My name is Marvin Tameanko. I am a Canadian born in Toronto, Ontario in 1934. My family claims I was born at home on the kitchen table with no doctor in attendance, but this was not an unusual procedure in those days and has nothing to do with my passion fort collecting coins. I now live in Richmond Hill, a town and suburb north of Toronto.
What do you collect?
I collect mostly ancient coins but having been bitten by the coin bug, I collect any coin that has "eye-appeal" and has some interesting history behind it. Canadian coins were always available from the local banks, so I built a large Canadian collection in the days before 1967 when Canadian coins contained silver. Educated as an architect and having become a professor of Architecture at Ryerson University in Toronto, I specialized in ancient coins with architectural reverses. I used these as illustrations in the courses I taught in Architectural History. Because few good reference books on Architectural coins were available, I wrote my own text, titled Monumental Coins, Buildings an Structures on Ancient Coins. It was published in 1999 and won a Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) award as the Best World Coin Book, 1999. I also found that every coin I acquired had a story to tell and I have written about 350 articles on coins for several magazines in Canada, USA and Europe.
Where does the passion for the hobby comes from?
Many collectors become passionate about collecting coins because of the history their coins represent. The first coin I ever bought in 1964, was a poor condition as of Nero but it showed the emperor, dressed as Apollo on the reverse, singing and playing the lyre. This represented to me the tale of Nero playing the 'fiddle' (harp or lyre) while Rome burned. The coin confirmed the myth or historical fact about Nero's action while Rome burned and I had to have that piece in my collection. The lure of coins is that they can often prove lost or unknown facts of history.
What compels you to collect?
I soon discovered that numismatics was a complex, multi-discipline science involving history, economics, metallurgy, mechanics, technology, and mythology or religion. Also coins were connected to famous historical people and this led to research into biography. One can say that coin collecting is a complete educational process, exposing the collector to many fields of study. Such studies are only useful when they are shared with others and this compels us to attend seminars at coin shows, read books and magazine articles, participate in internet lists and forums, all to gather or confirm information and expand our knowledge. Coin collectors never stop learning. This is a pleasant process and I have made many friends, all over the world, who have gladly helped me learn about the coins I collect.
Do you know how much your collection is worth?
After years of collecting, the time comes when you need to know the value of your collection. This in itself is an exciting process that brings you into contact with fellow collectors, dealers and museum officials who can help you evaluate your coins. It is always surprising when you realize that some of your coins may be worth a great deal of money but that most have not appreciated over the years. For insurance purposes, my collection was evaluated at $10,000 US. This is just about what I have spent to acquire the coins over the past 50 years. If you factor in inflation rates, I will make no profit when I sell the coins. But the amount of learning and pleasure I received by collecting cannot be measured by any amount of money.
In earlier days, antiquarians stamped or personalized the coins in their collections in some way to provide a provenance. Coins from famous collections can attract higher prices on the market but only if the collectors, like King Farouk of Egypt or Virgil Brand of the USA, were famous. Unknown collectors cannot expect to profit from having their name attached to a specimen and most remain anonymous. I agree with this approach and only hope that whoever purchases my coins will enjoy them for their content and not for the fact that I once owned them. However, the tickets included in my coin holders do carry a code and my name for identification purposes.
How do you acquire new coins for your collection?
Acquiring new coins is the delightful part of the hobby. Attending coins shows and looking for bargains, pouring over auction catalogues looking for pieces missing from my collection, studying Ebay or other internet offerings in search of the illusive rarity, all these methods are a large part of collecting and satisfy the need for adventure in a hobby. I once found a rare but relatively unknow coin in a dealer's $5 bargain (junk) box. I felt I had to be fair and told him he had undervalued it by about $30 but he said, "Take it a $5, I only paid 50 cents for it." So we both won. He made a good profit and I gained a new friend.
Do you have any advice for newcomers?
My advice to new collectors would be, that they do research before buying a coin and know what the coin represents. This makes collecting an educational experience and more fulfilling. Knowledge is power and knowing everything about your coin makes you an expert, the ultimate status in the collecting avocation. My second piece of advice is always buy the best coin, in the best condition, you can afford. I have some coins in my collection that over the years have darkened or corroded and are no longer recognizable, and are worthless.
If you want to now more about Marvin Tameanko you can visit his linkedin profile.