Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ancient Roman Coins: Great Christmas Gifts

Ancient Roman coins make great Christmas gifts and are readily available from many online sources. The coins can be very inexpensive and one can buy a 1700-year-old Roman coin for $25 or less. I have seen the price of common Roman coins increase by 400% and more during the past three years or so. Consequently, the coins make great gifts for youngsters.

Roman coins make great gifts for young and old alike. Be sure and consider an ancient coin for the historian in the family. I have recently bid on and won a near mint Severus Alexander denarius for less than $15. I did my homework and won the coin on eBay.

One other great thing about Roman coins is that the coins have such a multiplicity of reverses. I think one could find a great reverse for almost any occupation. Of course a bit of research and imagination would be required. I hope my suggestion helps and don’t forget to consider the ancient Roman coins for other gift occasions.

I think the coins would make great and inexpensive gifts for weddings, birthdays and almost any other occasion. Thank you for reading and I always enjoy feedback. Please bookmark my site and please drop by on occasion to see I have posted.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Monday, December 7, 2009

Photographing Ancient Greek And Roman Coins

I am continuing to work with my coin lighting and I am also working with what I think looks best in terms of presentation. I think we all will agree the potential buyer of one of our coins would prefer to see photographs that best represent the coin we have in hand.

The dolphin coin you see above was purchased just as you see it and I made the decision to leave the coin intact. A bit of dirt and all. I like what I see including the small flaws and the dirt. There is something esthetically nice about leaving the coin’s character intact. I am asking for feedback. I think this is a good topic for discussion.

If you have an opinion about the photograph or about the topic, please share. Thank you for looking and I must admit I feel I am making progress with my coin photography. Thanks for reading and if my blog is of any interest please bookmark and look in from time to time.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ancient Coins: Photographing The "Ugly"

Ugly is actually a very poor word choice. Character is a more applicable word but ugly garners more attention. Those of you who follow my photography and coin cleaning articles know that I do search out what I consider to be beautiful. However, I think there is much to learn when photographing coins with character. Please take a look at the coins above and see if there is anything to be learned.

I chose one highly reflective coin, which is always a problem for the naive or new coin photographer. The other coins were chosen arbitrarily from one of my boxes of less than excellent coins. I did look for imperfections, a variety of textures and color anomalies. Each element possesses a potential learning experience for the coin photographer. Collectively there are many things to be learned from such an exercise.

When I was still in my college classroom it was not unusual for me to assign students the task of developing fifty drawings or a dozen designs of particular subject matter over a weekend.
I have been photographing coins most of the day and I suspect I have shot and looked at 40-50 coins by now. I may continue to explore this exercise for days and ultimately shoot and look at a couple hundred coin shots. I have done 200 drawings during many drawing sessions. Of course I would have to qualify what I was doing and I will not bore you with the details.

I highly recommend you jump aboard and perform such a photography exercise. Be sure to look for lighting adjustments and color balance as you work. You will encounter many elements and principles with which to deal and after shooting and studying one coin you will be a better coin photographer. After you do the same with 200 coins you will begin to master your craft.. thank you and God Bless.. Jerry.. PS: Feedback is nice..

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How To Buy Ancient Coins On eBay

Many members write me about buying coins on eBay and I have what I think is a good method for eBay buying. Is is not rocket science but I know my approach to buying does work. I have bought successfully on eBay and I continue to bid on eBay coins. First of all I take a look at the vendors return policy and if he/she does not have a policy stated I then write and ask his/her return policy. I ask if satisfaction is guaranteed and I ask if the vendor will accept returns.

If the vendor's return policy is viable I then bid. I think it is very important to take a look at the dealer's rating. I think anything below 98% should be a red flag.
I hope this helps those who are reluctant to bid. I would also like to see this post stimulate conversation and I would like to see other's opinions. Thank you for reading and God Bless.. Jerry..

Friday, October 9, 2009

Great Hobby: Collecting Ancient Coins

Ancient coin collecting has the potential to be a profoundly fascinating hobby for those who are interested in coins or interested in history. The hobby can be about as expensive and one chooses. The first ancient coin purchase I made cost me $2.50 cents for a Constantius back in the seventies. I have paid as little as $1.00 each for uncleaned ancient coins. I have borrowed a part of the following article from the US Mint. There was no author’s name so I will give credit to the US taxpayers.

