Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Notgeld Notes - What Are They

Notgeld is German for "Emergency Money".
During the early 20th century special money was issued in several countries, but primarily Germany and Austria to cater for economic crisis situations. There was a shortage of small change, due to the war efforts and the need for metal going that way rather than for coinage. This emergency money was not issued by the central bank (Reichsbank), but by various other institutions, e.g. town savings banks, municipalities, private and state-owned firms. It was therefore not a legal tender but rather a mutually accepted means of payment, in particular location or site.
Notgeld was mainly issued in the form of (paper) banknotes. Sometimes other forms were used, as well: coins, leather, silk, linen, stamps, aluminium foil, coal and all sorts of re-used paper and carton material (e.g. playing cards).

The first large issue of Notgeld started during World War I. Due to the Inflation - caused by the cost of the war - the value of the material that a coin was minted from was higher than its denomination. Many institutions started to hoard coins. Additionally the metals used to mint coins were needed for the production of war supplies. This caused a massive shortage, which was remedied by issuing banknotes in small denominations.
As these banknotes were very colorful, they soon became a target for collectors. As the issuing bodies realised this demand they continued to issue these notes beyond their economic necessity up till 1922.

In 1922 inflation started to get out of control. Until 1923 the value of the mark deteriorated faster and faster. New money in higher denominations was issued constantly. The central bank could not cope with the logistics of the necessary supply of money and Notgeld (Papiermark) was issued again - this time in denominations of thousands, millions and billions of mark.

Photo and text courtesy of Wikipedia

How To Purchase Ancient Coins

I published the following article on the web about 2-3 years ago. I think it is still pretty accurate so I am sharing once again.

Hi, my name is Jerry and I have been buying ancient coins for a few years and I am sharing with you the best way to purchase ancient coins based on my experiences. First, I will be terribly honest and state that I have been ripped off many times with numerous false promises. I will attempt to help you avoid some of the pitfalls I encountered. Ok, let's get started.(1) Where to purchase ancient coins? Typically, most buyers purchase ancient coins from ebay. Ancient Roman coins are the most plentiful. My experience has been that one will encounter the good and the bad on eBay. There will be many false promises including the "Gold Found" vendors. I know of NO ONE who has ever found gold in a coin lot. The statement is highly misleading and I question the veracity of anyone who makes such statements. Gold does not encrust as bronze does and gold leaps out at the digger like the sun in the sky and the digger is not about to sell the coin for such a cheap price. I have purchased thousands of Roman coins from various vendors and I have NEVER found gold. (2) What should I expect for my dollar on eBay? The lure of buying a wonderful 1700- year- old coin for a dollar is incredibly appealing to the new buyer. I bought hundreds of ancient coins for a dollar each before realizing that I am going to get what I pay for. My experience has been that I will receive genuine Roman coins for a dollar per coin but for the most part I will receive a terribly encrusted, broken or slick (no image to speak of) roman coin. I am promised that I will receive cleaning instructions which I do receive but often the directions are as simple as a sheet of paper with information stating "soak in distilled water until clean" .. Cleaning encrusted coins is not that simple and that is another topic entirely. I have found that soaking Roman coins in distilled water is a long laborious task and not worth the time involved. (3) Roman coins 101. My experience has been that the typical lot of Roman coins or Greek coins would contain about 20-25% attributable coins. By attributable coins, I mean coins which contain images thar are clear enough to enable one to identify the emperor or imagery. Simply stated the coin can be identified as to date and source. Greek coins have very little "text" or legend in contrast to Roman coins.(4) Purchasing your Roman or Greek coins. After cleaning thousands of dollar coins I have learned that I prefer to pay twice the amount and receive a better quality coin. I should state at this point that when I refer to prices I am speaking of Roman coins only. The Greek coins are a different animal in terms of cost. In the dollar Roman lots I have received everything from batches which would run as high as 33% attributable to as low as 10%. The lower percentage coins are called "floor sweepings".. I would prefer to pay twice as much per coin and run the percentage up to 75%. When one pays 1.50 to 3.50 per Roman coin then one should expect what are called "premium coins".. In the long run, one receives much more for the money when purchasing the premium coins. (5) Before making a purchase. Before purchasing I suggest the following: Contact the dealer and ask what kind of attribution percentage one can expect from the coins he/she is selling. Next, ask if he/she has a "no questions asked" return policy. If you feel assured and take the plunge then be sure and talk with the dealer if you should get coins of lesser quality than you discussed prior to the purchase. Dealers are terribly afraid of bad input on eBay and wish to please you. The input from buyers makes or breaks an eBay dealer.(6) Finally, do I really want to clean encrusted coins? I love to clean encrusted Roman coins and Greek coins. I have worked at my technique for years and have developed methods that makes the cleaning much simpler for me. If you are unsure, be sure and visit my ancient coin site where you can purchase a genuine 1700 year old roman coin for as little 5 dollars!! As stated, I have coins for 5 dollars, but I also have Roman coins which sell for 50 dollars and more. Please take a look at my site and consider ordering a cleaned coin to see if it holds your interest. My web site URL is as follows: I hope you have enjoyed our visit and I look forward to your visit to my ancient coin store!

