Coins Of The Realms

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My coin collection started innocently and modestly enough, with a few older Canadian coins. Then, as described in my ‘Penny, lira, etc.’ post, I was tricked into collecting foreign coins. Slowly but steadily, over the (many) years, I’ve added coins to both groups, till now I don’t count my coins, so much as weigh them occasionally.

I have almost 600 foreign coins, from over 100 countries around the world, some of which no longer exist, as well as numerous Canadian and American coins. The five binders shown above include Canadian and American coins, as well as bills, and total just over 47 pounds.  I store them on a closet shelf, next to the wall, directly over the support bracket, so as not to collapse it.

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Clamshell 2 x 2s come in various sizes, for various coins. They are folded over a coin and stapled shut on three sides, then the unit is inserted in a plastic sheet with 20 pockets.  Soon after I got started, I received some helpful tips from a couple of old collectors/dealers.

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I buy mounting sheets with reinforced holes, because the weight of 20 coins can tear unprotected sheets. If you’re collecting sequentially dated coins, and one always follows the next, they are inserted into the sheets and forever remain there.

If I get another Spanish coin, I might need to now give Portuguese coins their own page for enough room. My coins can move around.  One dealer advised me to trim the bottom corners of the 2 X 2s at 45°, so that they would slide into the tight pockets easier.  Clipped bottoms and unclipped tops seem ‘unfinished’ to me, so I trim all 4 corners, creating little square ‘malls’ among the coins on the sheet.

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Staples holding the 2 X 2s closed, protrude in small bulges at the back, causing an already bulky assembly to take up even more room. I have a special pair of pliers, with which I crimp them flat, ensuring smoother insertion and retraction, and less volume.

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The arrangement of my foreign coins in my catalogs resembles a giant M on a world map.  They start at the bottom of South America, work their way up past Panama and the Caribbean, and throw a quick wave at the USA and Canada with a couple of odd/special coins.

They cross the Atlantic, through England, Ireland, Scotland and the Channel Islands, and work their way across Europe. They then dodge the rocket attacks in the Middle East and flow down the body of Africa.  Returning, they trudge eastward through Russia and China, and down through South-East Asia, to Australia and New Zealand.

My foreign coins have taught me much about geography and history. Separate regions are arbitrarily jammed together to form the likes of Czechoslovakia.  Countries are split apart, like Germany, or India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  World economy, and that of individual countries, changes coins from gold and silver, to brass, steel, nickel and copper, all the way down to aluminum.

My little digital camera will not take good photos of individual coins, but I have some bright, flamboyant foreign bills/notes I hope to show you later. To some of you, these are not ‘foreign’, but merely coins of your realm.

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Blade Runners

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On Saturday, Aug. 23, the son, grandson and I attended another Art Knife Show at a fancy hotel in downtown Toronto. We took along with us, the Katana sword shown above, which the son won in a door-prize raffle in 2011. Tickets were $5/ea, or 5 for $20. The son risked the twenty bucks, and the lady at the door gave him six tickets. Being honest, he returned the extra ticket, and insists that it was the karma from this act which won him the sword.

We carefully wrapped it in a large towel, so that it could ride the subway with us, incognito. It was a collaboration effort. One skilled bladesmith created the blade, and then handed it over to another maker, more skilled in adding the fittings – handle, guard, wrap, and sheath – and assembling the final product.

While finished, at the show, it took another 10 months for it to be shipped to us. We emailed photos to the blade maker, but he was very interested in actually seeing and handling the finished product. He had to miss the 2012 show. In 2013, the son forgot to bring it, but promised, “Next year in Jerusalem Toronto.” In 2014, we were 60 miles from home when the son finally thought of it. We weren’t going back! This year, finally, the blade guy was overjoyed and impressed, and took several shots of it for his catalogue.

Below are several photos of blades I felt were interesting and well made, along with a few comments. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I’ll try to answer.

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See final picture at bottom.

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The knife on the right is one version of a sub-hilt fighter.  I paid a maker $700 to produce a cheaper model with a white handle that I could have scrimshawed.  He played around for over two years before deciding that he wanted to make American Civil War replicas.  It took another year, and urging from influential members of the Guild, to get him to return my money.  I’d have been much happier to have the knife instead.

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This Damascus double ulu started off as a joke by a maker with a young son who didn’t want to eat the crusts on his toast.

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Double-ended jackknives used to be common.  Some cutlery companies still make a few from $20 to $100.  I believe this beauty was going for $850.

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Not quite an ‘art knife’, this hay-bale cutter contained $200 worth of material and labor.  The maker built it for experience and practice.  It was going to a Mennonite in my area in exchange for some Damascus steel that he had made, and a small blower forge.

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My little digital camera really does not do some of these knives justice.  Click on the photos for more detail.

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The photos above and below are of knives produced by the maker of the blade of the katana at the top.  Again, my lack of detail does not show the high quality of his blades, but amateurish finish on his handles.

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Knife Collector's Prayer

The photo at the top shows a small portion of a collection that the owner of this sign had on display.  The ‘Art Knife Makers’ were all dressed in suits and upscale clothing.  They usually built one knife at a time.  While they charged $500 to $5000 a knife, they often had it sold, and money in hand before it was finished.

This unassuming guy dressed like me – black jeans and a polo shirt, but his display contained dozens of these expensive toys.  I need to ask him next year what he does for a living.  The cost of his collection could buy a small country.