“There are many excellent reasons why you might want to collect coins. For starters, they tell unique stories. A coin's design, mintmark, condition and composition can offer a glimpse into history and a better understanding of the past.
Some people collect coins in the hope that they will appreciate in value. Some coins have intrinsic
bullion value (such as silver, gold and platinum coins). Others become valuable because they are rare.
Coin collecting, one of the oldest hobbies, was once practiced only by kings and the wealthy. That's why coin collecting often is called the "king of hobbies" and the "hobby of kings."
Coin collecting became increasingly popular in America during the 1930s when United States
commemorative coins became widely available. Today, there are millions of coin collectors in the United States alone. The thriving coin-collecting community, which includes clubs throughout the United States, provides numerous opportunities for collectors to meet and trade.
A Brief History of Coins
From ancient Egyptian coins to today's circulating cents, coins have a rich and fascinating history. The first coins date back to 650 B.C. - more than 2,600 years ago - in Lydia, an area that today is part of Turkey.”

Enough from the US Mint. With great bias, I will share the very best source for learning about ancient coins. I have an Ancient Coin Yahoo group, Ancient Peddler, where we have some of the finest ancient coin scholars on the web. I encourage you and your friends to join our group and I encourage you to ask all the questions you care to ask about ancient coins. I will also state that we have been know to drift off topic from time to time since we are a very friendly and caring group. Our Ancient Peddler URL is as follows:
We have other ancient coins groups but I will share that information at some future time. Thank you for reading and I hope your interest in ancient coin collecting had been stimulated to some degree.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Getting To Know Our Ancient Coin Metals

One of our Ancient Peddler members asked a question about bronze and after doing a bit of research I realized how little many of us know about coin metals. I will share some things I discovered about bronze. If you can add to my list, please do and please let us know what you have learned.

Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin.

Bronze was developed as an alloy thousands of years ago.

Obviously, the Bronze Age was called that because of development of bronze.

Historians believe bronze was “created” as early as 3000 BC.

Bronze is tougher that its parent metal copper.

Bronze is very resistant to corrosion.

Bronze has a relatively low melting point.

Bronze used to manufacture bells is called “Bell Metal” and is created by adding tin.

Statuary bronze will have as little as 10% tin.

Zinc is added to bronze alloy to add strength for the manufacture of bearings and weapons.

Phosphor is often added to bronze to add more strength.

Manganese is often added to bronze to increase strength and machinability.

I hope you find these facts about bronze interesting and I am wondering if the ancients knew some of these things such as adding zinc. I have always been interested in metals and wood and I hope I have not bored you with my personal interest in bronze.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Extra Zapping Reveals This Beauty

The coin you see to the right was very resistant to cleaning so I placed her in my Super Zapper and gave her an extra kick and the crust eventually fell away. It is difficult to find coins of this quality unless one finds the coin under crust. I still have a bit of touching up to do and will most likely use my graphite pencil scrub to eliminate the darkness around the legend.

After I finish cleaning the coin I plan to allow the coin to patinate naturally with just a little help. I find great joy in extricating these coins from the encrustation. I am the first to see this coin in this condition in about 1700 years. I am sure if it was not for Zapping, I would have little interest in ancient coins. As a retired teacher I would be unable to afford the coins I like. Many of the members of CoinZappers feel the same as I do about Zapping. I must warn you, it is addictive! Thank you for looking and God bless.. Jerry..

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lighting: This Is What I Have Been Looking For

I have been working with my coin photo lighting for months and I am finally satisfied with recent results. Please take a look at the Antonius Pius attached left and see if you agree. If you like what you see, then go back through my blog posts and see if there is a light tent you like.
I have reported more than once that I believe good coin photography is about 98% lighting and the remaining 2% accounts for other factors. I really hope that something I have shared will help you move ahead more rapidly that I have. I built another light tent a few days ago that I like a lot. Perhaps I will share the unit soon.

