Saturday, March 31, 2007

Great Free Pro Photo Editor

For readers who do not have a photo-editing program I highly recommend VicMan Pro Editor. I have tried it and I am very impressed with the easy to use functions. The following information on VicMan is from

Free, customizable, and easy-to-use are the words that best describe this program. When I first saw the program, I couldn't believe that it was free. Therefore, I started searching for hidden options or disabled features. I couldn't find any, thus the only thing I can do is congratulate the publisher. VCW VicMan's Photo Editor supports opening many types of images. The saving formats include JPG, BMP, PNG, TGA, TIF, and PCX. I guess this is more than enough for non-professional software. The program also supports the application of visual effects to images. These effects are organized into categories for easier access. Most of them have a preview panel, which allow you to see how the image would look, if you apply the filter. By using a couple of tools, which include a brush, a pencil, an eraser, and a fill tool, you can also draw on the picture. You can use this software to create color gradients on your pictures or add text. The downside is that you can't resize the text after you add it to the image. Pluses: This program includes a magic wand tool, which can select a region of the image that contains same-color pixels. Another good feature is its ability to obtain images directly from a scanner.

Click on the following and you will find a free download Pro: Please let me know what you think. You will see a photo above where I played with some of the art functions and enjoyed very much. Oh, see if you can find the “errors” on the coin. God Bless.. Jerry..

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Want To Share With Us?

If you have an article related to ancient coins and would like to share with our readers, I will be more than happy to consider what you have. Perhaps you have already written something or perhaps you would like to write something just for the blog. If so, please send the article to me at the following e-mail: I will be more than happy to consider the article for publication. Thanks and God Bless.. Jerry..

Ancient Coin Terms

I have developed a list of commonly used ancient coin terms. If you have a term you would like to see added please drop me a note. Also, if you disagree with the definition of a term(s) please let me know. Please bookmark for future reference. Thank you and God Bless..

Ancient Coin Terms

Alloy: Mixture of metals.
AE: Bronze coin.
AR: Silver coin.
AU: Gold Coin.
Biga: Chariot pulled by two horses
Billon: Low Grade silver.
Commemorative: Special coin issued to commemorate a person, place or event.
Cuirassed: Bust on coin is depicted wearing armor.
Diademed: Ribbon or pearls in hair.
Draped: Cloak on shoulder(s) of bust.
Denarius: Silver Roman coin.
Exergue: Area at bottom of coin on reverse.
Field: Area in and around the positive elements on obverse and reverse.
Flan: Metal blank. The dies are used to strike the flan.
Grade: Rating of the quality of a coin.
Incuse: Recessed design in the surface of the coin.
Laureate: Bust of coin is depicted wearing laurel wreath.
Legend: Inscription on coin. Can be found on reverse and or obverse.
Some coins do not have a legend.
Mint Mark: Some kind of “mark” used as a symbol to indicate where the
Coin was minted.
Mule: The obverse and reverse of the coin are incorrectly combined.
Nimbus: Halo
Potin: Bronze with a high percentage of tin and lead.
Quadriga: Chariot drawn by four animals. Typically horses.
Radiate: A spiked crown on head of bust.
SC: When found on coin, indicates senate approval of coin’s issue.
Abbreviation for Senatus Consulto.
Sestertius: Largest coin of the Roman Imperial Period.
Solidus: Gold coin from the period of Constantine I.
Standard: Pole upon which a “flag” is fixed.
Tone: The degree of lightness and darkness of a coin.
Trachy: A concave coin.
Triga: Three horses abreast.
Tripod: Three legged stand.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Posthumous Constantine: Zapped And "Mint"?

I was zapping a group of coins today and saw what appeared to be a very nice Constantine Quadriga. The coin is also called the "Hand of God" coin. The coin was already showing a great deal of promise when I began to "baby" it with my bamboo stick each time I pulled it from the solution.

I had no idea how nice the coin would be. I wanted to leave patina so I watched it carefully. The coin you see above is the product of my efforts. Please take note of the eye on Constantine on the obverse and then look at the eyes of the horses on the reverse. Amazing detail. I think it is at least a VF++ by my standards. Please let me know what you think. God Bless.. Jerry..

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Zap And Leave Patina Intact

I found a small group of coins and decided to illustrate how I leave the patina intact while zapping. The coins you see in the photo above left were pretty crusty. I wanted to see how much patina I could leave using electrolysis and my bamboo stick. The picture indicates the degree of success. Please feel free to ask questions and I would like feedback. If you want to learn my zapping techniques please join us at the following URL: You have a standing invitation from me. Thanks you and God Bless.. Jerry..

