Some excavated coins. (PHOTO COURTESY OF: The University of Calgary)

Robert Weir, an associate professor of Greek and Roman studies at the University of Windsor, researches coins found in archaeological excavations.

He recently spoke about his life as a coin collector at an online event hosted by the University of Calgary on Nov. 18. He credited his father for his long-time interest in coin collecting.

Coin historian, Robert Weir (Pictured), says new technology may one day uncover secrets about ancient currency, but historical books and archives have proven to be more reliable. (PHOTO COURTESY OF: Robert Weir)

“I’ve been interested in coins since 1983, it’s just a long experience,” Weir said.

During the event, Weir discussed some ways of cleaning coins.

“Mechanical cleaning can be done with a sharp scalpel blade under a stereo microscope, and you have to be patient and obviously know what you’re doing,” Weir said.

In one example, Weir recounting finding coins at an excavation site in the anciet city of Helike, in Greece. They found one silver coin and three bronze coins and Weir said he used what he had at hand to starting cleaning them.

“When that new Helike coin came up, I first cleaned it very tentatively myself using an old toothbrush and a bamboo souvlaki skewer just to pry off some of the loose dirt.”

Collectors rely on their own observations and personal judgment in both collecting coins and finding methods of cleaning them, he said. Researchers then use the internet or other references to add more information to their research.

Collections specialist professor Marina Fischer, who presented at the event as well, says reflective transformation imaging technology (RTI) helps document visuals and helps with the treatment of coins.

RTI is a polynomial texture-mapping technique, that works by placing the object under light to reveal its surface phenomena.

“I will be working with the students [on RTI procedures],” Fischer says. “We’re creating a workshop on that.”

Weir says that coin collectors should always depend on their observations in coin searching and identification. He also recommended they refer back to old texts and books which he believes often have more important information than modern technology.

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