Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bootleg Bulletin on Counterfeits

I received the bootleg Bulletin on Counterfeits yesterday.

Although ‘Microbe’ promised a pressed CD all I received was an unlabelled CD-R.

The CD-R contains the 1976-1999 run, as JPEG files, two pages per file. The pages were scanned at 150dpi. The pages are quite readable, although on some years there is bleed-through from the other side of the page. (Recommendation: put black construction paper between pages while scanning to counteract this scanning flaw.)

The disc also contains a 21 page MS-Word format index. The index is broken down by category (Greek Silver through Modern). The contents of each category are sorted alphabetically by city or country. It's useful, but an improvement would be an HTML document that hyperlinks to the individual page files.

I don't know if the bootlegger wrote the index or if he merely acquired it elsewhere. This index is different from the partial index at the Lakdiva site. I hope the author puts it online.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

German translation

A lot of numismatic books are written only in German. I don't read German, but I need to read German coin descriptions. Here's what I do.

The first step is to type in the German text. It's important to get accents right. Use Windows Character Map (Linux has something similar) or the 'Insert Symbol' feature in Microsoft Word. Then I feed the text to Google Language Tools for a very rough translation.

Google is lacking a lot of words. There are four dictionaries I use. For coins, Münzen Lexikon is useful. There are also two big general German-to-English dictionaries online, LEO and The New English-German Dictionary.

There is also a Wiki translating dictionary, Wiktionary. If none of the above dictionaries have the word I can go there and enter requests for English definitions of German words by volunteer translators.

The text that comes out of Google is often poor, especially because without a numismatic dictionary Google doesn't even know the parts of speech. However, I can hand-edit the text into something readable, especially if I have a picture of the coin being described to refer to.

Other multilingual numismatic glossaries are Wörterbuch der gebräuchlichsten Fachausdrücke für Münzsammler and Moruzzi Numismatica glossary, but I rarely have luck there.

For abbreviations, like "pkr" (= perlkreis) I have to ask for the full word on an ancient coin website.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

LHS and Tkalec catelogs online

The LHS auction 100 and Tkalec 2007 auction catalogs are online. The LHS auction is April 23/24th and the Tkalec is April 22nd.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Information wants to be $35

On Friday a Yahoo account named 'Mike Robe' (=microbe) offered CD-ROMs containing the entire run of “Bulletin on Counterfeits” and an index, for $35. The offer sounded bogus, but initial reports said it was legit.

The web site hosting the offer is now gone, and the seller claims his run of 25 copies sold out.

Reid Goldsborough reports that the IAPN is now considering selling a legitimate CD-ROM. No word on availability or price.

Reid concludes his message with a screed against freeloaders, saying “If I and others aren't paid for some of our work, if everything is free for the taking, guess what's going to happen to the quality of information available.”

I wish it was that simple.

I'm told that most books on ancient coins do not recoup their printing costs. Authors who have the support of a press willing to take a loss can get paid. Everyone else has to self-publish. Under these conditions it makes sense to write for free. Why would anyone want to earn NEGATIVE $7000 publishing a book? Better to put it online and only lose $10/month.

There isn't much money in numismatic writing. I've heard that RPC volumes 8 and 9 are done but there is no money to pay for publishing. The publishers of Agoranomia tell me they don't like putting 'coins' or 'coinage' in titles because it discourages libraries from buying! We are in a period in history when there is very little interest in old coins. I don't think the lack of interest is because of file-sharing. No one has offered me digital copies of RPC!

Publishers are free to charge whatever they want. A pirate who named himself after H5N1 Avian Flu sold 25 copies of BoC and made about $30x25=$750 profit last week. The IAPN made a business decision to price BoC at over $500 and probably made $0 last week. I'd rather the IAPN get the money, but that's now how economics works.

The musician Frank Zappa was very clever. Pirates released albums of his concerts. Frank took their packaging and sold it himself. The IAPN could turn around tomorrow and sell microbe's package.

I bought the IAPN's book on The Caprara Forgeries and was paying $60/year for “Counterfeit Coin Bulletin”. I thought Caprara was worth the money.

