Category Archives: Social Media

Online Traders and the Reputation of Numismatics

Again our attention is drawn to various comments, mostly in social media, about how the actions of dealers who exist online  are destroying ‘the very fabric of numismatics and coin collecting’.

Coupled with this is a level of sniping at national and internationally known coin dealers and auction houses by people who have an obvious agenda to both disrupt a reasonable market place and to denigrate one or more sellers in favour of others or who are in fact endeavouring to set up business for themselves.

Recently two incidents were resolved satisfactorily by following due process.

  1. Involved a coin graded and attributed by one of the world’s largest coin grading companies was listed for sale by a major Indian auction house. A savant of this series remarked that it was a fake. The writer gave advice on procedure and the coin was swiftly withdrawn.
  2. A new Roman coin was listed by a major specialist international auction house. It was questioned by a number of senior experts. the writer incidentally remarked that coins of a similar style had been seen in a major museum display many years ago. The was withdrawn for further authentication. The coin is now back on the market having been fully authenticated.

Following a series of known and well advertised steps when there is a doubt by experts works because mistakes are made by even the very best.

So if you wish to listen to these continuing tales of foolishness and that are spread in a guise called a warning to those in the numismatics pursuit you, my friends, are being led astray by people with an unknown pedigree and unclear intentions. If you are of a silly disposition or believe in chasing rainbows then find something else to do. If you don’t want to do any research for yourself then find something else to do. If you are unable to take the steps of precaution that you take in any other transaction you do then don’t do the transaction.

The hobby/investment or whatever you wish to do with is peopled by wonderful folks from all around the world. Some are extremely secretive in what they do, some are gregarious and helpful. Others, just as in anything, will prey on the unwatchful and silly.  There are many coin societies, great people, sellers and auction houses who are absolutely reputable and who have sound return policies.

If you personally wish to be helpful may we suggest:

  1. When someone cries fake demand that the weight and dimensions of the shown.
  2. When someone cries fake and points to a seller in the open marketplace demand that formal notification procedures are followed and people with some real expertise support the claim. Mistakes are made. This also goes for allegations of tooling, coin repair etc.
  3. Take note of what is being advised But ask yourself if you would have that carelessness in your actions when someone says they have been duped.  Besides have read a few stories lately about this I am wondering what planet some people really live on.
  4. When buying coins check the way in which the coins are shown to you. If the are casually dumped in front of you without adequate protection then it is time for action. Put on your cotton gloves, bring out your scales and calipers and check coins one by one. If there is an objection from the dealer then the dealer needs to be educated.

Time to make a stand for the wonderful joy of coin collecting. Silence alloys the enemies a foothold.


Sub Continent Coins: Two Marketplaces

Again in recent times on various social media sites there have attacks on sellers within the marketplace.  However there appears to be a complete failure in basic knowledge, and basic ethics for that matter, by a number of of the most outspoken attackers.

  1. There is a major difference in the marketplace between some internet social media sellers and major selling and auction houses.
  2. The is a law in India that states that objects of more the 100 of age cannot be exported without a licence. If you don’t like the law do something about it and I don’t mean bleating about on social media. If you ignore the law then at some time you will be caught. The sooner the better would be a great starting point.
  3. Issuing wild threats about going to the government to ensure everyone has the correct licences and pays their taxes is a direct insult to many sellers (there is in India a differentiation between someone casually selling a few things and a true business for example) and rather shows that if you have stung by your own failure to take normal precautions in the marketplace. In fact your personal failure and the invective used to justify your own failings are a great disservice to the whole collecting fraternity. Then again perhaps that is your mission.

We have a number of marketplaces. Firstly If the Indian law is respected in full there are two separate marketplaces. Yes i know the law is broken to the advantage of come BUT what happens in India and what happens outside India can be and often is two different things.

