World of Coins

Research and reference => Numismatics => Topic started by: Austrokiwi on May 12, 2010, 10:30:12 PM

Title: Getting the story right
Post by: Austrokiwi on May 12, 2010, 10:30:12 PM
MY main collecting focus about two years ago started to highlight inconsistencies in the Literature. It just started with the purchase of 1 coin, that most currently regard as an 1815 strike, however, I can't recall how I found it, I then found  much earlier references that attributed the coin to the 1793 I suppose when  people are writing about a variety of a coin that has been minted  for 230 years but with the same date on it you have got to expect some problems in identifying coins.   However as I dig into the history of the coin, I find less consistency between referneces, out right contradictions and errors. 

Research over the last few weeks as just highlighted problem after problem with various papers on the coin.  One example, and economic journal paper that quoted colonial references and highlighted the coin was important in a part of Nigeria (Lagos)  that other writers have never reported. I manage to see one of the colonial Office files quoted and I read one of the main letters used for the conclusions, and to my shock the coin claimed by the economic historian to have been mentioned in that particular letter is not mentioned at all. Given that the article was supposedly peer reviewed just adds to my incredulity over the situation.

Today tracking through several references in different languages I suddenly realise there is a massive contradiction.............It seems the Brussels mint coin which in two of the most used references is noted has been produced only in the 1950s was actually first produced in 1937.  I won't go into detail but this then questions the assertions about another mints striking of the coin. I am even starting to wonder if I can trust some of the descriptions of the variants.

I suppose this post is just a generalised whine...........For me it is frustrating and down heartening to find that professionals and esteemed collectors are so loose with the interpretation of files and earlier writings that they change the meaning of phrases, or even read into texts something that was never actually stated.

What it has highlighted is we as collectors need to document what is happening now accurately and factually so that future collectors have a reliable store of knowledge to draw on.  This especially applies to the most common and uninteresting of coins.

Title: Re: Getting the story right
Post by: translateltd on May 13, 2010, 07:47:41 AM
Yes - the sequence of events is probably an expanded version of the game of "Chinese Whispers".  By the time the tenth historian has repeated what his predecessor reported his predecessor as saying his predecessor said his predecessor said, etc., etc., there could conceivably be very little in common with reality in the end!

The same sorts of distortion are all around us in general history, politics, etc. - any chance of "getting the facts right" in the major issues affecting NZ politics is beset by many of the same problems.

The wealth of detail you are digging up on the MT story is amazing, and I hope you're able in the end to draw it all together in a way that will help to undo at least some of the misconceptions of the past 230 years!

"History repeats itself. Historians repeat each other."  I don't know who said that first, but you have added a new angle to it for me now, i.e. "and they often mangle the story in the process".

Title: Re: Getting the story right
Post by: Leviathan on May 13, 2010, 11:56:26 AM
Or the Bible would be the great version of this - the KJV is full of translational mistakes (the new KJV isn't), and they have been used for later productions, with said mistakes cemented into them. Only in the last few years has this started to be corrected, which in turn has lead to other paths of study and debate.. lets hope our wee world does the same..
Title: Re: Getting the story right
Post by: Austrokiwi on May 14, 2010, 07:32:33 AM
Thanks for the comments  my major annoyance is that I start to believe a certain set of facts and attribution and then discover I can not actually rely on the information it means I have to actually redo the research my self.  So far that has involved travelling to the Royal mint and the UK national Archives as well as reviewing Vienna City Archives.   I fear to solve some questions I will have to travel to other locations.....

One real concern I have regards Florentine records. I have two, once presumed reliable, references that refer to records held in the Florence archives.........which I believe suffered loss of old records when there was serious flooding in Florence. If the records have indeed been destroyed I do not believe, given my experiences to date, that one can rely on the two published papers that refer to those records
Title: Re: Getting the story right
Post by: Figleaf on May 14, 2010, 07:14:03 PM
Maybe another expression applies here: "science advances one scientist at a time". Numismatics is not really the only science where some professionals are content to ape each other, rather than do original research. It takes one who'll do the tedious checking to set the record straight and even so, myths continue to live on. I will not tire you with my horror stories and I am sure other people have theirs. It doesn't help to look back or feel bad about others. Rather, let's try to see if we can help you out.

My first suggestion is a nice guy I met in Utrecht during the last Icomon ( congress. He works at the University of Verona and his specialty is Roman coins, but he has the sort of contacts you need. I have his full contact info. Send me a PB if you want them or if you want me to introduce you.

My second suggestion is a very senior researcher at the British Museum, whose specialty is the origin of coinage. Therefore, he regularly does original research in Italy. Both are great proponents of original research. I don't have full contact info, but with the BM site and some perseverance you should be able to reach him. Let me know if you are interested.