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INTERVIEW WITH A MEMBER: lordmarcovan


Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

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A wise man once said: « There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving ». I believe that is true, so our member of the week should be a vey happy man, since he’s the most generous collector I have ever met. You know him from his more than 100 « Giveways », but we have a lot more to learn about him. So let’s talk with lordmarcovan…

 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, your family, hobbies, work…?

My name is Robertson Shinnick (friends call me Rob- but not Robert). 

2004 profile picture.

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I was born in December 1965 in West Palm Beach, Florida.  I had something of a gypsy childhood.  My parents were Pioneers for the Baha'i Faith in Tanzania in 1972, and we later lived aboard a forty-foot trimaran sailboat in 1975, island-hopping in the Bahamas.  In fact, we lived aboard several boats when I was growing up, and moved around a lot.  Today I am settled in the lovely Golden Isles on the coast of Georgia, and I am a hotel night auditor by profession.  I am married to Lenee, my wife of 24 years, and we have a grown daughter, Victoria, as well as a large menagerie of four dogs and twelve cats at last count.  I also have a son named Justice from my previous marriage.

If anyone is wondering, my Internet username "lordmarcovan" derives from an earlier hobby: my 1980s Dungeons & Dragons gaming character, Lord Marcovan, was a Ranger Lord.  In my late teenaged years, I used to write sword-and-sorcery stories about his exploits.  I would cringe if anybody read those now, but I did borrow the old character's name when I came onto the Internet, and made it my username.  Last year a friend on CoinTalk bought me one of those one-square-foot land parcels in Scotland, with a "real" title, so now I'm an actual lord, it seems.

As far as hobbies go, coins are my primary focus- I have collected them since Thanksgiving Day of 1976, when I was not quite eleven years old.  On that day I was setting the table at my step-grandmother's house, when I found a 1936 dime in her silverware drawer.  The rest, as we say, is history. 

I'm interested in any curiosities that are historic or prehistoric (I also like small antiques and hunt for fossil shark teeth locally).  But coin collecting is the pursuit that gets all of my attention and limited hobby budget.

1936 Mercury dime.  First coin in my collection, November 25, 1976.  I still have it somewhere.

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How did you get interested in ancient coinage ?

I was fortunate enough to have some children's books about ancient history when I was a wee lad of six or seven, so I was interested early on- even before I officially started collecting coins.  When I later learned that ancient coins could be collected on any budget- even on my youthful allowance- I was intrigued, and bought a few.  But I didn't seriously start collecting ancient coins until much later on, as an adult in 2007, when I attempted an "A to Z" (Augustus to Zeno) Roman Imperial portrait collection.  That only lasted a year, because I was laid off in the 2008 recession and forced to sell the collection.  But I managed to obtain over 100 different emperors and empresses in that first year alone, so I learned a lot from it.

 

What was the first coin you ever bought ?

The first coin I recall buying was an 1866 US Shield nickel via mail order, in 1977, for five or six dollars, sight unseen.  It was described as "VG, dark"- and it was dark- nearly black, in fact- but appealing, because the high points were lighter grey and it had contrast.  It was what I would later call a "CircCam" - a circulation cameo.  This is a shorthand term I came up with for circulated coins that have that two-tone, contrasting appearance.  The term has gained some acceptance in the wider numismatic community.  If you look at my collection, you'll see I like my circulated silver with contrasting grey toning.

This is a CircCam from my present collection.

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This one's not a full CircCam, but it has that nice contrasting grey look I like.

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Can you tell us an anecdote about a coin you own ? Your best bargain ? Your rarest coin ? The specimen you will never sell ? The one you dream of acquiring ?

Gosh, that's a lot to unpack.  I'm full of anecdotes and could ramble on for days.

Here's one of my best bargains: I found an XF 1914-D cent in a bulk bag of Wheat cents in 2006.  It cost me 3-5 cents or so, and I sold it (after slabbing) for $700.  The valuable mintmark had been concealed beneath a small speck of gunky dirt.  I was astonished to see the "D" there when I removed the dirt!