If you wish to buy through social media and online buying sites please don’t tell us of the failures, ripoffs, personal torments and threats. You made the decision, you live with it. Most people understand the pitfalls of doing this. Of course we find selective reporting here of so called miscreants. But that is perhaps another story.

In this part of the story we will move on to another recent innovation in social media and that is blatant attacking of major sellers and auction houses. Very recently an upcoming and expanding auction house in America was attacked on Indian and world wide social media by a small group of Indian coin “experts”.  Whether they were really experts or not is really not up for discussion this time but they used the same tactics against a highly legitimate business run by a very good person who uses known experts to assist with his listings. Note above that there are two marketplaces, Indian and non Indian and what might be perceived as not rare in some parts of India might be rare in other parts of India or almost non existent overseas. As there is technically no easy method of reducing rareness overseas the marking of a coin as rare, for example, is quite justified. There is also a need to understand that most major auction houses and sellers have either in house experts or utilise the services of other known experts.

However this has not stopped the recent attacks. The big noises somehow decide they are dealing with a pedal rickshaw wala who has allegedly overcharged  ten paisa for a journey. The drum beating starts and a name is trashed on the opinion of one so called “authority” supported by a few of his friends. The trashers that start this have, of course, no downside. Administrators of these sites are either part of the plan or become somehow overwhelmed by the increased number of hits they are receiving. So rather than having any guts to stop the rubbish they turn on those who defend the real marketplace. This is a sad and sorry reality in today’s marketplace.

For new and the average collectors the continued reading of these articles is highly negative. Then again perhaps that is exactly what these negative operators want. Let’s trash a few names and only our friends (or us) will remain in the marketplace. Sad but true. Yes there are paid provocateurs out there and obviously sites that protect them are also in on the racket.

Buying coins is like buying anything, there are normal precautions to take and in general you buy from sellers with some provenance. That is the message that should be relayed to everyone and the next step is learning about your chosen collecting ideas.

Think about it.



Thank You for Being Such a Great Help!

Our files are now closed for the Jahandar Shah book on all coins.

Yes it took a little longer than expected but we needed to address positive a negative criticisms of our first offered in the new style of showing translations of coin legends.

We got a number of laughs out of one or two of the negative criticisms. Still trying to understand how it can be suggested that when just about every ruler in the western world has a myriad of books and reports written about them that it was too much to expect special publications about the coins of the Mughal rulers. I guess the same people expect close attention to be paid to every little minor change with their favourite coins but close enough is okay for major Indian coins. However we have tried to take note of and accommodate all of the advice received.

To our 349 helpers we thank you without reservation. To the universities and major libraries that have made our life much easier a special thanks. All but four of the major institutions we contacted helped us with our coin requests without charge. For a specific photograph we have made a long term very favourable arrangement with another. To the four who decided that because we were not university staff or attached to a university that our research was somehow unworthy and as a consequence we needed to be charged exorbitant sums of money to obtain a photograph for either attribution or publishing sorry we won’t be doing that. We note the bias, it was expected. Thankfully most great institutions have noted that the world has moved on a little.

So the research on Jahandar is closed as is the research on the next seven books other than highly specific sections where errors have been noted in previous publications.

We thank our publishers for their continued absolute support.

A recent private trip to India cemented our long term goals.

We are about to enter a new era of discussion and contact with our helpers and others who have a great love for the coins of the great Indian sub continent.


Heroes and Villains: Hoarder to Collector and the Auction Scene

For those active on the Indian Facebook coin collecting scene you may have noted a vicious verbal assault by one or two people on more than one auction house in India. It seems there is no end to the dastardly deeds allegedly committed.

I have been involved in buying, selling and researching coins for over 50 years. In that time it has gone from postal bidding with literally months delay to finding out if you had won anything to finger on the trigger down to the last millisecond in a live to air auction. In that time I have heard all kinds of hints and allegations against various auction houses and other sellers. I doubt that there is an auction house, grading company or seller that has never made an error in attribution, judgement or been taken in by a fake. On record there are a very small number that made money by taking in customers. However in the modern world we have instant “systems” that can pick these things up. However these new instant “systems” termed social media can also be used to harm basically anything and that is what is currently happening.

