Celator was truly to be accepted as an international publication, we needed to become more attuned to the European market and the activities of collectors outside of North America. Although we can boast a readership in 30 countries around the world, with regular contributions from authors in several countries, we must admit that the editorial content of Tile Celator has been predominantly a reflection of our own travels and contacts. This is especially true of market news. It should be no great surprise, therefore, what we retain a strong "American' slant in our reporting.   AI the recent NYINC gathering this topic became a subject of discussion between Richard Swan of Great Britain and myself. Richard quite agreed that perceptions differ greatly on opposite shores of the great pond. and that it is difficult for anyone not living in Europe to really have their finger on the pulse of what is happening there. He suggested the possibility of contributing a more or less regular column offering a bird's-eye of what is "hot" on the European coin scene. Of course, we were delighted by the offer, which came at a fortuitous moment. We were even more de lighted when Richard, obviously a man of ac lion. faxed us an installment for this issue. We found his observations quite interesting and think that you will too. Not only is his writing style open and entertaining. his candor is invigorating. So, we welcome Richard Swan to our impressive cadre of contributors and look forward to reading about the hottest news (and a little speculation) from London.   A subject came up during our discussion at the Classical and Medieval Numismatic Society meeting which may be worm reiterating here. One of the remarkable features of ancient coin collecting is that every collector can become an expert in his or her chosen field. 'Ibe immense variety of issues makes it impossible for anyone person to fully appreciate the nuances of more than a few specialized areas. As a result, an interesting but obscure series may be virtually unpublished. Generally, that also means that it has not been adequately studied. Our own experience with the figural bronze coinage of the Turkoman princes is perhaps a good example. AI though various collections had been published, the series as a whole had never been seriously analyzed. It may be somewhat what unusual for a major series to remain unstudied, but within every series of coinage lies an almost infinite subset of areas suitable for specialization. One might focus on successive issues of a particular mint, with all of the inherent analysis provided by such a study. This analysis could range from a study of iconographic details to metallurgical analysis. On the other hand, one might choose to study the die evolution of a single issue, establishing its chronology and distribution. Alternatively, one might cross issues and do a comparative study of artistic styles and motifs or weights, etc.   The choices are so numerous that it is not at all difficult for a collector to find virgin ground. As we have stated in previous editorials, the Greek Imperial and Byzantine series are particularly fertile in this respect because of their great diversity and the relative lack of popularity of these coins. The coinage of petty kingdoms, either autonomous or semi-autonomous. is often understudied as well.   We've talked about this great opportunity before, but feel it is worth stressing again. It is particularly important for neophyte collectors to appreciate the value. both intellectually and financially, of picking a relatively narrow field of study and plunging into it with all the enthusiasm one can muster. It is infinitely more rewarding to develop a small collection with real purpose than to ac cumulate a huge portfolio of odds and ends.   The collector with greater means and refined taste can and should follow the same tack. The Rosen collection of Archaic Greek coins is a perfect example of this philosophy applied on a grand scale. This hobby is, after all, a manifestation on of our interest in antiquity. If we simply accumulate artifacts without purpose, we become tittle more than pack rats. Whether one chooses to collect the antoninianii of Gallienus by mint and type or the gold coins of Tarentum, every collection should have a purpose. Part of that purpose should be to enhance the understanding of the collector, and in some cases provide a greater understanding of the coinage for me benefit of all collectors. Many of the articles featured in The Celator are a reflection of such purpose. Occasionally, the effort of a collector can contribute significantly to the historical record and illuminate facts that have long been obscure or completely unknown. This is the greatest reward of all.   We've given some thought to renaming our mystery coin contest the "Dennis Devine subscription fund". It seems that Dennis is racking up subscription points faster than he can use them up. That's right. the crafty super sleuth of numismatics has done it again (see announcement within). It's hard to believe that with more than a hundred dealers reading these lines, Dennis Devine was able to repeat as winner of this division. Shame! Shame! We plan to do this again, so pay attention! Of course, Alan Walker also correctly attributed the mystery coin, but as usual was a day late...!   Winter is here in earnest, and we will be seeking coin shows in warmer climates for me next couple of months. Meanwhile. we're still waiting to hear your point of view!  

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  6. Vol 08 No. 03 March 1994

    Although the recent earthquakes in southern California definitely had all effect on collector turnout, dealers at the Long Beach Expo were quite tolerant of the situation- not that they had a choice! Wholesale activity accounted for the majority of transactions as dealers were obviously anxious to replace stock which is thinning due to a couple of low volume years. In the currently resurgent market. new material is relatively scarce. As we have remarked editorially on several occasions. The traditional coin show has undergone some radical changes in the past decade. Collector turnout has been unpredictable, and increasing costs put the dealer between the proverbial "rock and a hard place".   Many ancient coin dealers see shows mainly as a means to acquire stock for their mail-order business or specific coins for their clients' want lists. A dealer does not necessarily have to pay for a table in order to do this, but a certain number of coins will always "walk up to your table" if you are patient. Of course, with fewer collectors attending there will be fewer walk-ups and one's patience is increasingly tested. There comes a point when the dealer simply cannot justify the cost in light of the return.   The handwriting has been on the wall for some time, and the effects are now taking their toll. We received notice this month that the Greater New York show. which for many years was a premier show for ancients, is cancelling the traditional Spring convention due to lack of dealer participation. Dealer participation is of course a direct reflection of collector participation. and New York apparently cannot support four shows a year. This is really a sad commentary for the hobby in a region the size of the Greater New York area. We can only hope. for the good of the entire hobby, that this trend will turn around.   We were privy to a fascinating discussion at Long Beach about a collection of antiquities which has disappeared from Kabul. It seems that a number of artifacts, possibly including Bactrian coins, were stolen from the National Museum of Afghanistan. In fact, it seems that there have been attempts to market some of these items in the West (not to be confused with the current hoard of Bactrian tetradrachms which has appeared on the market).   In times of extreme political turmoil- if not anarchy- works of art are often " liberated" from the national treasuries ill in which they reside. Some of the more notable examples in modern times are the ravages of Napoleon and Hitler as their armies swept across Europe. Napoleon's agents even stole a large collection of ancient coins from a Jesuit school. It is claimed by some that the basement of the Kunst Historical Museum in Vienna is filled with art works from other countries which were "liberated" by the Nazis. The Russians, and yes, the Americans also made off with a few art treasures during World War II.   Since the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and their chaotic retreat, the country has been totally devoid of stability or national leadership. There is, in fact, no legitimate government in place at the moment, and warring factions continue 10 devastate the country. In the midst of chaos, it is not difficult to believe that some of the great national treasures of this proud country have been plundered.   This raises a rather thorny question with both moral and practical implications. Is there any legitimacy to the concept "spoils of war"? Should all of the land, personal property. and national treasures eve r plundered by conquering armies. or looted ill their wake, be returned to their place of origin? If so. Should the financial loss for those objects- ultimately purchased in innocence by a collector be invested upon the last person in the chain to hold possession? The consequences are staggering.   There have been recent court decisions where stolen cultural property was returned to its country of origin, and there are still other cases pending. $0 far, these have been rather notorious cases with a relatively large dollar value attached. Still. The legal precedent is set, and the application of law may not necessarily depend upon an enormous reward to the claimant.   Practically speaking. the antiquities. especially any individual coins. which were once in Afghanistan will probably never be recovered for that country. It may be years before there's even a government in place that would care. Any coins lost would represent such a tiny percentage of Bactrian coins in the world market that they would be very hard to trace and virtually impossible to reclaim.   It is sad that power and greed often dominate sensitivity and cultural pride, but this seems to be a human trait that has not mellowed with time.   On a happier note. We will be mailing this month 's Celator a little earlier than last month. A combination of events slowed us down in January, not the least of which was the weather. Next month the Robins start their trek north and all of our spirits will be lifted around here. 'Till then we'll be watching the mailbox for your point of view

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  7. Vol 08 No. 04 April 1994

