Tim Wright is relatively new to the world of ancient numismatics, following a career in business. He studied at Manchester and Cambridge universities, gaining his PhD in International Law many years ago.
Like many, he started collecting the Greeks, aided by several expert dealers who generously guided his early participation in auctions and research.
Tim developed a particular interest in the coins of Naxos, Sicily, of which the 461 BCE Tetradrachm is the standout in the series. This led to research updating Cahn’s definitive study from the 1940s, wading through catalogues dating back to the start of the nineteenth century.
With a booming market for Greeks, especially the desirable Sicilians, Tim turned his attention to the coins of the Roman Republic. While heavily influenced by Greek prototypes and in some respects of a lesser artistic standard, he found their back stories fascinating. Researching the moneyers and the political context for a particular coin is most rewarding.
To this point, Tim had failed to follow the standard advice to new collectors: focus. While almost all of his collection was silver, it could be described as either “eclectic” or “random” depending on how generous you wanted to be.
Then his collecting took another turn, to the coins of pre-Roman Britain. And it was here that he started to focus, only occasionally buying an exceptional Greek or Roman.
The world of British “Celtic” coins drew Tim in. With arguably less “classical” beauty than their Greek counterparts and less-well documented historical context than the Roman Republicans, the appeal of these coins lay in their abstractions, magical flights of fancy, mystery and blending of external influence.
In seeking to read around the subject of pre-Roman British coins, Tim encountered Roman commentaries, Celtic art history, myths and legends, archaeology and even linguistics. Yet he felt that these mostly carried a lot of baggage, be it the colonial Roman bias or the more recent Celtic nationalism.
Of course, there were excellent books on the coins, from Evans, through Mack, Allen, Nash, Van Arsdell to modern works by Talbot and Sills. Yet for Tim there was not an accessible, visually enticing introduction to the topic, that would open this wonderful series to a new audience. So, he set out to write one in the form of “British Celtic Coins – Art or Imitation”, which was published by Spink earlier this year.
Tim continues to work part-time, in the UK., continental Europe and the US. He divides his time between London and France, and in between work commitments collects, studies and writes about ancient coins.
Tim Wright is a fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society and a member of the British Numismatic Society, as well as a supporter of the Celtic Coin Index through the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.