Let me know what you think of the photo. Perhaps I am being too subjective and perhaps you can share something that will make me a better coin photographer. Thank you for reading and God Bless.. Jerry..

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What Is The Oldest Metal Coin

I must give credit for the following article to “Cais Archaeological & Cultural News”.. In the process of reading about ancient metal money I encountered the following article and I believe it is of interest to many of our members. The article did not provide an author’s name so I am presenting the article as I found it.

It is widely believed that Lydians were the first nation to ever mint a coin for financial transactions; however, an Iranian scholar has just refuted the theory.

According to existent documents, it is impossible to confirm if Lydians minted coins for the very first time, and we just can say first coins were produced in a land stretched from ancient Persia to Greece, contended Dr. Naser Chegini, head of the history department at the archaeological research center of Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO).

He believes human beings initially used leaves, stone insignias and shells to conduct their transactions. “But they were not viable and soon people decided to make coins. I reckon it happened during the 6th and 7th centuries BC, but there is no verifiable proof that Lydians invented coins.”

‘The Lydians,’ says Herodotus (i. 94), ‘were the first people we know of to strike coins of gold and of silver’, and Xenophanes of Colophon bears witness to the same tradition. Passing from these statements of ancient writers to an examination of the earliest Asiatic essays in the craft of coining, we are led to ascribe to the seventh century B.C., and probably to the reign of Gyges (B.C. 687- 652), the founder of the dynasty of the Mermnadae and of the new Lydian empire, as distinguished from the Lydia of more remote antiquity, the first issues of the Lydian mint.

These are bean-shaped ingots of the metal called by the Greeks ‘electrum’ or ‘white gold’, a natural compound of gold and silver, collected at Sardes from the washings of the little mountain torrent Pactolus, and perhaps from diggings on the slopes of Tmolus and Sipylus. Ingots and rings, &c., of the precious metals adjusted to fixed weights had been used for purposes of exchange for ages before the Lydians first invented the convenient process of stamping them with marks as guarantees of value. Ingots thus stamped henceforth passed freely as current coin, and, so long as they were correct in weight, the exact amount of pure gold in each lump of metal does not appear to have been taken into consideration.

The generally accepted rate of exchange between pure gold and silver stood in these times as 13.3 to 1, and the mixed metal, ‘electrum,’ of very variable quality, was roughly estimated at the rate of about 10 to 1, a convenient proportion which enabled bankers and money-changers to make use of a single set of weights for electrum and silver, and which accounts for the fact that the weights of the electrum staters correspond with those of the later silver staters, and depend upon the standard which happened to be in use for weighing silver in bullion and afterwards in coin in various districts. These standards were, in Lydia, the so-called Babylonic (stater 168 grs.) and the so-called Phoenician (stater 220 grs.).

One of the most fascinating coins of all time, a coin that has more reason than any other to be called the first true coin, is the Lydian third stater, or trite, pictured above. This coin was minted around 600 B.C. in Lydia, Asia Minor (current-day Turkey), a country in close proximity to both the Greek colonies in Asia Minor, through which ideas about coinage and much else spread, and the civilizations of Mesopotamia, from which ideas about money and much else originated.

Thank you for reading and I would love to have you share your opinions about the article.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Monday, May 18, 2009

Using TinyURL Effectively: Tutorial

Many times we encounter URL’s that are so long they are hard to copy and paste without “breaking” the string. Consequently the URL ‘s are ineffective as we attempt to share with others. There is a wonderful solution and the solution is what is known as a TinyURL.

I continue to discover there are many members who do not know how to use the Tiny or either they are unaware of the program. I hope to resolve this issue in my article. First of all go to and take a look at what we have. I will attempt to walk you through the process of creating a TinyURL. Now choose a site and copy the URL and change to a Tiny using the following instructions.