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Celator Welcomes New Subscribers

The Celator is a great publication for the ancient coin enthusiast. Please take a look at the information I borrowed from their site. Both Wayne and Kerry welcome all.

The term "Celator" (we pronounce it sell-a-tore) is an anglicized version of the Latin word Caelator, which was a term used in ancient times to describe artists who worked in bas relief. This included gem carvers, and coin die engravers, as well as a great variety of metalworkers. The Celator is dedicated to those artists who have left us with indelible impressions of the Classical era in their miniature art. Articles in The Celator range from Greek and Roman coinage to the coinage of their contemporaries and of their successors. Each issue includes from three to five articles, several regular columns by well known antiquarians, market news, commentary, information about people in the hobby, a professional directory of dealers, and a calendar of events. The general tone of the publication is one not of intense scholarship, although scholarly articles do appear from time to time, but rather of a relaxed forum. The Celator offers something for everyone, and serves as the focal point of the ancient coin collecting hobby.

Click to visit the subscription page:

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Schematics For My .99 Cent Coin Zapper

Important Post From Wayne Sayles, ACCG Executive Director

Dear Readers: I believe the following article is very important to all of us. Please take the time to read.

Fellow antiquarians;January 25th, 2007 may well go down in the annals of numismatichistory as the Pearl Harbor of the Cultural Property War. When theU.S. Department of State posted a notice in the Federal Register thatrenewal of the import restrictions on cultural property from Cypruswould be considered, Peter K. Tompa (Ancient Coin Collectors GuildPresident) addressed the following concern in a letter to the Bureauof Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). "It is unclear from thenotice whether new import restrictions on coins will be considered inthe context of this hearing to determine whether current restrictionson other archaeological and ethnological artifacts will be extended."Coins had been exempted from restrictions in the initial agreementfive years ago. A reply from the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretaryof State at ECA stated that "the Department anticipates considerationof extension of the agreement as it currently exists with respect tothe categories of material." In other words, coins were not added tothe list of restricted items being considered. In my capacity as ACCG Executive Director, I then sent a letter to theCultural Property Advisory Committee stating that since coins were notto be included, the ACCG would not take a position on the request andwould not appear in person to comment during the public hearing. Inother words, a quid pro quo. I was not advised of any change inposition. On January 26th, the day after the public hearing, ACCGreceived the following notice from ECA. "On 25 and 26 January, 2007,the Cultural Property Advisory Committee met to consider extending thebilateral agreement between the Government of the United States andthe Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Shortly before thatmeeting, Cyprus submitted a request through normal diplomatic channelsto amend the Designated List of its cultural materials for whichimportation is already restricted. The proposal is to include in theDesignated List coins minted and found in Cyprus that are more than250 years old."This action is a shocking disappointment. It further undermines ACCGconfidence in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that haseroded over two years of struggling with constant stonewalling anddepartmental secrecy. Sandbagging a legitimate nonprofit advocacygroup, to circumvent an effective defense of its position, is a tacticthat sinks to a level that is intolerable. In an effort to diffuse the inevitable outrage, ECA has reopened thewindow for comment to run through the close of business on Monday,February 6. If ever there was cause for comment, it is now. Thisrequest, if approved, will not only affect ancient coins from Cyprus,but virtually all Medieval and early modern coins. Worse,restrictions would set an irreversible precedent. The aggression ofcultural property nationalists knows no limits and there is no roomleft in the collecting world for complacency. Every collector simplymust take the time to comment. The best method is by Fax to202-453-8803. Address your comments to Mr. Jay I. Kislak, Chairman,Cultural Property Advisory Committee. Please be specific and bepolite. The ACCG provides a free online Fax service for this purposeat If you avail yourself of that service, a choice ofsample letters will be offered or you can create your own text in anystandard browser. The process is fast, easy and meaningful. Our goal for this campaign is 1,000 individual comments to CPAC. Wewill need every single collector's cooperation. If you can't figureout how to comment or what to say, send a note to me at for suggestions.Become an activist, spread the word and encourage all of your friendsto comment. This is not a practice drill.With best regards and hope for the future of our hobby,WayneWayne G. SaylesExecutive Director, ACCG

