Congratulations to Marvin Tameanko and David Wend for earning the accolades of their fellow collectors in our first annual Readers' Choice Award. Details will be found on the "People" page in this issue. Their contributions clearly merit the recognition extended, and we can all be thankful that people like them are willing to take the time to share their expertise and insights. Of course, they were not the only writers deserving of recognition and we can't begin to express the appreciation that we feel, or that we hear from countless readers. for the many fine articles and features that we all have enjoyed over the years.
Our January issue was arriving at readers' doors just about the time we arrived in Orlando for the F.U.N. show. Several people were surprised to see a major change on our back cover and were probing for details. Well, if only to avoid any misunderstandings or to squash any rumors that may be floating around, here is the story straight from the "horse's" mouth.
In the early summer of 1987, we were approached by Harlan J. Berk with a proposal to take the back cover, or in this case the bac k page since The Celator was then published in newspaper format , for advertising on a contract basis. Berk 's first ad appeared in Vol. I, No.4, or the Aug/Sep issue of that year. When we changed to the magazine format in September 1990, we offered Harlan the option of doing the ad in color. He agreed, and consequently we were able to provide four color covers (full glorious color to you non-printer types) for the enjoyment of our readers. In essence, Harlan Berk was subsidizing the color on our front cover. Anyone who has paid for four color work knows that this is not an inexpensive proposition. Over the years, it became obvious that with our limited readership we could not provide the kind of direct response that Berk or any other advertiser needs to justify the expense involved for such a n ad. We tried all sorts of in-house innovations to reduce the overall cost. but eventually the weight became too heavy. We were advised in October 1994 that Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. intended to terminate their back cover ad following the December issue. Fortunately, another firm stepped forward and committed to the space, but the four-color process will for the foreseeable future be a luxury reserved for very special occasions.
The decision to terminate was entirely that of Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., and no more needs to be read into it than the situation described above. We sincerely appreciate the outstanding support that Harlan Berk has provided over the past eight years, and our readers should appreciate the fact that many of the stunning covers of past issues were provided through the financial support of his firm.
Speaking of advertising, we are constantly amazed at the number of new dealers appearing in the ancient coin market. Many of them can be found in our Professional Directory, but there are also a lot of dealers who concentrate mainly on shows and carry ancient coins as a sideline to their regular stock. It seems that ancient coins are no longer as intimidating to the neophyte collector or to the "part-time" dealer as they once were. Part of this phenomenon may be a result of the shifting in recent years of the kind of material found on the market. Formerly, a dealer's "lot" purchase was likely to contain a wide variety of material from obscure places. Today, the lots are more often homogeneous and are marketed in a much different way . It is relatively easy for a dealer or collector, even a non-specialist, to learn about a sing le emperor whose coins have appeared by the thousands in a recent hoard. The intimidation factor is much less, because the research is more focused. Therefore, one can learn about some aspects of ancient coinage without learning anything about others. For those collectors seeking the "obscure" pieces, they will usually find their way to dealers who have been involved professionally for a longer period.
However, even inexperienced dealers come across exceptional coins on occasion. It is advisable, even for the collector of obscurities, to keep an eye out and follow the sage advice "Look at Everything". We found this especially true while accumulating a rather extensive collection of Turkoman coins. When asked, many dealers would flatly deny that they had any such coins. That should be a red flag right there, because when you do find one in that dealer's stock it will probably be CHEAP! Now some dealers may not appreciate the collector who takes an hour to look at every coin in stock, so try to be considerate and do your searching when the dealer isn't busy with other customers.
We will be at the Santa Clara show this month, and of course we will be at the ClCF in Chicago. In the past, it seemed that ancient coin collecting was a three season avocation , but this winter has been very active. The show circuit is beginning to stabilize, and obvious effort is being made by promoters to avoid conflicts. 1995 seems to have started off with a bang, and we look forward to an exciting year. We'll be sharing our thoughts with you as usual, and looking in return for your point of view.