Monday, March 26, 2007

Answer To A Reader's Request

Woody, a great friend and reader, wants to see the pendant on a dark red background. How can I say no to a request from such a wonderful person! You see the results above right. I will let Woody and readers tell me what you think. As they say, I will keep opinion to myself until I hear from you guys. Please share your opinion with Woody and with me. God Bless.. Jerry..

Pendant Photo Revisited

I decided I should photograph the pendant I made with a "better" background. If you look at the earlier presentation you will see I used a dark hue of green as the negative space. I think you will see how much better this photograph is with the light blue. The lighter value of blue provides much better contrast than the darker green.

Another upside to using the blue is that it complements the warm bronze color. I use the word "complement" from my artist's vocab, and in this presentation it means to "complete" the design in an effective way. Please drop down to the earlier pendant post and take a look at the same pendant on dark green and you will see how much better the light blue works. Let me know what you think please. God Bless.. Jerry..

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The MAC 07: How To Name A Restored Scope

Please forgive but I am posting one more short article about my restored microscope. After receiving my microscope I had everything in place with the exception of a name. No respectable restored scope should be without a name. I chose to name my scope the “MAC 07.” Ian’s last name is MacGregor and you see right away the origin of the name.

I will make an effort to explain from an artist’s perspective the selection of the colors, shape, etc for the logo. The placement of the logo was very simple. I chose the black because the knob is black and the black on the logo provided me with a pleasant repetition of value. The brass was pretty much standing alone and was isolated visually from the remainder of the unit I chose the gold because it is so close in texture, value and color to the brass. This helps to unify the stand-alone brass piece and ties it to the scope proper.

The scope is 40 years old so I did not want a highly contemporary font. I like the block font I chose for the “MAC” because of the “weight” and “strength” projected by the font. Next, I wanted a subtle transition to another font and chose the “circus” looking font for the “07” and immediately saw the two worked together beautifully.

The large area of black was a bit strong and I also needed just a bit of decorative quality. That is why and how I arrived at the black and gold configuration. A cursive would have been too much and I don’t think a serif would have worked. I will add here that this is not a long laborious task and that I pulled it off in a short period of time. I am attempting to illustrate that design decisions are not just arbitrary decisions. There a leap of the imagination involved whether it be a logo or a painting if it is an effective design.

I will show you a close up of the logo and I do hope this little peek into the mind of a designer means something. Please click on the URL and see a close up of the logo: Thank you and God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sometimes Things Just Don't Work

Sunday is Virginia’s and my 40th anniversary. V has a tremendous sense of history and loves older coins with dates. I selected a nice Spanish 1641 and created what I think is a nice pendant for her to wear. That is my gift to her. No rubies! I decided to share the coin with my readers so I thought I would photograph it a bit differently than I normally do. Please observe the photograph above right.

I chose a nice dark green background and was convinced the coin would photograph really well with the green as the negative space. As you can see from the photograph I was wrong. Wrong in the sense that the presentation could have been much better. The potential is there to photograph the pendant much better. There is a “best” way to photograph the pendant and I did not achieve the best.

The nice thing is that I recognize it is “bad” and I can create a different presentation if I like. However, I think there is a learning experience in this for all so I am leaving the photograph as is. What makes the photograph less than excellent? The primary design flaw is in the lack of contrasting values between the pendant and the negative space. Remember, the negative space is the space in and around the central object. An almost black-olive color would most likely work.

Theoretically, there are thousands of values and intensities of green, so I am not at a loss for a green. If I am bent on a green negative space, then I simply need to find the proper hue of green that would best accent the pendant. Visually, try to isolate the pendant and you will see a nice piece. I think we all agree on this. Now try to isolate the green, and I think we could and would agree we have a nice green. It is just that the two do not work together to the maximum. Therefore, it is incumbent on the creator, the designer, and/or the photographer to maximize the effort through selection.

Often we find that many individuals possess this ability intuitively. Many people must work diligently to develop the skill. I hope you understand what I am demonstrating, if not, I will be more than happy to answer questions. Thanks for reading and God Bless.. Jerry..

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Creation From A Mechanical Genius

In my last post I shared with you the microscope my new friend, Ian, restored for me. During a conversation I asked Ian if he knew of a device one could use for rotating coins for viewing-- somewhat like a small Lazy Susan. He told me he would get busy and create a device for viewing coins. I had no idea what to expect because I had already observed his creative mind at work.

