Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Please Join Our Coin Photography Discussion Group

We have a great little group going at CoinPhotography and we have attracted several knowledgeable coin photographers. Currently we have a great discussion going about using polarizing filters to aid us in photographing "slabs." I know there are sites where coin photography is taught but we are the only Yahoo CoinPhotography discussion group I know of.

Several of our coin members have shown us great photos they have made using their point and shoot cameras. We cover the entire spectrum of talent. Please consider joining us and please consider sharing with us. I need all the help I can get with my Coin Photography. Come on and break down and get on board. We really need your expertise and there are many of us who need to enhance our coin photo skills. I bet you will enjoy yourselves and I bet you will learn a lot!

We are open forum and all are invited to join. Please consider joining us and reading the posts. We have at least three members who use the DSLR's but I know many are the same and I am! On a budget! I have seen the results of some wonderful coin photos made with sub $200 cameras. The URL is as follows: Thank you and I look forward to seeing you on CP! God Bless.. Jerry..

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Two Artists, Past And Present, Meet

I finished cleaning several coins last night and I was struck by the beauty of the stag on one particular coin. The coin was in very bad condition and I decided to work on the stag and add an element of my own. I used and older version of PS to help provide definition to the animal. I added an eye and "erased" some of the pitted areas on the legs and body. I gave greater definition to the head and removed all reference to what was a coin form and partial legend.

I wanted an element that was uniquely mine so I added a small pile of rocks and a bush. I enjoyed the exercise very much and hope you appreciate.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Monday, February 25, 2008

Princeton Ancient Coins: Fascinating Article

I stumbled across the following article about Princeton's ancient coin collection and found it to be fascinating. I give full credit for the article to the Associated Press and to the writer, Chris Newmarker. I hope you enjoy as much I did.

Princeton coins are gateway to history
Associated Press
PRINCETON, N.J. - Alan Stahl has a lot of change on his hands - and not the kind you can cash in at any bank. The curator of Princeton University's numismatic collection is in charge of protecting and displaying tens of thousands of coins, tokens, medals, and pieces of paper money.
"The funny thing is, I've never owned a personal coin collection," said Stahl, 60.
The 150-year-old collection started as an assemblage of plaster casts of ancient Greek and Roman coins. Stahl estimates it now contains about 80,000 items.
New acquisitions in the past year have made the collection even more diverse: a donation of 2,000 ancient Chinese coins, and the purchase of more than 800 medieval Greek coins, bought for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
About a dozen university students each spend a few hours a week cataloging the coins. So far, the collection's online system has more than 3,000 coins listed, about 1,000 coins entered in each year.
"At this rate, we'll be done in 50 years," Stahl said.
For the students, cataloging the coins is an education in itself. As a junior majoring in classics, 21-year-old Joe Codega has read a great deal about the ancient Romans.
But he felt a greater connection with the subject he loves last week as he held a brass coin with the image of the big-chinned Roman Emperor Nero on the front. The back showed Rome's temple of Janus with its doors closed - a symbol that the empire was at peace.
"It's neat to be able to hold something that an ancient person held," Codega said.
Some of the collection's coins are on display at Princeton's Firestone Library, where the collection is housed.
Any member of the public can also ask to see a tray with some coins, though Stahl will keep close watch to make sure coins don't go missing. Stahl still cringes when he recalls a theft at the American Numismatic Society when he was there in the late 1980s.
"I'm pleased to say I wasn't the person handing him the trays," Stahl said.
Half of the collection, about 30,000 coins, comes from Princeton University archaeological work in Antioch, in what is now Turkey, during the late 1930s.
The dig turned up a trove of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic coins. Stahl still handles envelopes with the handwriting of the lead archeologist's wife, who catalogued the money.
"Sometimes I can see where she scraped just a little to bring up a mark for identification. We wouldn't do that today, but I can see her rationale. I do feel a certain kinship to her," Stahl said.
The collection includes Byzantine coins that are bent, almost in cup shapes. Some of the ancient Chinese coins are shaped like knives and keys.
But for the most part, the coins are round and flat - a feature Stahl guesses might be due to functionality.
"The knife coins would sure punch a hole in your pocket or purse. I guess a square coin would be bad," Stahl said.
Stahl first became interested in coins in the early 1970s while studying for his doctoral degree in medieval history at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kingdoms and empires, Stahl said, usually have rulers on the front of their coins, though the Byzantine Empire also used Jesus. Republics in history have avoided living people, and instead concentrated on symbols of what is valued by the state.
Particularly in the past, most average people didn't see their country's capital and its public buildings, or the nation's important documents. But they did see coins.
"Virtually every person is exposed to the coinage of that country," Stahl said.

