Monday 15 February 2010

Ancient coins in circulation - see it every day

Californian "Professional Numismatist" Dave Welsh says:

"Some ancient coins undoubtedly have not been dug up at all, instead resting in trays of bazaar merchants or in unburied treasures since their manufacture, although we don't now know which ones those are. The Ottomans are known to have used Byzantine solidi to pay their obligations without recoining. Although the majority of ancient coins undoubtedly were dug up at some point, there is no good reason to believe that this happened recently, considering that these coins have been actively collected for the past 700 years".

Discuss. Not only the "Petrarch collected coins" argument, but also the return of the coin elves. The coins "resting in the trays of bazaar merchants' for two millennia is a new one on me. Evidence?

[A bit odd that, as any professional numismatist worth his salt will know, Byzantine solidi went out of circulation in the tenth century, when they were reminted into other issues, well before the Ottoman Turks came on the scene. So how did the Ottomans get their hands on solidi? What is the reference to this Mr Welsh?]


Nathan Elkins said...

Is this argument now being made? That will be a tough sell.

Nathan Elkins said...

The literal tons of material coming out of the Balkans and Middle East annually, and the sharp rise in dealerships in the past 15-20 years, suggest that the market is, to the contrary, increasingly reliant on new finds.

Paul Barford said...

Well of course it is, and Welsh jolly well nows it. He's just thrashing about trying to detract attention from this single issue by inventing lots of sidethreads. How "professional" that is the reader can determins for themselves I guess. If it was not for the fact that while this is going on, nothing is being done by misled cllectors to help curb the looting I'd find it all a bit comic.

But these self-appointed "professional numismatists" are a bit pathetic aren't they? They keep trotting out the same tired old crap year after year (the Ottoman argument has been used by Welsh before) even though some of their statements are patently ridiculous and lacking in substance.

I'd love to see Welsh up one day before a panel of REAL numismatists to defend some of the things he's been saying all these years.

Anonymous said...

I think Welsh is trying two arguments here:

1. There are ancient coins which have been in continuous circulation since they were minted-- making their way into treasures.

The proportion of coins in modern collections, let alone on the curernt market, must be minuscule, non existent. Welsh realizes this is actually pretty improbable. Hence argument two, mid paragraph:

2. Coins on the market now come from old collections which themselves contain coins dug up "in ancient times"

No doubt some of the old "medal collections" of early modern europe contained casual finds, or discovered hoards-- it would be in fact interesting to know how e.g. the Cabinet des Medailles was constituted-- presumably by purchase by travellers. But this has very little bearing on the current market-- supplied by current illegal excavation

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.