Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on a recent newspaper article from Canada.
Here is an article in the Regina Canada Leader-Post that tells one of the most significant -- and charming! -- stories of a coin collector's personal saga with his collection. My hat is off to coin collector Jim Smalley, a member of the Regina Coin Club, who learns the story behind his coins and enjoys the pleasure they bring to him.
Smalley's collection covers a lot of history, from ancient coins to the second world war. He likes unusual coins, "oddballs" he calls them. By "oddball" he means a collection that includes ancient and medieval coins, early Roman Empire, those from the British Empire (places like Australia, British Honduras and Belize), wartime occupation, and from what he calls "dead countries" -- that no longer exist -- as well as obscure places, like Iceland and Tasmania.
There are even oddities among his oddballs -- like the token of Ghandi with the slogan "Superman."
A small silver coin with a ship and the word "Ant" conjures up memories of high school classes on Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. The "Ant" is for Antony -- Caesar's right-hand man Mark Antony. "To take his troops (to battle), Mark Antony went to Cleopatra and said 'I need some money, I need silver.' And that's a piece of Cleopatra's silver, to pay Mark Antony's troops."
A nice sixpence recalls the Tudors, and King Edward VI's brief reign after the death of his father, Henry VIII. What Smalley really wants is a reasonably priced Bloody Mary -- the nickname given to Queen Mary, Henry VIII's daughter by his first wife.
I even like the story where Smalley saved up 10 kilos of British coins, flew to London with his wife, and spent the coins during a six-day visit, counting out 50- and 20-pence coins for each purchase.
This is a charming account of coin collecting as it should be, unprecedented discoveries, determined research, and the pleasure of the knowledge of the tales your coins can tell.
You can share that symbiotic pleasure by just reading this collector's account.
Here are some excerpts from the article.
Amazing -- it's a word that comes up quite often when you spend a bit of time with Smalley, his coin collection and his equally impressive memory for history.
While many collectors long for such rarities as a 1936 Canadian dot penny -- which recently sold for $400,000 at a U.S. auction -- Smalley's tastes aren't nearly as expensive. His focus is as unique as his coins. "I collect the oddball stuff," he says.
Like a proud father opening up his wallet to show off pictures of his children, Smalley holds up one of the most artistic and beautiful pieces in his collection. The bronze medallion has the raised impression of a young woman, ribbons flowing from her hair. "You won't believe it under glass," says Smalley excitedly. "What's so unusual about it is you would not know who it was. There's no writing. There's not even an engraver's initial."
However, Smalley's pretty confident it depicts Napoleon Bonaparte's second wife Marie Louise because of the two medals that accompanied it -- one showing the church in Strasbourg, France, where Napoleon married his Austrian bride by proxy in 1810, and the other of Napoleon and Marie Louise, whom Smalley believes is the same as the woman on the bronze disc.
"I consider this very enigmatic," says Smalley, explaining that he has been unable to find any information on the medallion -- a sort of billboard of its day, announcing Napoleon's marriage.
To read the complete article, see:
Every Coin tells a Story
Wayne Homren, Editor
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