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Steve Roach

The Art of Collecting

Steve Roach

Steve Roach, Coin World’s editor-at-large, has been deeply involved with numismatics for more than 20 years, starting as a young coin collector in Michigan. Two years spent as a coin grader, nearly three years at a major coin wholesaler and a stint as a paintings specialist at an international auction house have given Steve a rich understanding of the hobby, its market and the unique personalities and exceptional objects that make collecting meaningful. He joined Coin World in 2006 as a columnist, and has served as associate editor and editor-in-chief. He received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan, a juris doctorate from the Ohio State University and is a Certified Member of the International Society of Appraisers.

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Archive for 'February 2015'

    Unhappy with the ANA? Change it from within through leadership

    February 23, 2015 3:46 PM by

    The American Numismatic Association’s settlement of its legal issues with former executive director Larry Shepherd hopefully closes what has been an unusually litigious period in the ANA’s history.

    The settlement — the terms of which remain confidential — will hopefully move the organization forward by directing resources to further the ANA’s mission: numismatic education and the growth of the hobby.

    To ANA members who are particularly pleased with the direction of the ANA, why not take on an elected position within the organization to continue the trajectory?

    Or, to those who are displeased with the ANA and think that it’s headed in the wrong direction, why not change it from the inside by running for a seat on the ANA Board?

    The ANA is led by a volunteer board elected every two years for two-year terms. A president, vice president and seven governors are elected.

    ANA election nominations must be received prior to March 1, and candidates have until March 31 to accept or decline their nomination.

     As of Feb. 19, Jeff Garrett has accepted a nomination for president, Gary Adkins for vice president and Col. Steve Ellsworth and Richard Jozefiak have accepted nominations for governor positions.

    Election ballots will be sent by an independent auditing firm on or before June 1 to all ANA members entitled to vote. Learn more about the election process, keep track of who is running, and sign up for electronic voting at www.money.org/elections.

    Publications like Coin World can ask questions of the ANA, but it’s up to the board to set direction for the ANA staff to follow. A good, service-minded board that looks critically and intelligently at the challenges facing the ANA and our hobby can propel our hobby forward, just as a bad board can set it back years.

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    Changing times need dynamic strategies

    February 17, 2015 3:40 PM by

    Reinvent or die.

    At least that’s how the Old Master painting market is approaching its business, in light of demand that is shifting toward the Modern and Contemporary category and a supply of top Old Master works that is rapidly declining.

    Old Master dealers and coin dealers alike are addressing shifts in the market by modernizing, embracing new technology and experimenting with different ways to make these sometimes dusty objects with often heavy, serious subjects relevant to a new generation of buyers. 

    Famed Old Master dealer Johnny Van Haeften reflected the thoughts of many coin dealers. Commenting on how he’s changed his business to reflect changing times he said, “I probably resisted change to start with, but it’s so important to keep up with the times,” before adding, “Now, I feel very relaxed about it, and very confident about the future.”

    Across nearly all collectibles categories — including coins — more rare objects are being sold at auction. According to Artnet, the value of fine art sold at auction has more than quadrupled in a decade, jumping from $3.9 billion in 2004 to more than $16 billion in 2014. Coin auctions have also exploded during this time period, with more big auctions filling the calendar with increasingly thick catalogs.

    Art, along with rare coins, remains attractive as a safe haven for wealth. 

    But unlike the U.S. coin market, which is fairly diversified with a broad middle-market, the painting market is becoming increasingly focused on a few paintings by a few artists. This means that dealers have two choices: either specialize closely or diversify widely. 

    Oddly, while the coin market has experienced a diversification and expansion that’s redefined what a $1 million coin can be, the top of the market has remained relatively stable for the past few years (at least as evidenced by auction results for name brand rarities like 1804 Draped Bust dollars and 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent pieces). 

    As the Old Master category expands, so must our hobby to remain relevant. Dealers and collectors alike need to remain flexible to adapt to changes in the marketplace.

    Do sexy depictions of Liberty make her any more relevant?

    February 6, 2015 1:08 PM by
    The varied depictions of Liberty in proposed designs for the 2015 High Relief $75 gold coin are nontraditional, at least by U.S. coin standards, in that some depict Liberty embodied as an African-American woman.

    Many of our readers have applauded these designs, while others have provided harsh criticisms.

    My take is that it’s about time that Liberty on our coins goes beyond generalized representations of Liberty in the Greek and Roman classical forms.

    But the designs were unusual in another sense (although one deeply rooted in history) in that many of the Liberties were overtly sexy. 

    Now, U.S. coins have been sexy in the past. Think of Liberty’s décolletage on Robert Scot’s Draped Bust design used on silver coins from 1795 to 1804. There was the scandalous exposed breast on the Standing Liberty quarter dollar design used in 1916 and 1917. 

    Liberty’s body is clearly revealed through clinging drapery on Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ gold double eagle of 1907 to 1933. She was even made “sexier” to a new generation in 1986 when she was slimmed down for the new American Eagle gold bullion coins. 

    Our trusted proofreader Fern Loomis had some thoughtful comments on the disconnect between visual depictions of Liberty and nudity. 

    She questioned, “Why is American liberty constantly touted as best represented on coins by a semi-clothed, often barefoot (why not pregnant, to go with that?) and bare-breasted young Caucasian woman? Any clothing she may carry, draped over a shoulder perhaps, or flimsily floated about her otherwise naked form, is of ancient style, from a time when, most American women today might agree, their fellow women were not granted much liberty.”

    She added, “ ‘Liberty as naked white woman’  has very little to do with any factual representation of either liberty or any portion of the population, and everything to do with who has long financed, and therefore shaped values of and creation of, what is considered ‘best’ in the worlds of money and art.”

    How does the concept of Liberty stay modern and relevant to today’s audiences? The varied depictions of Liberty should be representative of the diversity of America. 

    Fern’s point is well-taken.

    Is Liberty relevant to modern audiences if it is wearing tight, revealing or seemingly wet clothing (as seen on some of the proposed designs)?
    Is a sexualized depiction of Liberty really necessary to fully represent concepts of social and political freedom?