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Ian Fenn's Blog

15 Oct 2015

Once owned by a Prime Minister

Coins | Ian Fenn

This morning the post arrived with an annoying surprise. The local branch of my bank is closing and they were asking that I empty my safety deposit box by mid November. I decided to do it immediately. The letter had only just arrived so the news of the closure was fresh , and the news that people had to empty their safety deposit boxes hopefully hadn't got around. So I head off to the bank after lunch, with an airline carry on bag. In half an hour I am back home with 1/3rd of my coins collection. Before transferring the coins to a new bank I had a sort through them and found some long forgotten treasures. One small box brought a smile to my face: In it were two numismatic items; a New Zealand 1967 2 cent Bahama's Mule and a Token from a Wellington( Capital City of New Zealand) Department store. Neither is particularly rare ( here is a link to the story of the Bahamas mule http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/research_and_publications/fact_sheets_and_guides/5914507.pdf) but that's not why I smiled in the case of these two coins the provenance is far more important. In 1967 New Zealand converted from Pounds Shillings and pence to Dollars and cents. I was only seven years old at the time, I can remember the black and white TV programs advertising the change, and recalling the difficulty I anticipated with the new coins. Now I can hardly remember the coins before that date. The Finance minister over seeing this change was the Right Honorable Rob Muldoon, the man who became NZ's most Famous or infamous, depending on your point of view, Prime Minister. He served as Prime Minister from 1975- 1984. He is a contentious figure still, even though he died in1992. People either loved him or hated him there was never any middle ground. For all his faults I recall him as the last real leader New Zealand had. He didn't listen to the press he terrified them and on at least one occasion he brought an ill-prepared Journalist to tears. Right or wrong he led!!! I suspect he would be stunned at today's political world. Back to the coins:In 1967 he was presented with the two coins that are now in my custody. I am still amazed I am the owner, they came up for sale in NZ about 3-4 years ago, there was no apparent interest in them and I made a fair ( but I believe cheap)offer and they became mine. the box they came in is not in great condition but for me its the person behind the box and the two "coins" that is the most important .

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31 Aug 2015

Trip to Jordan

Coins | Ian Fenn

Until now I haven't had much to write about since the summer seminar, and to be honest it was just too hot here in Vienna. To escape the heat in Vienna My wife and I fled to the heat in Jordan, (Same temperature just a different environment). I posted a few pictures of our trip on face book. Of course while I was there I did some coin hunting, it wasn't overly successful. I had learnt many years ago the best way to find coins in Jordan was to check the local Jewelers . IN Jordan it is more likely someone will take coins( gold) to their local jeweler than to the gold markets. The problem is with the high gold price over the last few years, more often than not the coins get melted down almost immediately. 10 years ago it wasn't uncommon to pick up interesting pieces for the spot price. Now there is nothing. For silver coins you do have to head to the gold market ( and the silver shops in that markets) 10 years through to four years ago, I used to find boxes of coins to sort through.... but this time the gold price has also had an effect on Silver. The tradition in Jordan is to give the bride presents ( an insurance policy of sorts) usually it was gold, but the gold price until the last few months was such that few of the traditional wedding buyers could afford it. So they purchased silver instead, and where did Jewelers get there silver from? The old coins their customers sold to them. Of course in Jordan like every where in the middle east you can find Counterfeits and replicas. Now that is all is all I could find (fakes). I did buy one replica gold sovereign from a Jeweler I know reasonably well. I was amused to find he had actually made that replica the day before( about 10 days ago now). It is a cast copy produced in 21 Kt gold, as is required by law in Jordan it is Counter-marked( well in this case laser etched). The mark was a new one, a stylized representation of the treasury in Petra, below which is clearly inscribed 21 kt, being new to me I wanted an example. These replicas are not made for tourists or collectors they are made for locals who buy the coins as gold bullion or give them as gifts to family members on important occasions. They are sold only at the current gold value so I only paid the spot price for the coin. To day , back in Vienna, Austria I was just going to put it away and forget about it when I noticed that this replica was cast from a replica, if you look just below the sword on the reverse you can see the faint outline of the counter-mark that would have been on the coin used to create the molds, for this new coin. For me its an amusing find and I thought I would share it here.

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23 Jul 2015

Important petition for coin collectors! Please consider signing

Coins | Ian Fenn

I just received an email from Stephen Album coins regarding a petition against a Law change in Germany. Being based in Europe and a regular buyer from German firms I was really concerned with what I read in the link provided. I signed. I know Germany may seem a long way away from America but this law change will effect the coin collecting community world wide. Please at the very least access the link ( there is an English language explanation and read what the issue is....and if you feel strongly enough please sign just to give the German Authorities a real idea of the size of the coin collecting communityhttps://www.openpetition.de/petition/online/fuer-den-erhalt-des-privaten-sammelns

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18 Jul 2015

Time to Expand my Collecting Horizons

Coins | Ian Fenn

I have been back from Summer seminar for 2, or is it 3, weeks. I have been reviewing my collecting focus and it time to broaden my focus. I guess that when I started out coin collecting I was buying anything that caught my magpie eyes. I wish I had kept a diary as I would have been able to track when and why I started to narrow my collecting focus. All I can say now is that it happened: I first started collecting Gold sovereigns, then I migrated to variants of re-strike 1780 Maria Theresa Thalers (MTT) and that's where I settled for at least 10 years. With over 90 known variants and many more un-cataloged varieties I was regularly buying 2-5 MTT a month. I remember the thrill of hunting for a particular variety( Paris mint) and finding it... it was as much the learning curve as the find that thrilled me.

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06 May 2015

Book Review: Three books on macro photography

Coins | Ian Fenn

I recall years ago being fascinated by the technical discussions of other collectors on how best to photograph their coins. At that time I used a flatbed scanner, I progressed to a point and shot then a DSLR and now I am firmly rooted in the 21st century with a mirror less camera. My coin photography took a huge leap when I attended summer seminar in 2013. In the first week I attended the basic coin photography class. In that seminar I was provided with Mark Goodman's "Numismatic Photography" I recently purchased two more books on macro Photography Enrico Savazzi's "Digital Photography for Science" and Lester Lefkowitz's "the Manual of Close up Photography"

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28 Apr 2015

The Difference between a Numismatist and a Coin collector.

Coins | Ian Fenn

I am writing this blog while waiting for the forecast rain storm to come and more importantly the post. I have already been to the gym and finished mowing the lawns. My real aim in waiting for the post is to receive a parcel from California not a coin, a rare lens. That lens, printing Nikkor 105mm F 2.8, will be the subject of a blog in a couple of weeks assuming I get it. The seller has already emailed me early this morning asking if I received it. The seller is an old hand at selling movie equipment ( the lens was designed for "printing" movies) but is very new to eBay. I suspect his concern is that under the new EBay rules a newbie seller doesn't get their hands on the money until positive feedback has been received.

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