Use your regular browser to locate the desired site.
Look at the top of the displayed site and you will see the URL in the address window.
Highlight the URL by left clicking on the string with your mouse. Make sure the entire string is highlighted.
Next, using your mouse, right click on the URL and click on the “Copy” option.
You will now need to go to I keep the Tiny saved to “Favorites” so I can simply drop down and it is instantly ready to use.
In the center of the TinyURL page you will see a box that states ”Enter a long URL to make tiny” Place your mouse cursor in the box, right click and click the “Paste” option. Your long URL will be pasted in the box.
Next, click the button to the right that states “Make a TinyURL”
Instantly you will see a much-shortened version of the once long URL. What was once a URL of 40 characters has been reduced to 10 or so characters.
You will now need to copy and paste the TinyURL anywhere you would normally have copied and pasted the long and cumbersome URL. Please practice until you have learned the program and practice copying and pasting until you feel comfortable with TinyURL.

I hope I have explained the Tiny well enough to enable you to use the program effectively. I will be happy to answer any questions. I love this little program and I hope you get as much use from it as I do.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Friday, April 24, 2009

When Is A Coin No Longer A Coin?

Is the coin I have attached to this article still a coin in spite of its deterioration? If so, at what point in the process of deterioration does the object cease to be a coin? If the coin remains for years in the same place until we have only a small pile of sediment, would we say we still have a coin or at this point would we say we have the remains of a coin?

Allow me this premise. What if I am left with a pile of sediment but knew the coin in its better days, visually.. Would the coin be real? Would it not be real in my memory? If you sell your car is the car still real? Yes. It simply is no longer in your visual realm. Or is it? As you image the car in your mind is that not your reality of the car?

Let’s try this. What if I select a perfectly good bronze Roman coin and melt it with a torch.. Is the coin still a coin as we observe the molten lump of bronze? We have changed the entire appearance of the coin but is the image within our mind our reality? What if I shift my presentation and tell you I found the attached image amongst a group of rusted nuts, bolts and washers? I think your opinion will suddenly change.

So is it true that perception is reality or is it true that your perception is your reality? Thank you for reading and feedback is invited. Please bookmark.. God bless.. Jerry..

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PhotoPlus Free Editor Has PS Like Features?

I fully acknowledge that the following PhotoPlus 6 Free article was developed by the staff. I take no credit for writing the article. The program is free and I think all our coin photography members should take a good look at the program before purchasing a photo editor. To download, perform a "Free PhotoPlus 6" search and locate a good download site.

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.

Creative Tools. Paintbrush, airbrush, clone, smudge and erase tools with adjustable brush settings including size, shape, softness and fade are all at your fingertips.
Digital Darkroom. Enhance, 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 Effects. Add 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 Tool. This “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.

I have tried PP6 in the past and just as with any new program there is a slight learning curve. I highly recommend.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Penny Coin Photo Contest

This is a close to last minute notice to join out “Penny Coin Photo Contest” at our group, CoinPhotography. We are a Yahoo group and it appears we are growing rapidly. We invite all to join our CoinPhotograpy group and join the in the contest fun.
You will need to join our group at the following URL in order to participate:

We are primarily focused on coin collectors but the doors are open to all. If you join as April 17 you will have more than a week to prepare coin photos. Out focus is on a US penny and on a US State quarter. Once you join our steering directors, Carlos and Ron, will point you in the right direction.

I can assure you we are a great and friendly group and we will be happy to share the photography information we have. Conversely, we would like for you to share with us.. Don’t hesitate, join and help us enlarge our Photography Family.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No! Not Another Copy Stand In Progress

Yep! I am building a heavy duty copy stand using cold rolled steel and I thought some readers might like to see the work in progress. I am using a piece of 1" cold rolled steel for the vertical and the other parts are also being machined from cold rolled steel. Please click on the following link to see the parts: As I indicated the vertical rod is a 1" piece of shafting material I picked up at the local foundry. It is very heavy and very sturdy.

You will also see the bottom flange that has been machined. It will be bolted to the copy stand surface. I have two set screws in this piece to make it even more sturdy. In another photograph you will see the sliding sleeve that will be used to raise and lower the camera. I can feel no "play" in the sleeve at all. It is machined to 0003. tolerance. I think that is the way I am supposed to write 3/thousandths.