    The past few months have been a period of experimentation. learning, and change for us. One element of production that we have struggled with for several years is the printing of The Celator. We have always done the pre-press work (layup) here in our office, but the actual printing was contracted out to commercial printers. There were three problems that we continually faced: I) printers like to work on their own schedules-not on ours, 2) there is a constant trade-off between cost and quality, and 3) printers are not numismatists. I've watched press operators turn up the ink flow to make type look nice and bold, while every halftone (photo) on the page goes black. They just do not have any sensitivity to numismatic detail.
    We decided some months back that if we were ever to deal with these problems, we would have to do the printing in-house. Well, we bought a little A.B. Dick press and yours truly became a commercial printer in one not-so-easy lesson. This is the third issue that we have printed ourselves, and the quality of our effort seems to be improving monthly. The first month I was covered with ink from head to toe and ruined a pair of pants and shirt each day in the pit with that infernal beast. It didn't take long to figure out that coveralls were a wise investment. This month, my knuckles aren't even dirty. One quickly learns where not to lean! The beast may not be entirely tamed yet. but it certainly is more compliant.
    We aren't quite sophisticated enough yet to do color work, so we're still contracting out our covers. We have had a terrible time trying to achieve consistent color quality on our covers. Quality four-color process covers arc significantly more expensive than our budget allows. We 've splurged on a few over the years, but generally we are limited to "desktop" scans which are notoriously unpredictable. After beati ng our head s against the wall trying to establish consistency, we've come to the conclusion that two-color covers are the answer. We can specify precise colors and the cost is more agreeable. The cover on this issue, as well as on the past two issues, is a two-color process. It may not be as impressive as our September 1990 cover, but it's still far more appealing than our old tabloid formal.
    Another change that we are making this month is an improved, heavier weight paper in the body of The Celator. You should find this sheet more opaque and easier to read. We've also been focusing on our editorial content with an eye toward broadening the appeal. We have enjoyed the monthly support of an outstanding group of numismatists and antiquarians whose only reward is the satisfaction of sharing their knowledge and views. Now, we are fortunate to be able to add Joe Rose to our list of regular contributors. Joe is a familiar figure to Harmer Rooke customers, but his reputation as an antiquarian extends far beyond the confines of tiny New York City. Now that he's retired, Joe is dusting off the typewriter and reworking some of his earlier musings. We think you'll enjoy his easy reading style and informative column. 
    We see a lot of firsts here at The Celator, but none more welcome than Fixed Price List #1 from Freeman & Sear, which arrived this week. Rob Freeman and David Sear are two of the most highly respected individua ls in our hobby, and it is a joy to sec their impressive first list. We'll have more to say about their list on our "People" page, but I might digress for a moment to mention a coin that I found especially interesting and hopefully now own. 
    Herakles (or Hercules) is a common figure in Greek and Roman numismatic iconography, and the variety of motifs is endless. All of his great labors arc depicted, and he is generally portrayed as a giant of a man. There are, however, a few depictions of the great hero as an old man with receding hair and a heavy, furrowed brow. Now, I'm not sure that there is any correlation, but each passing year that I am reacquainted with this specific portrait it becomes more appealing to me.
    The great painter, statesman, and numismatist Peter Paul Rubens once drew a very sensitive sketch (now in the Pierpont Morgan Library) of this "Old Hercules". The sketch was actually inspired by an ancient coin in the artist's collection! Rubens would have been somewhere close to 50 at the time. Do you suppose we were attracted to this motif for the same reasons? The coin in Freeman and Sear's list is a Greek bronze from Patras in the northwest Peloponnesus. It is remarkably similar to the Rubens sketch, and I wonder if an example of this coin did not perhaps provide the inspiration?
    Our upcoming travel schedule includes the CICF in Chicago. the Berkeley conference (see announcement within), and the NYINC in June. If you have a bone to pick or just want to chat about ancient coins, don ' t hesitate to introduce yourself. We won't have a table, but virtually any ancient coin dealer will be able to point you in our direction.
    Until then, we'll be watching the mailbox for a note sharing your point of view!

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  8. Vol 08 No. 05 May 1994

    We normally abstain from comment when sensationalist articles about the ancient coin business and its personalities appear in the media. Expose is a journalistic convention that we choose not to dignify. There are, however, occasions when silence is not necessarily golden. The April 1994 issue of Vanity Fair features an article by Bryan Burrough, titled "Raider of the Lost Art", which chronicles the rise and fall (?) of entrepreneur Bruce McNall. The article attempts to create a characterization of McNall which capriciously includes the ancient coin market itself. Although we are certainly not in a position to know   What concerned us more than this sensationalist hype over a very public personality (It comes with the job, doesn't it?) was the flippant character assassination of our beloved hobby. The author makes brazen statements that may excite the sensibilities of a tabloid-mentality readership, but they grossly distort reality. The ancient co in market, as we know it, is a basically conservative and respectable establishment with solid traditions that reach back 500 years. To introduce the "players" in this market as hustling " pink-faced men" from the "clubby world of Roman and Greek coins" is a disgusting affront which wipes aside in one line of type centuries of diligent work and dedicated effort toward humanistic understanding.   Mr. Burrough repeatedly refers to the "murky world of antiquities trafficking", all due to smuggling and underworld connections, as if there were no other sources of antiquities. Does he have even the foggiest notion how many ancient coins are sold each year? Has he ever read the notes in Numismatic Chronicles of the 19th century which detail the public sale of collections containing thousands upon thousands of ancient coins? Where did all these coins go? Is he aware that there are individual collectors (some reading these lines) who personally own a great many more ancient coins than the 45,000 offered in the Athena Fund sale? It may be true that the Fund acquisitions were mainly "fresh" coins, but that does not make the whole ancient coin market a repository for illicit excavation coins. In his zeal to create a sensational expose, Mr. Borough has conveniently disregarded the principles of context and balance. He has painted a picture which consists only of foreground and no background. Bruce McNall is a very influential figure in the ancient coin business, but he is not the business any more than he is the National Hockey League or Hollywood.   At a time when serious law-abiding dealers and collectors are forced to defend themselves and their hobby against all sorts of intrusions, this sensational ism is a particularly unwelcome episode. Vanity Fair earns a "thumbs down" for its tacky insensitivity.   On March 17th the Celator enrolled its 2,OOOth paid subscriber. This achievement fulfills a goal that we have pursued for some time. We are not aware of any Other publication specializing in ancient coins which has ever attained a readership of this level. We are indebted, of course, to our loyal followers who keep renewing each year. We are also aware that we could not have reached this plateau without the constant support of the many dealers who recommend our publication to their customers. This is an altruistic action which clearly illustrates the fraternal ism that we so often mention in this column. We deeply appreciate the support that we have received from every quarter, and will strive to continue improving the publication which you have caused to become the popular voice of the hobby.   Last month I waxed eloquently (alright, maybe eloquently is a reach) about a bronze coin from Patras bearing the head of an elderly and weary Herakles. Well, here's Paul Harvey with "the rest of the story". It turned out, much to my disappointment. That the coin I ordered was already sold. Fortunately, my eloquence fell on an attentive ear. I received a call some days later from David Vagi, who I discovered was the buyer. He was so moved by the admiration I had expressed that he felt guilty about depriving a fellow collector of such intense joy. Therefore, he offered to sell me the coin at the standard 100% dealer markup-JUST KIDDING and I accepted gratefully. I'm told that Frank Kovacs was also a late bidder on the coin. This really makes me feel good because I know Frank wouldn't have ordered it unless it was a really great coin at a great price. So, now I suppose I' m even more indebted to David. Anyway, I'm a happy camper with my old portrait of Herakles.   We've received several letters and comments, mostly positive, in regard to our comments last month about printing. The support is really appreciated. This month, we are attending the Chicago International right in the midst of production, so mailing might be a day or two later than normal-sorry.   If you have something to share. we'd love to hear your point of view!

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  9. Vol 08 No. 06 June 1994

    In last month's issue we published a press release from Ihe American Numismatic Society which publicly recognized some concern for Ihe Society's museum and its location. Members of the ANS have long been aware of the difficulties in making the present facility accessible and functional, not to mention popular. In decades past. when the collecting fraternity in New York was more active and Broadway at 155th was more hospitable, the ANS enjoyed an impressive home. Today, fewer collectors visit the facility, and those that do can't help but feel a little insecure. Not only is upper Manhattan less desirable to visit, but the entire city of New York is also becoming less accessible to the average collector. It's very difficult to find lodging for less than $100 per night, and the public transportation system is a disaster. Although taxis are the preferred mode of transportation within the city, anyone who has tried to flag down a taxi in Manhattan after 3:00 p.m. or on a rainy day will find them rather elusive. The only time that collectors normally visit New York is during a major numismatic event, and then it is extremely difficult to do anything productive at the museum because of the number of people seeking access and the limited staff to serve them.
    It seems to us that the time has come to focus on the purpose of the ANS and embark upon a program of revitalization that will make the Society and its premier collection available to the rank and file of the collecting fraternity. Among the many considerations, accessibility must be a paramount factor. Apparently, there are at least some within the inner circle of the Society's governorship who perceive this need, or the suggestion of considering a move would never have been made public.
    Feelings on this point are undoubtedly divided. If the membership does not speak out on this issue, the decision may well be driven by rather parochial interests. Our feeling is that the Society should establish a plan to relocate from its current facility to a site which is capable of promoting a broader range of activities and is likely to serve a larger segment of the membership. It may be that a more practical site is available within the city of New York, but we would encourage the ANS leadership to examine possible sites outside of the New York metropolitan area.
    In the past year or two the ANS has become a sort of catalyst in bringing together the academic community and the collecting community within the United States. This is no small achievement. For as long as we can remember. there has been a chasm between the two communities- sometimes bordering on hostility. It was this "cold war" which actually served as the spawning ground for The Celator. Consequently, we are very pleased to see an organization of academic stature such as the ANS providing opportunities for interaction with serious collectors and for taking collectors seriously. The recent program at Berkeley, Ancient Coins and Ancient History: A Classical Numismatic Conference, is a prime example. Following on the heels of a successful program in Washington, D.C., the ANS teamed up with the Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of California at Berkeley (isn't that a mouth full?), and with the San Francisco Ancient Numismatic Society (now that's better) to offer a day of fun and enlightenment.
    The Berkeley conference was held at the Alumni House on campus and consisted of a very balanced program. Among the speakers were professionals from the University and the ANS, along with local collectors. Three Berkeley grad students, who had all completed the ANS summer seminar, were also included in the roster. Over 160 registrants took part, and the room was still full at the end of a very long day. I found the presentations interesting, digestible (for the most part), and quite respectable.
    Another ANS program of this type is planned in conjunction with the Boston International Numismatic Convention in September. Of course, there is always value gained from hearing the presentations at such an event. but the greatest value is the interaction with academia that collectors have craved, and been denied, for so long. We heartily applaud the efforts of all involved, hut especially the effort or the ANS which truly offers the only possible bridge across a very traditional gap.
    Since there are a few inches of space left here, we should mention that the often-requested Celator binders are now in stock. These are very attractive covers in a rich brown leatherette with gold stamping. Each binder holds 12 issues of The Celator. They may also be used for the Best of The Celator. Italo Vecchi recommended a supplier in England, and we found their work to be superb. We have about 50 binders currently on hand and have already placed a reorder due to their popularity. See the ad within for ordering info or give us a call.
    We'll be in New York for the Spring International, Detroit for the ANA. Boston for their first International, and then the summer's over-Gee that went by fast! In the meantime, we'll be watching the mailbox for your point of view!

