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.
I have been on the receiving end of that policy and hated it. The lens is valued at over US$1000.00 is a big item and for that amount of cash to be held in effective escrow is frustrating. The only thing is in this case is I would never have been a buyer if it weren't for EBay's new policy, as there is just no way would I have parted with so much cash to an eBay newbie.
This morning USPS sent me an email saying the lens had cleared Customs, from past experience I know that there is a 60% chance it will be delivered between 10:00 and 13:00. So apart from wanting to play with my new toy, I also want to give that eBay seller his due so I am waiting at home till 1300.
What better way to spend my waiting time than to write another blog?
I know a few people read these blogs but it doesn't seem to be too many. I really hope I am not boring the socks off people!!! So if you do read it and want to give me a little encouragement, please give me some feedback (even just by replying with the single word "read") that way I will know I am not rambling to an "empty room" or worse driving people to despair with inane pointless ramblings. Jake if you read this how about a read counter for blogs?
When I attended my first summer seminar in 2013 was really surprised to find people referring to each other as numismatists. I immediately felt out of place! I was just a lowly collector amongst the academic elite. It didn't take me long to realize it was a minor case of culture shock. Coin collectors in the USA are regarded as numismatists. I first started looking at coin collecting at the height of the Hunt brother's market machinations. Many of you knowing history will not be surprised to read that my budding interest was quickly extinguished, add in marriage, kids (in that order) and mortgage and you know the long hiatus that ensued. In 2000 I moved from lil' ol NZ to Vienna Austria. As is not unusual in a career life cycle, the move to Vienna occurred at a time when I was just getting my head above the financial waterline. By the end of 2003 I was collecting coins seriously I had the spare cash!!!. I was a coin collector there was no way in Europe I could be called anything else!
Europe has a long history in academic numismatics. In the part of Europe of Europe I live coin collecting was first and foremost a hobby of emperors and the aristocracy. An aside: Vienna is home to one of the world's most important coin collections a collection started by the Hapsburg's . So for at least a few hundred years Numismatics has been the field of academics. The Vienna University has a Numismatics department, its status was such that up until a few years ago the prerequisites for studying numismatics was fluency in Latin and ancient Greek
I have met members of the faculty and many of them have titles of professor. Nearly all are highly esteemed in the world numismatic community. To call them coin collectors would be a grave insult. Like wise to call me a numismatist is to insult the years of study and research they have behind their titles. So I describe myself as a coin collector and an amateur student of numismatics.
The US coin collecting world is unique; it's a huge market driven hobby. So huge that it drives the other markets in Europe, Asia and Oceania. The very commercialization of the hobby in the USA has benefited the whole world of coin collecting and numismatics. It influences the market in Vienna. Germany, London, New Zealand e.t.c. However, we shouldn't forget the difference between collecting and studying. So as much as I admire the American coin world I think that same "world"needs to understand the academic side. So, for me, at least there has to be a difference between a collector and a numismatist, even though both are the "obverse" and "reverse" of the hobby we love.
So what do I think the difference between a collector and a numismatist is:
A Coin collector is someone who "fills albums". He or she may start with the key coins they rely on others for information. That information comes from books, market reports, magazines and coin clubs. A coin collector, metaphorically speaking, "buys the book before the coin"
A numismatist researches coins using them to learn how people once lived. A numismatist is the archeologist of money. More often than not it is the numismatist who makes new discoveries, and who can tell us the importance a particular coin. A numismatist "writes" the story of the coin.
I am sure you understand that I believe not all coin collectors are numismatist, but many if not all numismatist's were once coin collectors. It's 1200 and time for lunch so I will cut this ramble here. If even you don't agree I hope I have given you food for thought.
The Picture: an Axumite coin( Christian era). The work of Professor Hahn ( retired) and other numismatists helped understand the history of one of the first, if not the first, Christian empires: AXUM