I will have a vertical arm attached to this piece and it will be used to hold the camera. I will be replacing the hex-head bolt with the thumb bolt. I am considering a few different ways to attach the camera but I think I have pretty much settled on one device. I will share photos of the finished product. Thank you for viewing and if you have questions, I will be happy to answer.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Monday, March 9, 2009

I Finished My Latest Copy Stand

Well I have finished my latest copy stand with the exception of painting the head. I plan to spray the head with flat black paint. I am sharing the unit with my readers with the intent of turning someone else on to building a copy stand. I used a simple point and shoot camera so my photos could have been better but I think you will get the idea. I used an old Beseler enlarger and stripped away the head and other non-essential parts.

I constructed the new head using wood and aluminum. I am pleased at how strong the unit is. I was also able to fabricate the head in such a way as to keep it parallel to the copy stand base and of course this is very important. Please take a look at my photos and I think you will get a good idea as to how I constructed the unit: I will be happy to answer any and all questions about the copy stand. Thank you for looking and God Bless.. Jerry..

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Photos Created Using The Sterilite Light Tent

I am sharing a couple of photos made using my Sterilite light tent. The more I use the unit the happier I am. The light distribution is wonderful and I am using two 60 watt GE incandescent bulbs. I will add that these are the first photos made using my new photo copy stand I made from and old Beseler enlarger.

The copy stand is working really well and I feel really good about it. Back to the coin photo. The Sterilite plastic light tent I wrote about in an earlier article is even better than I thought. I have run the gamut of coin photos and the light distribution really makes for good photos. I will remind you that I bought my container from a Dollar Store for either $2 or $2.50.

I saw the same container at WalMart for $2.17. If interested in creating the unit please refer back to my earlier article where I provide a step by step process for creating the tent. See the photos on the left and let me know what you think. We have a Coin Photography group and I know some of the members are beginning to use the unit. If you need more information about the unit you can write me and I will be happy to respond.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Retain Coin Character Without Over Working

I am using a Leton Widow's Mite to illustrate how the character of a coin can be maintained without over working in post processing. I could have removed most of the bright spots on the coin and I could have "processed" the coin until I had created the image of a pristine coin. However, I chose to allow the visual integrity of the coin to remain manifest.

After all we are dealing with a coin that is over 2000 years old. I really enjoy the lights and darks and I also like the less than perfect "age spots".. I see the character of a coin that "speaks" to me from 2000 years ago as opposed to a highly post-processed coin edited in PhotoShop.

I know this is a highly subjective issue and you may of may not agree with me. I have discovered that the coin most often dictates to me the degree of editing that should be done just as the degree of encrustation "tells" me how much I should clean the coin. As an artist I have always attempted to teach others that esthetics is a purely personal thing and that we should never let another would be "scholar" try to determine our tastes.

I hope you have enjoyed and I hope to hear from you. I love to listen to other's opinions.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Creating Copy Stand From Old Enlarger

Well, I am at it again. I recalled I had an old enlarger in the attic of my art studio and my nephew crawled into the attic and recovered it for me. It is a pretty day so I have been working on my rear deck. You can see my art studio in the background. I have the world's most cluttered studio I think! The enlarger should make a great copy stand so I am sharing with you.

The unit is an old Beseler 67CP I have had for eons. As you can see from the photo above I have stripped away the head and other non-essential items such as the lens, bellows and other metal devices. You can see the items on the table top. I encountered more small screws and bolts than I would have thought. As I disassembled the unit, I was constantly aware of how much better things were made back then than now. I am about 12 bolts and screws short of having enough to open a small hardware store.

I will most likely wait until Monday to proceed. I need to drill and tap two holes in the front of where you can imagine the camera will be mounted. I plan to fabricate a device that will mount on the front and hold the camera. The unit is very sturdy and I think it will make a fine copy stand. I have no idea where one would find and old copy stand such as this one but I think it would be worth keeping one's eyes open for one.

I plan to test drive the copy stand sometime next week so I will let you know how it works out. One quick note. I just happened to have the Beseler and if it had been any other make I would have attempted to do the same. In other words if you are interested don't think the Beseler is the only enlarger that will make a good copy stand.. Please ask all the questions you like and please post.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Photos Using $2 Sterilite Light Tent

I have been shooting more photos using my $2 Sterilite orange juice container. I am sharing a couple of photos and I hope the photos will prod members to give my technique a try. Please allow me to encourage you to play with your white balance settings. Also feel free to write me and ask questions.