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  10. Vol 08 No. 07 July 1994

    We received a telephone call this month from a reader who 'I wanted to know where to buy coins at wholesale. The answer, strangely enough, is from the same place you buy retail! There seems to be a perception among some collectors that there are mysterious markets that the dealer gets tapped into and the collector doesn't. This perception is perpetuated by colorful comments about certain types of individuals showing up at coin shows with bags of coins or dealing out of hotel rooms with coins by the kilo.
    To be sure, there are occasions when coins are sold out of hotel rooms, and there are transactions that include coins by the kilogram. But these transactions constitute only a small fraction of the wholesale trade. Most coins sold at "wholesale" are sold on the same bourse floor, and by or between the same dealers that every collector has access to. Note that wholesale is enclosed in quotes - we'll get into this momentarily.
    The primary criteria which determine the difference between a wholesale and a retail transaction is the level of business transacted. This does not necessarily mean the total dollars spent but includes such factors as frequency of purchases, method of payment, types of coins purchased (rarities or generic types), and the nature of the purchases (individual picks or lots). Also, not to be underestimated is the rapport between the buyer and seller. Every dealer and collector find that it is easier to buy from certain sources than from others.
    All of the factors mentioned here are as applicable to the collector as they are to the dealer. I have yet to meet the dealer in ancient coins who has a rigid policy of discounts to fellow dealers while excluding discounts to collectors. The amount of discount on a sale, depending on the factors mentioned, will fall somewhere between "wholesale" and retail. I have often witnessed the sale of coins to dealers and collectors, from the same source, at exactly the same price. In fact, some dealers actively advertise "wholesale to all". The whole notion of wholesale-retail, at least in the fi eld of ancient coins, is a meaningless distinction.
    The pricing of ancient coins is so completely subjective that retail to the eye of one beholder is wholesale to the next, assuming that the criteria for distinction is a percentage of mark-up which hopefully translates to profit. This may be disconcerting to some, but it is a glorious opportunity for others. What it really means is that every coin must stand on its own merits and seek its own price level. There simply isn't any reliable price guide for ancient coins. So, what is one to make of the retail price tag on a coin offered for sale? Is this really the price? Can I get it at a wholesale price?
    Let's take, for illustration's sake, a coin with a retail asking price of $XXX. If this coin is seldom offered for sale, and is new to the dealer's stock, it will probably not be discounted very greatly (wholesaled) either to a collector or to another dealer. After several months of exposure to the market, if the coin remains unsold, it may succumb to an offer of 20% or 30% less. It is now wholesale to anyone who makes the offer. That is, of course, if $XXX was truly a fair retail price. On the other hand, if every dealer on the bourse floor has an example of the same type of coin, the retail price will be more clearly defined. Although the coin may become a more likely candidate for discounted sale, the wholesale-retail spread will probably not be as great.
    The point of all this meandering is to demonstrate that the terms wholesale and retail are really subjective. Even if they could be defined, the criteria by which a buyer becomes qualified to make a wholesale purchase is nebulous. Aside from the aforementioned hotel room deals, there simply is not a distinction between the wholesale and retail markets for most ancient coins.
    How does one buy ancient coins at wholesale? Ah, that is another question! First of all. ASK. If you plan on buying several coins, ask about quantity discounts BEFORE you make your selections. If you are buying from a hoard, ask for the "pick" price and the random lot price, they may be substantially different. If you are simply bargain hunting, ask the dealer what they might have in stock that can be discounted for a quick sale. Also ask to see a dealer's new purchases, they often will sell "newps" for less if the deal is a "quick flip". It also pays to come early and stay late - not that you have to camp out in the interim. Early in a show. dealers are anxious to cover costs. Toward the end of a show some may be desperate to raise cash or may just be feeling generous because it's been a good show and your purchase is icing on the cake. Repeat business is as important to a coin dealer as it is to any other businessperson. If you find sweet water, go back to the same well.
    Some things that the buyer should NOT do in an attempt to obtain a better price are:
    - never berate the condition of a coin. If it does not meet your criteria just pass it by without comment.
    - don't play one dealer's stock against another. If the other dealer's coin is really better or cheaper then buy it!
    - don't ask for a lot price and then try to pick one coin at that price.
    - don 't expect a dealer to hold a coin for you while you go look for one at a better price. If the dealer offers this courtesy, respect and appreciate it.
    Buying coin s takes talent. but it's not a difficult skill to learn- and the learning is so much fun!
    If you see us in Detroit, we'd be pleased to hear your point of view.
     
     

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  11. Vol 08 No. 08 August 1994

    The Numismatic Pilot was an enlightening journal about ancient coins published in Kentucky during the 1880s. It was written by and for collectors, and in spite of substantial appeal failed to survive its second volume. In the 1940s another publication, Numismatic Review out of New York, served as the forum for such notable collectors as T.O. Mabbott, Hans Holzer, Earle Caley, Behrendt Pick, and others. It concentrated heavily on ancient coins and offered excellent articles but survived only a few years. Some readers of these lines will remember the Voice of the Turtle. It too specialized in articles about ancient coins, did an admirable job, and failed. What about Classical Coin Newsletter? It was a great idea, that served collectors of ancient coins, but could not survive economically. Roman Coins and Culture suffered a similar fate after several years of serious effort and lots of red ink. Moneta was launched in Ihe Virgin Islands but failed to achieve stardom. Does anyone remember KARA (Keeping Ancient Rome Alive)? Even the popular Ancient published in Great Britain has been facing difficulties.
    The amateur publications that have survived have depended for the most pan on the support and replenishable energy of ancient coin clubs. Even these have difficulties, however, as typified by SAN Journal and its perennial production problems. The "journals" produced by various coin dealers are somewhat more enduring, but understandably less balanced in their approach. Some, like Spinks Circular and the Seaby bulletin, have earned an enviable reputation, but they still depend financially on commercial activity for their existence. The institutional journals are, of course, in a league of their own, with funding provided by the parent organization. They lire seldom allowed to fail- even when they operate in the red.
    Against this backdrop we present The Celator. Month in- month out, year in- year out, solvent and growing. Why has The Celator prospered where others have failed? Partly because we have developed a package that is balanced. and have found ways to make it economically feasible. Of course, in doing so there are constant tradeoffs. In a previous editorial we discussed the subject of color covers and their impact on our production. We have often discussed other details of production that few publishers ever share with their readership. One might question the wisdom of such candor, but we truly feel that our advertisers and readers participate in the entire Celator experience. We want our supporters to understand why certain things are done the way they are.
    For example, a recent letter from one of our readers (not the first on this subject) complained about our tendency to use line drawings for article illustration. The reader suggested that we should be scanning original photos on the computer and enhancing them to show salient features. This sounds like a progressive idea, and it is technologically feasible. We have a 1200 dpi scanner, sufficient horsepower in our Macintosh computers, and all of the software we would need. Although we do not have a high-resolution output device capable of producing film or plates for printing, we could get this done by a service bureau. The main obstacles are time and availability of quality originals.
    There are probably few readers who realize that each month the entire contents of The Celator are organized, type set, proofed, and prepared for press by a single person. Although we possess the skill and equipment to computer enhance photos, the time required is prohibitive. Another factor, with all due respect to our wonderful authors, is that we often receive poor quality or unusable graphics- photocopy reproductions of pages from copyrighted books for example. We have a large photo file, which has served us well on many occasions, hut finding just the right co in to illustrate an article is not always easy. We could reject articles with poor graphics, or hold them until better graphics arc found, but we would not be ab le to sustain our monthly production schedule if we did this. In fac l. it has been our experience that articles returned to an author for amendment often disappear forever. With an editorial demand for nearly 100 articles per year. we are not in the position where we can afford to lose articles. Consequently, we do everything in our power to make an article publishable and often turn to our ever-fertile line drawing database for non-protected images.
    In some cases, a line drawing is actually preferable to a photo because the iconographic detail is not obscured by surface imperfections. Furthermore, line drawings are rather nostalgic. Many of the drawings that we use are extracted from the 19th century reference works, and we believe that they enjoy a certain charm of their own. The bottom line, though, is that we use them because they are fast, convenient, inexpensive. and easy to print. Someday we will advance to computer generated plates and a digital photo file, but the line drawings serve us well in the meantime.
    Speaking of computers. this issue (in response to reader requests) focusses on computer software for the collector. If you have comments about these programs or know of other software packages and or systems of value to the ancient and medieval coin collector, we look forward to hearing your point of view!
     

