Archive | January, 2015

Knowledge is Power: Online Numismatic Archive Resources

27 Jan

the-vaultIt’s an old adage that seems somewhat quaint, but the notion of equating power with knowledge is an enduring theme and a lesson that many people fail to learn. In the Internet age, there’s no reason for people not to have power through knowledge and thus make sound business decisions. This holds true for building your hobby as well. Why collect something you don’t know much about? When you learn more about it, your future purchases will be smarter. If you can’t get answers from the person from whom you’re thinking of buying something, where can you turn to increase your knowledge? As it turns out, lots of places!

Search engines for all types of coins are freely available on the Internet. One of my favorites is Coin Archives although we use the “pro” version in our office, and it’s not free. Still, the free version is quite powerful. This site tracks coins sold at many auction houses, including ours. As you enter the site, you can choose between looking up ancients or world coins. From there, you can type in some basic information, cob royal for example, or click on “see search tips” to help you narrow your search better. You can also click on “list of auctions available” and “contributing firms” so you know what the parameters of your results will be. Coin Archives will give you a list of 100 results (from most recent backward), but you can expand this number if you find a coin similar to one you’re interested in buying by clicking on “show lots similar to this one.”

The information you’ll glean can be invaluable. You’ll see a description of the coin, the auction date and estimate, the price realized, and a description of the coin including its pedigree and scholarly references if known (this is especially helpful with ancients). So, if you are interested in buying a coin similar to the one you’ve found here, you’ll now be able to make a more informed decision.

Another powerful search engine is acsearch. Many of the same auction houses that post their sales on Coin Archives also post them here and it’s completely free. There is a short, helpful tutorial on the front page which will guide you through the process of searching for coins, but it’s basically very similar to Coin Archives. Your search will be divided between ancient and modern coins. While you will need to create an account in order to see estimates and prices realized, it’s worth doing. You may find some information here that you don’t find elsewhere.

If you are interested in ancient coins, you need to check out Wildwinds which is a free reference website for ancient Greek and Roman coins as well as other ancient types. Once on the homepage, there is a drop-down menu allowing you to search via Sear numbers (a iconic reference for ancients) or by other means such as by city or ruler. When your search has returned results, be sure to click on the “browse with thumbnail images” before moving on. The amount of information here is staggering and the website creators should be lauded for their efforts. If you like ancient coins, you’ll love this website!
bookofcobsThe bastion of knowledge, your local library, can provide you with many of the expensive reference works that a dealer has spent a lifetime accumulating. First, go to WorldCat, a world card catalog of library books, and type in the name of the reference book you’d like to borrow. When I typed in “Practical Book of Cobs,” I was pleased to see that all the library systems within 100 miles of us have our book on their shelves. This is the first step of the process. From here, you will need to visit the reference librarian at your local library and fill out a form to have the book sent to your library, after which, you’ll have one to two weeks to pick up the book, take it home and use it, and then return it to your library. This process may seem a little cumbersome; however, it’s free and more important, for some reference books (particularly references for ancients), it may be the only place you’ll be able to find the book.

Don’t forget the Sedwick auction archive as a resource as well! Here you can browse through all of our catalogs and view prices realized for coins and artifacts. If you receive our catalogs, you know what a great resource they are. And speaking of catalogs, they are a good way to help you start your reference library. Even though you can research coins online all day long, you will still want a library which will contain books you can’t find online or in your library.

One caveat about auctions: you don’t always know why a coin sold for the price it did, especially if it’s so far out of line with an auction estimate. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of two people needing (or wanting) the same coin for their collection.

You can’t have power without some luck too, so that’s why we always have our lucky bamboo plant in the office!Lucky Bamboo

Assayer P Coins minted under Charles and Joanna from the Mexico City Mint

21 Jan

Did you know that the Banco de Mexico has photos of almost all of their Charles and Joanna coin holdings online? A friend pointed me to the site last year, and I have been slowly incorporating these coins into my census database of both early and late series Charles and Joanna coins of all denominations. I’ll share more surprises from the Banco de Mexico’s large and beautiful trove of coins in later blogs, but for now I want to tell you something about Assayer P coins.

It finally dawned on me that there is a distinction between earlier and later coins minted under Assayer P, and you can tell this in several ways, but the most distinguishing characteristic can be found in the pillars-side legend. If you have any of these coins, take a look. Does the legend begin with HISPANIE or HISPANIARVM? If it’s HISPANIE, then you have a coin of the earlier variety.

To confuse matters more, there are a couple of varieties of HISPANIE.