Again, I hope you enjoyed the article. Thank you for reading and God Bless.. Jerry..

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Broken Licenius: Found Art

How little we see! The old adage, “Many people look but few people see is so appropriate with this old and broken Licinius. The coin had lain around my coin cleaning area for months until I noticed the coin for the first time today. I should rephrase and state that I really “saw” the coin for the first time today.

I was struck by the gentle and very feminine contraposto of the figure on the reverse. What a wonderful work of art. What a lovely piece of sculpture, rendered by an unknown artist hundreds of years ago. How easily we relate to the female figure and we immediately feel a kindred spirit with that ancient artist.

Intuitively he/she knew the drapery on her arm was repeated in the curvilinear position of her body. That was not taught then and it is not taught now. One either feels the presence of the repetition of figurative line or one does not. Art is not taught art is our Spirit and transcends the ego. We can only experience.

Many years ago nature intervened and we can only guess at why the coin is broken. It really doesn’t matter. The same curvilinear quality we see in the figure has been repeated in the broken edges of the coin and nature adds a new dimension to the rhythm of the line! All the visual the elements come together and we have a wonderful piece of sculpture and art.

In stark contrast, the obverse provides us with the rectilinear head of Licinius. Bold and not so gentle. We are aware of a strong and dominant personality. We see the countenance of a warrior. His portrait is counter to the poise of the youthful, beautiful and gentle female we see on the reverse.

I am very pleased I wiped this coin clean and I am very happy to have it in my possession. I can enjoy the aesthetic moment until I tire of the coin and then I will pass it on to someone else but only if they enjoy the “Found Quality”.. Thank you and God Bless.. Jerry..

Black And Decker Rotary Versus The Dremel

Many members in my groups have asked me about a rotary tool. I am sharing the following with the expectation readers will save money and get more for their money. As an ancient coin enthusiast, artist and a sometime handyman, I have concluded the Black and Decker RTX-B I purchased several months ago is heads and tails above the Dremel units in terms of price, performance and power.

The B&D RTX is a 120 volt 2 amp unit with three speeds. The speeds are: 12,000/24,000 and 30,000 RPM. The unit uses all the tool accessories made for Dremel and has a flip lock system for securing the collet while changing accessories. I love this little feature. The B&D unit fits the hand really well and is very comfortable to work with. I can easily hold the unit as I would a pencil, a pocket knife or if I need real leverage I can hold it like a baseball bat.

I own four rotary units and the other three are Dremels. The oldest Dremel is about 35 years old and I can't complain about it. It is powerful and has never given me one moments trouble. I have all the power I need with the older Dremel as with the new B&D unit. I have had the Black and Decker for close to a year and I really like the power it gives me for the money.

I paid under 30 dollars for the unit at WalMart and would buy another.

Then RTX-B comes with a drum sander only. However, there are kits that cost much more and with many more accessories. I think I will rank this one as I would a coin and give it a VF+. Please do yourself a favor and buy the unit I have described. You will thank me. I would love to get feedback from you if you do purchase the B&D. Thank you and God Bless.. Jerry..

Friday, February 15, 2008

New Coin Photography Group Created

I recently created a new Yahoo group called "CoinPhotography". I have been developing my coin photography skills for at least a couple of years now and still have some distance to go. I think digital coin photography is still in its infancy and I know I need lots of work in this area.