The recent incarnation of the Bulletin was not worth $60/year to a collector. It was mostly pictures of US fakes with arrows pointing to die flaws. No interesting text. To a dealer, $60 may be a bargain. Collectors don't see it that way. One suggestion is to charge a lot of money for current issues, and make additional money selling last year's issues to collectors at a lower price.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

New software for 'scanning' with digital camera

Teleread's Branko Collin briefly discusses Snapter, new software to improve digital photographs of books making pages look scanned.

A free trial of Snapter is available from the Atiz website.

New book on forgeries

SP-P has announced a new book by I. Prokopov, Coin Forgeries and Replicas 2006. I haven't seen this book yet. The earlier books in the series are good.

The book publishes 201 fakes, including a 20 page catalog of fake Histiaea tetrobols.

Monday, March 12, 2007

New discounts from David Brown Book Company

The David Brown Book Company is discounting these titles:

Caesarea Maritima: The Coins and the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Economy of Palestine by Jane DeRose Evans
$68.00 (list $84.95)

Agoranomia: Studies in Money and Exchange Presented to John H. Kroll edited by Peter G. van Alfen
$100.00 (list $125.00)

Roman Provincial Coinage VII: Gordian I to Gordian III (238-244). Première partie. Province d'Asie by Marguerite Spoerri Butcher
$192.00 (list $240.00)

Roman Provincial Coinage, Volume I by Andrew Burnett, Michael Amandry and Pere Pau Ripollès
$260.00 (list $325.00)

Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum Deutschland 14: Attika - Megaris - Aegina
$76.00 (list $96.00)

Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum Deutschland: Syrien: Nicht-koenigliche Praegungen
$132.00 (list $165.00)

Islamic History Through Coins: An Analysis and Catalogue of Tenth-Century Ikhshidid Coinage by Jere L Bacharach
$22.00 (list $24.50)

Money of the Caribbean edited by Richard G Doty and John M Kleeberg
$52.00 (list $65.00)

Coins of the Holy Land: The Abraham D. Sofaer Collection at The American Numismatic Society by Ya'akov Meshorer et al.
$120 (list $150)

Sylloge of Coins in the British Isles 55: Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg Part IV. English, Irish and Scottish Coins, 1066-1485 by Marina Mucha
29.98 (list $85.00)

Ancient Greek Coins: Catalogue of the Classical Collection, Museum of Art (RI) by Ross Holloway
14.98 (list $50.00)

Ancient Jewish Coinage: Vol. 1. by Ya'Akov Meshorer
9.98 (list $45.00)

Catalogue of the Aksumite Coins in the British Museum by Stuart Munro-Hay
49.98 (list $117.00)

Coin Hoards IX. Greek Hoards Meadows, Andrew
79.98 (list $130.00)

Zecca: Mint of Venice in Middle Ages by Alan M. Stahl
19.98 (list $79.00)

Coinage and Identity in the Roman Provinces edited by Christopher Howgego, Volker Heuchert and Andrew Burnett
59.98 (list $150.00)

The Coinage of the Atrebates and Regni by Simon Bean
19.98 (list $50.00)

Coins (Interpreting the Past) Burnett, Andrew M.
4.98 (list $12.95)

Humphrey Cole: Mint, Measurement and Maps edited by Silke Ackermann
9.98 (list $27.00)

Metal Analyses of Roman Coins Minted under the Roman Empire by L H Cope, C. E. King, J. P. Northover and T. Clay
9.98 (list $22.50)

Studies in Greek Numismatics in Memory of Martin Jessop Price edited by R Ashton and S Hurter
39.98 (list $150.00)

Sylloge: (SNG ANS 6) Palestine-South Arabia Meshorer, Ya'Akov
14.98 (list $125.00)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Should fake antique dealers be punished?

Writing for China Daily, Li Qian asks Should fake antique dealers be punished?

“A fake ancient coin dealer was sentenced to three years in jail and fined at a Nanjing court days earlier, causing an uproar in the collections [sic] society...”

“Experts estimate as many as half of antiques dealers would face jail terms in China if the country punishes them using current laws for common businesses...”

“Fake antique articles have left many collectors suffering from hefty losses, as the technological trend of counterfeiting becomes a headache for even the most experienced experts ... Some [forgers] raise bugs and mice to bite on scrolls to make them appear ancient.”

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Elsen auction 91 online

Jean Elsen's auction 91 catalog is online, with 474 ancient coins. There are also many 'siege coins'.