The Numismatic Pilot was an enlightening journal about ancient coins published in Kentucky during the 1880s. It was written by and for collectors, and in spite of substantial appeal failed to survive its second volume. In the 1940s another publication, Numismatic Review out of New York, served as the forum for such notable collectors as T.O. Mabbott, Hans Holzer, Earle Caley, Behrendt Pick, and others. It concentrated heavily on ancient coins and offered excellent articles but survived only a few years. Some readers of these lines will remember the Voice of the Turtle. It too specialized in articles about ancient coins, did an admirable job, and failed. What about Classical Coin Newsletter? It was a great idea, that served collectors of ancient coins, but could not survive economically. Roman Coins and Culture suffered a similar fate after several years of serious effort and lots of red ink. Moneta was launched in Ihe Virgin Islands but failed to achieve stardom. Does anyone remember KARA (Keeping Ancient Rome Alive)? Even the popular Ancient published in Great Britain has been facing difficulties.
The amateur publications that have survived have depended for the most pan on the support and replenishable energy of ancient coin clubs. Even these have difficulties, however, as typified by SAN Journal and its perennial production problems. The "journals" produced by various coin dealers are somewhat more enduring, but understandably less balanced in their approach. Some, like Spinks Circular and the Seaby bulletin, have earned an enviable reputation, but they still depend financially on commercial activity for their existence. The institutional journals are, of course, in a league of their own, with funding provided by the parent organization. They lire seldom allowed to fail- even when they operate in the red.
Against this backdrop we present The Celator. Month in- month out, year in- year out, solvent and growing. Why has The Celator prospered where others have failed? Partly because we have developed a package that is balanced. and have found ways to make it economically feasible. Of course, in doing so there are constant tradeoffs. In a previous editorial we discussed the subject of color covers and their impact on our production. We have often discussed other details of production that few publishers ever share with their readership. One might question the wisdom of such candor, but we truly feel that our advertisers and readers participate in the entire Celator experience. We want our supporters to understand why certain things are done the way they are.
For example, a recent letter from one of our readers (not the first on this subject) complained about our tendency to use line drawings for article illustration. The reader suggested that we should be scanning original photos on the computer and enhancing them to show salient features. This sounds like a progressive idea, and it is technologically feasible. We have a 1200 dpi scanner, sufficient horsepower in our Macintosh computers, and all of the software we would need. Although we do not have a high-resolution output device capable of producing film or plates for printing, we could get this done by a service bureau. The main obstacles are time and availability of quality originals.
There are probably few readers who realize that each month the entire contents of The Celator are organized, type set, proofed, and prepared for press by a single person. Although we possess the skill and equipment to computer enhance photos, the time required is prohibitive. Another factor, with all due respect to our wonderful authors, is that we often receive poor quality or unusable graphics- photocopy reproductions of pages from copyrighted books for example. We have a large photo file, which has served us well on many occasions, hut finding just the right co in to illustrate an article is not always easy. We could reject articles with poor graphics, or hold them until better graphics arc found, but we would not be ab le to sustain our monthly production schedule if we did this. In fac l. it has been our experience that articles returned to an author for amendment often disappear forever. With an editorial demand for nearly 100 articles per year. we are not in the position where we can afford to lose articles. Consequently, we do everything in our power to make an article publishable and often turn to our ever-fertile line drawing database for non-protected images.
In some cases, a line drawing is actually preferable to a photo because the iconographic detail is not obscured by surface imperfections. Furthermore, line drawings are rather nostalgic. Many of the drawings that we use are extracted from the 19th century reference works, and we believe that they enjoy a certain charm of their own. The bottom line, though, is that we use them because they are fast, convenient, inexpensive. and easy to print. Someday we will advance to computer generated plates and a digital photo file, but the line drawings serve us well in the meantime.
Speaking of computers. this issue (in response to reader requests) focusses on computer software for the collector. If you have comments about these programs or know of other software packages and or systems of value to the ancient and medieval coin collector, we look forward to hearing your point of view!