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  12. Vol 08 No. 09 September 1994

    It seems like every month brings a new letter of concern and an issue that has to be dealt with- and this month is no exception. We received a letter from a collector regarding an offering of coins and antiquities which seem to be modern fakes. The essence of the letter was that "These things are obviously fake, and the dealer advertises in your magazine." The implication was that I should be doing something about it.
    This raises a number of tacky issues. First of all, who appointed me keeper of the keys? Secondly, who is qualified to certify the authenticity of, or condemn, coins and antiquities in the market? Thirdly, what is an appropriate action when one suspects that a coin or antiquity may be fake?
    Policing the hobby has been a controversial and contentious issue for as long as I have been associated with it. and probably for much longer. There are professional organizations, such as the American Numismatic Association (ANA), Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG). and the International Association of Profession al Numismatists (IAPN) that police their own membership. The theory behind these organizations is that you can minimize your risk by dealing with member firms. Failure to main tai n the standards of the organization may result in a firm being censored or expelled. In the event of a dispute, these organizations provide arbitration or mediation.
    Not all dealers, however, belong to the se professional organizations. Many smaller dealers find that the cost of members hip is simply prohibitive. There are generally rules governing the sale of coins or antiquities at shows. Often, show promoters will rely on the dealers themselves to weed out fakes from the bourse floor. If a coin belonging to dealer "A" is suspected by dealer "B" as being fake, it is generally pulled from the bourse until a proper determination of authenticity can be made. This is in fact done, and dealers are generally cooperative.
    Items offered for sale in a published ad are subject to the rules of advertising imposed by the publisher. In our case, and generally throughout the numismatic press. it is required that all items offered for sale in the publication are authentic and as described. Realizing that there can be valid differences of opinion. confusion. and error. we instituted a policy several years ago which provides that we will suspend the advertising rights of any firm against which we have on file three unresolved complaints. We have, in fact, exercised this suspension on at least three occasions over the years. Considering that we serve over 100 advertisers, that really is not a significant percentage. The resolution might simply be a return, or it might be an opinion from a certification service.
    The next level of policing is where the problem lies. Suppose a dealer runs a generic ad in The Celator, obtains your name in response, and then sends you a fixed pricelist. If you buy an item and it turns out to be a fake, you are bound by the published rules of the dealer in question. If the dealer's rules state that no returns are all owed, you are flat out of luck. If, however, the dealer guarantees authenticity, we will honor your complaint and keep it on file. We also send a copy to the dealer and request a notice of resolution. Generally, this works pretty well.
    Now, what if you spot an item on the dealer's list that you feel is a fake? Obviously, you aren't going to buy it, but you may feel compelled to protect some less knowledgeable collector from buying it. As a customer, you have every right to express your concerns to the dealer. Hopefully, that will be sufficient to correct the problem or quell the suspicion. What you should not expect is for The Celator to police the lists of dealers. If you suspect that a coin offered in an ad published in The Celator is not authentic, we will immediately investigate the complaint. We cannot, however, serve as a policing agency for the entire hobby. We have neither Ihe time nor expertise, and certainly have no such mandate.
    Our advice, as always, is to buy from dealers where you have recourse if the purchased item proves to be fake. Virtually every dealer has inadvertently sold a fake at one time or another: it's not necessarily a reflection on one's character or competence. What the dealer does about it, however, may speak volumes about both.
    We would be remiss not to mention here that this yea r's ANA convention in Detroit was the best organized show that we have attended in years. The highly publicized dangers were vastly overrated, and the facilities were excellent. The Detroit police department went all out to assure that visitors were completely secure and comfortable. I have never seen a city that opened its doors to numismatists like Detroit did, and it is a pitiful shame Ihal the oracles of doom and gloom influenced some of their following to boycott the show. Steve and Stephanie joined me there and we had a delightful time. Congratulations to Craig Whitford and the host club. as well as Ihe ANA staff, for making Ihe most of an unnecessarily bad situation.
    Next stop is Boston for the first BINC and the ANS symposium. It's going to be a great affair! The Celator will have a table, so stop by and share your point of view

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  13. Vol 08 No. 10 October 1994

    This past Spring the Franklin Mint. a private collectibles manufacturer in Pennsylvania. began a promotion which offered ancient coins for sale. The offering consisted mostly of garden variety third and fourth century Roman coins packaged in a fancy holder. The "set" of 20 Roman coins was (and presumably still is) offered at $2,200. Concurrently with the launch of this promotion, a supportive article appeared on the front page of Coin World. In reaction, a number of collectors of ancient coins expressed outrage, not only over the promotional price of these extremely common coins, but also over the characterization of them as being in short supply. Equally perturbed was ancient coin dealer Harlan J. Berk. At the NYINC Spring show Berk circulated a survey in which he asked fellow ancient coin dealers to indicate the prices they would charge for specimens equal to those in the Franklin Mint brochure. The result was surprisingly consistent. Most of the coins offered at $110 each by the Franklin Mint were valued by consensus at $ 15 to $20 retail; some were considered $5 "Junk Box" coins. The survey results were published by Coin World, and suddenly the issue became a contentious debate. The heat is apparently building because an article in The Wall Street Journal and a segment of the television program The Wall Street Journal Report have focused on the debate.
    We would expect to see the Franklin Mint defending their honor, but strangely they seem to be in the background. Who has their picture splashed before the public as the defender of the Franklin Mint's promotion? None other than ANA president David Ganz. Now it never occurred to me that Ganz might know anything about ancient coins. I can't recall ever seeing Mr. Ganz at an auction of ancient coins, or at an ancient coin dealer's bourse table. He certainly is not a Celator reader, so, what did Mr. Ganz have to offer the media and the general public from his obscure but apparently important perspective? Well, Coin World has kindly reported that before the television camera "Ganz stated that he believed the Franklin Mint 's profit margin is no different than that of other coin dealers in the ancient coin business."
    Let's analyze that statement just a bit. The typical wholesale price for average grade bronzes and debased antoninianii of the third and fourth century is somewhere around $5 to $8 in quantities (and massive quantities do exist). The Berk survey indicated that most dealers would ask perhaps twice that amount for an individual coin in a retail transaction. The Franklin Mint is asking nearly fourteen times that figure. Does Mr. Ganz really believe that ancient coin dealers work on a 1400% markup? Ah, but don't forget the wooden box that comes with your Franklin Mint coins, and also the valuable historical description!
    We don't intend to carry the standards in this latest defensive action, Harlan Berk is doing a fine job of that, but we can't help being a little annoyed by the portrayal of Ganz as a qualified expert on ancient coin prices. Even more annoying is the constant character assassination that ancient coin dealers and the ancient coin market have endured in recent years. Will we ever be free of the interlopers?
    Every month we hear from a few subscribers who have not received their issue of The Celator. Our production schedule is quite reliable, and for U.S. subscribers the date of mailing is printed on your protective throw-away wrap. The U.S. Postal Service claims a delivery time of 7 to 10 days for second class mail, so most readers should receive their copy by the first of each month. Unfortunately, certain parts of the country experience erratic delays that are completely beyond our control. If we replace an issue, we have to send it first class, at a much higher rate, so we usually ask our readers to wait and see if their copy might arrive a few days late.
    We have an even worse situation with foreign addresses. The foreign subscriptions are filled by International Surface Air Lift (ISAL). This is a class of service that moves the piece of ma il from the U.S. to the destination country by air, and then it goes into the local post for surface delivery. It is much less ex pensive than any other form of air mail, but there are also delivery problems at times. We have had at least three occasions where our entire shipment to a particular country was lost. This is devastating, because we cannot reship by ISAL due to the minimums required. Therefore, we prefer to replace any foreign subscriber copies along with the next monthly mailing. This is not an ideal solution, but it is about the only choice that we have.
    It would be much better, of course, to ship by first class mail or regular air mail, but the cost is prohibitive. At the present time, over one half of the price of subscription s to a foreign country is consumed by postage. Shipping by standard air mail would triple the subscription price- not a comforting thought to most. If you do not receive your copy at the usual time, please give it a few more days and then call us. We will be happy to replace lost copies.
    Yours truly will be spending September in Greece, but Steve and Stephanie will be here to take care of business as usual. They'll be happy to hear your point of view!

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  14. Vol 08 No. 11 November 1994

