Collecting coins and antiquities - your questions answered

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03 May 2013
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imports_CCGB_hadriandenariuscoin_50652.jpg Hadrian Denarius coin
Brett Hammond of Timeline Originals provides a Q&A beginner's guide to collecting coins and antiquities, and reveals how decent items can be obtained at affordable prices ...

Brett Hammond of Timeline Originals provides a Q&A beginner's guide to collecting coins and antiquities, and reveals how decent items can be obtained at affordable prices

Q: From where do you obtain your coins and artefacts?
A: In the 18th and 19th centuries collections of coins and artefacts were formed by members of almost every middle and upper class family during their travels around Britain and foreign countries. Many of those collections were later broken up and widely dispersed to provide the stock in trade of 20th-century dealers.

Pieces from those accumulations continue to circulate as older collectors die in the 21st century and their effects are sold by relatives. Add to that source the remnants of many declared hoards of commoner coins and artefacts unwanted by museums. Undoubtedly modern metal detectors have also hugely increased the numbers of hoards that come to light nowadays. Once they have passed through reporting and Treasure processes, superfluous coins and artefacts from those discoveries add to the supplies from which my company can legally buy.

Q: Shouldn't all ancient objects be housed in public museums?
A: Most certainly not. If some future Big Brother state were to outlaw all private collecting, the amount of money required to house all the coins and artefacts in public museums would cause a public outcry against the increased taxes the state would need to levy.

By leaving large numbers of commoner pieces in private ownership the state can count on its citizens to visit museums to admire the rarer and more valuable objects in the display cabinets. The visitors spend money - on entry fees, on museum publications, on special exhibitions, on refreshments, and more. Additionally, the humbler pieces in private collections have a most important advantage over pieces in museum cabinets: they can be handled by their owners.

Q: I'm an absolute coin collecting beginner. What can you tell me about how to care for an ancient object when I take it home?
A: Most major dealers have books in their publications department from which you can learn much about conservation. It’s an aspect of collecting we actively encourage. Indeed, you will soon discover that owning your very first ancient coin or artefact will at once boost your interest in this aspect of the hobby.

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