Lot 251, Sedwick Treasure Auction #15, May 2014

Lot 251, Sedwick Treasure Auction #15, May 2014

I’m not sure which coins were made before the others, but one variety (pictured above) is KIS : PANIE (note the K instead of H) and the other is simply HISPANIE. You can even see that the KIS : PANIE variety is followed by INDIAR : AM instead of INDIARVM! Below is an example of HISPANIE with no funny letters.

Lot 252, Sedwick Treasure Auction #15, May 2014

Lot 252, Sedwick Treasure Auction #15, May 2014

The later varieties (see below) all use HISPANIARVM ET INDIARVM. It doesn’t matter which way the rhomboid panel points–left or right–or what sort of ornaments were used as stops between words.

Lot 253, Sedwick Treasure Auction #15, May 2014

Lot 253, Sedwick Treasure Auction #15, May 2014

Why were coins with HISPANIE minted before coins with HISPANIARVM? You have to go back to Assayer R, the predecessor to Assayer P and look at his coins. He used HISPANIE (with often a retrograde N), and it stands to reason that when Assayer P took over at the mint, he started with HISPANIE before settling on the more common HISPANIARVM.

You can also see the HISPANIE vs. HISPANIARVM varieties on 1 and 2 reales denominations.

First coin shows of 2015: FUN and NYINC

20 Jan

Cori Downing SedwickHello!  My name is Cori Sedwick Downing, and I’ve started this blog because I enjoy writing about Spanish colonial coins and shipwreck coins and artifacts. My specialty is researching so-called Charles and Joanna coins from the first mint in the New World at Mexico City from roughly 1536 to 1572, but my interests are wide ranging so I’ll cover much more than those coins. I have been working for my brother, Dan, at Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC for about six years.  Before that, I have had as many lives as a cat (of which, by the way, I do have one).  I’ve been a high school teacher, a real estate agent, a photographer, and a travel agent. In my spare time I am obsessed with genealogy, DNA research and playing sports, mainly running and cycling. Now that I’m closer to 60 than 50, most people don’t know that I used to be a pretty good runner in my 20s. I took up cycling in my 40s due to an injury that sidelined me from running and once set the state time trial record in my age group at the Florida State Games (50-54 age group). I also won the duathlon national championship in my age group one year.

Enough about me! I’d love to hear from YOU. Is there anything you’d like me to cover or do you have anything to contribute? Please feel free to subscribe.


As for the first coin shows of 2015, if overflowing parking lots and garages at the Orange County (Florida) Convention Center for the FUN (Florida United Numismatists) show in January 8-11, 2015 are any indication of a healthy economy, we’re in for a banner year.  Although the concurrent Surf Expo was the source of much of the parking snafu, there was still a steady stream of visitors to our table by old friends and new acquaintances who bought, sold or consigned coins and artifacts. As a result we already have some interesting auction items lined up and I’ll tell you about some of them in future posts.

Augi Garcia Barneche helping a customer at FUN 2015

Augi Garcia-Barneche at FUN 2015

The FUN show is one of the largest coin shows in the US for good reason: there’s something for everyone. Your children can pan for gold in a working sluice box, the treasurer of the United States is on hand to sign bills purchased from the BEP (Bureau of Engraving and Printing) booth, and this year the State of Florida presented an interesting display of coins and artifacts from their holdings specifically related to the 1715 Fleet discoveries off the coast of Florida. Don’t forget that this year is the 300th anniversary of that Fleet and we will feature coins and artifacts from the wreck in our Treasure Auction #17 in April 2015. There’s even a 1715 Fleet Society to help raise awareness of and promote ongoing research about the Fleet.

The NYINC (New York International Numismatic Convention) is the largest US coin show featuring ancient and world coins exclusively, and we always have a table there. Unfortunately it is also concurrent with the FUN show. While it is a much more subdued atmosphere, it’s a good place for our northern clientele to visit us. The temperature differential this year between NY and FL was about 80 degrees.

Stardust Room at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC

Stardust Room at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC

The show is always held in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, a grand old lady who makes you want to stand up a little straighter and put on your best manners when you walk in the door. Where else can you spend a night in the Marilyn Monroe suite? While we’re crammed in like sardines in a tin, we love the atmosphere and excitement of New York!

Back in Florida now, we’re looking forward to a few more shows before January ends. You can find us at the Vero Beach, Florida Treasure Coast Coin and Currency Show on January 24-25 and at the Long Beach (California) Expo on January 29-31. We hope to see you at one of these shows!

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