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ancient Coin Denominations And Values

The following information is courtesy of Alfredo at "Imperial Coins and Artifacts." Alfredo, thank you very much my friend. Please click on the Following URL to view:

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Zap With Aluminum Foil Wrap

Mix a 5% solution of SC (5 grams of sodium carbonate in 100ml of
deionized water) and wrap the coin in a double layer pocket of
aluminum foil, add aportion of the solution inside the wrapping and
submerge this into a container with the rest of the solution. Let this
set for about 3 days then check the progress. The aluminum foil will
deteriorate since it is acting as your sacrificial anode in the
process. You can continue this process indefinitely until the coin is
clean since it is a very mild technique.
I have had success with this method on many coins, but others still
needed to be zapped even after this process. However they may not have
if I were more patient and continued the process longer then 3
days...LOL :)
This may be useful for those who want to try another alternative
method of cleaning and those that are not quite ready to zap a coin.
5 grams (1 heaping teaspoon)
100ml = Half cup or about 3.5 Fluid Ounces
Method Source:
The Archaeologist's Manual for Conservation A Guide to Non-Toxic,
Minimal Intervention Artifact Stabilization
Rodgers, Bradley A.
2004, 220 p., Soft cover
ISBN: 0-306-48467-6
-Shawn (aka The Lone Knight)

Irfanview: Great Tutorial By Our Friend Kev

Believe me, if you are an ancient coin enthusiast, you need Irfanview to enable you to stitch coins. You can get a free download at the following URL:

Our friend Kev has created a wonderful walk through tutorial to teach us to use the program. Please click on the following URL and follow Kev's directions: I have a included an OVB/REV of a coin I stitched on Irfanview to illustrate how well it helps in our coin presentations.
I know you join me in expressing my gratitude to Kev.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Create Ancient Coin Patinas With Sesquicarbonate

To add a patina to your coins I suggest a method that conservators use.
A 4% Sodium Sesquicarbonate bath (20 grams of Sodium
Carbonate plus 20 grams of Sodium Bicarbonate in 960ml of distilled water) soak the coin in this solution 2-3 weeks until coin is darkened.
Heat may also be applied to the solution to accelerate the process.
After this phase handle the coin with rubber gloves
to not contaminate the coin with salts from your skin then place in a bath of fresh distilled water for a day to remove the Sodium Sesquicarbonate.
Next dehydrate the coin in three baths of alcohol.
Let it soak in each container at least one hour. The first two
containers of alcohol may be reused for other coins but the last
container must always be fresh for each coin.
The final phase is sealing the coin with renwax and
placing in a non-pvc coin flip.
Method Source:
The Archaeologist's Manual for Conservation A Guide to Non-Toxic,
Minimal Intervention Artifact Stabilization
Rodgers, Bradley A.
2004, 220 p., Softcover
ISBN: 0-306-48467-6
-Shawn (aka The Lone Knight)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Wonderful Coin Photography Tip

I have developed a nice photo “trick” I am sharing with you with the desire it will help you with your coin photography. Most of the coins I shoot are “facing right” coins and I like to use only one light source when shooting coins or any other subject for that matter. My indoor studio is rather cramped and I have very little room to maneuver so it is awkward for me to shoot from the right. Consequently, I have my equipment setup for left light shooting.

