The Arras hoard revisited
Volume 45, Number 9, September 2008
Keeping it real HARD as it is to believe we’re already in the autumn of 2008 (where did the year go?), and with the autumn comes the “new season”—kicked off with the BNTA’s Coinex extravaganza at Earl’s Court on September 26—27. Despite a few venue problems in recent years, and grumblings from some traditionalists who want to see a return to the Marriott, the Earl’s Court venue seems popular enough and we are looking forward once again to a successful show. It’s going to be a bit awkward for us this year as our other big annual event: the Orders and Medals Research Society Convention, where we launch the much acclaimed MEDAL YEARBOOK, is being held on the Saturday of Coinex, not ideal as we’ll have to “split forces”—but we’ll be at both, never fear. Of course, a few years ago there was a real feeling that shows like Coinex and the OMRS had had their day—the advent of the internet, and the auction sites in particular, had the doomsayers predicting the death of the coin fair, and sure enough there was a point when attendances began to fall... why bother getting up and going out to buy coins when you can purchase them all from the comfort of your armchair? What the doomsayers had failed to note though was that, in fact, collectors had been buying from the comfort of their armchairs for years: dealers’ lists and listing adverts in COIN NEWS have always been immensely popular and have allowed numismatists to expand their collections immeasurably whilst never having to leave home —and yet coin shows still thrived! True, the advent of “Web 2.0” and the chat rooms, forums, etc., have added an extra dimension to armchair collecting and the sheer accessibility of the internet, along with the international aspect of it, has allowed far more people to start buying from home. Nevertheless, more and more collectors are realising that actually sitting in front of your PC monitor is actually not an ideal way to collect—and it’s certainly not the only way. Seeing a coin on screen is all well and good, but let’s be honest, in a hobby where the slightest blemish can knock hundreds, if not thousands off of a coin’s value, a picture on a monitor is no real substitute for being able to hold it, handle it, see it “in the flesh” and the more coins you handle the better you get at spotting those all- important details that can have such an effect on value. Of course, if you’re buying from a reputable dealer there should be no problem in terms of grading or quality—and if there is you should have no problem returning your purchase but, as hundreds of collectors find to their cost every year, there are an awful lot of shady characters in cyberspace and an awful lot of people ready to make a quick buck with no thought for the people they rip off or the damage they might be doing to the hobby at large. Only this week we were warned about the plethora of fakes coming from China and ending up on internet auction sites. They are, it seems, being manufactured by the bucket load and sold on to poor unsuspecting collectors around the world. Now, we can’t expect the internet auctions to monitor every item that appears on their site—and indeed, most of the time even if things were regularly checked, those doing the policing wouldn’t have the right knowledge to spot a fake—so what can be done? Sadly very little, and more and more people are realising that if they aren’t to be ripped off then maybe buying from an established dealer, and/or buying “face to face” is a better bet than running the risk of buying a coin they’ve never seen from someone they’ve never met and who doesn’t seem to be part of the “coin world” at all. As such realisations are made so events like Coinex, run by the British Numismatic Trade Association, the body set up to ensure fair trading by its members, will continue to prosper. Yes, of course, the internet has its place and not every coin sold via that medium is a fake—in fact in the grand scheme of things very few are, but there can be no doubt that holding your prospective purchase in your hand, and chatting to the person you’re buying it from is by far and away the best way to add to your collection. And let’s face it it’s a lot more fun than just sitting at your computer all day! See you at Coinex.
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