The Atlas Experiment

January 2009, Volume 46 No. 1
I AM sure you are as fed up as I am with the seemingly endless talk on television, the radio, newspapers, etc., about the credit crunch, the recession and the fact that we are all going to hell in a handcart (apparently). There is no doubt that in certain sectors times are tough but how much of that has been created by the media is a matter of debate. I know that if I were working in the car or construction industry right now I’d be fuming at some of the irresponsible reporting going on at the moment. Unfortunately the media are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and as they talk up fears of a recession so the public at large, fearful of the bleak future being portrayed, rein in their spending. As soon as the spending stops so just about every other sector of the economy begins to suffer—and that’s without the problems caused by banks unwilling to lend because mistakes of their own making have put them on the edge of collapse! What you may ask has this to do with our hobby? Well to put it simply if we are about to enter a period of recession, artificially created or not, we need to know what that means for us. Let me make one thing clear at the start: numismatics is not suffering in the same way as so many other areas are—you only have to look at the record prices being paid at auction and witness the very healthy attendance at coin shows to realise that we are in an exceptionally fortunate position. Indeed collectable metal—be it in coin, token, medal or jewellery form, is bucking the trend set by just about every other market area at the moment and it seems that even those who have no interest in numismatics per se are increasingly happy to put their money into coins—well, with interest rates at record lows and the stock market in turmoil they have to put it somewhere!
That doesn’t mean though that we can be complacent, so we at COIN NEWS have drawn up a few pointers to keep our readers happy, no matter what the wider economy throws at them!
The first thing to realise is that in a world where money is tight, for many the chances are that there will be those looking to liquidate their assets and make some cash by selling their old coins and banknotes. Maybe they inherited a collection or some odd coins and didn’t really know what to do with them; maybe they were once collectors themselves but moved away from the hobby. Whatever their motivation the end result is the same—suddenly there are opportunities for us active collectors to pick up choice pieces that had hitherto remained undiscovered. So straightaway we see how a “crunch” can actually be a benefit for us; after years of being unable to find decent coins to swell our cabinets we might, fingers crossed, be able to use these lean times to our advantage. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as that (you knew it wouldn’t be) because whilst the lean times might bring the good coins out of the woodwork you can guarantee it will bring the unscrupulous money grabbers out too. Of course we at COIN NEWS would always, and I mean always, suggest buying directly from a dealer when purchasing for your collection. With a bonafide dealer you know you’re getting what you expect to get . . . the grade will (usually!) be exactly what you thought it would be, the coin itself will be genuine and, if you’re not entirely satisfied, most dealers will be confident enough in their own stock that they’ll offer a money back guarantee (as long as you don’t push it too far—asking a dealer to take a coin back many months after you bought it isn’t really on, unless there’s a very good reason!). However, we do realise that in these days of global commerce you may well be tempted to deal directly with collectors, either through internet auction sites or other media. If you do it’s worth remembering a few basic things. The most important is that whilst you, as a dedicated collector, know just what EF should be, most people don’t and a coin marked up as “excellent” by a layman usually won’t be—pay accordingly! Also be aware that there are out and out crooks around. The internet especially allows anonymity and it is easy for those intent on conning you out of your hard earned money to remain hidden in a way a “real” dealer can’t. The crooks will sell you forgeries, they’ll sell you stolen coins, they’ll not even have the coins they say they have and cash your cheque and disappear, only to pop up again under a new username a few weeks later. I’m not trying to scaremonger, the cases of collectors being ripped off are still relatively rare, but just be vigilant, you don’t want to become a victim needlessly. Just remember that whilst there may well be some bargains out there as people look to make some cash, if it looks too good to be true the chances are that it is!

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In This Issue

Market Scene26
New world record
A spectacular sale - Four Rare Russian coins
Collector's notebook34
Variation on a theme
A new variety of the 1887 Queen Victoria Jubilee proof sovereign
Ancients37
The military horse on ancient coinage
A numismatic expression of the bond between man and horse
Celtic41
King’s gold hoard in Suffolk
An exciting metal detector find
Insight44
The Jugate Portraits of William & Mary
A challenge for the Mint
Background47
Dates for deliberation
The years 1925, 1927 & 1947
Tokens51
Some older tokens from Egypt
Popular but seldom-seen tokens
Spotlight55
The Atlas Experiment
Marking a major step in particle physics
Paper money73
Beginner’s guide to dragon spotting
Dr Kerry Rodgers indulges in a little notaphilic dragonology
Banknote feature76
Bank of Ireland
A look at Ireland’s oldest bank
Interview81
Keeping a watchful eye
Michael Dobney of the BoE

Regulars

Editor’s Comment2
Coin news & views12
New issues coin update22
Royal Mint Bulletin24
Market Scene26
Price Guide to Guineas59
Coin Classroom62
Banknote News71
Price Guide—Allied Irish Banks Ltd, Allied Irish Bank PLC & Bank of Ireland78
New issues banknote update80
Dealers’ lists84
Letters to the Editor85
York Fair Feature86
Fair diary89
Auction diary90
Societies diary92
Semi-display adverts93
The Web Page95
Classified advertising97
Advertiser's index99