We now have 40 members with 19 members joining during the past week. I welcome each of you to join us. I think this is going to be a great group and I feel really good about things. I know the need is there. Just go through the ancient coins on EBay and take a look at the photos. Most are very weak, indeed, with some exceptions. I am no Ansel Adams but I do know design.

If you are weak as I am please come and learn and if you have good photo skills please join and share with us. One thing for sure, you will be welcomed regardless to skill level. Thank you for reading and I look forward to seeing yo at CP. The URL is as follows: God Bless.. Jerry..

Monday, February 11, 2008

Reverses: I Find Them Very Interesting

I was zapping coins this evening and encountered three reverses in pristine condition. I find coin reverses to be vastly more interesting than obverses. The Obverses on the three coins are equal in clarity. The coin in the center is of particular interest to me visually. There is an "emblem" in the exergue I am not familiar with and I hope someone will share with me what the image is.

Please look to the right of the "DSIS" and you will see what looks like a childlike drawing of a sunrise. Someone will probably tell me this is a very common item on Roman reverses. I am intrigued though. I am a coin cleaner and not an attribitor as most of you know. However, I feel I am getting better. At age 68 I am getting a late start but I am excited about learning.

Look at the Victory left (middle coin) and you will see remarkable detail. In hand I can see muscalature on the neck as well as curls in the hair. I can see each feather, clearly, in the wings. The line beneath the bust is very clear along with the wrinkles in the neckline of what I will call the dress.

Let's toss in a bit of trivia. Who can tell me what is on the obverse? I need for you to tell me what the person is wearing. It should be very easy to describe. A very cheap way to have my coin attributed! Thanks for looking and God Bless.. Jerry..

Electrolysis: The Kindest Method For Cleaning Crusties?

Please take a look at the accompanying photograph of the Antigonus Gonatus (277-239 BC) and let me know what you think. I saw the crusty coin for sale and thought it had promise. The results speak for themselves. Personally, I think "zapping" is by far the kindest way to clean any encrusted coin. The top left and right photographs depict the coin before zapping and the bottom two obviously depict the zapped coin.

If you would like to learn to "zap" coins please join us at CoinZappers. I would never ask you to quit this wonderful membership to join CZ but I ask that you add us to your repertoire of learning experiences. Each ancient coin group has special qualities and one learns from each group. I love to teach and we will be more than willing to walk you through the zapping process.

You have my personal invitation to join. Simply state that "Jerry asked you to join".. The URL is as follows:

The invitation remains open and you will meet some of the kindest members on the web. I look forward to seeing you at CZ! Let me know what you think of the process. Thank you for reading and God Bless.. Jerry..

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Natural Patination: A Value Scale

Dear reader I am sharing a photo of three coins I have patinated using my "Natural Patination" process. First I will explain what value is to the artist. Value is the lightness and darkness of an object. Many times value is confused with intensity. Intensity is the brilliance or chromatic strength of an object. We can have a bright red and the brilliance would address the chromatic strength of the object.

Conversely we can have a dark red and we are addressing the lightness and darkness of the object. In this situation we are concerned with the value of the object. Please observe the three coins I have attached to this article. The coin on the left is lighter in value than the middle coin and the coin to the absolute right is darker that the other two coins. I have created a very short value scale moving from light to dark. There are many potential values to the right and left of the scale of the coins.

First of all I was able to add value to the coins by using my Natural Patination process. One can find the article elsewhere in my blog. Next, I am able to halt the patination or toning of the coin by placing the coin in white vinegar at the point I want the coin to remain in terms of value. Obviously, a natural toning will continue to take place as any coin ages. However, we can "lock" a desired value in by applying wax or an acrylic spray to the coin. As long as the coin is not in contact with the natural elements the coin will cease to tone.

If you are interested in the Natural Patination process I developed, please scan my blog and read the article. I will add that patina and patina value is a matter of personal taste. As an artist I deal with values and value choices constantly. As you continue to learn more about the zapping process you will also learn that you have the opportunity to make the same aesthetic choices. I hope this article is beneficial and I hope it helps you as you develop your zapping skills. I always enjoy receiving feedback about my articles.. God Bless.. Jerry..