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My rarest?  I don't really know.  I once had a very rare US coin slip right through my fingers.  Some pieces I've had (particularly the love tokens) are unique.  The one I will never sell?  There are a few of those.  The one I dream of acquiring?  There are quite a few of those, as well.

Here's one I would never sell- it's one of my detector finds.  After an article about it ran in the Associated Press, I showed the newspaper clipping to a nice lady at work.  It was a good conversation starter.  We've now been happily married since 1999.  So though the coin isn't worth much monetarily, it has a high sentimental and historical value.  (You guys thought you couldn’t use your coin hobby to score with the ladies?  Haha. Think again!)

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What do you collect exactly ? What is the size of your collection ?

If I like it, I collect it!  After 47 years of collecting, you could say my numismatic knowledge is fairly broad, but it doesn't run all that deep in most areas.  I am the proverbial "jack of all trades and master of none", being a generalist rather than a specialist.  I lack the attention span and scholarly strengths that so many of you (particularly collectors of Ancients) have, but I guess you could say I know a little bit about a lot of stuff.  I must say I am both impressed and intimidated by the knowledge of my fellow collectors here.  I often find myself out of my depth, but at least I can carry on a basic numismatic conversation without embarrassing myself too badly in the presence of true experts.

My collection is a wide, eclectic assortment from the last 2,400 years of numismatic history.  It is a bit heavy on Greco-Roman ancients and United States classic Type coins, but it goes all around the world, from the Archaic period to the present.  I'm fascinated by the entire scope of World history and consider myself a world citizen.

I recently decided to limit the primary collection to just 100 certified coins.  That keeps it to a manageable size for my safe deposit box and online galleries.  But that strategy is challenging, because every time I want to add a coin, I need to remove one, to keep the collection to a fixed total of 100 pieces.  This hopefully will result in a gradual upgrading as time goes on.  Quality over quantity is the idea.

I call it "The Eclectic Hundred".   Check it out!

Never thought I would own an aureus, on my working class budget.  Now I have two!

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Another, more whimsical, side collection is my accumulation of holed coins.  I not only collect holed coins on purpose, but occasionally wear them as fashion accessories to coin shows!

The Holey Gold Hat, in its better days before I sold off all its gold during the recession.  The centerpiece was an ex-Eliasberg solidus of Zeno

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The reincarnated, much-humbler Holey Coin Hat (no gold).  Hangin' out with ol' Ben at the 2023 FUN convention in Orlando, Florida.

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What did you write about ?

I've not published anything of note, but the main body of my work so far consists of tens of thousands of message board posts, mostly on Collectors Universe and CoinTalk.  A lot of it is half-brained drivel, but I do manage a little bit of thought-out, worthwhile content once in a while.

In what part of history are you interested in ?

ALL of it!  All around the world!  Just like my coin collection!

Do you have a numismatic goal for the next year ?

I don't have any solid goals.  I'll work on completing the Twelve Caesars subset of my collection.  Would like to add a nice Mexican "Caballito" peso, too.  An Akragas "crab" tetradrachm, perhaps.  Maybe a gold "elephant" pagoda from India.  And a few other things.  Who knows what will jump in front of me?

What numismatic books do you own / consult most often ?

Pathetically, I do not own much of a numismatic library and have relatively few books on the shelf.  Limited living space, you see.  I did use to use the Krause Standard Catalogs of World Coins a lot.  These days, I depend largely on the Internet as a reference.  And I lean heavily on dealers and Internet friends for research and attribution of Ancients, though I'm not incapable of teaching myself a thing or two now and then.

Rob, can you tell us more about your hobby of detectorist ? The Roman coin you discovered in Georgia ? Your trip to detect in UK ?

Though not so much over the last ten years, I was a detectorist for almost as long as I'd been collecting coins.

As you mentioned, I once found a Roman coin in Georgia, on a colonial site.  I didn't even have the detector with me that day.  It was an "eyeball" find, washed out of a sand roadbed by the rain, mixed in with some 18th and 19th century artifacts.