I am pretty sure this tent will become my standard. I have not found anything that enables me to come close to the results I am getting. I have tried a "pro" model and dozens of other models of my creation and nothing comes close to measuring up to the $2 tent. However, it is my nature to continually seek new and better systems and there may be something new on the horizon. Who knows.

As you find sources for the Sterilite container please share with all our Brothers and Sisters. Please bookmark my blog and please visit periodically to see what is new.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Best $2 Light Tent Yet

Well, now let’s take a look at the long awaited Cadillac of light tents. As you look at my cluttered photo above I am afraid you may already be disappointed but before you jump ship please hear me out. I will repeat that the upside down pitcher you see above is the best light tent I have created and I have dozens of efforts under my belt.

I am going to spell everything out as well as I can and I will provide you with names and sources. I am really sold on this puppy and I hope to see tremendous strides made by our ancient coin photographers. Our focus will be on what I will call the orange juice container you see directly under my camera. My camera is a Canon XTI and is mounted on a copy stand I designed.

I shoot all my coin pics using a Sigma 105mm Macro lens. I think a custom white balance is great but I don’t think this exercise will leave anyone out regardless of camera. Back to the orange juice container. I bought my container from one of the Dollar Stores for either $2 dollars or $2.50. I cannot stress how important this particular container is. I have used all kinds of frosted plastic and none measures up to the frosted plastic used to construct this container.

I am about to provide you will a URL and a picture of the "right" container and I will provide you with the item number. The unit comes from Sterilite and here is the URL to their home page: Please look at item number 0482. This is the container I want you to purchase. I have used many other containers and they are unlike this element of perfection! This is a 2 quarts or 2 liter unit.

Please take a careful look at the plastic pitcher. Unfortunately I could not find anything other than the name "Sterilite" on the pitcher. I assume that all will be able to locate the pitcher. Call the company if you have to and ask for the nearest distributor. Once you have the pitcher in hand, you will be ready to proceed.

Remove the blue and gold top. The top of the pitcher will become the bottom. You will now need to cut the bottom out of the pitcher. I say this with a great deal of trepidation because I am terrified someone will end up with a nasty cut. If you are not skilled at working with your hands, please recruit a friend or neighbor to help you cut the bottom from the pitcher.

Once you have achieved this then you are ready to move on to lighting. The Canon has a very good custom white balance setting and I don’t have any idea what your camera is capable of doing with white balance. I have a Fuji that does not have the custom white balance but it does have an array of settings. If you don’t know about white balance then read your camera’s manual carefully relative to white balance.

The lights you see in the photo positioned on each side of the orange juice container are flex-arm lights and I have using common 60 watt incandescent light bulbs in each. I need to sum up by stating that I think shop lights will work well. You will need to practice with the angle of the lighting and you will need to practice with light proximity.

A note here. When setting your white balance, be sure and move the camera's lens as close as possible to the top opening. Be sure your lights are on and set the light your camera is 'reading" from inside the container. I am sure I have left out a couple of obvious things. Please feel free to write me and ask all the questions you like. We have quite a few members on our sites who are members of our Yahoo CoinPhotography group. I hope they will jump right in and start publishing their coin photography results. Thank you for reading and please bookmark my blog. God Bless.. Jerry..

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Most Recent $2 Light Tent

Greetings readers. I have been experimenting with my photography and lighting and the coin photo you see above is a result of my latest creative efforts. The “light tent” cost me $2 and was intended for use other than photography. I am very excited about my discovery and I am prepared to share if you would like for me to. The new tent provides me with wonderful illumination using two 60 watts incandescent light bulbs.