There is in Indian numismatics at this time (and it happens everywhere from time to time) rather major discussions on fake coins. At there time it is about fake British Indian coins. It would seem that everyone is an expert and coins that are shown can be condemned by anyone, it would seem, by the simple suggestion that it might be ‘fake”. There is no comeback, no words from the site admins that you must at least give some reason for the suggestion, basically no standard control measures. There is no necessity to post weights and measures but as if by magic fakes are seen everywhere. Does this help with education? No, not at all.

So we have an assault on a collecting senses by fake criers everywhere and now assaults on auction houses as well. A minor hint, yes at times you do pay a little more at an auction house and sometimes much more than you can by finding the miracle coin on Ebay or with a street vendor or internet seller. But what you get from an established and large auction house is provenance. And with provenance you get continuing value. So you must make up your mind whether you want some form of provenance or none at all especially when it comes to active marketplaces.

So when it comes to our new “From Hoarder to Collector” series you will note that I will suggest that when you are learning you go to an auction house/prominent seller to purchase your more expensive coins and even when you get to the expert stage should you wish to study that much, the major purchases should come through this system. You get provenance and for this you might pay a little extra.

At the same time there is an assault on these major sellers there is also an assault on a new book or two about British Indian coins. It is not unusual for new works to be attacked and it is not unusual for researchers to abandon their research because of it.

So as the dogs of the new social media howl we have to start asking a few questions.

  1. Maybe it is time to look at those pointing rather than who they are pointing at and ask about their qualifications and experience.
  2. Are they actually helping or hindering?
  3. If they are in possession of such damning evidence why is it only on social media that it is being discussed.
  4. Are they heroes or villains?

The bottom Line: PUT UP THROUGH THE LEGAL SYSTEM OR SHUT UP! (and that carries obvious consequences should you be found to be nothing more than a common rabble rouser)

or as a good friend of mine would say “an elephant takes no notice of barking dogs”. However when the barking dogs are stirring the masses to assault the elephants through rumour and innuendo perhaps the elephants need to take notice.

Thankfully we are only simple researchers who stand behind our work and this is not currently affecting our work.

“Slip Into Something More Comfortable”


Thank you to Julius Waters from that wonderful techno-house funk group Kinobe for arranging the rights to use “Slip Into Something More Comfortable” as the theme music for an upcoming lecture series.

You either look at numismatic works the old way or “Slip into Something More Comfortable” by looking at our work and come along for the comfortable learning experience.

We Welcome a Doctorate Candidate

We are now assisting a doctorate candidate towards his goal. There is great pleasure in this for the whole team.

Given the seemingly endless ability of people to steal or misuse research the exact nature of the research will be kept  within the core members of our group.

Keeping the Shah Alam I Book Updated

The modern world of communication enables us to make sure that hard copy books need never go out of relevance between editions. However even the best researchers may miss something. Because of this we are calling for your help.

To keep the Shah Alam I book up to date from new verified finds in mints, dates and types we have started a dedicated Facebook page to advise on what we need and to take your suggestions and new findings. There is a necessity to include as many people as possible in this discovery process. Please take the time to help by asking to join the Facebook page by leaving a message through the contact system here.

New Facebook Groups

New Facebook Groups

Shortly there will be added to Facebook a number of highly specific groups.

There is a constant need to keep reviewing the work published and the many books to be published on the coins of the great sub continent by us in the coming years. Keeping up to date with new finds has become somewhat simpler with modern technology and we wish to use so that collectors and researchers alike can always be kept up to date with fully attributed new finds.

The first groups opened will be

  1. Shah Alam I Bahadur
  2. Jahandar Shah

If you have any interest in joining these lists please contact me via Facebook so that notifications can be sent as soon as the groups are in operation.

Arthur Needham