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About this journal

I have been a coin collector most of my life thanks to my grandfather who got me started early. I have taken many detours through out my life and delved it to paper money, trading cards, etc. but have now come back to my roots and only collect coins. My current main project is completing my large cent collection and identifying my current ones with accurate varieties. In addition I have a strong interest in world coins, especially large copper coins and pre 1800 coins.

I kind of came late to graded coins. Now that I have all of my best pieces are either graded or scheduled to be.

 

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Entries in this journal

Chris B

Wildman Coins

A few years ago one of the large coin magazines had an article on expanding your collecting interests and mentioned Wildman coins. I found the article interesting but kind of forgot about it until I ran across one on ebay. It had duel importance to me because if was also formerly part of the Eric Newman collection, a numismatist that I greatly admire. Side note: the new Eric Newman biography "Truth Seeker" is well worth reading. 
 
 
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I grew up helping my grandfather with his collection. All of my early numismatic education came from him. His favorite coins were the "V" nickels. He talked frequently about the rare 1913 issue and told me stories about the "No Cents" issue. We would spend hours sorting coins and building Lincoln Cent sets that he gave to family members. He never purchased a coin even though it meant never finding his No Cents Liberty nickel. I filled the whole with a nice uncirculated piece but it looks out of place. All of his coins came out of circulation. His liberty head collection was filled with coins most collectors would consider fillers but they are priceless to me. His collecting habits influenced me greatly. Yes, I purchase coins, but proof and high grade mint state coins don't do it for me. I appreciate them but I don't get the same rush as holding a nice 200 year old XF coin in my hand. Think of the tales it could tell. 
 
I was fortunate to inherit his collection when he passed and continued to work on building his sets and only rarely upgraded his coins. In addition I purchased a small collection belonging to my aunt. 
 
At some point I decided that it would be a good idea to start a large cent date set. My grandfather didn't have any in his collection. I am still working on this set but as the holes became increasingly expensive and I was making additions less frequently I got bored. 
 
Due to my love of large cents I started searching out large diameter copper and bronze world coins which makes up the bulk of my recent new additions. I tend to gravitate towards crude pieces and generally don't mind coins with minor problems. 
 
I still enjoy my US coins, primarily Large Cents, but I am realistic in my expectations for future additions. Recently I have been reading a lot about the 1776 Continental dollars. It is not realistic for me to obtain one but there a number of world coins available from the same year for a very reasonable price. I happen to have a 1776 Wildman coin. My dream coin is a 1793 chain cent but I have the same problem with this coin. 
 
Wildman History 
 
1) Around AD250 the Greeks referred to anybody that wasn't Greek as being wildmen or uncivilized. 
2) Early Middle Ages - one story is about Merlin. After the woman he loved he went in to the forest and lived as a Wildman. He would occasionally return to the forest and have no recollection of his civilized life. 
3) Later Middle Ages - the medieval Wildman represented a physical type that was definitely human with racial characteristics similar to those of Europeans. Hair covered everything except there face, hands, feet, elbows and knees. Described as everything from dwarfish to giant in size but always with super human strength. They were frequently pictured with an uprooted tree or club. 
As European's migrated to the new world they brought the Wildman myths with them (think Bigfoot). 
The mythical Wildman was blamed for unexplained calamities and quirks of nature including missing persons and crop failures. Wildman stories were used to frighten children into obedience. Wildmen were considered to be protectors of the forests and to be feared due to their wild unpredictable nature. 
 
It was believed that if you carried a likeness of the Wildman it would protect you from him. This is a major reason why these coins are typically well worn and often founded mounted in jewelry. 
 
 
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Issuers of wildman coins and medals include various German states, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Denmark, Finland, Greece including Crete, and Switzerland 
 
So why do most of these coins come from Brunswick? 
I have searched and can find no definitive answers but did find two books I brought have what I hope are clues. 
 
