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INTERVIEW WITH A MEMBER: kapphnwn (Terence Cheesman)


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As you may have heard, Mr. Terence Cheesman just passed away a few days ago. Finishing this interview was difficult after his two-week stay in the hospital in November, but despite his weakness he wanted to let us know a little better the interesting story of his life. I therefore present it to you without modifying anything, even if no one suspected that he would not be able to react to it personally...

 

He is not only a student, but also a very qualified teacher on the subject of ancient coinage. He has shared this knowledge over the years at several conferences, readings and exhibitions across Canada. And what about the impressive collection he has accumulated over the past decades ? Let us just mention that more than 75 of his coins have been discussed or illustrated in different numismatic literature! Now it’s time to give the floor to Terence Cheesman aka kapphnwn.

 

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

My name is Terence Cheesman.  As that was my handle on the old CT site it is not much of a secret. I am 72 years old and I was born on a farm near Forget (pronounced Forjay) Saskatchewan. I was the eldest child with two younger sisters. I moved to Edmonton Alberta when I was five and have been a resident since. My parents were teachers and that was one of the two careers that I had attempted (the other was the army) that had cratered before I was twenty five years of age.  Eventually I found employment with Canada Post as a letter carrier and stayed with that job for 30 years retiring some twelve years ago. 

Retirement is the best job I never had. I am single never married and live in an apartment style condominium. Besides coins I have a long fascination with military firearms something that I collected but eventually discarded. I have always been passionate about history. I would spend just about every waking hour reading about history. Especially military history. I enjoyed reading so much that for over fifteen years after i moved out from my parent's place I did not own a TV but I did have a lot of books. However in 1993 I gave up on renting and bought into a two bedroom apartment style condo.  The second bedroom is my office and is where most of my library resides. 

 

How did you get interested in ancient coinage ?

As mentioned I loved history and with coins I had a tangible connection with the past. I started collecting when I was 8 years old.  However as I started collecting coins I found that I was being drawn to earlier and earlier coins. I felt that I was making a connection with some of the people I had read about in my history books. This was long before the invention of the internet and my only source for coins were some brick and mortar shops downtown.  Over time I did find some ancient coins, however they were completely unidentified and I did not have access to any books that might help. However I did like them but given the situation I remained a generalist. However I will have to say that this changed after I had returned from overseas. I had been content up to that time in just purchasing what the local shops could provide, but I started writing letters to coin shops I would see advertised in the trade journals. I would include a want list and generally I did not get any kind of response. However this changed when I contacted Joel Malter. Not only did he respond but he actually sent me a coin. WOW So from this point on I could actually purchase the coins that I really wanted, plus could actually see what was out there that could be purchased. At the time I was most interested in Roman Imperial coins and concentrated on them. Later I developed interests in Roman Republican and eventually Greek coins as well. 

 

Can you tell us an anecdote about a coin you own ?

My first coin 

Gallienus Ae Antoninianus Rome 267-268 AD Animal series. Obv Head right radiate, Rv antelope walking right RIC 181 20 mm 

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I bought this coin  in the summer of 1965 I paid $6 for it and I suspect I would have been able to find something similar for about the same price decades later. I did not know what it was for almost 20 years. (no books) I gave the coin to a University collection about 10 years ago?

 

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

I consider my collection to be a teaching collection. I use coins from my collection to illustrate talks and seminars on ancient coins. When conducting a seminar on material culture I find that by showing more than 200 hundred coins the audience's brains turn to mush  and thus in order to convey what I need to tell them. So most of my coins could be considered to standard types that one might see in any book on ancient Greek and Roman coins. 

