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Ancient Coins

Ancient Coins
David R. Sear at Seaby's
Roman Coins David R. Sear Ancient Coin Department B.A. Seaby Ltd., London 1970

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Some of you may be curious to know something of my background and what led me to become so absorbed in the subject of ancient numismatics.

I was born near Harrow, in north-west London, during World War II and had an early exposure to ancient history on a school visit to the site of the Roman city of Verulamium (St. Albans) in Hertfordshire in 1953. The deep impression left by this experience has stayed with me ever since and was responsible for my enthusiasm for ancient (especially Roman Imperial) history during the later years of my education. I eagerly devoured knowledge at a pace which can only be driven by an inner passion for a subject and knew the names, dates, and biographical details of all the Roman emperors long before I had any real comprehension of the coinage which was produced in their names.

B.A.Seaby Ltd.
This ultimately led to the beginning of my long association with B.A. Seaby Ltd., the well-known London coin and publishing company. In the late summer of 1958 Seaby were advertising for two numismatic 'apprentices' to assist in their English and Ancient Departments, and I decided to answer the call. I was interviewed by both the company founder, H.A. ('Bert') Seaby, and his son Peter (who was later to become Managing Director) and joined in September as assistant to Lieut.-Col. Kozolubski, then head of the Seaby Ancient Dept. This association lasted for six years, until the 'Colonel's' death in 1964, and much of my grounding in the subjects of ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine numismatics belongs to those valuable years. I then became the head of the Department, a position which I held for the following nine years until I left the company in 1973.

During my fifteen years at Seaby I formed many friendships in the numismatic world, some of which have lasted until the present day. My colleagues at Seaby included such well-known numismatists as the late Emily Cahn, widow of the pre-war Frankfurt dealer Adolph Cahn; Jean-Paul Divo, now of Hess-Divo AG in Zürich, Switzerland; Laurence Brown, author of "British Historical Medals, 1760-1960" and now a consultant to Spink & Son in London; Frank Purvey, the well-known numismatic photographer with whom I collaborated on so many of my later publications; the late Alan Rayner, co-author with H.A. Seaby of "The English Silver Coinage, 1649-1949"; and the late Margaret Amstell, who authored a number of books aimed at the beginner in the field of collecting English coins, and was a well-known part of the numismatic scene in London and South Africa, both as a Seaby director and later as an independent dealer.

My years at Seaby also gave me the opportunity to become acquainted with a wide range of individuals covering the entire spectrum of ancient numismatics in the '60s. Luminaries from the academic world, professional dealers from many countries, and collectors of all types used to comprise what sometimes seemed an endless procession of visitors to the 'top floor' of 65 Great Portland Street (the Seaby home until the end of the decade). One of my most vivid memories from those years is a scene which occurred one Friday afternoon, when the great Oxford scholar and author Colin Kraay sat happily chatting on the subject of ancient numismatics with one of our 'regulars' - a most knowledgeable fellow who happened to be a night-watchman by profession.

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