LS (light source) left invariably leaves me shooting across and into the back of the head as we so often find on our coins. By far, the largest numbers of coins I encounter are facing right. This results in shadows cast across the front of the face. I have solved the problem by shooting the obverse with the head down or as we often say, “upside down.” I then use a photo editing software to flip the coin vertically and horizontally. This process places the coin back in the proper position. If you don’t have such a program, please look elsewhere within my blog for information on downloading a free edition of PhotoPlus 6.

Please take a look at the coin photos top right. The top photo I snapped in the “heads down” position and you can see the face received the full effect of the light. I then righted the coin using my photo-editing program. The coin on bottom was shot in the “natural” position and you can see the lack of light striking the front of the head. I shot the photos in low key to emphasize my thesis. Please understand that I left the light in precisely the same position for both photographs. I can’t say enough about Serifs’ PhotoPlus 6 program and the fact it is free makes it even better! Again, I ask that you look elsewhere within the blog to get directions to the site for downloading. Thank you for visiting and I hope this article helps you with your photography. God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Few Facts About Your Coin Metals

Facts About Your Coin Metals

Gold was the second metal to be discovered and worked by man. Copper was the first.
If all the gold ever found (approx. 20,000 tons) were cast into a single ingot, it would form a 20-yard cube.
Gold is the most ductile of all metals. One ounce can be pulled into a wire 27 miles long.

In ancient times silver was know as argentum and was considered to be more precious than gold because it appeared less commonly in nature than gold.
Pure silver is too soft for most uses and is most often alloyed. Copper is most commonly mixed with silver as an alloy because it strengthens without discoloring.
Most coin silver contains 10 to 20% copper.
Sterling is the most commonly used alloy and was adopted as a standard under King Henry II of England in the 12th century.

Copper is one of the most versatile of all metals and is relatively abundant.
It is thought copper was the first metal put to use by our ancestors.
In 6000BC the Egyptians used copper weapons. In 2750 BC the Egyptians made copper pipes.
The term verdigris comes from the Old French for “Green of Greece,” a reference to metal sculptures of antiquity.
Verdigris consists of acetates, sulfates, and chlorides and are very is very poisonous

Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin.
Bronze is much tougher than its parent metal, copper and is also much easier to melt.
Bell metal is so named because of the tone rendered when struck and contains as between 14 and 25% tin.
Statuary bronze might have as little as 10% tin and in bearings or weapons zinc is often added for strength.

The term billon come from the middle Latin billo, meaning a “coin containing mostly copper.”
Billon is an alloy of a precious metal such as silver but on occasion one finds gold is used in the alloy.
The majority of the alloy of billon is copper and is used primarily for the making of medals, coin and tokens.

I hope you have enjoyed our little exercise in getting to know something about our coin metals. Thanks you for reading and please send feedback. Many of my facts came from my book “The Complete Metalsmith” by Tim McCreight. My gratitute.

Enhance Your Coin Photos With Serif PhotoPlus 6 For Free!

We all have the odd flaw somewhere in our photographic collection, but help is at hand. With PhotoPlus 6 you can enhance your photos for the best possible results, adjust brightness and color and even remove red-eye - and all for free!. Put your creative abilities on display for all to see and impress your family and friends! Packed full of fantastic features normally reserved for high-end, high-priced applications, PhotoPlus 6 is ideal for complete beginners and professionals alike.
Powerful photo editing features aside, PhotoPlus 6 is incredibly easy to use. All the tools you need are laid out in a convenient toolbar and handy tips appear on screen while you work. Effects and filters are accessed with user-friendly drop-down menus.
PhotoPlus 6 is incredible image editing software that enables you to create, manipulate and enhance photographs, bitmap graphics and web animations. From special effects to smart tools, you'll find all you need to produce professional looking images for print, multimedia, and the web.
So what can it do for me?
Creative ToolsPaintbrush, airbrush, clone, smudge and erase tools with adjustable brush settings including size, shape, softness and fade are all at your fingertips.
Digital DarkroomEnhance, repair and tweak your photos for the best results possible. Adjust brightness, color hue and saturation, contrast, sharpness and more. Even remove red-eye!
Layer EffectsAdd Bevel or Drop Shadow layer effects for a sophisticated 3D look on text or other image elements. The layer manager lets you alter and preview specific image layers. This is how the professionals do it.
Versatile Deform ToolThis “Swiss Army Knife” of image tools lets you rotate, resize, skew, reshape, or add perspective to any selection or layer. Easy to master, yet incredibly powerful.
Animation Allows you to easily edit or create animated GIFs for use on the Internet or in presentations. With a few simple clicks, an entire animation can be created for you.
Powerful TextEnhance your images with editable, deformable text and compliment them further with the stunning Drop Shadow and Bevel Effects.
Web ImagesDivide an image into sections adding hyperlinks and text pop-ups to each segment. Let PhotoPlus create the HTML code that recombines the segments in your Web page. It couldn't be easier.
Export OptimizerSee how your image will look and how much space it will take up before you save and export it. Simultaneously view up to 4 previews that display the relationship between file size and quality.
Supports Image Effects & Plugins Special effects such as edges, twirls, lens, mosaic, solarize, posterize, emboss, ripple, blur and more can be added to part or whole images.
QuickShapes Add ready-made, customizable QuickShapes to your images, choosing from a range including speech bubbles, starbursts and spirals. A real time-saver!
Create Great Personalized Gifts It's so simple to get your designs and photos printed onto coffee mugs, mouse mats, jigsaw puzzles, T-shirts, sweatshirts and tote bags. It's an ideal way to come up with a gift they'll love for that hard-to-buy-for person.
Please click or paste the following URL to get your Free copy of PP6:

The above data was copied from "Serif PhotoPlus 6"

My Latest Artificial Light Photos

The coin to right is representative of the quality “artificial light” photos I am achieving with an inexpensive WalMart bulb and a 3.1-megapixel camera. I am using just the one bulb. I am pleased with the results and plan to share my progress with my readers within the next three weeks. I am under the weather so that will delay things for a bit. If interested in my inexpensive approach to photographing my coins, please let me know. Assuming I am well in the next couple days, my wife and I will take a short vacation and I will get right back to my photography.

One other thing. I am still working on my repatinator and have one issue I am attempting to resolve before releasing to my readers and to my membership. Thanks for reading and God Bless.. Jerry..

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Do You See A Tree And Do You See A Coin?

Look at the drawing on the right. Do you see a tree? Yes? I think not. I think you see a suggestion or an illusion of a tree. I have tricked your eye into thinking "tree." If one looks at an ancient coin does one see a coin? Yes. Why. The coin is "real" and not an illusion. Is the emperor on the coin real? No. He is an illusion. 2000 years ago a skilled artist created and illusion of the emperor. It is the the role of the visual artist to create illusions. I now ask the question, what is "non-objective" art? Non-objective art is art that alludes to nothing other than what it is. It stands for nothing. Whereas my illusion of the tree stood for something.
Consequently, non-objective art becomes "real." Subjective art becomes the illusion. Let us address abstract art. Is abstract art real? It is only pigment or graphite on a format but it does allude to something so it is not "real." Of course, the pigment and graphite are always real regardless of the condition. Correct? Not necessarily. I can create an illusion of graphite and I can create an illusion of pigment. Silly games? Not really. These are concerns of the visual artist. I hope you found this to be a bit provocative.. thanks and God Bless.. Jerry..

Friday, January 12, 2007

Is This Coin Beautiful?

Greetings my friends. My question. Is the coin on the right beautiful? Perhaps I should rephrase and ask if the coin is aesthetically pleasing. Collectively, do we have the right to make this judgment? Do I have the right to make this judgment for others? Let us take it one step further. Does a critic have the right to make this decision?

The most extreme objective attitude assumes unchanging standards by which all art is measured. Is the coin, indeed, art? Many will say that all art should be measured against a particular period or particular peoples such as the Greeks and Romans. Such an attitude rejects the art of many cultures and denies almost all variability in concepts of aesthetic values. If one is more flexible, one’s attitude may include other factors such as unity, variety and intensity in varying degrees and proportions according to the nature of the art object. The sensitivity and understanding of the observer will change, but the real value will reside within the art object.

Changes in the history of taste therefore do not prove changes in value but only in preference. Consequently, a viewer may prefer one work to another but must admit the second has a higher aesthetic value. Let’s take a leap to a more subjective judgment. Here the critical evaluation becomes purely personal and each individual applies different criteria to make aesthetic judgments. The aesthetic value of an art object rests not in the object but in the response of the observer, who may grant or deny such value of any object. I propose the viewer must bring to the table an aesthete equal to the artist’s input or else there is no visual communication between artist and viewer.