    A new day may be dawning for collectors of ancient coins. We reported, some month s back, the notable success of a numismatic symposium at Berkeley which brought together representatives of the collecting, academic and institutional communities. This month in Boston we witnessed an event which may set a new standard for "International" conventions. That wonderful forum which had been pioneered in Washington and Berke ley was expanded to include the professional numismatic community by combining the American Numismatic Society's "Outreach" symposium with a major coin show.
    There are always inherent risks in an innovative undertaking like this, but risky ventures can be all the more impressive in their success. Well, success was universally acknowledged in the halls of the Swissotel Boston, site of the first annual Boston International Numismatic Convention. The four-day affair began Thursday evening with a keynote address by the venerable Leo Mildenberg, followed by a subscription dinner. Dr. Mildenberg shared with fellow numismatists a "Dream Collection" of coins based on his personal stylistic preferences. Explaining why a particular tetradrachm of Cat ana was chosen above all others, he admitted "It simply sings to me!". This comment succinctly embodies the essence of collecting and it effectively set the tone for the events which followed.
    Symposium speakers from each of the participating groups held court on Friday and Saturday mornings, with the bourse floor opening being coordinated with the symposium adjournment. This proved to be an excellent arrangement, with the symposium and bourse benefiting mutually. The two-session auction (Friday and Saturday evenings) held by Classical Numismatic Group also added an important element and depth to the overall program.
    Among the many contributors who deserve credit for assuring the success of this effort were David Gordon Mitten of Boston's Society Historia Numorum; Arthur Houghton of the American Numismatic Society; Peter Weiss of Brown University and Lucien Birkl er, the BlNC organizer. Without the remarkable cooperation and vision of these group leaders the idea could not have become reality. Again, as I suggested following the Berkeley symposium. this coalition of academicians, hobbyists, and now professional numismatists could not have been achieved without the good graces and universal prestige of the American Numismatic Society. The implementation of a serious outreach program has rapidly brought the ANS to the forefront of our hobby and has lent a new measure of respectability to the hobby by facilitating a long overdue interaction between collectors and scholarly institutions. Wc cannot overstate the importance of this initiative.
    We should keep in mind. however, that the ANS is a non-profit organization. It is dependent upon its members and benefactors for program support and for its very existence. We certainly encourage every reader of The Celator to become an active and supportive member of the ANS and to avail themselves of the many benefits and services offered by the society. More information about membership may be obtained by writing to Arlene Jacobs at The American Numismatic Society, Broadway at IS5th, New York, NY 10032, or by calling (21 2) 234-3130.
    Although the ancient coin market still remains a little soft, the Boston International was in my opinion one of the most enjoyable and productive conventions that I have ever attended. It was very much a social as well as commercial event and collectors came great distances to participate. We spoke with several West Coast and Midwest collectors on the floor, and a few European collectors as well. The facilities were excellent.
    According to Lucien Birkler, the convention is scheduled for an encore on September 7- 10, 1995. We applaud the efforts of all those involved and look forward to next year's trip to Boston!
    This has been a busy month for all of us: we are mailing our semi-annual card deck; preparing the annual Best of The Celator; and fitting in two shows (Milwaukee and Minneapolis). We have also produced a new flyer explaining our services and offerings, which is located in the centerfold of this month 's issue.
    I suppose this is the price one has to pay for a vacation in Greece! It was, by the way, a great outing. We chartered a 32-fool Attalia sloop out of Corfu and sailed south as far as Ithaca and Kephallonia. The weather was beautiful, water pristine (except for Lev kas harbor), and company par excellence. We enjoyed huge Greek salads and volumes of local wine in some of the most charming spots one could imagine. On the return leg we slopped at Actium, where Eri c (McFadden) and I stumbled blindly around the ruin s of Nicopolis. It's hard to find fault with the world right at this moment!
    As you can see by the Coming Events, this is really the season for ancient coins. Since we always seem to be rattling on about shows and sales, why not take a few moments to tell us how they look from you r point of view?
     

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  15. Vol 08 No. 12 December 1994

    This issue celebrates the compilation of our eighth year of service to collectors. It was a year of continued growth for us, and an eventful year for the hobby in general. We've witnessed the passing of some old faces, and the arrival of some new, but the attraction of ancient numismatics seems as strong as ever. There even seems to be a resurgence of antiquarian interest among the younger generations- of course there's more than one younger generation for us these days.
    One theme which often echoes in this column is the statement of purpose which drives us. That is, of course, to provide a forum through which antiquarians may share their love of the hobby. We are especially proud of the progress made this year toward fulfilling that goal. This year the "Letters'· department regularly included running dialogues, often involving several commentators. At least three new collector organizations have used The Celator as a springboard to solicit members, and several collectors have published their names and addresses in "Collector Correspondence" to contact others with similar interests.
    Without doubt, the most rewarding example of increased collector involvement is to be found in our backlog of articles awaiting publication. We are seeing more and more collectors who are willing to put pen to paper and share the insights or observations, perhaps even discoveries, that the hobby has revealed to them. This forum has in the past been very limited for non-academics. Writing is the most fitting form of expression because it, like its subject, is enduring and it requires genuine forethought. It also stimulates research that inevitably broadens one's own horizons.
    In this issue we offer an article by F. Martin Post which epitomizes the collector/author relationship. Mr. Post's article focusses on coins in his collection which were struck with a variety of errors or imperfections. It is not the kind of artic le that one would likely cite in a footnote or bibliography, but it is stimulating in the respect that it causes the reader to think rather intently about ancient coins as physical artifacts. The broad appeal of ancient coins stems from the fact that there are so many different ways to appreciate them. We have published many articles about coins and their artistic or historical significance. This article, by a collector sharing his love of the hobby, shows us another way to look at them.
    Aside from the self-satisfaction that comes from see in g one's own work in print, there is little to induce the collector to write these articles. Recognizing this, we feel that a little peer recognition might be appropriate. Therefore, we are enclosing with this issue a ballot form for The Celator Readers' Choice Award. This is your opportunity to say thank you to the author who most inspired or enlightened you over the past year. Details will he found on the protective wrap for U.S. subscribers, and on a special insert for others. We hope for a significant response to assure integrity of the process (subscribers only and one vote per).
    One problem(?) generated by the attainment of our goal is that the length of time an article rests in publisher's limbo necessarily increases. It normally takes about three months for us to convert a manuscript into a published article. There have been cases, however, where that window stretched significantly. If you have had an article accepted for publication, please be patient, we'll get to it as fast as we can. If the anticipation is simply more than you can bear, give us a call and we'll try to give you a more-or-less firm publication date.
    Another aspect of the communication forum that we, as a publication, have impacted is the relationship between dealers and collectors. On the whole, the typical Celator reader has a much broader exposure to the market today than he or she did eight years ago. Not only are dealers more visible (witness 110 advertisers in last month's issue), but they also somehow seem less mysterious. Partly, this is a product of the regular columns which dealers have written, but it is also due in part to dealer participation in the continuing dialogue which we alluded to earlier. Because we are supported primarily by advertising revenue, we are very sensitive to the dealer's point of view. Therefore. we have tri ed editorially to affect a consideration of the realities of the ancient coin market. Perhaps some would view this as dealer advocacy, but we prefer to think of it as effective communication which better serves the whole hobby.
    Although the market has its ups and downs, we are optimistic about the future of ancient coin collecting. It is a hobby which attracts people of unusual diversity, above average intellect, and unbounded enthusiasm. In our travels we constantly meet collectors from around the globe. and have found them to be an extraordinarily friendly and interesting group of people. It is a fraternity of which we are very pleased to be a member.
    It seems impossible that the holidays arc upon us again so quickly, but the beautiful gold and crimson leaves of autumn have been stripped away by blustery storms that always remind us snow is on the way. We wish you the very best for a happy holiday season and a rewarding new year. If you will, take just a moment of that break to give us your point of view!
     

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  16. Vol 09 No. 01 January 1995

    It always amazes us when people walk up and ask, "What are you going to write about this show?" As if we're in a position to pass Judgement! Sometimes the question is rhetoric, merely a way to facilitate conversation, but in other cases it is a serious concern. There are, naturally, a number of people who are quite concerned about the future of shows and conventions in general, and of course certain shows in particular. They are even more concerned if they think that the press might be about to pan their latest effort. They should know by now that we are solid supporters of the convention circuit and would never subject it to undue criticism. BUT... no one can deny that shows are in trouble.
    Let's take New York for example, since we just returned from what remains the premier show in this country and probably in the world for ancient coin collectors. New York City is a vibrant place which attracts people from every point of the compass. Many collectors can only spare the time or funds for one "Mega-show" a year, and New York has been a favorite choice for years. On the floor at this year's NYI NC it was our pleasure to chat with collectors from California, Illinois, Florida, Missouri, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington D.C., Minnesota, Michigan, Kentucky, New Jersey, Wisconsin. and a few other places which have temporarily slipped my mind. From outside the U.S. there were collectors from Canada, Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Bulgari a, England, and some other countries I'm sure _ These people came to New York partly because of the many dealers and huge concentrations of coins. They also came because the convention is a major social event. One of the social highlights of this year's show was the reception hosted by Spink America (formerly Christie 's) to herald their reorganization. It was lite rally packed with professional and amateur numismatists of the highest caliber and reputation- a gathering which one does not often encounter. Although the reception had nothing directly to do with the convention, the Spink America guests were virtually without exception NYINC attendees. The social aspect of conventions is becoming more and more critical as traditional marketing patterns change and convention bourses become less viable from an economic standpoint.
    In previous editorials we have expounded on the difficulties which plague the dealer setting up a bourse table at these large shows. In New York, only a few years back, there were four relatively large shows which attracted collectors of ancient coins. Today there is only one. and it has significant logistical problems. Not the least of dealer concerns is the nature of marketing patterns at shows. In the past, the dealer looked to shows as a major source of retail sales. Today, shows arc primarily a wholesale opportunity for many dealers. Several dealers have admitted that their primary revenues come from lists, and the shows are basically buying opportunities. Those dealers that do succeed at shows are generally selling coins that are either well below normal market prices or very uncommon and thus desirable. In the past, collectors tended to prefer a venue where they could touch and feel the coins they might purchase. This seems to be changing, as more and more dealers report increasing list sales and decreasing bourse sales.
    Despite all of these observations, the NYINC drew respectable numbers at this year's show. And a few dealers did exceptionally well. So, what does one make of it all? It's clear that times are definitely changing, and the professional numismatic community will have to respond appropriately if it is to prosper. Collectors seem willing to support conventions of substance which provide diversified activities but are disenchanted with row after row of bourse tables touting shiny hoard coins and generic stock. Sure, they will buy generic coins from mail bid sales and fixed price lists, but not as readily at shows as in {he past. Show acquisitions need to be something memorable.
    It seems that every NYINC has a little surprise. This year it was announced that some of the (modern) dies used to strike the infamous "Black Sea Hoard" diobols have been revealed and arc now in the West. We should see a report soon.
    Kudos to Steve Rubinger for his outstanding production of Antiqua Catalog I. It is a breathtaking masterpiece of photography and an impressive offering of artifacts. We wish him every success.
    We're getting a lot of ballots in for the Reader's Choice Award and have noticed quite a diversity of opinion. If you haven't voted you can still FAX us your input through December 31. By the way, the Celator Indexes and Best of '94 are now finished and available for shipment.
    A special thank you is in order for the wonderful article about The Celator by Kari Stone in this month 's Coinage magazine. No one has ever told the story of our publication with such clarity and sensitivity. We certainly appreciate it.
    As the mercury dips here in the land of the cheeseheads we dream of tropical beaches- but will settle for Orlando and the F.U.N. show. See you there to get your first hand point of view!