I don’t recall if I shared the coin or not. It is the product of one of my Zapping sessions and I have it attributed as a Commerative Augustus struck under the rule of Tiberius. Back to the photography. I have shared quite a bit about my lighting and my lighting tents and I don’t know if you are prepared for another! However, each tent has brought me closer to what I have now developed and I consider this tent to be my consummate effort.. Thanks for reading and let me know.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ancient Coins: A Budget Hobby

A bit of dialogue on one of my sites prompted me to write this article. I know there are many ancient coins that can cost one a small fortune and I know some of the coins are extremely scarce. However, I am amazed that I can sit here in my home in South Central Mississippi with what amounts to hundreds of museum pieces.

Of course I am speaking of my ancient coins. Most of my coins are the result of Zapping coins I have bought for a buck or so. On occasion I will spend as much as 3 bucks each for a group of crusty coins. I still think ancient coin collecting is one of the best kept secrets around. Unlike many of my coin friends I have invested very little in coin books. I depend on the wonderful coin sites to help provide me with attribution material.

Today, I bought an AR 6th century coin with beautiful imagery for $35 dollars. I consider the purchase to be an amazing bargain. The coin really belongs in a museum for others to enjoy as I do. I can think of no hobby that brings me as much joy as ancient coin collecting does and especially when one considers the expense of other hobbies. Dollar for dollar I think we coin enthusiasts get the most bang for the buck.

I will not attempt to match hobby cost against hobby cost but I think we are very fortunate to enjoy our interest for so little money. I realize there are those who spend thousands on ancient coins but the great thing is I can enjoy my $35 coin just as much as he/she enjoys his/her golden ancient. Thank you all for being my friends and thank you all for being tolerant of this old man.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Safe Way To Store Your Coins

As your ancient coin collection grows, I am sure your thoughts will or have turned to safe methods of storing your coins. There are several ways of safely storing your coins but I will address only one of these methods. I think plastic “flips” are a great way to store your coins.

There are flips that are unsafe and there are flips considered archivally safe. Never use flips that contain PVC. PVC is harmful to the coins and I don’t think anyone will question the veracity of this statement. Ask your vendor for archival safe flips and I think you will also find the price of the archival flips is very reasonable in contrast to the unsafe.

A nice feature about flips is that the flips can be bought in sheets and placed in a three ring binder. This makes for convenient and nice presentations of your coins. This method will also allow you to show your coins without the viewer coming in contact with your coins.

The binders can easily be labeled and shelved in a convenient place. These binders can be purchased at Wal-Mart or at an office supply store. The binders also make for easy transportation from to coin shows, etc. In terms of preservation, I think this is one of the most efficient, safe and economical investments the collector can make.

If you would like to share your preservation methods, please do. I am always looking for a better ways to do things. I hope you have enjoyed this article and while reading please go through the remainder of my blog. Please bookmark and visit on occasion.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New Milk Carton Photo Light Tent

Please take a look at the photo above and see what you think. I used a 1-quart milk carton for a “light tent.” I trimmed the top of the carton away and I cut an opening in the bottom to allow the milk carton to slip over the coin. I used two Soft Light GE off the shelf “normal” light bulbs for my light sources. I placed one light on each side.

I used something different but one can use the aluminum shop lights from Wal-Mart to hold and reflect the light. I think the lights are $6.95 each. I like the shop lights with clamps and that enables me to place the light wherever I like. I placed the lights within a foot of the milk carton. One can move the light around and play with the direction of the light.

I plan to spend more time now learning the proper way to light the coin. I have a custom white balance on my camera and that enables me to adjust my camera to the light I am using. If you are using a point and shoot camera you should find that you have several options for setting your white balance. If you do not have a custom white balance setting then try the incandescent setting you will find on your point and shoot.

If the incandescent bulbs do not work for you then switch to 25-watt fluorescents. You should have one white balance setting on your camera that will meet your needs. If you go through my blog you will find many coin photo efforts. I am continuing to work with my setup and I have plans to try axial lighting as an option. In fact, I was working with axial lighting just yesterday.

About the coin. I have many “pretty” coins but I selected a coin with lots of character. I think these coins are more fun to shoot. You may of may not agree. I shot this photo with a Canon XTI and I used a Sigma 105mm Macro lens. I shot in aperture priority and I used the copy stand friends of mine and I made. I used Irfanview to stitch the photo together. I shot the coin on a gray background and I did a post-processing black fill using PhotoShop.

