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The age of enlightenment

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As a collector who has been collecting coins for over thirty years I wanted to share with you some home truths.


Let me start by saying that since 2000 I have been able to use the Internet to source at least two thirds of my large specialist collection – which includes old books, coins, maps, documents, famous signatures and artifacts. In just a year I have bought over 400 SA silver crowns as an investment through online auction houses like BoB. And as years go by so the size of my main collection accelerates, thanks to the ongoing evolution of the Internet.


My collection, South Africa specific, contains several thousand items – many of them unique or extremely rare. My coins are now just a small part of the overall collection because of my interest in the history of my coins.


Collectors today are in a unique situation where they can practically source any item they want by simply using the Internet. Just ten years ago the main auction houses like Spink and Heritage would send out hard copy books to a select few collectors – missing the smaller collectors and collectors who had not bought from them before.


Y2K is an important date because I have been an active collector (not investor) for carefully sourced items that fit my criteria for over thirty years. Before the Internet really came into its own in 2000 it was almost impossible to find those rare and elusive items because so many large, let alone small regionalized, auctions had no idea of your interest in what they had to sell as very few of them resorted to the Internet. Now the world has become such a small place thanks to the Internet and, in the last few years, I can track them down and zoom in like a guided missile even through small auctions!


For example it took me over twenty years to get just one copy of Dower’s original “Early Annals of Kokstad” with the original Griqua Een Pond note in the binding. Between 2000 and 2003 I was able to buy two more copies of this 1902 book through the Internet – one at less than US$100! I have never seen a copy of the first edition for sale since then despite constant looking. In fact the only copy sold since then was by me on eBay in 2006 (it attracted over US$2,000).


I have several web sites that I scour each week on the Internet and today these are my intellectual property – not the items I source from them because they open up the doors and allow me to fill those hard to fill gaps. BoB is so valuable when it comes to South African coins and tokens because it is the undisputed market leader in this niche market – go to the global eBay site and see for yourself!


The Internet has made the world such a small place - we share interests, knowledge and parodies with like-minded "cyber acquaintances" from all over the world. Just like we do on this forum. Ten years ago you could not do that.


For the new collector discovering the online auction houses and outlets which best fit your personal area of interest is more important than acquiring that latest coin book. I live forever in regret that I missed, by just one day, the sale of a slabbed UNC Veld Pond on a New Zealand auction site just a few years ago. The coin sold for just US$13,000!!


For me personally, as a long-in-the-tooth numismatist, seeking out the history behind the coins that interest me most has taken me to a new level in our hobby. My book collection, largely sourced through the Internet, provides me with hours of interest as I study specific issues and history.


This is the richness from the hobby that I believe most numismatists wish to attain..


And now you have it within your grasp!


While the original Dower books are almost impossible to come by their reprints can be found cheaply on the web. Even though these reprints only carry facsimile images and Griqua Een Pond notes the written content is as valuable as the first edition. The same applies to most old books written by the explorers in the 1800s with inexpensive reprints now available.


Building a library of books around your specific interest adds so much to your collection – and I am not just talking coin books.


In this age of enlightenment through the Internet every one of you has the chance to study and explore a small aspect of our rich numismatic history and to add so much to the debate and knowledge that are the core ingredients of our interest.


Embrace them…


Kind regards


Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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Well written and a very good read, and so true - thank you Scott...



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