US Rarity

Posted on Thurs, 30 October 2014 by Alyson Thomas
Posted in: Coin News
US Rarity The personal touch

IT IS with great sadness that we learn of the death of Frank Milward, one of the “old guard” of dealers that we have known for as long as Token Publishing has been running COIN NEWS. A true “Gentleman”, Frank will be very much missed in the trade as of course are the others we have lost over the years. Time inevitably marches on, and over the past three decades that Token Publishing has existed, some real characters have been lost to us as age and illness take their toll, with many others simply deciding that they have had enough and retiring from the hobby to pursue other interests. Many are still around of course and the recent BNTA Coinex show gave us a chance to catch up with some of those we have known for years. I won’t mention any names here—I am sure I will get no thanks from the people I am thinking about for bringing to everyone’s attention how long they have been in the trade, but most of you who have been in the hobby for a while will know to whom I am referring! These dealers are people once very familiar to every collector—in the days when going to a fair was really the only way of getting to see new stock, these were the men who, week in week out, took tables at coin shows up and down the country to ensure the hobby survived and thrived. Many of them have long since given up “stalling out” and just attend as customers, but some of the stalwarts are still around, sitting hopefully behind their tables and it’s always nice to catch up with them. Over the years many of them have become firm friends—we talk about things far beyond the boundaries of numismatics and share stories of our families, our homes, our lives away from coins, as much as we chat about the coins themselves. As time has gone on, new faces have replaced those who have faded away. New dealers have joined the ranks of stallholders at York, London, Birmingham, etc., and in turn they too have become friends. That is the beauty of this hobby: it isn’t just about coins/banknotes/tokens/medals, etc., it is about people too and one of the reasons the Token Team regularly attend the fairs is because we long ago realised that the personal touch is far more important in numismatics than people realise and, sadly, I fear it is the one thing we are in danger of losing.

I have mentioned this before (not least in MEDAL NEWS last month), but I strongly believe that whilst the internet is a wonderful boon to our hobby it is also potentially detrimental. There is a whole raft of new collectors who now never bother to attend shows, boot sales, antique markets, coin shops, etc.—content instead to sit at home and collect on-line, never seeing a fellow collector or dealer from one week to the next. And that is a great shame. Yes, of course there are Facebook groups and on-line fora to facilitate contact with others, but there is no substitute, none at all, for face to face chats with fellow collectors. No substitute at all for handling the coins a dealer has to offer at a show, and no amount of on-line banter will ever take the place of the true friendships so many of us have developed over the years. Sadly there aren’t as many of the “old guard” around as once there were and I must confess to having worried that as their number dwindles so too will the personal side of the hobby, but luckily enough of the “new generation” of dealers recognise the need for direct interaction with their customers to ensure that the coin fairs are still thriving—and long may that continue. It will be a tragedy for this hobby if it disappeared to on-line only, with coin fairs a thing of the past, and so I urge you all to start supporting the fairs again. Whether you used to go but haven’t for a while, or have never been to a coin fair in your life, please do give your local event a try. It is only at the fairs (and societies of course, as I’ve mentioned before) that we can get to meet, and truly know, people like the Frank Milwards of this world and believe me when I say that that is something that is worth spending the time to do.

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