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write dissertations, or pamphlets. Among collectors there will arise discussions on this or that point not yet cleared up, the ingenious will be incited to examine historical, economic, and artistic problems of past ages, and then our collections will attain their true scope, that of being not an end in themselves, but rather a means by which knowledge may be advanced. The Emperors and Empresses, the Tyrants, the Generals, represented by their coins no longer seeming dead men buried in a silent and useless cemetery, will rise to new life and speech telling us themselves the story of their own times and throwing new light on points unknown or disputed, confirming or correcting what historians have handed down to us in their narratives; in short shewing the evidences of the history ot human civilization.
8. No doubt it is not all collectors who will get beyond the first step, that of simply collecting as best they can. Many will there linger and even come to a standstill.
It happens indeed rarely enough that anyone begins to collect with the determined object of serious study; but many pass on to this without having intended to do so.
Circumstances, information, unexpected opportunities, emulation, or true enthusiasm, will sometimes unconsciously lead on the simple collector to rise gradually to scientific study.
Let us then encourage beginners in this natural desire to collect and study coins.
ANCIENT AND MODERN COLLECTIONS
9. The first collectors did not lay much stress on the state of preservation of their specimens, to which in the present day very great, and I might say excessive importance, is attached.
All the old collections were rich enough in specimens, but their condition left much to be desired. Every fresh coin found, whatever might be its state of preservation, was included as part of the Collection, hence it happens that coins in mint condition are found onl}' as exceptions, while coins in a second, or third rate state of preservation are the rule. Modern collections on the other hand — I speak of those in the first class — come before us with an entirely different aspect. The specimens are much less numerous, because none but perfect coins, or those at least in very fine condition are admitted. This means that our artistic sense has become so refined that what sufficed to content our ancestors no longer satisfies modern collectors, but I should add that to-day there is available a larger number of coins in mint or fine condition especially in the more valuable metals; a fact which can only be explained by taking into consideration that the number of finds — much increased in this century by the greater works of digging and excavating — gives scope for a more careful and exacting choice. This greater abundance has rendered possible the formation of admirable collections, such for example as those made by the Viscount D'Amecourt of Paris, and H. Montagu Esq. of London sold in 1898, which were each composed of about a thousand gold coins nearly all in mint condition.
10. The right mean in this as in all other things is hard to decide and to keep to, since if our ancestors were too easily contented it is not less true that modern collectors go to the extreme in the opposite direction. The taste for fine art, and for perfect condition in coins has been gradually increasing, and prevails to such an extent that it has become the principal, and I might say almost the sole attraction to collectors, who have put in the second place the scientific interest, and rejected on account of their imperfect condition specimens which were lacking in their collections. We have seen in the recent sale-rooms coins of extreme rarity allowed to be sold for relatively low prices on account of their deficient preservation, whilst common coins artistic in finish, and in good preservation were competed for at hitherto unheard-of prices.
11. This is well known moreover to the forgers of gold and silver Roman coins, who swarm now as of old, for they no longer give themselves the trouble to reduce their forgeries to a reasonable appearance of wear as it is recounted that the famous forger Becker used to do. This man when driving about to sell his productions used to put his forged coins into a little bag containing sand and powdered charcoal, in order that by the shaking of the carriage on the road he might wear off the crude new look of the freshly struck coin.
Modern forgers have their task simplified and place their productions in circulation as soon as they have issued from the workshop. It is only natural that they should follow the fashion of their day!
ON THE RARITY AND VALUE OF COINS
12. Rarity and Value are two entirely distinct qualifications which should not be confounded. Rarity is one of the principal elements which go to form the value, out it is not the only one nor a guide always to be relied on, since a coin may be most rare and yet be valued in tlie market atTcss than a common coin. Many other elements intrinsic and extrinsic no to form the value of a coin. The intrinsic elements besides rarity arc the historical importance, the artistic value, ami the preservation ot the specimen. The extrinsic elements are the demand at the moment, the competition of collegers, the economic surroundings, besides the accidents pf place and time which vary continually. The general result of all these causes tFercfoie constitutes the practical value of a coin.
13. Ever since the lirst halt of the present century tt lias been found convenient to compile a catalogue of prices of Roman coins, and this has been remade, amplified, and amended over and over until at length we have in hand the works of Cohen and for the Republican coinage, of Babclou, which are most complete, and serve as a general base for the prices, and are so to say text books at the present time.
14. Of course this valuation like that of auy other merchandise cannot be lasting and must vary from time to time even without any special cause which might disturb the balance. It might happen lor example that an important deposit might be found; in such a case some of the rarest coins might become common, as has more than once occurred.
At any rate when taken "cum grant) sail?" and with a certain freedom, the above-mentioned valuations — and they are those I have adopted in my compendium with certain small variations suggested to me by experience — may very well give an adequate idea of the absolute and relative value of the coins, and will prove very useful to collectors whether in buying or exchanging.
