Mark Hannam, Roman coins
When Mark Hannam was nine, he uncovered an old penny on a grass bank on West Cliff, Bournemouth, using a metal detector bought for him by his father. ‘I’ll never forget how exciting it was—it inspired not just a hobby, but my career,’ admits Mr Hannam, who is a collectables expert for Fieldings Auctioneers in Stourbridge in the West Midlands, where his annual coin sales have generated more than £1 million over the past decade.
During hunts across Britain, from Bournemouth to Bridgenorth, he’s amassed a private collection of more than 60 hammered-silver coins, including a silver denarius bearing the bust of Emperor Otho (Marcus Salvius Otho Caesar Augustus), who was Roman emperor for three months in AD69, the Year of the Four Emperors. Some of these might sell for a few hundred pounds, but he can’t bring himself to part with any of his finds: ‘Each one tells a story. My favourite piece of all, a bronze eagle, has been the subject of lectures I’ve given to local historical societies and groups.’
Mr Hannam gives a word of warning to aspiring collectors: ‘Be sure to get permission before searching on anyone’s land—it’s also important to record discoveries with the local finds liaison officer. It’s not just about digging it out of the ground and putting it in your pocket.’