I call that story "The Arcadius Anomaly".  Check it out!

Arcadius AE2, Gloria Romanorum type.  Found on a colonial site in Liberty County, Georgia.

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I finally managed to make it to the UK for a week of detecting in Essex, in 2013.  I did not fare as well as my fellow diggers did on the trip, but I did manage to find two hammered silver pennies, of Edward I and Charles I, and a tiny late-medieval lead token.  Disappointingly, I did not find any Roman coins over there, though a fellow digger popped a Marcus Aurelius sestertius right near me on the very first hour in the field.  Another guy with us found a gold Celtic stater the day after I left.  Here's a quick summary of the trip.

Circa 1300-1310 English hammered silver penny of Edward I "Longshanks".  I dug it in a farm field in Essex, 2013.

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One other very curious detecting find of mine was an old Chinese brass medallion, purportedly a diplomatic medal of some kind from the 15th century Xuande emperor in the Ming Dynasty.  I found it in an old hilltop churchyard in a small town in Western North Carolina!  It caused quite a stir amongst the proponents of the controversial 1421 hypothesis.  Gavin Menzies devoted several pages to it in his book Who Discovered America?, and I'm mentioned by name in that book and a few others.  Apparently Menzies and his colleagues believed my find was evidence of a Chinese landing by Zheng He in North America in 1421, decades before Columbus.  I'm not so sure I totally subscribe to that theory, but on the other hand, I guess it's remotely possible.  How in the world did that old medallion end up deep in the dirt of a little-known churchyard in North Carolina, anyway?  It is fascinating to think about.

The Mysterious Ming Medallion.  I dug it in North Carolina in 1994.

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Well, I reckon that's all I've got to blab about for now.  Thanks for reading it all, if you did.  Come see me around the forums, and you know I'm happy to chat about those little round metallic discs anytime!

~RWS ("LM")

 

Many thanks Rob for your participation in the project and also to allow us to know you better. As usual, fellow collectors, feel free to share your comments about this interview.

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@Ocatarinetabellatchitchix and @lordmarcovan Interesting interview. I like The Eclectic Hundred. Those coins seem to be mostly high end coins. There is certainly a lot of quality there. In addition to ancient, medieval, and world coins, I also collect US coins, but I had never heard of the Feuchtwanger cent. That's an interesting coin. The Greece Carian Islands Rhodes coin is quite nice and interesting. The 1808 Columbia 8 Escudos gold coin is interesting. Your proof coins, especially the Ireland 1805 half penny, and the 1881 Indian Head cent, are interesting. I have a 1914-D Lincoln cent, as part of my Lincoln cent collection (my only "series"), but I don't think it's XF.

Your strategy of limiting your "primary collection" to 100 slabbed coins is interesting. I'm a fellow generalist, but I've only sold several US coins, at local coin shows. I've sold no other coins. I have some coins, which have been upgraded, or which I don't like much, but they aren't valuable enough to be worth my time to sell, yet. Luckily, I have plenty of storage space, for my collection, which includes 112 ancient, 69 medieval, 25 world, and 26 US coins, plus my Lincoln cents, plus some coins about which I don't care.

How far along, are you, in your 12 Caesars collection? In your The Eclectic Hundred, I see 6 of them : Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, Vespasian, and Titus. I remember the story, about your recent acquisition, and then selling to a fellow member, of the Caligula as. Will all of your 12 Caesars, be part of The Eclectic Hundred?

What sorts of coins do you have, which are not in your "primary collection"? How many such coins do you have?

Congratulations, for having an interesting collection.

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On 12/30/2023 at 2:32 AM, sand said:

How far along, are you, in your 12 Caesars collection? In your The Eclectic Hundred, I see 6 of them : Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, Vespasian, and Titus. I remember the story, about your recent acquisition, and then selling to a fellow member, of the Caligula as. Will all of your 12 Caesars, be part of The Eclectic Hundred?

