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Aaron Berk on Constantine I ...


Heliodromus
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The Ancient Coin Podcast with Aaron Berk - Episode 18

25:25 "Constantine served for 80 years ...I may be a little off on that, but he lived for a long time"

reality: Served for 30 years, died around age 66

26:07 "Fought Diocletian [at the battle of Milvian bridge]

reality: Diocletian was retired and growing cabbages

30:41 "CONSTANTNOPOLIS city commemoratives were minted in Constantinople" (while displaying picture of one with Arles mintmark)

Ho hum.

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One of my undergrad philosophy professors had written a few well known books on medieval thinkers (I think one was Nicholas of Cusa). On some random day in class, he stopped and talked about how he always found himself saying inaccurate things when interviewed on radio (this was pre-podcast era). He couldn't explain it, and he hated giving interviews because of it. Though he seemed to have a sense of humor about this behavior, it also clearly bothered him. He said something like "there I was, an authority on this subject - I had studied it for decades - saying things that were just flatly wrong. I still don't understand."

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@Heliodromus, I am really quite shocked that he would make such fundamental mistakes. I don't think I ever assumed that his expertise matched his father's, but this is difficult to understand. It goes beyond careless errors. Plus you'd think he'd review what he said before releasing the podcast, and notice any merely careless mistakes. 

Edited by DonnaML
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A live, unedited podcast is a dangerous thing to do if you want to look like you know what you are doing.  It is very hard to tell if a slip up like those listed is a sign of someone really not knowing every detail.  I don't so maybe I should not expect perfection either.   I appreciate the fact that he is willing to do a podcast and promote the hobby but I probably have more issues with details from such errors than most watchers OR I am the only one who posts comments on his slips. Perhaps those who catch these errors should post comments on his bages and we will see if things improve or if the podcasts are stopped.  The latter would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. 

Harlan Berk was expert enough to write a book on Byzantine coins and smart enough to hire a team of people who really did know several other areas of specialty.  It remains to be seen if Aaron will continue this business plan and replace the aging members of the staff that have made the business what it is with a new generation that will help him become the expert in coins that he already is in the coin business.   I won't be around to see the next generation of genuine coin experts but am curious whether they will all work for NGC, for Berk and other megadealers or whether we return to more emphasis small but knowledgeable dealers that made the hobby enjoyable for me in my earlier years.  I do wish more people expert in some phase of the hobby or business would have a presence on podcasts or even participate in online discussion groups like this one.  We will never stamp out ignorance but online presence is the 2022 version of that nice old man in the walk up local coin store that introduced me to the hobby way back when.  I wish I could remember all their names.  For that matter, I wish I could remember any of their names.  

Related:  In podcast 19, several Athenian tetradrachms recently sold were shown along with their prices realized.  Most were rather low end compared to the best we have been seeing since the hoard entered the market.  I compared the prices to what I thought of the coins and was a bit shocked.  It struck me that the crest of the helmet seems to be more popular than the end of Athena's nose.  I talked to a friend today who prefers the lower curl of hair (or whatever it is) at the bottom to crest.  Opinions will differ. I like noses. 

 

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I am reminded of something that a professor of theology said to us seminarians about writing and preaching sermons. Every priest is entitled to make three doctrinal mistakes amounting to heresies in every sermon. There is so much to know just to collect these coins intelligently that I am willing to cut a break for some major bloopers to anyone brave enough to write a book or give a talk on the subject with no wish  to consigning their utterance or books to perdition.

Edited by kevikens
forgot a word.
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I'd like to see others step up and make quality Ancient Coin podcasts instead of nitpicking a couple of mistakes from a live episode. 

 

This kind of content brings new collectors to the hobby which is desperately in need of young blood.

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48 minutes ago, znmto said:

I'd like to see others step up and make quality Ancient Coin podcasts instead of nitpicking a couple of mistakes from a live episode. 

 

This kind of content brings new collectors to the hobby which is desperately in need of young blood.

Now that I'm told it was live, I'm feeling less judgmental about it. Still, the only one of the three that qualifies as nitpicking is the last one, regarding the mint. The mistakes about Constantine and Diocletian -- especially the second; the first could theoretically be a slip of the tongue for 30 -- are fundamental, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with being concerned by the possibility that that's what a major dealer in ancient coins really thinks. Nor does @Heliodromus have to do an ancient coin podcast himself before he has the right to point out errors in someone else's. 

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"He served for 80 years" might have been something like my pops said about someone "forget about him, what's he like 100?" so just an emphasis-exageration to make a point. And considering the conditions that brought him up and the civil wars he fought for more than half his reign and the end of the Tetrarchy, he did rule for a very long time. 

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9 hours ago, CPK said:

Yikes. Bad mistakes. Was the podcast about Constantine specifically or were they just off-the-cuff, off-topic remarks? I could forgive the latter.

This was a featured segment of the podcast, so something that had been pre-prepared to some extent (some slides put together at least). I'm guessing that Aaron's comments were just ad libbing, but still these mistakes seem a bit extreme... Constantine fighting Diocletian ???

