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So another year has rolled by, seemingly quicker than the last, and it is time to tidy up my NGC records for 2017 to reflect the activity of the past year - this can be seen in my leading sets which are complete or not far off.

I first started collecting coins when I was in my teens but my enthusiasm was not matched by my finances so I only really started again around 10 years ago.

I had always had an affinity to Gdansk in Poland ( formerly DANZIG ) as I have relations there so when I used to buy Polish coins there this would include some from the Free City of Danzig.

The very short period of issue from 1923 to 1935 was tragically cut short by the start of the Second World War in 1939.

Nevertheless the changes in material composition and size of the coins illustrates very clearly the economic turmoil of the times.

During that short period of issue the silver coinage was debased twice until cupro-nickel coins replaced them.

During a 12 year period of relatively low mintages there were several circulation issues with one full Proof coinage issue in 1923. These coins are scarce and expensive but appear on the market quite regularly. The bronze 1 and 2 pfennig coins are very much scarcer however, quite possibly having found their way into circulation, since the higher grades are rarely encountered.

In 1927 a 5 Gulden and a Half Gulden Proof coin were issued - both coins are very rarely seen and command exceptionally high prices.

In addition a 1928 5 Pfennig proof coin was issued, a specimen of which I was able to buy at auction a few years ago, but since then I have only ever seen a few for sale by auction, in Germany and Poland.

A 1932 Proof 5 Pfennig is supposed to exist as it features in the NGC Population Report but I have never seen one for sale. Indeed all my contact with fellow Danzig specialists indicate that this is a standard coin but with such an exceptional finish that the grading has been overly generous. Certainly no records exist of any such coin and none has emerged on the markets at all. Which says it all, in my opinion.

So, over recent years - by scouring eBay and poring over Heritage catalogues and those from major German and Polish auction houses - I have been able to gradually build up the quantity and quality of my collection, buying duplicates where available at fair prices for when the time might come that they could be used to fund a major new acquisition.

Unfortunately the days of finding choice coins in shops in Poland or elsewhere seem to have long vanished.

The market for these scarce coins is fuelled by interest from collectors not only in Germany and Poland, but also in the USA and Canada where there are quite a few people of Polish origin.

My interest in Victorian silver coins was sparked by a chance article I read in a British coin magazine which indicated that Gothic florins were a very " hot " market.

I started researching and found that this series of coins was elusive but in most cases affordable. The choicest of these coins have some really amazing toning and the span of issue from 1849 to 1901 for all the standard circulation issue Victorian florins represented a not insurmountable challenge of just over 50 coins, with die permutations etc.

So the hunt was on....and has since continued with my extending my fields of interest to British Queen Victoria Halfcrowns and Sixpences. Many of the sixpence coins, although standard issue, have amazing proof-like surfaces, many with wonderful original old-time rainbow toning, which is extremely difficult to photograph.

The quest for all these lovely coins which are well over 100 years old has been long and challenging but fascinating and absorbing. I have to ask if the same can be said about the collections of modern ( mainly gold ) coins where the collectors points far outstrip any numismatic or any other information provided. Indeed I feel that coins dated no older than 1980 fall more into a commercial profit-driven category than being true numismatic items of historic interest. It would indeed be fascinating if I had the time available to see just how many points in the Registry are for coins more than say 100 years old.

I again surveyed the highest scoring sets recently - once again the vast majority of these are for modern bullion issues, a fact which speaks for itself.

It is so clear therefore that there is a distinct difference between Collectors and Numismatists!

Having had that little rant, I must however say that any form of collecting coins must be good for the long term future of the hobby, as long as it is treated as that. Sadly nowadays you need to have deep pockets to be able to afford many older MS coins so the NGC initiative to focus on sets where these are excluded is to be applauded. In addition, the way sets are being assessed for the 2017 Awards reflects this split, so that my more historic coins fall into the Classic category.

I did several years ago take on board the NGC Judges’ comments which seem to still relate to many winning sets inasmuch as there is a noticeable lack of illustrations and text.

What is very disappointing in my opinion is that quite a few of the top sets are lacking in any Bio information whatsoever.

I can appreciate that some collectors are busy or private people, but if they have gone so far as to share details of their acquisitions with us, a little background, anonymised as far as practical if necessary, would not go amiss!


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