Yes, the 12 Caesars will be a subset under my Eclectic Hundred collection, unless I decide to fork them off into their own collection gallery later.

2024 update: I did just that.  Here it is.

Quote

What sorts of coins do you have, which are not in your "primary collection"? How many such coins do you have?

I have a nearly complete US 19th century type set in my holed coins, and there are dozens of other "holeys" around.  There are also my old metal detecting finds albums, which comprise 300+ "keeper" coins that I dug over the years.  Beyond that, there's a small scattering of items I have on hand that are either for sale or earmarked for my giveaways.

Here is the holey type set.  It's not quite complete yet, but nearly there.

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Edited by lordmarcovan
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Huge thanks, again to @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix and to the star of the show!  My two easy favorite parts are your amazing adventures as a detectorist in the US, and you Ringing vindication of eclecticism in collecting as having no less profound legitimacy as depth.  Less two opposites, than two complementary terms in a very rich dialectic.

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I think You and I are coinbros! Reading that fine interview you did with Ocat, so interesting! Finally found real story behind your "lord" ID! Also your diverse collection/ start by reading childrens books/ just like me😇again. From oneworking stiff to another/ congratulations!!!!! I am so happy that you joined the "aurei" club🥰

John

 

PS: my hats are nothing like yours🙄

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An interesting and delightful interview! Thanks @lordmarcovan for sharing and @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix for putting it together!

Those detector finds are incredible! Metal detecting is one of my hobbies as well but I've never found anything like that - ancient/medieval coins here in the US! 😮

Oh, and I'm happy to know the story behind your forum name! 😉 A few years ago my brothers and I started our own D&D campaign but we never got very far with it.

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LM / Rob's influence on coin forums - and my own collection - can't be understated. His posts introduced me to the "Box of 20" concept, specifically focusing on quality over quantity and his world coin collection helped encourage my transition away from US into Ancients (and I haven't looked back).

His posting/community building on the PCGS forum in particular was instrumental in my own building of a website and (in)frequent posts. This directly introduced me to a wider group of collectors and marked a turning point in my collecting journey.

One of these days, I hope to find myself in your neck of the woods, @lordmarcovan, as it'd be great to shake your hand in person!

And, after 10+ years of reading thousands of your posts, I'm thrilled that you've been fortunate to take home two excellent aurei - especially the Titus elephant aureus. Here's to many more decades of collecting!

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12 hours ago, AncientJoe said:

LM / Rob's influence on coin forums - and my own collection - can't be understated. His posts introduced me to the "Box of 20" concept, specifically focusing on quality over quantity and his world coin collection helped encourage my transition away from US into Ancients (and I haven't looked back).

His posting/community building on the PCGS forum in particular was instrumental in my own building of a website and (in)frequent posts. This directly introduced me to a wider group of collectors and marked a turning point in my collecting journey.

One of these days, I hope to find myself in your neck of the woods, @lordmarcovan, as it'd be great to shake your hand in person!

And, after 10+ years of reading thousands of your posts, I'm thrilled that you've been fortunate to take home two excellent aurei - especially the Titus elephant aureus. Here's to many more decades of collecting!

Joe, if I had some influence on you, I’m amazed to hear it, since your collection is one I have aspired to emulate (as far as my budget allows).  Your keen eye for beautiful coins is second to none.  

If anyone asked me which coin from someone else’s collection I’d most like to have, my answer would likely be your Vespasian aureus with the purplish toning from the Boscoreale hoard.  That thing blows me away, and your collection is an absolute joy to behold.  I’ve long said, “I want to be like @AncientJoe when I grow up!”

I also haven’t forgotten the generous gift of your time, back when you used to help me with those Photoshop templates for coin backgrounds.  Those “shadowbox” templates really look amazing, and they lend your collection a sense of depth and gravitas.  As you’ve seen in the examples above, I’ve since adopted a simpler grey gradient background template of my own that I’m able to duplicate without begging for help from others.  But I still think your “shadowbox” templates look better.

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