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?