I would like to see this paper provoke a bit of discussion amongst our more learned colleagues and I will enjoy sitting back and reading the banter! Thank you for reading and please let me know if you enjoy or if you have an opinion.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Simple Coin Photography For Beginners

Simple Coin Photography

I am sharing some basic design elements for getting you jump started to successful coin photography. I assume you have a digital camera and know how to operate it. If not, you need to become familiar with your camera.

First, please allow me to share a few design elements and how they are relative to you and your photography. Texture. We have what we call real or actual texture. An example is the surface of a brick. That is real. We can feel the texture. Next, we have illusionary texture. An example would be a photograph of a brick we can see the texture in the photograph but we cannot feel it. In coin photography we want to avoid a heavy texture and I would go so far as to say we are better off without either of the textures or like textures I have mentioned above. We want a smooth texture as in the smooth texture of a sheet of non-glossy paper. Color. We have cool colors and we have warm colors. Cool colors are the blues and greens with variations of values and intensities. Next, we have warm colors. Warm colors are on the yellow and red side of our spectrum.

In any composition or design, warm colors advance and cool colors recede. I think we should never use warm colors as a background. Advancing or warm colors compete with the coin we are photographing. Receding or cool colors and neutrals are the colors we will use. They will not be as dominant and will allow the viewer to focus on the central object, which in our case is the coin. We want to use cool colors or neutrals. For our benefit we will allude to neutrals as black and white. White is not a color but is the presence of all color. Black is not a color and is the absence of all color.

There are two other elements we will deal with. These are Value and Intensity. Intensity is the chromatic quality or strength of a color. Value is how light or how dark the color is. If we think of a fire engine red then we think of a bright red. Again that is how bright or intense the color is. We can choose the same red and allude to how light or how dark the color is. Thus we are alluding to the value. The naturally darkest color on the color wheel is violet (many people use the term purple.) The naturally lightest color on the wheel is yellow. We can easily observe that yellow is more brilliant that violet.

The final two elements with which we will deal are Negative and Positive space. I will use a coin photograph as an illustration. In a coin photograph the coin is the positive element and that is where the viewer’s eye focuses. All the area that surrounds the coin is the negative space. The coin is the positive element we are focused on because that is what the photograph is about. The coin and not the negative (background) is our focus. You have just completed Jerry’s Color Theory 101 and if you will send five bucks, I will send your certificate! : ) We are about to move to the actual photographing of the coin.


Photographing the Coin

Before we get into the actual photography I need to mention a few items you will need. For our purposes the best negative (background) elements I know of are “fall outs”. What is a fall out? Whenever a picture framer cuts a mat for a picture the part that falls out when the opening is cut is called precisely that, a fall out. Most framers give the smaller fall outs away. Often the framers will give pieces to schools or to anyone who asks for them. Check with your local picture framer and ask if he/she will give you some for free. Tell him/her that Jerry sent you : ) Please don’t be picky. Take all they will give you. You may need to share with your brothers and sisters. The size is of little consequence if a couple inches larger than a coin. I think a 4 X 5 inch piece is fine but again the size does not matter that much. For example, I have some fall outs that measure 4 X 5 and I have some as large as 8 X 10 inches.

You also need dowel material so they can be cut to length. I use 3/8" diameter dowel material but the point is you need the diameter to be smaller than the coin you are shooting. I will explain later. Next, you need “available light”. God had given us the natural light of day so we have an endless supply. Now for the dowels. Have someone with a nice chop saw or table saw cut the dowels into the following lengths. Be sure the dowels are cut at right angles. In other words the dowels need to be level so they will stand on end. Have the dowels cut into the following lengths. You will need only one length of each. 3/4", 1", 2", 3" and 4 inches. I will get back to the dowels momentarily.

You need a well-lit area in which to work. Be SURE all the lights are off and you are shooting the coin in a naturally illuminated area. NO LIGHTS! I shoot with a copy stand I made but a tripod will work. Remember, you will be shooing down on the coin so the really tiny (6"-12" ) tripods do not work well. Some individuals can hold the camera still enough to keep the picture from blurring. You will need some kind of board on which to place the coin and mat board. I think my base is 10" x 10". I/2 to 3/4-inch thick plywood is perfect. Please pick up a spray can of WalMart .99-cent flat primer gray paint and spray the base well with the primer gray. Again, I must assume you know the settings on your camera. You need be near a window or on the deck to get the full effect of the natural light. Remember, you do not have to be in direct sunlight but it must be bright. DO NOT use your flash. It will not work for what we want.

