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