Today, I received the unit and the “Orbital Viewer” as I have named the unit is the product of a mechanical genius! I am posting a photograph of the scope and the Viewer with the article. One need remember that Ian turned all the pieces on his lathe with the exception of a ping-pong ball that is an integral part of the device. He designed the unit so the coin can be held in place with just a tad of “sticky putty.” I am really surprised at how easily I can move the coin in any direction I want. Also, please observe the concentric rings in the OV ‘s surface which allows for easy centering of the coin.

I can lift the viewing plate from its position on the scope and replace it with the OV unit. It fits precisely in the opening where the viewing plate rested. The Orbital Viewer rotates 360 degrees in addition to orbiting from left to right in a convex manner. The coin can be tilted upwards towards the lens of the scope so that all areas of the coin can be rotated into position almost immediately. He placed a lateral slide within the unit so that the coin can be centered directly beneath the lens at anytime. The configuration of the unit’s rotation provides me with full viewing of the coin’s surface with the greatest of ease.

I deeply appreciate what Ian has done, and even more I have gained a great new friend with whom I can communicate. Ian, thanks for being such a great guy! I am posting another photograph that provides a close up of the OV. Please click on the following URL: Thanks you for viewing and I will appreciate any feedback. God Bless.. Jerry..

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Thanks For The Microscope Ian

I have been looking for a microscope for some time and in recent weeks met a gentleman with whom I rapidly made friends. I wanted a good scope to help me with my ancient coin cleaning. As it turns out my new friend, Ian has a profound interest in microscopes. Ian has several microscopes he was planning to rebuild, and he had one scope that was to be used for parts. The focusing mechanism was broken and of no use at all as it was.

Ian made the decision to rebuild the scope for me in spite of the condition. He knew the optics were in great shape so that was no problem. The problem was that the microscope was 45 years old and we could not purchase parts for it. I soon learned that Ian is one of those rare individuals who is multi-skilled and reminds me of a modern day renaissance man. Ian is a retired teacher who donates time to a marina in Canada, his home.

He made the decision to use his metal working tools that includes a metal turning lathe and milling machine. We both became excited about the project, and we corresponded constantly. I have dozens of photographs Ian furnished me as the scope progressed. Above, you see the scope before and after it is finished. Please note the beautifully turned brass from which the new focusing mechanism is fashioned. I saw a photo of the brass before it was turned and milled, and it was just a large chunk of darkened brass.

One can only appreciate the intricacies of the metal work by viewing the scope up close. There are many screws and set screws as well as the beautiful little handle sitting atop the focusing knob Ian made. The brass-focusing knob Ian made turns as smoothly as silk. The scope is a genuine work of art. Ian is one of those very, very special individuals. He refused payment and in addition he is sending me something he “invented” to be used to view my ancient coins. The devise is somewhat of a “tilt table.” It will rotate in any direction I need in order to view the coin. I will post a photo once I have it set up. It is still in the mail as of this date.

I would not have been able to afford a microscope of this quality. It is an AO and one of these older scopes in good condition can sell for close to 500 dollars on Ebay. It is a stereo microscope and has a variety of focusing lengths. I have met a true friend, and we think a great deal alike. Ian is very creative and possesses skills one cannot imagine.. Thanks my good friend Ian and God Bless.. Jerry..

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ancient Coin Purchasing: Math 101

I am sharing a few thoughts about purchasing ancient coins. I receive lots of inquiries about my coin purchases each time I post a nice ancient coin I have cleaned. I have access to the same vendors as my readers have. I have been buying quite a few coins for the past five years and have learned a thing or two that helps me.

The very first thing I do is read or ask about the vendors return policy. If I get a “poor” lot of coins I want to be able to return the coins to the vendor and still maintain a good relationship. To date I have never returned a batch of coins because of this understanding. I have had a couple vendors modify my lots because of very poor quality or because of a miscount. I find the vendors I deal with to be fine people who are simply trying to make a few bucks and in many situations enjoy the hobby too.

Now let’s get on with the ancient coin math. I think it took about a year for me to become wise to the following and I call it my “Ancient Coin Math 101.” Let’s assume we buy a lot of 30 coins at a buck each. Now remember I am dealing with my findings and all vendors and deals will vary. We are dealing with unknown quality. Currently I find I get about 20% attribution from a typical batch of dollar coins. Of course, the attribution rate of dollar coins was much higher five years ago but I am speaking of this year.