15. The highest pi joys, are charged for the gold pieccsT the faiaaze .come next in .succession, anu lastly the silver. Njcvcnjudess in tlip series ot silver coins there arc a few Republican denarii (sucii_as some ot the.Atiiai'Cbrniificia, Numitoria, and Ventidi.i) an da few Jpipprial denarii (?7.l. Marer. Rcgalianus, Jotapiamis, Tranquilljna, iScc.) which may be priced at 1.000 lire (£40.) and a few (as the denarius of Annia Faustina and certain medallions) which may be even more valuable. In the Bronze series we find ;i considerable number of speciniens^nTtrrTarc valued at between one and two thousand Sire- ("Agrippina the" younger, Germanicus, Btitannicus, Donutia, Annius Verus, Plautiila, Tranquillina, &c.) and bronze medallions of superior preservation may be valued at even more, so also the iJccussTs*" and the primitive quadrilateral pieces which cost between two and six thousand lire. The most valuable gold coins attain similar prices and even rather higher.
16. The differences ot value due to Hiedegrccs of preservation are far greater in the bronze than in the nobler metals. In the latter on account of the deposits of money fresh from the mint it is relatively easy to find specimens in mint condition, but it is very much more difficult to find a deposit of bronze coins in that condition. TJ)e_bjri)n?g \vasuJMd.JftrJ\omg_circubtioji; the Roman senate sent the gold and silver to distant troops, and hence it is _thatjhe deposits .of silver at)d still more.pfgpjd nre£ener:illy~ found in theL ProviiiceSj.jyJiilsjliebronze is found nearly always in Italy especially Til the immediate neighbourhood of Rome, but very rarety^ deposits. The specimens found in' the earth are always alone, and among a thousand I hardly think one coin ever comes to light in mint condition. Hence it happens that though for a gold or silver coin it mint condition one has to pay double or triple the price of the same coin in tolerable condition, or sometimes even more, in the bronze series the difference is enormous and out of all proportion. For a perfect Sestertius of Galba, Vitellius, Antoninus, Pertinax, which would be in the ordinary condition valued at 8, 80, 4, ISO lire, one would have to pay ioo, 300, i$o, t.ooo lire, and a bronze medallion in really mint condition would easily fetch at a sale some thousands ot lire whatever its name or valuation.
17. I hope the mention of these luxurious and ruinous prices will not discourage any of my readers; they should rather have judgment enough to behold such a mirage without aspiring to grasp it, at any rate for their consolation 1 would say that a collection may be made in many ways, and one may have a collection suitable to any purse.
Leaving apart these wonderful prices and putting on one side the desire for that which is inaccessible every one may make a collection sufficient to give him much pleasant occupation with specimens of medium or even inferior quality.
In no numismatic series can we have such an abundance of material as in the Roman, and hence in no series can we have a greater choice or a larger scale of prices varying from a lew pence to hundreds of pounds.
18. We need not then be discouraged when we remember that there are humble collectors who have not spent on their whole collections the sum required to purchase one of those coins of which we have spoken, and yet have had greater satisfaction, and have attained better scientific results than most of those who have spent hundreds of pounds on their collections. I would say in addition that the greater number of the true collectors have been drawn from people of humble means who gain moreover the special satisfaction of their self-respect.
19. Asa collection, whatever may be the means of the owner, may approach perfection without ever being able to reach it, and can never be said to be complete — an aim, desire for which is inexhaustible —, if in the great collections there are many specimens which arc wanting in the lesser, even the least may often chance to acquire some specimen which the greatest lacks.
And this is a compensation which the Roman series in its wealth reserves sometimes for the small and humble coilector, to restrain the pride of the most powerful.
I'KIVATIi AND KJDI.IC COLLECTIONS
20. Private Collections. All private collections are subject to that natural law by which nothing is destroyed but everything is continually transformed. It is sad for the collector to think that the result of all his work will be dispersed in a few generations 01 even immediately after his death, but no one is able to escape the influence of natural law;;, and even the collector must resign himself to his destiny 1 No poet is the son of a poet says the proverb, and similarly there is no collector the son of a collector; the few exceptions only serve to confirm the general rule.
After all, thru which is a source ofcomplnint to the dying is a source of consolation to the living who form their collections from the dispersion of those of their predecessors.
21. The sale of a collection was difficult enough to arrange formerly when it was usual only to sell it as a whole, and it seemed a crime to break up a collection coin by coin dispersing it among a hundred buyers. A single purchaser was always difficult to find excepting the public museums, and this difficulty suggested the idea of selling by public auction by means of which the collections, being divided into lots, could be easily disposed of whatever, might be their importance.
Amateurs attended in crowds, each one purchasing the coins which were interesting to him for his own collection and which the competition allowed him to obtain at,« price within his means; at the same time the owners usually found this sort of sale bring in a better profit. This system serves to feed the trade in coins which could not but languish if it were limited altogether to the coins produced from excavations, and it is thus that the private, and in great part tbc public collections also are formed, or are continually being formed by the dispersion of many piivate collections of which theie remains no trace except the sale catalogues, a funeral register of collections, as it were.