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After collecting for over 50 years I have many stories about acquiring coins, selling coins making and losing money on coins. However I can say that one story is unique. Generally speaking my parents were never a big fan of any of my hobbies. I think they believed that I spent way too much time on them to the detriment of everything else. However only once did my collection get the approval of my mother. She was a member of a bridge club and one of the other members of the bridge club was a rather arrogant condescending woman who constantly reminded everyone of the success of her son who I believe was a doctor or an investor. Either way he was very successful and doing a lot better than I was a Postal Worker. However when I heard about the Bunker Hunt Sales held by  Sotheby's back in the earlier 90's I endeavored to get the auction cats. They had a deal; either buy the auction cats at $100 or buy a years subscription to Sotheby's for $20.  (Not hard to guess which option  I took) Eventually I did get the cats but even better I got a invitation to attend the auction. I still remember it going something like this Dear Mr Cheesman The Directors of Sotheby's as well as Nelson Bunker Hunt and William Herbert Hunt requests your presence at the numismatic auction held ........ I showed this thing to mom. She took it and made certain that her friend (nemesis)  saw it as well. Mom was quite pleased with the result. However only for a while.

I am a generalist. I collect ancient Greek and Roman Coins. However there are subject within this general field that interest me more than others, The coinage of Alexander the Great is one of these and the development of portraiture on Greek coins is another. These are easy to explains others less so. I believe that most Roman coins issued during the Imperial period should be seen as a part of a larger group which each coin  working together to form a larger message. I have worked this concept out on a few (to me) obvious issues but much of the series remains difficult to discern. One thing I always enjoy is once purchasing a coin I try to find out everything I can about it. Sometimes it is not a great deal but other times........ 

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What did you write about ?

I write short articles on Greek and Roman Coins with are published in the Edmonton Numismatic Societies publication the Planchet. This publication can be found on line and most of it free. Generally I like to keep my articles brief. Usually my articles are centered around coins that I had recently purchased, Usually the article centers on what the coin is and some short synopsis on the period during which the coin was struck. Occasionally if the situation warrants it, some coins will have a chapter about what I might call my adventures in pedigrees. Overall I find this process to be interesting.

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What part of history are you interested in ?

I like most periods of history  not only those periods that touch on my coins, I am particularly interested in recent work on World War Two I have been following a series of presentations on the Battle of Stalingrad and found the whole presentation utterly riveting.  I do watch a number of YOUTube videos and try to read what I can on any subject that catches my interest.  I do enjoy the ANS Longtable lectures but I will admit that I often fail to watch them.

 

Do you have a numismatic goal for the next year ?

I really do not have any numismatic goals set for next year. I just got out of the hospital and am still dealing with a secondary issue that is currently causing me a lot of grief. I suspect that the nature of my recovery will affect the direction of my collection over the next year. 

 

What numismatic books do you own / consult most often ?

I have over 700 Numismatic books monograms and articles, as well as another 50 on line articles and about 100 auction cats. I also have about another 3 or 400 bookings on ancient history. Last year I added something like 60 books though slightly less than half of them were copies of Banti I try to use each book for the purposes that I bought it and as often as necessary.  I really cannot say which books are my favorite's. An article i a series of essays on the coinage of Alexander gave me the key to understanding the Alexander coinage in Asia Minor, I believe is is very useful to purchase books on a given subject as they will you a even great insight into what you collect.

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Thank you Mr.Terence for your many contributions to this forum. We will miss you, but we will not forget you.

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Edited by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix
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High praise to Ocat. for pursuing this timely interview, & high praise to Terence Cheesman for participating in this wonderful interview while in a state of declining health. For those of us who didn't know Terence, this interview revealed what a giant he was in the field of numismatics. Numismatics was more than a hobby to Terence, it was his life pursuit. The coins illustrated in this interview reveal an eye for the finest style & the best condition obtainable, choices a connoisseur would make. Terence Cheesman, may your soul RIP.

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Excellent interview and a great story of a man who contributed much to the field of Classical Numismatics. May he rest in peace. Also as he approached the boatman for the crossing of River Styx he surely would have had a coin in his mouth.

Edited by Ancient Coin Hunter
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