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  17. Vol 09 No. 02 February 1995

    Last night I had a dream. It was ~ a strange dream, with two main characters. One wore a long flowing white robe with the name "Peter" embroidered on it. The other, a bearded and mustached middle-aged man with a sly grin on his face, was dragging a lug gage cart stacked to the top with Abafil cases. The two were standing on a misty ridge, before a pair of large mahogany doors guarded by a stocky guy with a blue blazer and 50s style crew cut. I couldn't quite hear the exchange between the two, but it was clear that Peter was trying to turn away the insistent interloper.
    Not to be deterred, the man leaned forward and whispered something in Peter's ear. A chuckle emerged from his saintly lips, but Peter refused to be swayed. As he pointed to a path leading down the hill, the man leaned forward and once again whispered in Peter's car. This time Peter fairly roared as the golden tic of that toga-like garb danced over his midsection. Finally, the man reached into the briefcase on top of his stack and pulled out a faded newspaper. As he handed it to Peter, I could just make out the headline - CANDIDATE BEACH BLASTS ANA BOARD BOON-DOGGLES! A knowing and respectful smile appeared on Peter's face, and with a slap on the back he waved George M. Beach through the guarded doors.
    Sadly, we won't see George again on this side of those mahogany bourse doors. We will easily remember the gracious and irreverent humor that George turned into a trademark, but we should not forget that there was another side to the man. He was a heavyweight in the fight for collectors' rights and for the good of numismatics. His business cards bear the motto "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing". Although his ambition to serve as an instrument of change on the ANA Board of Governors was never realized, his voice and opinions were heard loud and clear throughout the hobby.
    I first met George shortly after we began publishing The Celator. He was supportive and helpful from the beginning and was always full of encouragement. Over the years it was my distinct privilege to become more closely acquainted with him. George was a man of much greater sensitivity than his manner suggested. Although a shrewd businessman, he was also willing to help a fellow numismatist out of a bind if possible. I could relate several instances in the course of our dealings where, without any personal motive, he did just that-and there are countless tales of a similar nature that other dealers could share. He was not at all a selfish man and was not above introducing his best clients to other dealers. He told me once that he liked to think of his bourse table as the "old barber shop" where friends and customers could chit-chat. He was especially proud that "all of my good customers have become good friends". Many of those friend's hail from the St. Louis area, which was George's favorite market and one {hat he essentially "owned" for many years. Reminiscing at the NYTNC last month. George told me how over the course of his career he had watched the market move from a collector orientation to one driven by investment interests and finally return to collector domination. It pleased him to sec the return of collectors as the primary market force. For the future, he predicted "a steady market but setbacks from promotions".
    Although George appreciated a good meal, he was also a Chili Dog junkie. On the road, he liked to eat at German restaurants. Two of his favorites were Mader's in Milwaukee and Berghof's in Chicago. I have very fond memories of an evening some years ago when George treated me to dinner at a Serbian restaurant on the south side of Milwaukee. The restaurant provided serenading musicians and George provided nonstop tableside humor. It was quite a night.
    As a full-time dealer for the past twenty years, he built a substantial business in coins and miscellaneous objects. The wide variety of stock led to his coining of the term "Numiscellaneous", which has become accompany logo. Concentrating mainly on the show circuit, he set up at about 40 bourses a year during his prime. Typically, George drove to these shows because of the large stock which he carried.
    The entire numismatic community followed George's fight with Leukemia over the past few years, watching him rally over and over, only to relapse and weaken with each round. In recent months he was assisted by his son James, who intends to carry on the business. At the recent F.U.N. show I talked to James and his brother George, who manned the bourse in their father's absence. They said that it was a great disappointment to their father that he wasn't strong enough to make the trip. Actually, I think he was probably sitting up there in Owosso devising a plan to con St. Peter out of a photo ID. We'll really miss you George, and your distinctive point of view!
     
     
     

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  18. Vol 09 No. 03 March 1995

    Congratulations to Marvin Tameanko and David Wend for earning the accolades of their fellow collectors in our first annual Readers' Choice Award. Details will be found on the "People" page in this issue. Their contributions clearly merit the recognition extended, and we can all be thankful that people like them are willing to take the time to share their expertise and insights. Of course, they were not the only writers deserving of recognition and we can't begin to express the appreciation that we feel, or that we hear from countless readers. for the many fine articles and features that we all have enjoyed over the years.
    Our January issue was arriving at readers' doors just about the time we arrived in Orlando for the F.U.N. show. Several people were surprised to see a major change on our back cover and were probing for details. Well, if only to avoid any misunderstandings or to squash any rumors that may be floating around, here is the story straight from the "horse's" mouth.
    In the early summer of 1987, we were approached by Harlan J. Berk with a proposal to take the back cover, or in this case the bac k page since The Celator was then published in newspaper format , for advertising on a contract basis. Berk 's first ad appeared in Vol. I, No.4, or the Aug/Sep issue of that year. When we changed to the magazine format in September 1990, we offered Harlan the option of doing the ad in color. He agreed, and consequently we were able to provide four color covers (full glorious color to you non-printer types) for the enjoyment of our readers. In essence, Harlan Berk was subsidizing the color on our front cover. Anyone who has paid for four color work knows that this is not an inexpensive proposition. Over the years, it became obvious that with our limited readership we could not provide the kind of direct response that Berk or any other advertiser needs to justify the expense involved for such a n ad. We tried all sorts of in-house innovations to reduce the overall cost. but eventually the weight became too heavy. We were advised in October 1994 that Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. intended to terminate their back cover ad following the December issue. Fortunately, another firm stepped forward and committed to the space, but the four-color process will for the foreseeable future be a luxury reserved for very special occasions.
    The decision to terminate was entirely that of Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., and no more needs to be read into it than the situation described above. We sincerely appreciate the outstanding support that Harlan Berk has provided over the past eight years, and our readers should appreciate the fact that many of the stunning covers of past issues were provided through the financial support of his firm.
    Speaking of advertising, we are constantly amazed at the number of new dealers appearing in the ancient coin market. Many of them can be found in our Professional Directory, but there are also a lot of dealers who concentrate mainly on shows and carry ancient coins as a sideline to their regular stock. It seems that ancient coins are no longer as intimidating to the neophyte collector or to the "part-time" dealer as they once were. Part of this phenomenon may be a result of the shifting in recent years of the kind of material found on the market. Formerly, a dealer's "lot" purchase was likely to contain a wide variety of material from obscure places. Today, the lots are more often homogeneous and are marketed in a much different way . It is relatively easy for a dealer or collector, even a non-specialist, to learn about a sing le emperor whose coins have appeared by the thousands in a recent hoard. The intimidation factor is much less, because the research is more focused. Therefore, one can learn about some aspects of ancient coinage without learning anything about others. For those collectors seeking the "obscure" pieces, they will usually find their way to dealers who have been involved professionally for a longer period.
    However, even inexperienced dealers come across exceptional coins on occasion. It is advisable, even for the collector of obscurities, to keep an eye out and follow the sage advice "Look at Everything". We found this especially true while accumulating a rather extensive collection of Turkoman coins. When asked, many dealers would flatly deny that they had any such coins. That should be a red flag right there, because when you do find one in that dealer's stock it will probably be CHEAP! Now some dealers may not appreciate the collector who takes an hour to look at every coin in stock, so try to be considerate and do your searching when the dealer isn't busy with other customers.
    We will be at the Santa Clara show this month, and of course we will be at the ClCF in Chicago. In the past, it seemed that ancient coin collecting was a three season avocation , but this winter has been very active. The show circuit is beginning to stabilize, and obvious effort is being made by promoters to avoid conflicts. 1995 seems to have started off with a bang, and we look forward to an exciting year. We'll be sharing our thoughts with you as usual, and looking in return for your point of view.
     

