It has been quite a long time since yours truly has written a feature article for The Celator, cause is not any lack of enthusiasm for the process, quite the contrary, but rather a whole string of very good articles from outside contributors.
Well, just to prove that the pencil still has some lead in it, we have commandeered the front page this issue for an article about our latest fascination. Most of you are probably aware by now, but for those who aren't, Bill Spengler and I are collaborating on a rather different type of catalog dealing with the figural coinage struck: mostly in the 12th and 13th centuries by those people commonly referred to as Turkomans. This catalog is different in that it will first of all be comprehensive and not tied to any specific collection. Functionally, it will address in expanded narrative both the epigraphical and figural elements of the coinage. by type, with specific emphasis on firmly identifying the prototypes. Further, there will be a complete concordance to the most well-known collections which are already published. Not the least important aspect of this new work is that it will be written in the English language and. although great pains are being taken for the sake of accuracy, it will be presented in a style that is perhaps more popular than academic. The intent is to provide a relatively inexpensive and hopefully readable reference for the Islamicist as well as the neophyte.
The work is proceeding quite well. with the help and encouragement of many professionals in the field. It is expected that an early 1990 publication date may be achieved.
The article in this issue, about a single coin of Qutb ai-Din Muhammad from Sinjar, is intended to acquaint the fraternity with the art historical significance of this vastly understudied numismatic series. Those who have been subscribers for some time may recall that we earlier ran several installments of a series dealing with "Master Images". It is our belief that many of the images used in art of all periods are simply recycled images from the past. It can be quite effectively demonstrated that certain images became closely related to abstract human values. Symbolism and allegory have long played an important part in the development of artistic expression, and civilizations tend to identify with images much more so than with other cultural influences. It is this phenomenon which explains the frequent Christian use of pagan symbols. If Orpheus could be transformed by early Christian artists into The Good Shepherd, then certainly Nike could be transformed by Turkoman artists into the angel Gabriel.
Although we as antiquarians and numismatists see familiar faces on their surfaces, the figural coins of Islam are exceedingly more complex than a simple borrowing of images. It is hoped that this one illustration will stimulate some meaningful dialogue on that point.
Shifting to another subject, an apology is in order to those we missed at the CICF. We had planned to be in Chicago on Saturday, but a local emergency intervened. We did make it down for Sunday, but apparently missed many readers who had been at the show earlier and asked for us. Of course, no one in their right mind would go to the show specifically for that, nevertheless, we apologize if anyone waited in vain. To make up for that, we are spending five days in New York (May 2-7) and will be at all of the auctions as well as the Greater NY show. The photo above is a fair likeness, if you see us rambling around say hello.
We will also be attending the Classical Numismatic Bourse to be held for the first time this June in Washington, D.C.
One final comment. which concerns advertising. fair business practices, and policing of the hobby. We will not accept advertising from any person or firm who does not guarantee the authenticity of the material sold or offer a reasonable return policy for mail order sales, unless the lack of such policy is clearly and boldly stated in writing. Further, we will suspend the acceptance of advertising from firms about whom we have received a number of complaints, pending resolution of those complaints. Beyond that. we will exercise our right to reject or edit advertisements which seem misleading or inappropriate. It is, however. the advertiser's right to express personal opinions in a paid advertisement and that right shall be protected as long as it does not defame or criticize specific individuals or firms, advocate unacceptable business practices, or promote activities clearly detrimental to the hobby.
That's about it for this month. Let's hope you folks in California have better luck with the U.S. Postal Service than you did last issue! Let us know if you've discovered our clue and guessed who the mystery commentator is, and while you're at it let us hear your point of view.