Coin News

Volume 48, Number 5, May 2011


Volume 48, Number 5, May 2011

Who are we…? THIS month’s cover features the new Royal Wedding Crown, and within the pages of the magazine you will find an interview with the designer of that Crown, Mark Richards. For those of you who collect new issues such an interview will be of great interest—to those of you who aren’t seduced by the offerings of the Royal Mint or similar it probably won’t appeal that much. In fact for those of you who collect ancients, Celtic, Hammered or even early milled, the sparkle and glitz of the new issues market is probably something you have little time for and find that these new-fangled alloy pieces just aren’t for you, instead you prefer the purity of a numismatic item from history; you aren’t interested in a coin because it’s a little piece of metal used to buy something, you are interested in it because of its position in history. You’re a coin collector because coins are the most tangible evidence of an historical period that fascinates you and undoubtedly you surround yourselves with other items from that era too. Your home is a shrine to the Roman Republic, a tribute to the Celtic kings, a hallowed ground dedicated to the moneyers of the dark ages. Or maybe not. Undoubtedly some of you will have enhanced your collections with additional pieces from the era when your coins were minted, it is a period of history you will have an interest in and know something about and probably will have found a Roman lamp or Celtic amulet caught your eye at a fair or at auction and you can imagine that the person who used/wore it may very well have used some of the coins that now reside in your collection. But still more of you won’t have gone down that route, you will have coins, coins and more coins and nothing but. Not for you the wonderful antiquities you see at shows these days, you aren’t interested in anything other than the coins and that is fine but it does rather make me wonder just who we coin collectors are. On the continent new issues are big business, they always have been, and the queues every year at the Dublin Coin Fair for the latest offering from the Irish Banks show that our cousins in the Emerald Isle have caught the new issue bug too. In the US the States quarters programme has caught the imagination of the public and has proved so popular it has been extended with a new programme covering National Parks and other areas. In the UK the new issues market has always been a little bit “different” from other areas of numismatics with many purists never dreaming of buying a modern coin or reading an article on one. Now that’s fine, if you’re a Roman or Greek collector, then a modern coin won’t sit well in your collection—any more than a collector of old photographic postcards would want a 2011 colour picture sitting in his album—but I have never quite understood the active dislike some seem to have for modern coinage or the aversion some people have with even acknowledging they are part of numismatics. If you are one of those collectors who collects “Roman” and has the lamp, the artefacts, the jewellery, the maps and everything and anything to do with Rome alongside his coins, then I can accept that modern crowns are going to be of no interest and you can gloss over the article on the Royal Wedding Crown with no censure from me whatsoever—Rome is your theme and coins are just part of it. However, if you are simply a collector of coins then may I suggest that you take a look at that article, and similar. Look a little bit more closely at other periods of history, other minting techniques and other types of coins because it is coins you are interested in and the new issues, regardless of whether you approve of them or not, are simply the successors to what you already own. New issues aren’t totally different products from the items that reside in your collections, they are simply different versions of them and really do deserve your attention, if not your devotion. Reading an article on how coins are minted now, how designs are worked on and rendered on today’s coinage may well give you a valuable insight into your own side of the hobby and you may well find it more rewarding than you ever thought possible. The reverse, of course is true too, maybe even more so. If you are a new issues collector determined only to look at the coins minted in your lifetime then I implore you to look further afield, don’t ignore everything pre-decimalisation, don’t turn your nose up at those coins made by hand rather than a machine. Reading up on hammered pennies, Celtic gold and Athenean owls might not be something you would normally do readily but take some time to delve back in history a little and you will be amazed how the coins of yesterday have shaped your collection today. The simple fact is if you are a “coin collector” rather than someone purely interested in an historical period, then the more you know about coins, from whatever era, the more rewarding and fascinating your hobby will be.

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