Volume 37, Number 5, May 2000
THERE are many reasons why people collect coins; some have inherited collections, others brought back foreign coins from holiday, still others saw coins as investment and grew to love them as collectables, but in the last decade one thing has, arguably, helped bring more collectors into the hobby than anything else - the metal detector. Of course it is by no means true that every collector has a metal detector nor that every detectorist is interested in coins but it cannot be denied that the two hobbies do often seem to go hand in hand. In the past there has been friction between the two camps with a very small minority of detector users seemingly determined to ruin it for everyone else by damaging and plundering known archaeological sites and this often led to the purist numismatist shunning detectorists en masse, indeed it wasn't so long ago that museums and the mainstream coin dealers wouldn't consider taking in "finds" at all, such was the reputation metal detecting had. Thankfully those days are behind us and the "treasure hunters" are now not only welcomed but often actively encouraged as it has been recognised that metal detecting has not only brought collectors into the hobby but vast quantities of coins as well. Treasure hunting of course is not new, with tales of hidden hoards as old as the hills, and for decades archaeologists on land and sea have searched for the lost treasures of the past. However, only in recent years, through advances in modern technology, has that search been accessible to everyone and that in turn has helped our hobby immeasurably. Indeed many coin dealers' stands at the popular shows are now filled with items only days before "lost forever" and many a collector has been able to enhance his collection with pieces he could only have dreamed of owning a few years ago. Inevitably certain areas have benefited more than others, with the collecting of Celtic in particular enjoying a new renaissance thanks to the "amateur archaeologists" and whilst milled coins are frequently found it is with the new stocks of ancient coins coming into the market that the true advantages of the detector are seen. There are drawbacks of course, especially if you collect high grade pieces (centuries underground isn't necessarily conducive to keeping a coin in EF condition) but whatever your collecting interest (unless it's banknotes of course) there is no denying the impact the metal detector has had on our hobby. Sadly there will always be the dishonest element eager to make a fast buck but the vast majority of this new breed of collector are as keen as every other numismatist to see our hobby flourish and they, working within the new laws introduced recently to safeguard not only landowners and the treasure found but detectorists too, should help see stocks of coins, and people interested in them, remain high well into the future. Many of our readers will be familiar with the benefits of the metal detector and are treasure hunters already but for those who are not we have included in this issue a brief guide to getting started, and through the generosity of Viking, one of the leaders in the field (if you will forgive the pun), we give you the chance to win a detector of your very own - who knows what you may find. John Mussell .
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