 

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The Constantine comments were part of a quick survey of a recent auction which sold a gold medallion of Constantine.  The podcasts regularly survey what Aaron Berk considers to be important or interesting coins sold in the last week or two.  The offensive part to me is his regular statements that there are ancient coins for all budgets but showing mostly things that cost the price of a car or house.  He has been improving in this 'balance' lately so I hope we will have more for those who are not collecting for investment.  The latest episode (#19) included a comment that he was not even mentioning some sales of coins that had belonged to the late,  infamous (for paying too much) sheik because the estimates were set much too high in an attempt to recoup more (lose less) for the heirs.  The problem is that showing coins at inflated prices will cause some new collectors to get the idea that they should actually bid at those levels.  The difference between a $1000 coin and a $100,000 coin is more in the mind of bidders who have no idea what something 'should' sell for but enough surplus cash to have a major effect on what it actually 'does' sell for on that particular day.  At some point, someone is going to 'take a bath'  and sell way under what was paid.  Some of us paid way too much for way too little as a way of building our collections but expect no coverage in the news.  It will be interesting to see if there are news reports on how much the 'Sheik' collection loses.  His heirs can afford it and the fate of $10,000+ coins makes no difference whatsoever to those of us who collect $100 coins.  For us, these sales are spectator sports.  Aaron Berk has customers who spend in the upper brackets and need counseling to avoid selling the farm to buy a goat.  His podcasts need to attract both groups.  At least he is making an attempt.  

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They're strange mistakes, and the other guy didn't even question them. He does say he isn't sure about Diocletian, but if he knew he was going to talk for quite some time about Milvian Bridge, surely he'd note down a few facts, or even look them up at all. Although in an hour-long live podcast about the current market that won't be listened to much in the future, I'm not surprised they didn't bother correcting it. It's hard to talk that long and be entertaining.

But after listening for an hour, I don't know if I learned anything, and that isn't from a position of great knowledge. The history was very basic - explaining at length what a Chi-Rho is etc. The comments about the coins were rather empty. 'This coin shows the greatness of Constantine the Great'. Taking a full 12 minutes to tell us not to put coins in jewelery, when surely everyone watching is a coin collector who wouldn't do that. It's hard to know who it is aimed at. It reminds me of the computer game streams my young son listens to, and he isn't going to listen to this. He certainly doesn't have $2,000 for a coin with Jesus on it.

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I recall in the History of Rome podcast Mike saying the pantheon was rebuilt under the emperor Trajan, to the exact same specifications as when Agrippa built it. Crazy what slips through even in scripted podcasts, can’t imagine how difficult it is to do them live! 

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16 hours ago, znmto said:

I'd like to see others step up and make quality Ancient Coin podcasts instead of nitpicking a couple of mistakes from a live episode. 

 

This kind of content brings new collectors to the hobby which is desperately in need of young blood.

New Ancient Coins: We showcase our latest Greek, Roman, and Byzantine purchases
https://youtu.be/tf8GQ9qSyJQ

 

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Having done one live interview in front of about 100 people and at least one other, that I can remember, on live radio, I confess my first reaction to the errors posted above was sympathy. I used to sing in a band and I played hundreds of shows, but, in those cases, I had lyrics memorized. Though still nerve-wracking at times, I didn't know how good I had it. By contrast, when faced with random questions from an interviewer who I barely knew, and a silent and anticipatory crowd watching just yards away, I was very surprised at how I answered and how I acted in that situation. It takes experience and practice to keep a straight head in such a circumstance. There is pressure to not allow a moment of silence (especially on radio) and the brain can just go wild and spew forth the first thing that arrives in immediate consciousness. I wish I had more opportunities to practice. That said, it's completely appropriate to point out errors made in such circumstances, because no one wants false information spreading around, especially when beginners who may not know any better are paying attention. The mistakes cited are unfortunate but, to me at least, understandable given the situation.

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12 hours ago, John Conduitt said:

They're strange mistakes, and the other guy didn't even question them. He does say he isn't sure about Diocletian, but if he knew he was going to talk for quite some time about Milvian Bridge, surely he'd note down a few facts, or even look them up at all. Although in an hour-long live podcast about the current market that won't be listened to much in the future, I'm not surprised they didn't bother correcting it. It's hard to talk that long and be entertaining.

But after listening for an hour, I don't know if I learned anything, and that isn't from a position of great knowledge. The history was very basic - explaining at length what a Chi-Rho is etc. The comments about the coins were rather empty. 'This coin shows the greatness of Constantine the Great'. Taking a full 12 minutes to tell us not to put coins in jewelery, when surely everyone watching is a coin collector who wouldn't do that. It's hard to know who it is aimed at. It reminds me of the computer game streams my young son listens to, and he isn't going to listen to this. He certainly doesn't have $2,000 for a coin with Jesus on it.

To be fair the "other guy" is their Modern American coin expert and one of the podcast's theme is him learning more about ancients with Aaron.

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3 hours ago, znmto said:

To be fair the "other guy" is their Modern American coin expert and one of the podcast's theme is him learning more about ancients with Aaron.

He’s going to be confused then 😂

If, as you say, this is to attract younger people, perhaps that role should be played by a young person. The podcast might start to make sense.

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