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