The past few months have been a period of experimentation. learning, and change for us. One element of production that we have struggled with for several years is the printing of The Celator. We have always done the pre-press work (layup) here in our office, but the actual printing was contracted out to commercial printers. There were three problems that we continually faced: I) printers like to work on their own schedules-not on ours, 2) there is a constant trade-off between cost and quality, and 3) printers are not numismatists. I've watched press operators turn up the ink flow to make type look nice and bold, while every halftone (photo) on the page goes black. They just do not have any sensitivity to numismatic detail.
We decided some months back that if we were ever to deal with these problems, we would have to do the printing in-house. Well, we bought a little A.B. Dick press and yours truly became a commercial printer in one not-so-easy lesson. This is the third issue that we have printed ourselves, and the quality of our effort seems to be improving monthly. The first month I was covered with ink from head to toe and ruined a pair of pants and shirt each day in the pit with that infernal beast. It didn't take long to figure out that coveralls were a wise investment. This month, my knuckles aren't even dirty. One quickly learns where not to lean! The beast may not be entirely tamed yet. but it certainly is more compliant.
We aren't quite sophisticated enough yet to do color work, so we're still contracting out our covers. We have had a terrible time trying to achieve consistent color quality on our covers. Quality four-color process covers arc significantly more expensive than our budget allows. We 've splurged on a few over the years, but generally we are limited to "desktop" scans which are notoriously unpredictable. After beati ng our head s against the wall trying to establish consistency, we've come to the conclusion that two-color covers are the answer. We can specify precise colors and the cost is more agreeable. The cover on this issue, as well as on the past two issues, is a two-color process. It may not be as impressive as our September 1990 cover, but it's still far more appealing than our old tabloid formal.
Another change that we are making this month is an improved, heavier weight paper in the body of The Celator. You should find this sheet more opaque and easier to read. We've also been focusing on our editorial content with an eye toward broadening the appeal. We have enjoyed the monthly support of an outstanding group of numismatists and antiquarians whose only reward is the satisfaction of sharing their knowledge and views. Now, we are fortunate to be able to add Joe Rose to our list of regular contributors. Joe is a familiar figure to Harmer Rooke customers, but his reputation as an antiquarian extends far beyond the confines of tiny New York City. Now that he's retired, Joe is dusting off the typewriter and reworking some of his earlier musings. We think you'll enjoy his easy reading style and informative column.
We see a lot of firsts here at The Celator, but none more welcome than Fixed Price List #1 from Freeman & Sear, which arrived this week. Rob Freeman and David Sear are two of the most highly respected individua ls in our hobby, and it is a joy to sec their impressive first list. We'll have more to say about their list on our "People" page, but I might digress for a moment to mention a coin that I found especially interesting and hopefully now own.
Herakles (or Hercules) is a common figure in Greek and Roman numismatic iconography, and the variety of motifs is endless. All of his great labors arc depicted, and he is generally portrayed as a giant of a man. There are, however, a few depictions of the great hero as an old man with receding hair and a heavy, furrowed brow. Now, I'm not sure that there is any correlation, but each passing year that I am reacquainted with this specific portrait it becomes more appealing to me.
The great painter, statesman, and numismatist Peter Paul Rubens once drew a very sensitive sketch (now in the Pierpont Morgan Library) of this "Old Hercules". The sketch was actually inspired by an ancient coin in the artist's collection! Rubens would have been somewhere close to 50 at the time. Do you suppose we were attracted to this motif for the same reasons? The coin in Freeman and Sear's list is a Greek bronze from Patras in the northwest Peloponnesus. It is remarkably similar to the Rubens sketch, and I wonder if an example of this coin did not perhaps provide the inspiration?
Our upcoming travel schedule includes the CICF in Chicago. the Berkeley conference (see announcement within), and the NYINC in June. If you have a bone to pick or just want to chat about ancient coins, don ' t hesitate to introduce yourself. We won't have a table, but virtually any ancient coin dealer will be able to point you in our direction.
Until then, we'll be watching the mailbox for a note sharing your point of view!