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  19. Vol 09 No. 04 April 1995

    Why do we collect ancient coins? This may seem like a rhetorical question, but it is a question with a multitude of answers perhaps one for each of us. For this collector, it is the extension of a more fundamental urge which might be described as the explorer-romantic syndrome. There is something compelling about the past, especially in the sense that through coins we can touch it and bridge the gap of time in a magical way. It's not that the coins themselves are so important as it is that they represent something historically or socially significant. In some cases, it goes beyond the inscriptions or images, and our imagination or intuition tells us that this artifact encapsulates a living experience much like a fossil or the proverbial note in a bottle.
    Personally, our study of 12th century Turkoman coins led to the discovery of a wonderfully interesting group of artisans that had been forgotten by time and relegated to the status of footnote in the wake of the Mongol conquests. Likewise, the richness of iconography on Roman coins from the Citi ci an city of Anazarbus tells us a story about a place that history has forgotten. For nearly three centuries this city flourished. yet we know practically nothing about it aside from the evidence of some 900 di e varieties. How could such a prolific mint remain so obscure in contemporary literature. We also collect coins of Tarkondimotus and his son Philopator. Obscure enough? Well, they surely make the point that we find obscurity intriguing. Why are some people and places so clearly remembered in history, while others of equal importance become virtually anonymous?
    One of our favorite numismatic treasures is a remarkable bronze coin from Kibyra in Phrygia. It is a Roman Provincial coin of the semi-autonomous variety. On its obverse is a veiled Boule, and on the reverse two hands clasped. What is remarkable about this specimen (apparently one of three known) is that one of the clasped hand s wears a bracelet and the other does nol. The reference is obviously to a marriage ceremony, but whose wedding? We have been searching for over ten years and have yet to unravel this riddle. But that is what makes ancient coin collecting stand out among all of the pursuits that one might indulge in these days. There are challenges big and small. and they are all what we make of them. If you are a romantic or an explorer there is a wonderful world of excitement hidden in some of the most inconspicuous places.
    But why do we COLLECT ancient coins? All of the foregoing research could be done without actually owning the coins in question. There is something compulsive about the collecting process that is innate in our psyche. Non-collectors don' t understand us, but that's probably due to some hereditary deficiency on their part. The serious collector is a driven person with a dearly defined sense of mission. Searching for a needed specimen becomes a very personal challenge, and its acquisition a very special success. Conversely, it is not at all unusual for a collector to dispose of his or her col lection when for all practical purposes it becomes complete.
    Having a set of the 12 Caesars in silver or gold, for example, is not nearly as exciting as building a set. Psychologists might interpret our compulsion as perhaps a subconscious drive to assert order in the universe. But in the final analyses, collecting provides a means for us to dream and remain in touch with a romantic past. Dream on!
    Wc have finally given in and abandoned the line drawing that headed this column the past two months. We received a significant amount of flak from certain dealers at Long Beach, who insisted that the line drawing portrayed too much hair (what do they know?). Then our dear children, Steve and Stephanie admitted that they preferred the old photo. A California collector claimed that he couldn't find us at the Santa Clara show because the line drawing wasn't realistic. Come on- any collector can Spot a VG Nerva or Otho from 20 paces and they can't recognize this face? What really iced it was the opinion of my universally supportive mom, who also found the line drawing less than appealing. Well. l liked it, but that seems to be a minority opinion. So here is the old slug of a photo back-- Iive with it! (Are you satisfied Nick?)
    Over the years. we have tried several different features and formats for assembling and producing information that you read on these pages. The only way that we progress is through the feedback of our loyal readers. Not that the above incident is much of an example, but it does illustrate that people not only read The Celator, they pay rather close attention to it. This is heartwarming, but it also bestows upon us a responsibility to serve the reader well. Ideally, we would expend significant resources on prepress editing. Practically, we do not have the staff or time to do as thorough a job as we would like. If we are to produce a limited circulation journal on a regular schedule, economically and without delay, we must accept certain tradeoffs. In eight years of publication, we have never broken a production deadline and we intend to maintain this record. When we do err editorially, we expect and hope for the feedback of our readers to set mailers straight. We expect, and need, to hear from you-and while you're at it let us hear your point of view!
     
     

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  20. Vol 09 No. 05 May 1995

    One of the letters we received this month raised our aware· ness of the wild misconceptions that collectors may labor under, especially if they arc rather isolated from the mainstream of market activity. You may wish to skip over to the letters section and read the comments of Michael Marotta ("Advice challenged") before continuing this- but don't forget to come back!
    Mr. Marotta is the founder of "Ancient Numismatic Collectors", which he envisions as a national organization of ancient coin enthusiasts. There has been a need for such an organization, and we have generally supported Mr. Marotta's efforts. Our one concern has been that any organization of national scope requires a special sort of leadership. Unfortunately, it seems that Mr. Marotta views himself as the Ralph Nader of the ancient coin fraternity. While there is undoubtedly some value derived from any critical voice, it is incumbent upon the critic to retain a sense of perspective and a reasonable degree of accuracy.
    In Mr. Marotta's letter of criticism ah out David Vagi 's latest column ("Through the Looking Glass", April 1995). he reveals a jaundiced view of the auction business and a rather naive view of collecting in general. It could be detrimental to the hobby if new collectors were weaned on the advice of an "axe-grinding" national leader. To say that Mr. Marotta is misguided and mistaken about some of his views would be generous. It most certainly IS NOT better to have a complete set of Licinius I in VG than one Marcus Aurelius in FDC- if you are a connoisseur of ancient numismatic art. It is apparent that Mr. Marotta does not pretend to be a connoisseur, but that does not excuse his off-handed rejection of Vagi's advice. Moreso, it does not exculpate his vilifying castigation of auctioneers in general, and Mr. Vagi in particular. Incidentally, David Vagi is not an auctioneer- but never mind.
    Are auction participants merely "marks" who wallow in ignorance as their pockets arc picked by unscrupulous Fagins? Did NFA and Superior fail because auctioneering is a "tough business"? Has anyone seen a large lot of ElD MAR denarii lately? Where did Me Marotta get these whacked out ideas? Everyone has a right to their opinions, but national leaders should be aware that their opinions arc influential' As such, they must be justifiable and reasonable. In view of the irrational expression voiced by Mr. Marotta, we doubt that he will ever be accepted within this community of collectors as any sort of national leader.
    In David Vagi's column he advises collectors on a budget to buy a single coin of relatively high quality as opposed to many coins of inferior quality. It is our opinion that this is sound ad · vice for most collectors. Lest we be criticized as an apologist for the dealers who support us with their advertising, let me expound. Both David and I arc collectors. He collects barbarous AE copies of Roman coins, and I happen to be collecting Roman Provincial bronzes from a single city in Anatolia. Neither of these collecting areas arc noted for blazing FDC specimens. We have both been known to buy some of the most wretched examples of "collectable" coinage that one can imagine.
    We are also dealers, and we know full well that our less than perfect specimens may be virtually unsaleable. That doesn't stop us from collecting, but it does place us in the position of knowing that there is little chance of a financial return. Of course, there is the rare piece within our respective areas that does come along in choice condition, and we are grateful for that.
    If we were concerned about the eventual disposition of our collections, David and I would probably have chosen areas more suited to mainstream marketing opportunities. In other words, we would have purchased only coins of better grade and greater popularity. To suggest that a collection of low-grade bronzes is valuable because it is "complete" is (Q. David Bowers' advice notwithstanding) illogical. Anyone who would choose to own a complete collection of low-grade coins is a compulsive collector (like David and I) who derives joy from acquisition and accumulation. Why would we, or anyone else, want to buy a complete collection of low-grade coins of Licinius I? Admittedly, if one owns a complete collection of anything, there will be rarities included which will probably be of value. But then, one can also collect rarities in and of themselves and skip the "completeness" prerequisite.
    Mr. Marotta may echo the op inion of certain collectors who arc budget minded and "bargain" oriented. No offense intended, the vast majority of us arc bargain oriented and most of us have a budget. Mr. Vagi, in this specific case, voiced the opinion of a veteran market observer. Although one does not have to agree with his opinions, to ignore them would be fool hardy. It is not in the best interests of a professional numismatist (one who makes a living in the business) to promote financial failure among his clientele. There are, after all, only a limited number of ancient coin collectors in the world- hardly enough to chance alienating them.
    CICF was very upbeat, and we enjoyed the decent weather for a change. Our next show will be right down the road as the "Central States" convenes in Milwaukee, and a week later we'll be in Manhattan for the Spring NYINC. As always, we'll enjoy visiting and hearing your point of view!
     

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  21. Vol 09 No. 06 June 1995

    Without belaboring the point, we should add an epilogue to last month's "Point of View". It seems that a few readers mistook our comments as promoting a negative view toward the collecting of low grade or low-priced ancient coins. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have repeatedly stressed in editorials, features, articles, lectures, and countless personal conversations that the real joy of collecting has nothing at all to do with condition or value. What it has to do with is attaining satisfaction through learning. In fact, a previous installment of our feature "Just for Beginners" extolled the virtues of collecting budget priced coins and hosted a contest to reward the collector who assembled the most impressive collection with an investment of $200 or less. Dr. Warren Esty won that contest, and we published the entire collection on our front cover!
    What our comments last month reflected was quite another consideration. If one wishes to measure the value of a collection in terms other than personal satisfaction, there are some fac tors that (most market observers will agree) come into play. Likewise, the term "better" in regard to one collecting method versus another is only appropriate once one establishes the ultimate objective- personal satisfaction or preservation of capital. Of course, there are many degrees between the two alternatives, and each collector finds his or her own way in this regard. Fortunately. the two sometimes converge. The only point we are trying to make is that we should not be blind to alternative points of view simply because they do not fit into our own collecting habits or interests.
    The subject of ancient coin prices. condition, and sale venues is perhaps the most difficult aspect of the hobby for collectors to understand. We will continue in future issues to address these subjects. as we have in the past. The current series of informative and entertaining articles by Alan Walker, explaining the history and subtleties of the auction circuit, should be helpful to everyone contemplating auction participation. 
    Unfortunately, it seems time once again to say a word about distribution of The Celator. We mail your copy on or about the 20th day of each month. That is, the June issue will be mailed about May 20. U.S. and Canadian subscriptions are mailed by Second Class postage, which is a special category for publications. Service is "supposed" to be comparable to first class mail. In other words, you should receive your issue within seven 10 ten days. Practically, we know that delivery times vary from two days to 20 days. We have not missed a mailing deadline in the eight-plus years of publishing this journal, so you can rest assured that any delay is "in the mail ". Our overseas subscriptions are mailed via International Surface Airlift (ISAL), which is also a U.S.P.S. offering (notice we did not use the word "service"). Delivery by this mode is supposed to take 10 to 14 days worldwide. When it works, ISAL is quite satisfactory. Unfortunately, they have a tendency to lose an entire bag for a month or more. This means that one whole country (usually Great Britain. Switzerland, or Australia for some odd reason) is left without their Celator. This not only distresses us because you want, need, and deserve this great publication, but it leaves us in the horrifying position of having to replace all the lost copies- assuming we printed enough extras. Does the U.S.P.S. compensate us for them? Of course not! Do they ship the replacements free? Of course not! Do they allow us to ship the replacements by the cheaper lSAL rate? Of course, not-we don't have enough volume to a single country to meet the minimum requirement! Do we find their service disgusting? Absolutely! So. please be patient when we replace lost issues by enclosing them the following month with our normal ISAL mailing. It saves us further devastating costs from mailing. All the alternative delivery systems that we have explored would greatly increase your subscription costs, which are already more than we would like. We are definitely at the mercy of an unresponsive machine.
    While we're on the subject of complaints, we should mention once again our policy regarding advertisements in The Celator. Fortunately, or perhaps we should say commendably, we receive very few complaints about service from advertisers in this publication. If you experience a serious problem that seems unresolvable, write to us and let us know what the problem is. We will forward the complaint to the advertiser and keep it in an open file until it is resolved or determined to be out of our field of concern. Any advertiser who has three unresolved complaints on file with us will have advertising rights suspended until the complaints are resolved to our satisfaction. We do not take legal action on behalf of any reader, and we do not intercede as a mediator or arbitrator, we simply monitor the status of open complaints. We accept only complaints which pertain to items or services advertised in The Celator.
    As we watch the weather improve, and the promise of summer with its vacation opportunities approaches, we look forward to the ubiquitous outdoor markets and fairs where one can search for stray antiquarian treasures. It's amazing what you can find in junk boxes! Let us know if you find any - thing exciting. Meanwhile, remember that we all have a point of view, and we're happy to hear yours- even if we don't agree!

