Swelling the ranks

March 2001, Volume 38 No. 3
THERE can be few things more exciting to the collector than finally coming across that one coin he has been searching for for years, few feelings better than that of the triumph of discovery when you see that long-awaited piece glinting in the dealer's tray. As has been mentioned in this "Comment" before, to many people it is the very thrill of the search that makes their hobby special, and it is that same rush that drives thousands of people out to the highways and byways of this country in all weathers every weekend (and many evenings even at this time of year). They are out there in droves,. not simply for the exercise or the fresh air but in the hope that this time the signal they hear from the machine they carry will be indicative not of yet another .303 cartridge or bottle top but rather a Roman sestertius or even a Celtic stater - they are, of course, the metal detectorists.


The hobby of metal detecting has enjoyed mixed fortunes over the years with an often antagonistic press siding with "purist" archaeologists to tar all devotees of the hobby with the same brush; and whilst it still remains the case that there are those, as there are in every walk of life, keen to ruin things for everyone else, that has not affected the popularity of the hobby - as a visit to any beach, and many fields, this weekend will show. Of course the reason these detectorists will be out there this weekend is the same as for every weekend - they will be searching for the "big one", the one find that will make them rich. Some of course will argue that finding anything is fun, and so it may be, but just as those of us who diligently fill in our lottery play slips every week would be pleased to win a tenner, we would be kidding ourselves if we said we didn't want to win the jackpot. Certainly there have been some wonderful finds unearthed that are not particularly valuable but nonetheless of importance historically or even aesthetically and their discoverers are rightly proud, but it would be naive to suggest that every time the detector bleeps, somewhere in the back of the mind of the detectorist isn't the faint hope that maybe this time it is that hoard of Roman so eagerly prayed for. And why not? There is nothing wrong with such hopes and dreams, nothing wrong with wanting to strike it rich and whilst the "purists" may still argue against the use of detectors there can be no argument that this very desire to find the next big hoard has helped our hobby of numismatics no end. For what to many started off simply as a "get rich quick" idea has now blossomed into a full time interest and so the ranks of coin collectors has swelled. Where once the detectorist would have simply hoarded or sold just what he had found, now more and more find themselves taking an interest in what they unearth and as a visit to any coin show will tell you, the lines between "traditional collector" and the metal detectorist are becoming increasingly blurred. Even the "diggers" who don't take up collecting are still of benefit to our hobby as it is they that are able to bring in new stock into an often depleted market place.

In this month's issue we recognise the role the metal detector now plays in our hobby with the start of a new series aimed at beginner and enthusiast alike, we are also giving readers the chance to own a copy of Genesis FX Ltd's informative video, "Successful Searching" - an essential guide to locating those exciting finds. Who knows what's out there? Good searchingl

John Mussell .

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In This Issue

News update14
Roman treasure found in London
Auction preview18
Two important sales at Spink
Feature article23
Treasure hunting
The background to this rewarding fun hobby
Ancients26
The circle and the wheel
Symbolism on late Iron Age coins
Background31
Puritan England
Coins of a turbulent era
Insight42
A coinage of its own
Canada's first cents
Banknote feature45
Armenia's paper money
The new government's notes
On the fringe46
Coins in literature
References through the ages
Reader offer49
A special treasure hunting video for all

Regulars

Coin News & Views8
New issues update16
Market Scene20
Banknote News41
Banknote new issues update42
Dealers' lists50
Price guide to shillings52
Readers' letters55
Coin clinic55
Calendar of events57
Classified advertising62
The Web Page64