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