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  22. Vol 09 No. 07 July 1995

    A press release in the "People in the News" section of this issue announces our acceptance of a position with Classical Numismatic Group. Inc. of Lancaster. PA. This may be a surprising development to some, but it actually follows on a long history of association with the firm, its principals, and its employees. We will attempt here to answer a few of the more obvious questions that may be raised as a result of this decision.
    What will become of The Celator? This is perhaps the easiest of questions to answer. The Celator will continue to serve as an independent and unbiased medium for the enjoyment and education of its readers. Over the past several years we have watched with pride as our son Steven and daughter Stephanie have assumed ever increasing responsibility for the production of this journal. They are. in our opinion, quite capable of producing the publication effectively and with a high degree of integrity. We have absolute confidence that through their effort and with a little fatherly advice- it will continue to prosper and improve over the coming years. Much of the editorial strength and popularity of The Celator comes from the readers themselves and the sense of fraternalism which the publication represents and encourages. We see no reason for that to change. Personally, we will continue to contribute articles, and perhaps an occasional guest commentary, but the publishing responsibilities, editorial decisions, and monthly commentary will pass to Steve.
    Stephanie will become President of Celator, Inc., which encompasses other business activities in addition to The Celator. To avoid any confusion or misunderstandings, we should stress here that CNG has not acquired and is not in the process of acquiring, any interest in the assets or operations of Celator. Inc. It has always been our policy that the names and addresses of subscribers to The Celator are confidential, and they will remain so. 
    Why did we make this move'? Primarily because it is a new and exciting Challenge. As a career numismatist, we have goals and ambitions not unlike those of most of our readers. The opportunity to develop and nurture an international forum for collectors of ancient and medieval coins has been a wonderfully fulfilling experience, but we feel that there is yet another level of involvement for us within the hobby which can result in meaningful achievements. Classical Numismatic Group has provided a vehicle through which we can increase our efforts to draw elements of the collecting, academic, and professional numismatic communities together. Obviously, as Director of Marketing for CNG, we will be concerned with the development of broader markets. which is important to the success of any commercial venture, However, we will also be developing a Public Affairs program that will actively promote collecting as an honorable and useful avocation which significantly enhances man's understanding of history and culture. One of our goals is to build a bridge between collectors and academicians so that knowledge can more easily be shared, and cooperative efforts might be considered for their mutual benefit. Toward this end, we expect to become more active in speaking engagements and educational forums. We will continue to attend most major numismatic conventions and will of course be available to collectors for assistance with numismatic related questions as usual.
    What about Clio's Cabinet? For those of you who may not be familiar with that enterprise, we have been involved in the wholesale buying and selling of ancient coins for nearly thirty years. Occasionally, we have staffed a bourse table at shows in the Midwest where we dealt directly with the public. We plan to set up at the Mid-America show in Milwaukee this month and following that will suspend further operations. We will continue, as an employee of CNG, to assist individual collectors that we have served in the past.
    We will be writing one more commentary, for the August issue of The Celator, which will undoubtedly be an emotional experience.
    Speaking of writing. we have had wonderful support from our readers who contribute articles on a wide variety of subjects, we try each month to offer a diversified package of articles and features. It seems, however, that contributions tend to run in streaks. Lately, we have been receiving very few articles about Greek coinage. If you have been planning to write something for publication, now is the time- especially if it deals with coinage from the Greek world. One of the great joys of our hobby is the sharing of experiences and discoveries. There is probably no better place for this sharing to take place than in the pages of The Celator, so give it a try! After all. this is a cooperative effort and without your input we all are less enriched.
    Steve will be representing The Celator at Ihe ANA convention next month. We hope you'll introduce yourself if you happen to cross paths. In any event, we wish you a pleasant Summer and success in your individual collecting pursuits. We love to hear from our readers. so why not share your point of view?
     

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  23. Vol 09 No. 08 August 1995

    There was a time, in what now seems the distant past, when researching information about ancient coins and writing articles about the subjects portrayed on coins was a personal dream. Unfortunately, unless one bore the credentials necessary to be accepted by academic Journals. there were very few places to share the fruit of one's effort. Out of this void emerged The Celator. It was an idea whose time was right, and it was nurtured by a host of benefactors with diverse perspectives The inimicable Dr. Saslow characterized this phenomenon as a labor of love-it was, and still is-but far from the love or labors of anyone person.
    In the minds of collectors and professionals in this field, we have become closely associated with The Celator because it has always been a publication where the editor, sales manager, typesetter and distribution clerk were one and the same person. If you called on the telephone, you generally knew who you were going to talk to. As the years passed and the circulation grew, it became impossible for one person to handle every phase of production and distribution. It was our very good fortune to have family members who could step III and take over some of these functions.
    One would think that Increased circulation would ease the burdens of production- we've all heard about "economy of scale"- but it requires a substantial circulation for these economics to take effect. A small and very specialized publication is relegated to a constant struggle for economic balance. Sharing that experience with our readers, in a rather candid way, has helped to build the fraternal cooperation that is a hallmark of The Celator. As you read through this issue, you will note that it is printed using a different process than you are used to seeing. The whole world is becoming digital, and it is a matter of survival that we march to the same drum in this case. The emerging technology is amazing. We now produce pages of text and graphics entirely on the computer and output them directly to an ink-based digital printer (not to be confused with a copy machine) that delivers 260 pages per minute in a squeaky-clean office environment. We made the investment in this technology because there simply are no viable alternatives short of forced labor. As a matter of fact, we 've even resorted to a little of that in the past! The good news is an increase in flexibility and economy that offsets the rampant inflation of paper costs these days. The bad news is, this is a relatively new technology, and it is still in the development stages. Resolution is not quite as sharp as we would like, but as in all things- we continue to balance quality against cost. The technology will improve, and we will continue to strive for the highest quality attainable within our resources. Somehow, it seems fitting that this parting commentary announces a change in our production methods. The past eight and a half years have been a constant challenge in this respect.
    As the release of issue number 100 (October 1995) draws near, we look back at a wonderful period in our numismatic career. To watch a spontaneous idea become a dream and then evolve into a reality has been a very great reward for the effort expended. The associations made will last a lifetime and the experiences were unsurpassable, but this is not the end of a career-only a new fork in the stream. We are not leaving the comfort of old friends, merely changing addresses. In fact, in many ways we will become more visible as our efforts are redirected from production back to the basics of research and public affairs.
    There are simply too many individuals to thank by name for their marvelous support over these years. Many doors have been opened to us as a result of the popularity of The Celator and we have made a lot of friends around the world. When undertaking this venture, we had no idea who might become interested in the publication, and even less of an idea how personal the involvement with our readers might become. The opportunity to meet and spend time with hundreds of collectors has been invaluable and enjoyable beyond measure. Collectors of ancient and medieval coins are a breed apart from mainstream society, and it is an honor to be associated with such dedicated and passionate individuals.
    The real strength of the Celator, as we have stated so often in the past, is its fraternalism and loyal readership. This is in every respect YOUR publication. If you do not support it, it will fade into obscurity. We are merely the stewards of the day- not the reason for its being We fervently hope that you will continue to share discoveries and experiences with fellow readers, that you will offer constructive criticisms and that you will help to make the hobby accessible to a generation of young numismatists who have seen little classical inspiration in their education.
    Above all, remember that there are others out there who are as fond of collecting as you are. This is the place where you can communicate with them and share your point of view!

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  24. Vol 09 No. 09 September 1995

    Vol 09 No. 09 September 1995

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  25. Vol 09 No. 10 October 1995

    Vol 09 No. 10 October 1995

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