Mark Han­nam, Ro­man coins

Country Life Every Week - - Interiors -

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.’

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