Ancient Collector's Blog

20 Oct 2019

America's Greatest Treasure Ship, The Second Treasure-Finding Journey

Coins | Ancient Collector

Once again David Bowers, withthe assistance of Dwight Manley, has produced a marvelous book on the history of coins. The record of the Second Journey to the SS Central Americais a much more manageable book than the first tome on the subject, A California Gold Rush History; the new book being only 210 pages.

10 Jun 2019

Another Long Beach Coin Show in the Rear View Mirror

Coins | Ancient Collector

Well, the doors and closed.the janitors are sweeping up the floors and another Long Beach Coin Show is just a memory. Some changes that were so very apparent and are not (necessarily) good news. The name has been changed from the Long Beach Coin Showto the Long Beach Collectors Show. Nothing really added to the already existing Sports Collectibles and Stamps booths that were already there. Perhaps more of the former. The real scary sight was the number of booths that had clearly displayed signs that said "BOOTH UNSOLD. DO NOT SIT HERE." Booths unsold at Long Beach- that is as unbelievable as that the Sun will not rise tomorrow or there is no Easter Bunny. Already, over the past 20 years the size of the show has shrunk to under half of it original size. Maybe this should be a DEFCON 4 Alert as to the state of Numismatics today and to start thinking what needs to be done to ameliorate the situation.

31 Aug 2018

Quiz Time - What Presidential Wife is Associated with a Coin Hoard?

Coins | Ancient Collector

This was a surprise to me. Ellen Herndon Arthur, wife of Chester A. Arthur. Nell's father was William Lewis Herndon, captain of the SS Central America when it sunk carrying all that gold to be bottom of the Atlantic.

28 Aug 2018

Coin Books

Coins | Ancient Collector

I have just spent a chunk of the morning putting coin books back on the shelves. And that got me started thinking what books I like the best, which ones I use the most and which ones are the most useful for my collections. And then that got me thinking about how other people view and use books in working on their collection. So let me start off this thread:

26 Aug 2018

Let's Do Away with the Dollar Bill

Coins | Ancient Collector

I just got back from a vacation in the Baltic - six different monetary units, In none of them is there a piece of currency that is worth less than several dollars. There are 2-Euro coins, 2-Pound coins and other relatively high denomination coins that are usually worth more than $2.00. With the reduced size of the dollar coin, the old complaint about having to lug around big and heavy coins has been eliminated. I believe that the profit (seigniorage)to the Mint on coins exceeds the profit on a $1 bill to the BEP because of the greater life of a coin. I have not looked for any figures on the current profitability to the Minton coins, but a number of years ago, using theEisenhower dollar as the base, the profit was about $0.92 centsper coin on circulating specimens. With the reduced size, profit should be higher with less material, smaller dies, and faster run rates.

19 Aug 2018

There are Counterfeits and Then There are Counterfeits

Coins | Ancient Collector

Since we are talking about counterfeits we really need to differentiate between the different types of counterfeits. The ones of most concern to the average collector are fakes made to fool collectors into paying current prices for collectable coins. The "restrike" of the EID MAR denarius of Brutus is an example thatI have in my collection (purchased as a restrike). Also read the monthly column in The Numismatist for an ever growing list of examples.

18 Aug 2018

Detecting Counterfeits

Coins | Ancient Collector

The best way to detect counterfeits is to handle as many coins, both good and bad, in your field of interest. The first test is What is your first impression - Is it real of phony?

16 Aug 2018

Dealing In-Person with Coin Dealers Abroad

Coins | Ancient Collector

CAVEAT EMPTOR - Buyer Beware. Having said that, I have to say that all the coin dealers I have dealt with in person abroad were basically honest. If you deal with coins sold in tourist shops, you want to be extra cautious. My younger son recently got back from Peru and brought me a very presentable 4 Real of 1806 that he bought out of a tray of "old silver coins" in a souvenir shop. The coin is real and I love it. But back in 1966 I was in a Greek coin shop and asked to see some Athenian owls. Out came a tray of fakes. I knew he had real ones, so rather than berate him for trying to pass off fakes to a dumb American, I said, "No. I was not interested in replicas that would interest tourists. I was interested in actual ancient tetradrachms." When the dealer know that he had a customer who had at least some knowledge of ancient coins, out came the real tets and I selected a very nice example for $30.00 (a very fair price for that time). I perhaps got a slightly better price than was warranted because after spotting his trying to pass off fakes, I did not accuse him of it.

13 Aug 2018

Numismatic Thoughts on Coming Back From a Baltic Cruise

Coins | Ancient Collector

I just got back from a two week cruise of the Baltic area. Great for the Historian in me, but a near dud for the Numismatist. Eight countries with five different currencies. The only time I used local currency was to tip the tour guides and buy one pin for my hat. The rest of the time I used plastic. As for the tips they were in either Euros or Dollars which I brought over with me ( the Euros were from previous trips). I never touched or even saw coins or currency from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Poland or Russia. I did change some of the larger Euro notes I had for tip money and kept a crisp Unc 5-Euro note for my collection. No time during the tours to hit any coin shops. The only Numismatic winner was a book I found at the gift shop of the Viking Museum in Stockholm - Den Svenska Mynthistoryien: Vikingatiden ca 995-1030 (History of Swedish Money: Viking Age ca 995-1030 AD). All in Swedish but with great enlarged plates and understandable descriptions. With time and Babel Fish I should be able to translate the text. Ten years ago I visited the Swedish National Money Museum that was located across the sidestreet from the Royal Palace. When I mentioned it to one of the guides at theViking Museum, she told me that they were planning to close that museum building and move the collection to the Viking Museum. That may be handy but since the coin collection goeswell beyond just Viking age material, I am afraidthe collection will not get the space it really deserves.

19 Jul 2018


Coins | Ancient Collector

How much more would you pay for a coin that carried a really great pedigree or provenance, like one from the Eric Newman collection or the Brand Sale orfor ancients, from the BCD collection? I know when the FDR stamp collection was sold, buyers paid many multiples of the value of the stamp, just to get one from a Presidential collection.

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