Now let’s assume that I buy a batch of “premium” coins from a vendor for $2.50 per coin. We just spent $75.00 dollars on the same quantity of coins we paid 30 dollars for on dollar coins. However, I expect an 80% attribution rate from the 2.50 coins as opposed to 20% from the dollar coins. One other thing, not only am I getting more in attribution quantity but I find the quality of the 2.50 coins is very much higher!

Consequently, I have six lower grade attribs in the 30 coin dollar batch and these six low quality coins have, in reality, cost me 6.00 dollars per coin! Let’s look again at the “premium” grade coins. Our coin purchasing knowledge indicates we should expect 80% attribs. Our 101 Ancient Coin Math tells us we should harvest 24 higher-grade coins and the cost per coin? $3.13 per coin. It is now almost 4 o’clock in the morning. I hope my math is correct. Oh well, you guys will let me know!

In reference to the information I have shared I add the following. Some dealers do not like the term “premium.” I use it often when asking dealers about their coins and I think they know what I am asking. Another thing. There is no way I or anyone else can guarantee you the ratio of good coins to bad coins I have spoken of. Please remember I am sharing my personal experiences with you as I have learned. I received one small batch of dollar coins without a single attrib. By the same token I think some of the finest coins I ever bought were dollar coins I bought a couple years ago for a buck! However, I think those days are long gone.

It is incumbent on you to determine the course you should take. I suggest you keep some kind of record of coins you purchase and from whom you purchased the coins. I keep notes either on my bags or in the coin bags. I have developed a “feel” for about how high the attribution is running. Currently, I have two or three dealers I rely on. These are dealers who post to us on a continuing basis. I hope this helps you to find some kind of economic equilibrium in your purchasing. Let me hear from you and let’s ask some questions. I would also love to see feedback from dealers. God Bless.. Jerry..

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ancient Coin Zappers: Don't Give Up

Today, I was cleaning a lot of thirteen rag-tag mixed coins I had bought over a year ago. One of the vendors had offered the coins at $1.75 as I recall. About 30 minutes into cleaning the heavily crusted coins I saw nothing that presented any real promise with the exception of three Seleucids I was focusing on.

There was one coin, very thick, that appeared to be nothing but “concrete” and no promise. I “bambooed” it a bit and was about to put it aside as a lost cause when I decided to stick it back in the soup. I continued to check the other coins with no particular interest in the coin I speak of. Eventually, I did go back to the coin and saw what I thought were definite heavy fissures with large lumps on top of the fissures.

I dug around with my bamboo skewer and all at once one of the lumps gave way and I saw bronze. I placed the coin back in the solution and continued to work on the other coins. After and hour or so, I pulled the coin again and the lumps began to break away as I continued to bamboo the coin. Then I saw what I thought was an eagle’s wing and suddenly my cleaning focus was on the eagle coin.

I continued to probe with my bamboo skewer as I zapped at max power. Very slowly with much power and probing, I was able to excavate a coin I almost tossed aside! I am posting the coin above so you can see the dividends yielded by my perseverance. I think there is a lesson here for us all. Be sure and zap everything you receive in a lot! One simply never knows what lies beneath a heavily encrusted coin. That is one reason I enjoy crusties so much. I have not attributed the coin yet, but I am looking forward to seeing what kind of Greek coin I have excavated! You will observe the patina is quite bright, but that is the result and nature of working with such a heavily encrusted coin. God Bless.. Jerry..

Monday, March 12, 2007

Should I Patinate This Ancient Coin

I was about to patinate the Constantius II you see pictured above when I was struck by the beautiful color and luster of the patina. I asked myself the question, “why patinate?” Why should I darken an already beautiful coin? I think the coin is remarkably beautiful in form, color and sculptural quality as is. Why should I darken an already beautiful patina?

Allow me to digress a bit. I salvaged the coin from a deeply encrusted lump of “concrete” and I had to zap the coin much longer and with more power than I normally use in zapping. Consequently the coin is much brighter than coins I usually get from a zapping session.