I hope you have the following colors amongst your mat board. Black, white, medium gray, light gray, medium blue and a light blue. Please place your baseboard or copy stand on a tabletop so as to make it very sturdy. You do not want movement. Place the mat board on the base and now we need the dowels. Please begin with the 2" dowel and place the dowel on end (vertically) in such a way as to enable you to have the dowel centered in the picture plane. You may prefer the term “picture area”. Next place the obverse of the coin on top of the dowel. You now have a coin on top of a 3/8" inch dowel on top of a piece of mat board in the picture area of your camera. The reason for placing the coin on the dowel is to elevate the coin, which will result in the background being slightly out of focus. This will give the coin a slight “floating effect.” If you have cross hairs in your camera then you want the coin perfectly centered. Remember, you can gently shift the piece of mat board to help center the coin. Snap and see what you have. Repeat for the reverse of the coin. Very same process. You will need a macro setting on your camera to get close to the coin. My camera, in macro mode, will remain in focus to about 2 and ½ inches of an object. However, I shoot a few inches higher than that distance. I think 4 to 12 inches is close enough at this point. Try to avoid casting your shadows onto the coin. Now, please shoot the coins on different colors but cool colors only. No need to waste your time with the warm colors. I have explained the best and most simple way I know to get started shooting coins. You should be able to shoot the way I have just explained in a normal outdoor mode. You will need to become familiar with your white balance at some point. I will explain the easiest way to use artificial lighting at a future date. I am sure I have left out some things I will add and I am sure to have typos but you have great information to get you started. One quick thought. Often, windowpanes and door panes have UV filtering and may play havoc with your picture results. Try your porch, deck or a raised window if your panes have filtering that distorts the colors of your coins. Good Luck and God Bless.. Jerry.. PS: If you would like to see my coin photos please visit my coin site at the following URL: I am busy replacing the bad photos with good ones..

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Applying the Rule of Simultaneous Contrast to Coin Photography

“The Rule of Simultaneous Contrast” deals with one colors effect upon another. I have created a stitched photograph to illustrate the principle. I will keep things at the “101” level since we have not studied color theory together. However, we will need to know what warm and cool colors are to demonstrate my principle. Warm colors are those colors on the yellow and red side of the spectrum and cool colors are colors on the blue and green side of the spectrum. Warm colors advance and cool colors recede. I am teaching this rule to demonstrate why we should use cool colors for our negative space (background) as opposed to warm colors in our coin photography.

Please take a look at the photograph of the same coin on two different color formats. I think you will see right off the cool color is much more pleasing to the eye than the warm color. The cool color drops into space and remains “isolated” from the coin while the warm color advances and visually competes with the coin. Again, the warm color is visually disturbing. I could have demonstrated this more profoundly and have chosen a bright yellow for my warm color but I wanted to be a bit subtle. I think the gold is a color a na├»ve person could have chosen.

To demonstrate a bit further, please place your hand or a small piece of paper over the warm color and observe how well the coin and the blue work in harmony. Now place the hand or paper over the cool color and you see the coin and gold color clash to some degree. I think a neutral such as a light gray is a great “color” to use as negative space. I would like to see you put the principle of “The Rule of Simultaneous Contrast” into practice by photographing the same coin on different backgrounds.

I hope this exercise is beneficial to you and if you wish to see more please let me know.. Thank you for reading and God Bless.. Jerry..

Friday, January 5, 2007

Elephant Coin

Hi! I cleaned a nice coin last night and I have a question for our Coin Scholars and any others who are interested. As an artist I know how I feel about the centering marks on my elephant coin but how do you feel? As you view the coin you will see the centering marks on both sides.

What is the mainstream thinking about centering marks? Is it the same as an off centered coin? Please share with me your thoughts about the aesthetics of the coin. Also, will someone attrib the coin? I will appreciate any and all feedback.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Thursday, January 4, 2007