When an important coin collection is sold, it has long been customary to honour the collector’s life in a corresponding auction catalogue with a short biography. That’s much more than a nice gesture, it is crucial for numismatic research. In this way, knowledge about the provenance of coins can be preserved for future generations of scholars and collectors. Isn’t it a pleasure to acquire a coin and to be able to find out which illustrious hands it went through over the years? Exactly!
However, fewer and fewer people keep printed auction catalogues. Auctions are increasingly taking place in the digital space. And, in addition, people now find information about coins on platforms like Sixbid and CoinArchives, which focus on individual coins instead of collections. The information given on such sites still mentions the former owner of the piece. But there is the risk that the collector’s biography, which tell you what kind of person they were, will be forgotten. We want to prevent that.
Honouring the Achievements of Collectors
Therefore we launched a new section on our website. In our Collectors’ Who’s Who, you will find short biographies of important collectors, whose treasures were sold at auction or were given to museums after their death.
We created this section so that the achievements of collectors will not be forgotten. Private coin ownership has repeatedly been politically demonized in recent years, and there is kind of a universal suspicion against private collectors. But the world would be so much poorer without collectors! Moreover, we understand this section as a contribution to the now extremely important field of provenance research, that is, research of the origin and former ownership of historical objects. If the provenance of an item is not well documented at the time of sale, this piece of information can be lost forever. Those who can document the provenance of their coin, however, can prove that it did not help finance the Islamic State!
The compilation of collector biographies is to become a reference work, sort of a Wikipedia that is intended to include as many important collectors as possible. As a first step we upload short biographies that have been published in catalogues of Numismatica Ars Classica. They were written by Hadrien Rambach, who has outstanding knowledge of the history of coin collectors. Together with Stefan Krmnicek, Rambach planned a conference on this subject to be held in Tübingen in April 2020. Unfortunately, it had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.
We Can’t Do This Alone!
However, to make this section come alive we need help. We would like to upload biographies that were previously published in auction catalogues to our Collectors’ Who’s Who. Museums can also present collectors to whom they owe their treasures.
All we need is a short text – in German and/or English – about the collector’s life, and ideally:
- a photo of the collector
- a photo of the cover page of the auction catalogue of the collection
- pictures and numismatic descriptions of up to 5 coins from the collection
We hope you enjoy browsing through the first collector biographies of our Who’s Who. Here you can get to the new section.
The author of the collector biographies, Hadrian Rambach, can of course be found in our Who’s Who of numismatists.
Do you know what type of coin collector you are? Click here to find out!