Last month we rattled on about the first half of a numismatic travel adventure to England and Turkey. Well, not only have the intervening days brought us home safely, but we can also now add our annual excursion to New York to the travelogue.
Picking up where we left off, Bill Spengler and I rented a car in Istanbul and spent two weeks touring the ancient sites along Turkey's western and southern coasts. We had undertaken a similar trip a couple of years ago and had a fairly good idea of what to expect as far as the logistical details were concerned. We visited the ruins at Troy. Pergamum, Ephesus, Sardis. Halicarnassus, Neapolis, and Anavarsus, as well as a number of lesser sites. We also visited the ancient cities of Antioch and Konya (or Iconium) and two interesting religious sites-the houses near Ephesus where the Virgin Mary allegedly spent her final days, and the church of St. Nicholas (yes, that's jolly old St. Nick!) on the coastal road west of Antalya. We were shocked to find that poor St. Nick's sarcophagus is empty. Apparently, his bones (at least most of them) were stolen and removed to Dari, Italy, a couple of centuries ago. We don 't really want to get into the "repatriation of artifacts" argument, but this seems like an issue with international interest.
Although the trek through Turkey was fascinating, the real highlight of our trip was the symposium at Istanbul hosted by the Turkish Numismatic Society in honor of their 25th anniversary. It was truly an international symposium, with a remarkable cross-section of participants ranging from museum curators to collectors and professional numismatists. Seldom does the numismatic community enjoy such interaction, and the TNS is to be highly commended for its role ill bringing together a group of this type.
The warm and boundless hospitality extended by the TNS, and its officers was extraordinary, and very greatly appreciated by this participant, as well as by the others, I'm sure. They did everything possible to assure that the symposium was both rewarding and enjoyable. The symposium papers are to be published, both in Turkish and English, this Spring.
Following a 23-hour Odyssey by air, which included a transfer of airlines and airports at London, we arrived back in placid Lodi to a mountain of correspondence and immediate preparation for the New York International. This year's NYINC was very upbeat! The traditional December storm tried to encroach on collector enthusiasm, but it fizzled and was hardly noticed. Attendance was strong, and more importantly, confidence was clearly resurgent. The tone was set prior to the actual bourse opening by strong participation in the pre-convention auctions (see Art & the Market). The educational events also drew active attendance. It was especially encouraging to see the program for young numismatists receiving special attention from the show organizers and national media, including television coverage. Most dealers seemed relieved by the improved retail market, which has been suffering in the past couple of seasons under recessionary pressures.
We had the rather unusual experience, following our return from Turkey, of picking up 'The Celator' and being updated on the latest "news" in the fraternity. The announcement of Rob Freeman and David Sear's new partnership was for us an unexpected but pleasant surprise. We have the greatest respect and admiration for these two professionals and wish them every success in their new venture. Actually, the firm could be named Freeman(s) and Sear. Rob's wife Tory (nee Fleming), a classicist and former NFA employee, is certainly no stranger to ancient numismatics. Much to their advantage, Tory's presence fairly illuminates the Freeman and Sear table.
We also learned that the activity of our long-time friends George Beach, Steve Huston, and Frank Kovacs has been somewhat tempered by doctors' orders. This must be a tough business! Nevertheless, all three of them were busily engaged at the NYINC and looking good. Let me rephrase that-they all looked healthy and two of the three were good looking (you figure it out)! We wish them all well.
A number of readers approached us all at the NYINC to introduce themselves, say hello, and offer encouragement. This is perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of our involvement in these conventions. Being a die-hard collector, it's always a great pleasure to meet other collectors. There are not many hobbies where instant rapport is so Typical. Steve and Stephanie (my children), who essentially run the day-to-day operation of The Cefalo', also attended the convention and enjoyed meeting a lot of dealers and collectors for the first time. Stephanie thought the Big Apple was GREAT!
It's been an eventful year end, and we rather look forward to a short period of hibernation. This is a good time of year to curl up with a comforter before the fireplace, take a pen in hand, and share a line or two with your point of view!