Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ancient Tchotchkes

We took the day off on Friday to attend the New York International Numismatic Convention, held as it has been for years at the magical Waldorf Astoria. For me it's a chance to see and handle some museum-quality terra-cotta antiquities, eyeball some Greek vases costing more than my car, and then blow a double sawbuck on a pretty shard of figured Roman redware pottery (with provenance!)

Objects made of gold or silver, that are rare or especially desirable, are waaay outta my league, naturally, but they're not the only things out there. Bronze is a mighty strong substance, and there are millions of ancient bronze objects and innumerable coins that have survived for a thousand, fifteen hundred years and more. I bought a common bronze coin minted at Siscia in the 4th century under Constans, featuring his portrait and that of two figures of victory, centered and nicely struck, for the price of dessert at the hotel restaurant. Even a Roman bronze ring, unique, hand-decorated, and ten centuries old, can be had for less than the price of a Waldorf brunch.

The bourse floor was very crowded and overheated this year, so after visiting the few dealers of "Stuff I Like and Can Afford" I went down to the lobby to walk around and wait for DH to finish.

That's the famous Waldorf Clock above, whose plaque tells us it was made for display at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.

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