References 
1) "Wildmen in the Looking Glass - The Mythic Origins of European Otherness" - very dry and an excellent cure for insomnia. Dissects why people felt the need to create the Wildman myths. 
2) "The Wildman - Medieval Myth and Symbolism" - Free to download from The Metropolitan Museum of Art or you can purchase a hard copy from other sources for $200+ 
 
Neither of these titles are numismatic references although the 2nd title does feature 2 coins on page 162 minted during the reign of Heinrich IX the Younger in Brunswich-Wolfenbuttel. He was considered to be unrestrained, aggressive and destructive. He was rumored to have burned a set fire to and burned an entire town to the ground. His own population referred to as a Wildman. Heinrich had coins minted with his likeness on the obverse and a Wildman on the reverse. Some of these showed the Wildman holding a flame as a not so veiled threat of what he was capable of. 
So, did this simply start the trend and they just stayed with it, or was it more of a mascot or was it due to extreme superstition. 
 
Wildman coins have become a hot item with a lot more collectors actively seeking them out. You can typically find a couple of dozen examples listed on ebay. I don't consider any individual issue common and actual mintage data is typically unknown. These were minted from the 1500's to the early 1800's although I have never seen any from the 1500's for sale. Mint state examples are not found often. One sold this week in a Heritage auction at the NY show in MS64. Judging by the pictures I wasn't impressed. Judging by the price realized the other bidders weren't very impressed either. These issue are often poorly struck due to the technology of the time. 
 
All of my graded Wildman coins can be seen in my custom set at: https://coins.www.collectors-society.com/WCM/CoinCustomSetView.aspx?s=20282
 
Chris B

Be Yourself

I have been collecting my whole life. My collection has taken many wandering paths to arrive where it is today. For years I built sets of U.S coins because that is what I thought you were supposed to do. The few dealers that I had access to (pre-internet) had no interest in foreign coins or really anything that they didn't have. In fact they tried to steer me away from anything other than US coins. They lead me to believe that world coins were junk and not worthy of being collected seriously.

In recent years I have had my eyes opened. It started when I got bored with the coins in my collection. I decided I wanted to build a set of large cents by date. That was quite an eye opener. This set is still a work in progress and will never be truly complete. Large cents introduced me to collecting by die varieties. I know, not my original intention, but there has been so much research done on these that it is a natural progression. I fell in love hard with my large cents but as the set grew the pieces needed became increasing pricey so I started looking for alternatives to our large cents.

When I first started dabbling with world coins I kept hearing in my head all the reasons I have been given not to do this. Larger world coins were my first interest. There are so many different examples in all price ranges. My favorites are from the 1700's and 1800's but I do not limit myself to these areas.

As I said my collection has and still takes a meandering path. My feeling is that you shouldn't avoid an item simply because it doesn't fit in your collection. I have said many times, buy a coin you like and if it doesn't go up in value you will still have something you like. This goes against the advice of a lot of well known collectors. They say you should be more focused. Sorry, to me focused is boring. I am excited to spend time with my collection as often as possible. Collect in a way that excites you, whatever that may be. Don't let anybody tell you what you should like and how to collect.

Photos:

1) German States 1705 2/3 Thaler NGC XF45 ex Eric Newman

2) Angola 1814 Macuta NGC MS62BN

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Chris B

Trying again.

I appologize if this is showing up twice. Still trying to get used to the new journals.

Anyone that knows me knows that I tend to collect nice circulated pieces. Despite that when you I see a coin almost 200 years old in almost perfect condition I have to take a second look.  The largest portion of my collection contains coins from the German States. The area of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel put out some fascinating pieces in a wide variety of designs. My favorites by far are the Wildman coins. This particular piece is a 24 Mariengroschen dated 1829. It is not the most interesting design from the area but it is well struck and graded NGC MS66. There were 2 different versions of this coin, this one has the "ZU BRAUNSCHW" legend.

When I see a coin like this I always wonder why someone pulled it out of circulation and chose to keep it in virtually untouched condition. Although not unheard of finding these in mint state coins from this time period and geographical area is unusual. Typically they are found well circulated. Nicely struck pieces like this are also hard to come by.

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