Roman Coins from the John Quinn Collection

Roman Coins from the John Quinn Collection

John Quinn

I was born in 1946 in Islington, North London, where there is a well-known street market, the Chapel Market. My grandmother used to sell salad produce there and I remember helping her as a child, counting the old penny coins into 1s. piles. So it could be said that I have handled coins from my earliest years! In fact my interest in coin collecting began about the age of 10 and has been with me ever since. It started with the gift of a large copper coin from my uncle which he had found whilst working on road repairs. I later found it to be an example of the 1797 George III 'cartwheel' penny and have kept it to this day.

When my parents moved to the Victoria area of London in the mid 1950s we lived not far from an antique shop where an old gentleman sold a variety of ancient coins. He encouraged me in my hobby and my first purchase was a denarius of the emperor Hadrian for a few shillings. I suppose my interest in history was fuelled by a very successful TV programme at that time called 'Animal, Vegetable, Mineral', whose guest was the famous archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler. At school I did best in history, languages and music. I attended Archbishop Tenison's grammar school at the Oval and then went on to gain an Honours degree in French at Exeter University.

A large part of my working life has been spent in banking. I was fortunate in the late 1970s to find a position in the bullion department of NatWest Bank where there was also a section dealing with numismatic coins, providing coin sets, commemorative crowns and items in gold specifically requested by branch customers. I went on to work in the registrar's department of Hill Samuel Bank, which later became Barclays Registrars and then Capita Registrars, before taking early retirement at the end of last year.

My hobby grew with me over the years and like most hobbies provided an outlet to the normal stresses and strains of everyday life. I began buying from established dealers and recall many trips to the offices of B.A. Seaby Ltd in Geat Portland Street, to the antique market of the Arches at Charing Cross and to Glendining's auction rooms. With any pursuit involving collecting there is always the excitement of searching to find a rare item which has somehow been overlooked. Two of my lucky finds were a denarius of Caligula with the reverse of Germanicus for the princely sum of 27s.6d. purchased when I was a schoolboy and an extremely rare sestertius of the emperor Hadrian from a Glendining's lot with the reverse Restitutori Nicomediae, commemorating his aid to that city after it had been devastated by an earthquake and costing just a few pounds.

My interest in Roman imperial coins crystallised very early on and I was particularly impressed by those struck under the emperors Nero and Hadrian, both Graecophiles, whose mints produced coins of beautiful design and workmanship. It has been a collector's interest rather than an investor's interest and the collection overall has been built up from relatively modest means over a very long period of time. Now, having reached retirement age, I have decided it is time to pass the larger part of my acquisitions to others. I will still retain my interest in the Hadrianic period, however, and will add to this part of my collection for the time being to keep my interest in the hobby alive.