I am open to good constructive criticism and I should mention that my good friends at CoinPhotography are helping me to understand much I did not know. Thank you for reading and I hope this causes you to get the camera out and start snapping your coins. . God Bless.. Jerry..

Monday, January 19, 2009

Coin Stilts And Coin Photography

I have made several stilts for my coin photography and I am sharing the details with all my Coin Photography friends. First of all, please allow me to explain why I use the stilts. The stilt (dowel) elevates the coin and causes the negative space (background) to fall out of focus. The stilt also helps to cast any shadows well to the side of the photograph and out of the coin’s picture plane.

As you observe the photo above you will see four of the stilts I have made from scraps of wood. I almost always have scraps of wood handy and never throw any cutoffs away. Please note the dowels are of various heights and diameters. The smallest diameter dowel I have used is 3/16”. The largest is 3/8”. I find the 3/8” dowel meets my needs about 99% of the time.

The 3/16” is for the extremely small diameter coins. You will also notice that I have varying heights of stilts. I use different heights to meet special lighting needs. My lighting setup dicates the postioning of the coin and the height stilt Iuse. I also have a tendency to go into overkill when creating items. I could get by easily with two stilts.

My favorite stilt is 3/8” diameter and 3” in height. The base measures ¾” in thickness.
I have spray painted the stilts a flat primer gray. I think gray is the ideal color for the negative area for those who will be filling the background with another color. I am a sucker for seeing how inexpensively I can build anything. I used Wal-Mart brand .99-cent spray paint and I think the paint is really great to be so cheap.

Some of our Coin Photography members like to tilt their coins to get a good cast shadow. That means cutting the dowel on a slight diagonal on the top to accomplish this. Doug Smith and I have discussed this to some degree and I am going to let Doug and my readers in on my secret.
I use “Elmer’s Tack” which is removable adhesive putty. My wife keeps the tack around to help hold pictures in place. Just a small amount will aid in keeping pictures from shifting on the wall. It is just tacky enough to hold poster board, calendars, and messages in place. In fact, one could place a 1/8” thick layer on top of the dowel and simply shift the coin as needed.

I place a small amount on top of my dowel when I need to elevate the coin to one side or the other. I use about a 1/16” small “ball” of the substance on top of the dowel and that way I can tilt the coin to the position I want. I can’t conceive of anything working better. I used to keep varying thicknesses of wood handy but the “Tack” is so easily pushed to the right position. The tack can also be used repeatedly and I guess it can be used for years, as it does not dry out. Thank you for reading and please share any photo tips with me and our readers.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Photos Of Coins I Have Zapped

I am sharing photographs of coins I have zapped in the past. I have worked at perfecting my Zapping for the past several years and I am providing photos in order to demonstrate the level of skill I have achieved. All the coins you see attched to this article were Zapped by me at one time or another. I hope you enjoy the photos and we would be very happy to have you join our group. The URL is as follows: We have several other groups that may interest you. If you are working at perfecting your coin photography, I encourage you to join us at the CoinPhotography. The URL is as follows: Thank you for viewing and I look forward to meeting you. When joining just say that Jerry invited you.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Free Shekel? Not Quite

A member of Ancient Peddler and a dear friend e-mailed me about a ½ Shekel of Tyre he had located on my behalf. My friend provided me with a phone number and the gentleman’s name who owned the coin. I called and entered into a conversation with “Mac” and I felt as if I had known the gentleman for 20 years.

On the basis of our conversation and the price, I was considering buying the coin sight unseen. However, at a particular point, Mac asked if he could send me the coin to look at and make a decision. I was truly taken aback. I thought those days were gone! I should add that Mac did not appear to need my business either. He was busy with coins and calls during our conversation.Mac told me the coin would most likely be in the mail tomorrow.

I should state that I have many dealer friends on Ancient Peddler who will do the same but we have known one another for years. This is a refreshingly nice thing to happen and causes me to realize what a wonderful Coin Family we do have. I thank my dear AP Brother for locating the coin but I thank him even more for introducing me to Mac. God Bless.. Jerry..