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The profession of ancient coin dealer is among the more unusual, interesting ways to earn a living. Offering ancient coins for sale is one of the most exclusive professions - in all the world there are only a few hundred ancient coin dealers, who are in many cases very interesting and often colorful individuals.

The greatest attraction to dealing in ancient coins is that it is  such a fascinating field. Unlike modern coins, all struck alike on high speed machinery, ancient coins were struck with hammers impacting hand held dies every second or two. This caused innumerable variations between individual coins struck from the same dies, and since every die was engraved by hand, no two ancient coins are exactly alike. Every ancient coin is to some extent unique and different.

Offering Greek and Roman coins for sale to collectors is a challenge when undertaken as a business, rather than a hobby.  A large, costly numismatic reference library is essential for an ancient coin dealer. Although the library of  Classical Coins took more than ten years to acquire and is still being added to, it hasn't yet been inventoried. More than 200 lineal feet of numismatic books have now been shelved, amounting to far more than 1000 titles and a six figure investment.  Another capital intensive challenge is coin inventory. Collectors expect a large and comprehensive selection of attractive ancient coins to choose from. Being extremely value conscious, they also expect bargain prices. Since many issues sell rapidly while others may take years to find the right collector, there is  a constant struggle to maintain an attractive, balanced  inventory.

Dealers are essential to the economic cycle of coin collecting. Very few collectors give this aspect of their avocation any thought, but dealers are the key to providing attractive coins for collectors to acquire and a market for collections when the time has come to sell. Dealers make the market, evening things out by providing continuity at sales in very much the same way as specialists on the New York Stock Exchange.

A coin dealer's life is hard for collectors to visualize. Much painstaking research must be done in authenticating, attributing and cataloguing coins offered for sale. Homework for acquisitions is  essential, and a dealer who does not pay attention to this will not be in business long. When Classical Coins bids on a coin at an auction or makes an offer for a collection, the selling price has already been accurately estimated, involving as many as a dozen price comparisons per coin.

Processing orders is meticulous, time consuming detail work in which absolute accuracy is essential - more than a dozen individual steps are involved. When an order is received, the coin(s) are first retrieved from the vault.  Each order must then be entered into the accounting system, invoiced, billed, and after funds are received, packaged and shipped.  An  accountant is a prohibitive financial burden for a small business, so David has to fill that role at Classical Coins as well as that of webmaster. The task of developing a major commercial website such as Classical Coins must be experienced to be believed.

David's life as a dealer in ancient coins is the subject of the Classical Coins Blog.

After receiving a classical education at the hands of the Jesuits, David pursued interests in coin collecting and classical studies for several years as a professional numismatist,  then took up a career in the more remunerative field of Engineering.

He  founded Applied Technology Management (www.apptechman.com ) after serving as Principal Engineer at Calient Networks, a leading developer of optical switching systems,  and is now a consulting engineer.

Before that he was employed in technical management and engineering positions in the electrical connector industry, most recently as Engineering Manager at Sabritec.


David Welsh
Proprietor

David received the Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Engineering from California Coast University in 1976 and 1988, and is best known technically as an expert in optical switching systems, fiber optics and interconnection technology.

David has been awarded seventeen US Patents, authored two technical books and numerous articles, and received Best of Session and Best Paper awards for papers presented to  the International Institute of Connector and Interconnection Technology.

A natural linguist, he reads or speaks five modern languages in addition to studies in Latin, Greek and extinct scripts such as ancient Hebrew, Phoenician and Pahlavi.

How Classical Coins Began

David and his wife Susan visited Paris in 1994 for a technical conference, attending the biennial Antiquarian Exposition. There they met a French dealer, Jean-Bruno Vigne, whose intense love for fine Greek coins caused David to realize that he had not lost any of his former passion for ancient numismatics. After ten years of development effort, building a library  and gathering stock, Classical Coins (www.classicalcoins.com) opened for business in December 2003.  This Internet ancient coin business is unique in that its focus is on education and research, at least as much as on selling coins.

It soon became apparent that coin collecting was threatened by developments in cultural property law. In February 2004 David founded Unidroit-L (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Unidroit-L/), a discussion group focusing on this topic. He was an early supporter of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, in which he is Chairman of the  International Affairs Committee, and has become known as a collectors’ rights activist. A scientist by training and inclination, David is interested in numismatic research, and has already published one major research monograph on this website. More are planned.

Profiles coming soon:

Susan Welsh

Office Manager

Juliana Welsh

Numismatic Assistant


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