An astute member of the professional numismatic fraternity suggested to me some months back that if The Celator was truly to be accepted as an international publication, we needed to become more attuned to the European market and the activities of collectors outside of North America. Although we can boast a readership in 30 countries around the world, with regular contributions from authors in several countries, we must admit that the editorial content of Tile Celator has been predominantly a reflection of our own travels and contacts. This is especially true of market news. It should be no great surprise, therefore, what we retain a strong "American' slant in our reporting.
AI the recent NYINC gathering this topic became a subject of discussion between Richard Swan of Great Britain and myself. Richard quite agreed that perceptions differ greatly on opposite shores of the great pond. and that it is difficult for anyone not living in Europe to really have their finger on the pulse of what is happening there. He suggested the possibility of contributing a more or less regular column offering a bird's-eye of what is "hot" on the European coin scene. Of course, we were delighted by the offer, which came at a fortuitous moment. We were even more de lighted when Richard, obviously a man of ac lion. faxed us an installment for this issue. We found his observations quite interesting and think that you will too. Not only is his writing style open and entertaining. his candor is invigorating. So, we welcome Richard Swan to our impressive cadre of contributors and look forward to reading about the hottest news (and a little speculation) from London.
A subject came up during our discussion at the Classical and Medieval Numismatic Society meeting which may be worm reiterating here. One of the remarkable features of ancient coin collecting is that every collector can become an expert in his or her chosen field. 'Ibe immense variety of issues makes it impossible for anyone person to fully appreciate the nuances of more than a few specialized areas. As a result, an interesting but obscure series may be virtually unpublished. Generally, that also means that it has not been adequately studied. Our own experience with the figural bronze coinage of the Turkoman princes is perhaps a good example. AI though various collections had been published, the series as a whole had never been seriously analyzed. It may be somewhat what unusual for a major series to remain unstudied, but within every series of coinage lies an almost infinite subset of areas suitable for specialization. One might focus on successive issues of a particular mint, with all of the inherent analysis provided by such a study. This analysis could range from a study of iconographic details to metallurgical analysis. On the other hand, one might choose to study the die evolution of a single issue, establishing its chronology and distribution. Alternatively, one might cross issues and do a comparative study of artistic styles and motifs or weights, etc.
The choices are so numerous that it is not at all difficult for a collector to find virgin ground. As we have stated in previous editorials, the Greek Imperial and Byzantine series are particularly fertile in this respect because of their great diversity and the relative lack of popularity of these coins. The coinage of petty kingdoms, either autonomous or semi-autonomous. is often understudied as well.
We've talked about this great opportunity before, but feel it is worth stressing again. It is particularly important for neophyte collectors to appreciate the value. both intellectually and financially, of picking a relatively narrow field of study and plunging into it with all the enthusiasm one can muster. It is infinitely more rewarding to develop a small collection with real purpose than to ac cumulate a huge portfolio of odds and ends.
The collector with greater means and refined taste can and should follow the same tack. The Rosen collection of Archaic Greek coins is a perfect example of this philosophy applied on a grand scale. This hobby is, after all, a manifestation on of our interest in antiquity. If we simply accumulate artifacts without purpose, we become tittle more than pack rats. Whether one chooses to collect the antoninianii of Gallienus by mint and type or the gold coins of Tarentum, every collection should have a purpose. Part of that purpose should be to enhance the understanding of the collector, and in some cases provide a greater understanding of the coinage for me benefit of all collectors. Many of the articles featured in The Celator are a reflection of such purpose. Occasionally, the effort of a collector can contribute significantly to the historical record and illuminate facts that have long been obscure or completely unknown. This is the greatest reward of all.
We've given some thought to renaming our mystery coin contest the "Dennis Devine subscription fund". It seems that Dennis is racking up subscription points faster than he can use them up. That's right. the crafty super sleuth of numismatics has done it again (see announcement within). It's hard to believe that with more than a hundred dealers reading these lines, Dennis Devine was able to repeat as winner of this division. Shame! Shame! We plan to do this again, so pay attention! Of course, Alan Walker also correctly attributed the mystery coin, but as usual was a day late...!
Winter is here in earnest, and we will be seeking coin shows in warmer climates for me next couple of months. Meanwhile. we're still waiting to hear your point of view!