Was I simply trying to satisfy some preconceived notion we have about how a coin should look? I think so. I was influenced by what I had “learned” from others. I was not satisfying MY aesthetics! As an artist I already knew the coin was incredibly beautiful! In fact, I was trying to satisfy some anticipated notion of what others would think if I did not darken the surface of the coin. I was dealing with issues I had long ago dealt with in my painting and printmaking. I had learned to be free as an artist and I had learned that I could not be concerned with what others thought and have the joy I should experience as a creator. It took me years to free myself from the bondage of caring what others thought about my art. That was the point at which I really began to enjoy my art more than I ever had

What great freedom I experienced when I finally reached that plateau! The plateau I experienced as a free artist. The same principles apply to my coins. I cannot allow others to dictate to me what is good and what is bad. That is my decision based on my personal aesthetics. I now feel free from all this tom-foolery about the Holy Patina! I do know what I like. That is the truth. Please respond with your opinions. I only hope you can experience the joy I now feel!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Ancient Coins For Education Noble Plea

Dear readers, I support the fine work ACE does in providing leadership in ancient coin education for schools. I am publishing a post from Kevin Ingleston and my wish is that we all join in and support the fine work they do. Kevin does a fine job of explaining things. Jerry

Hello!As some of you know, I am the webmaster for Ancient Coins for Education. I am also the newest member of the board of directors. Before joining ACE, I was aware that they provided ancient coins to kids in the classroom. After joining them I found out that ACE does much more than that! * ACE has distributed well over 50,000 coins to nearly 35,000 students in the 6 years since its inception. * ACE provides lesson and study plans, and a lot of historical background to make full use of those coins. New ideas are always being developed * ACE maintains a rather nicely done website (if I do say so myself!) providing additional ideas for teachers and comprehensive attribution help for students and anybody else that visits it. * ACE assists schools that wish to build their own Ancient Coin Museum. This project is really cool! ACE helps as schools set up their own museums of coins and artifacts Once a school sets up a museum it is theirs to keep. They add to these museums every year, expanding the students' knowledge of the classical world and the coins that circulated in it. To see more, go to * ACE makes efficient use of donated materials. As coins accumulated that were not suitable for the core classroom project, ACE developed the Archaeological Simulation project to make sure all donated coins could be utilized. The Arch Sim allows students to participate in a simulated "dig". They set up grids, carefully excavate a variety of objects, document, conserve and catalog them in a manner similar to the way an actual dig would be conducted. There are even students designated as 'site guards" to protect the 'dig". Kids love this project! To see more go here: * ACE runs several essay contests every year and awards prizes for excellence in several age groups * ACE also runs "Image Contests". Students and teachers visit the ACE website to view images and answer the questions associated with the image. Prizes are awarded to winning students from each school that participates. In fact we have one running right now. Have a look and see how you do! * ACE has several new programs currently being developed. One I can share with you is the ACE Traveling Museum (ATM). The ATM is a collection of coins of several ancient cultures that will be loaned to interested schools. This will give the kids a chance to see and feel ancient coins they might never get a chance to see otherwise. The ATM will be shipped with lesson plans and activities to help the kids and teachers make the most of the experience. * ACE is a responsible member of the coin collecting community. We are a proud member of the ACCG. Twice we have gone to Washington in the defense of the coin collecting community. Most recently we were at the CPAC hearing, arguing against the import restrictions of coins from Cyprus. You can see the presentation we gave to the State Dept here Here is the kicker, ACE (a non-profit organization) does all of this with the volunteered time of 7 people, and on a budget that is 100% donated. We enjoy what we do at ACE tremendously, but we can't do it without help. We cannot survive without the financial contribution of generous donors who can see the benefit that ACE not only brings to students, but to the hobby in general. We expose students to the hobby of ancient coin collecting raising their awareness of it and even creating new collectors amongst teachers, students and their families, who will (and several already have!) become new coin customers. We have done and will continue to do our part, defending the hobby whenever and wherever we can,.What better place to start than in the classroom? Well, you have been waiting for it and here it comes! Please donate to ACE!!. We are in constant need of funding, coins and other materials. If you enjoy this hobby and want to share it, help it grow, and create a better understanding of it, please donate. If you appreciate the efforts we have made to defend the hobby, please donate. If you think Ancient History and the Classics have a place in today's classroom, please donate. I'm the guy that writes the receipts for donations; so if you want to make me work, please donate! Don't worry about the amount we are grateful for what ever you can contribute. $10 or a few attributable Roman or Greek coins would be greatly appreciated. If you can help, please go to and press the PAYPAL button. Or, you can contact us at to arrange a donation of identifiable coins for our various programs and prizes; or to send a check. In return you will receive a warm feeling and a tax-deductible receipt with yours truly's John Hancock on it!:D If you have any questions, please contact me or contact ACE at Thanks! Kevin