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The Jewel in the Crown

Introduction by Randy Weir

I first met Dr. David Fore more than twenty five years ago when David responded to one of my World Coin News advertisements, expressing an interest in British colonial coins. He appreciated the coins and grades he received from me and, after a few phone calls back and forth, it became apparent that we were on the same page. We soon formed a plan to build a monumental collection of the finest British Indian coinage. My knowledge and David’s keen interest has taken us on an odyssey which has resulted in this, the David Fore Collection. It is one of the finest collections of Proofs, Restrikes and Patterns from British India ever put together and represents some forty years of search, research and money spent to find the nicest coins possible, with only the Pridmore collection (from what seems aeons ago) to compare. This outstanding collection, skilfully formed, shows what can be achieved by a collector of conviction, a reasonable amount of money and a trusted agent travelling to find the coins.

David told me that his interest in collecting coins began as a child, when he watched his father, who owned a small store in a rural town of two thousand people, search his change looking for the elusive US 1909 SVDB Penny. Although he never found that coin, he had almost complete sets of most of the denominations of US coins. At age nine, David’s first job was delivering newspapers. Instead of buying comic books, he would take his weekly earnings of a few dollars to the bank and get rolls of pennies to search through, also looking for that 1909 Penny.

His very first foreign coin purchase was an Indian Proof Restrike ¼-Anna from Lauren Benson. This coin was the beginning of a love affair with Indian coins that was to last for forty years. He bought restrikes every time he found them for the next eight years, while he completed his medical school and post graduate training.

I was privileged to introduce David to the fascinating world of colonial coins with coins from the famous Dick Ford collection and the Heaton Mint coins sold by Format of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Our relationship was perfectly symbiotic. I clocked up the air miles travelling to build up a network of international dealers that would save the best coins; I scoured the auctions for anything that needed to be added to the collection, I found some wonderful coins that way. David's only job was to have the money to pay for these purchases. A perfect 50/50 relationship if ever I heard of one! David quickly came to calling the collection "our coins" as it really did take the two of us to make it happen. This added a bit of a new angle for me, in that, if they were going to be "our" coins, then I had better make sure that these were coins that "I" was proud to own.

In the beginning there was no lack of coins to buy and I was able to keep Dave fairly "broke" (although I allowed him enough money to put food on the table and four children through University). His wonderful wife never questioned what we were doing, she thought that other Doctors made a little more money than Dave and wondered what the heck her husband was doing with all these boxes of coins!

David recalls that the Pridmore collection had just been auctioned when we first met and there were coins in this collection we set out to track down. David bought the Pridmore books, with the result that every coin we purchased had meaning for him. For him the minor differences and pattern coins are so fascinating that every coin we bought was like prospecting for gold.

Many of the coins in this collection came from the Pridmore collection, but also from other famous collections of Indian coins such as the Sir John Wheeler Collection, the Ken Wiggins Collection and the Diana Collection, all auctioned by Baldwin’s in London. The competition for these coins at auctions was intense and we paid more than we would reasonably expect to pay for many of the coins we bought but, in the end, we were happy to be the successful bidder many times in these and other auctions. Numerous coins were purchased at other auctions and from other collectors and dealers. To all those, we extend a thank you for the wonderful coins in this collection.

David and I had an exciting time putting this collection together, but now it is time for David and his wife to benefit from the fruits of our labours. They are still both fit and young at heart and I expect them to enjoy the proceeds from these coins that we have so lovingly put together.

Throughout the process of putting the collection together our main focus was to finding the best quality coins, I had seen those who didn't consider this greatly disappointed when they eventually sold their collection. In my head quality equates to a good investment. For this reason David and I decided early that is was better to pay "tomorrow's" prices for top quality coins. We both got really inspired by the coins of India. They were usually cheap and usually available in nice grade with a plethora of dates, and unknowns, that made the whole enterprise most interesting.

I spent a great deal of time at the British Museum and a few of the older collectors allowed me to view their collections the better to understand this series, especially with its cornucopiae of Proofs and Restrikes. As a result, I learned early to acknowledge and understand the differences, and I extend my thanks Thomas Curtis at Baldwin’s, Hil Kaslove and Jim Haxby (both ex-Deputy Curators of the Bank of Canada) for their part in this education.

The last few years have seen many changes to the coin collecting hobby and, in particular, to the Indian coin market. Auctions have become more international, instead of a room of only dealers representing themselves or their collectors, better communications have allowed more collectors direct access to the auctions and the internet has revolutionised bidding. Today collectors from around the world are able to bid on the coins they want with a click of a button. This has led to much more interest in the Indian series amongst others.

However, one of the things that has been lost is the collectors desire to take time to learn more about the process of grading these coins, for which they can be paying a great deal of money. Too often they rely on the services of a third party grading service. In putting together this collection, David and I believe it is important and enjoyable to know what constitutes the parameters used to grade a coin. The lustre, the strike, the marks, the overall aesthetics play a vital part in determining the value of a coin, and we believe this should always be part of the system in the selling of coins. What good auction houses can offer collectors today is our knowledge of the coins being sold. We have an opportunity here with the Fore Collection to add to the knowledge from a few hundred years of experience here in Baldwin’s. We want to make our catalogues a source of information and a reference work that can be used, and will be useful, for years to come.

Since the Pridmore collection, nothing of note from the Presidency series had appeared at auction, but a great deal of information has been gleaned from the study of original information found in the records of the East India Company by Dr. Paul Stevens. His trilogy of books starts with the Bengal Presidency series (published by Baldwin’s and available from them and Mr F Todywalla in India) will give us a much greater insight into this series. The Fore collection will act as a market barometer, allowing us to see what these coins are really worth in today’s market place, as well as giving us a catalogue that we can use as the study continues on this series. In addition, the sale of the David Fore Collection gives collectors the chance to buy coins, many of which were used in the book written by Dr Paul Stevens and myself : Coins of British India 1835-1947. What a wonderful pedigree to have!

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