Ray Williams, past president of the Colonial Coin Collectors Club,
promotes membership here, along with joining the ANA, ANS and EAC.
Ray enjoys writing short articles and giving presentations about
colonial numismatic topics to clubs and New Jersey societies.
Q: What draws you to New Jersey’s copper coinage?
A: There are a number of reasons that New Jersey Coppers
fascinate me. The enthusiasm of New Jersey Copper collector John
Griffee was contagious and addictive, starting in 1991. Building a
personal library, membership in American Numismatic Association,
American Numismatic Society, Colonial Coin Collectors Club and Early
American Coppers, and subscribing to Colonial Newsletter just fed this
addiction. Building a circle of friends sharing my collecting
interests helped maintain my enthusiasm these past 25 years. I reside
in New Jersey, so the coins are part of my local history, of which I
just can’t learn enough.
Q: Is there a particular coin or die marriage of New Jersey copper
that eludes you?
A: Of the approximately 145 known New Jersey Copper varieties,
there are about 55 my collection lacks. If I were to pick the dream
coin I’m missing, it would be what is called the “Date Under Plow
Beam” variety. The positioning of the date makes them distinctively
different from all other varieties. Several have become available
since I started collecting, but I am a collector on a budget and
without the finances to obtain one. That being said, you don’t need to
be a millionaire to enjoy collecting colonials. Circulated (even well
worn) colonials still possess the romance of having been used by our
ancestors wearing tricorn hats and having buckles on their shoes. I
decided long ago that I would collect the colonial coins I could afford.
Q: What kind of research was involved in co-writing Grading Guide
for Early American Copper Coins?
A: Working on this reference was fun. I didn’t know my
coauthors at all until we worked on the book. I still haven’t met one
in person. My section of the book was with respect to the coinages of
the Confederation period (1785 to 1788). The text introducing this
section was mostly from personal experience over the years. I can’t
express how important it is to read the text before jumping to the
photographs to grade coins. The most difficult part was locating ideal
images to represent the grades of the different coinage series. But as
the Beatles said, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Connect with Coin World:
Q: What advice would you give to a collector who has never
collected Colonial coinage but is considering doing so?
A: This question would take a feature length article to answer.
But, in brief, read through the first 90 pages of the Red Book. See
what colonials capture your eye and your hobby budget. Keep in mind
that the circulating coinage in our British American colonies also
includes coins from Spanish American colonies, and Old World countries
on the other side of the Atlantic. Once you decide what to collect,
then join Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4, www.colonialcoins.org)
and borrow the books from the library that pertain to your interests.
Acquire a library as you acquire coins. Purchase from reputable
dealers and auction houses. Don’t spend more than you are comfortable
spending. And have FUN!