Interesting times

December 2005, Volume 42 No. 12
It has been interesting to note in recent weeks just how dynamic our hobby is actually becoming. Far from being the staid and dull preserve of a few crusty old academics or worryingly earnest “anoraks” (and yes we all know a few collectors we could to put in one or other of those categories) it is in fact a fast moving world where so many things are going on it’s sometimes hard to keep up. Just in the past few months we’ve been able to announce the impending overhaul of the designs of Britain’s circulating coinage, the discovery of 10 of the world’s most sought after coins (the 1933 US Double Eagles) and a plethora of Auction records. Two hitherto unrecorded coins have surfaced for sale – the George IV 1830 Proof Sovereign at DNW in September and now the Aureus of Postumus that is to be sold at Baldwin’s in January and an elusive 1933 penny, a proof Gold Cartwheel penny and numerous other impressive rarities have all been offered on recent dealers’ lists – no sooner appearing than they’re snapped up by eager collectors knowing they may never get the chance to own something like that again. Some stunning prices have been achieved in the Salesrooms up and down the country – not just with “record” pieces but with “ordinary” items too and the fairs and internet sites are buzzing. New hoards are being found (as we go to press we learn of a Tudor hoard found on the Isle of Man and a hoard of Staters discovered on the Isle of Wight) and exciting new collections coming onto the market. For those with a taste for the more modern the Royal Mint is not disappointing its customers with new designs being issued on a regular basis – just recently we have had the launch of the World War II £2 Coin, the Guy Fawkes £2 coin and the Prince Harry Commemorative crown and 2006 promises to be just as fruitful. Coins are in the news, collecting them is no longer seen as an “oddball” hobby (and we have to admit that it was!) and even in the trade (as opposed to the hobby in general) there is a sense of dynamism that abounds at the moment with significant changes to organisations and personnel, new companies being formed and new alliances being made.

It isn’t certain when or from where this new found impetus has come, some point to the record price paid for the disputed ’33 double eagle nearly four years ago, others to the introduction of the Euro in the EU which brought “currency” to the fore globally, some state that the phenomenon is more recent and that it was the discovery and subsequent record price paid for the Coenwulf penny that was the catalyst for this latest flurry of numismatic activity. Whatever it is this truly is a good time to be a collector, having been Editor of this magazine since the 1980s – so after the frenzy of decimalisation and later the excitement of soaring silver prices as the Hunt brothers tried to corner the market – I can safely say there has never been a more interesting time in the last two, nearly three, decades to be a numismatist. Yes the record prices regularly being fetched might lead some to say that being a collector now is hard work but when you look at what is happening in our hobby you ‘ll se that that is far from true. When you look at what is coming up for sale, what we all have the opportunity to see and bid for even if we know we’ll never own it; when you look at what is being newly discovered and what new research is being undertaken because of it, when you look at what items are now accessible through the new medium of the internet that before would never have been known about; when you look at the interest being taken in coins across the board – from the daily papers to a plethora of television programmes- you begin to realise that we really are living in interesting times, but, unlike the famous Chinese curse, these times are far from bad ones. Let’s appreciate them.

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In This Issue

Ancients22
Trajan: The Benevelont and Just
A capable and respected leader
Insight25
Anomalies within the Maundy Series Part III
Concluding this series
Feature Article29
Coins of Alexander the Great
Coinage of the World's Greatest General
In Focus33
Merchant Countermarked Dollars
An ingenious medium of exchange
Profile37
Sir Christopher Frayling
An insight into the Royal Mint advisory Committee
Out & About41
Italy's Years of revolution 1848-49
A turbulent period
Medallic Miscellany50
Royal Marriages
Part V
Banknote Feature57
Kingdom of Bulgaria 1908 -46
Notes of a restored kingdom
Banknote Feature60
A memorable occasion
The McIntyre Macmillan auction
Tokens69
Early English Communion Tokens
Some new discoveries

Regulars

Coin News and Views8
New Issues Update14
Royal Mint Bulletin16
Market Scene18
The Lexicon45
Coin of the month47
Banknote News55
Price Guide to SOVEREIGNS63
Coin Clinic67
Coin Classroom71
Collectors Page73
Dealers' Lists74
Letters to the Editor75
Calendar77
Semi-dsplay adverts81
The Web Page84
Classified Advertising86