Featured A Fake From Syracuse.... New York

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Evan8, May 15, 2018.

  1. Evan8

    Evan8 Old Soul

    When I first saw this piece in an ebay listing, I immediately began searching it's history. That is, if any could be found. To my surprise, there certainly was information regarding it and even auction archives of past sales of similar pieces.

    My intial thought after clicking Buy It Now, was how much profit I could make in re-listing this wonderful piece of American history. Yes, I said American history in the Ancients forum. But this token of sorts also exuberates the history of one of the most important cities in all of Ancient Greece, let alone, one of the most iconic Greek coins ever made: A Decadrachm of Dionysius I with quadriga reverse from Syracuse.

    Picture from:Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com

    We have all drooled over one, atleast I know I have. The spectacular artistry of not one, but two brilliant engravers, of whom were responsible for the fruition of such a coin as shown above is... of course iconic and a little far from being budgetable for myslelf.

    However when a token of similar design and comparable diameter showed up in my mailbox last Friday, and upon opening the parcel, I knew right away, this one wasnt going anywhere.

    In 1847 "The Salt City" (for its abundant salt mines) in central New York was officailly named Syracuse, after of course Syracuse, Sicily. What has this to do with the coin above? Well, in 1893, E.C. Stearns, would start a bicycle shop called the Stearns Bicycle Agency in, you guessed it, Syracuse, New York.

    After building several popular models of bicycle, including the Yellow Fellow, the bicycle industry became quite competitive. Many larger compaines started building more and more bikes to meet growing demand. In 1898 Stearns started an ad campain asking for customers to send Stearns Bicycles two 2 cent stamps and in return Stearns would send them back a copy of the famous Syracuse Decadrachm (in honor of the cities namesake) and a copy of their bike models catalogue.

    Stearns Bicycle Agency would eventually succumb to the bicycle monoply, The American Bicycle Company in 1900.

    Their Syracusean copies would however live on and atleast in my eyes represent how history, especially ancient, can still be honored and studied and is all around us, even our modern times.

    Stearns Bicycle Company, 1898
    Copper toned pot metal
    Copy of Syracuse Decadrachm
    O: Wreathed head of Arethusa left, surrounded by swimming dolphins.
    R: Galloping quadriga left, Nike above flying right and crowning charioteer.
    ΣTEARNΣ (Stearns in Greek lettering) and MDCCCXCVIII below.
    34mm, 26.04 grams

    In a time when fakes meant to decieve run rampant through our hobby, it's unexpected to find one with such history and such appeal to others than those whom just collect coins. A piece like this could be sought after by more than ancient coin collectors, but those who collect tokens and store cards, those who collect pieces of Americana, and even those who collect bicycles and bicycle memorabilia. Though not a coin or even ancient, it is historical and can tell quite the story.

    Feel free to post something that tells a story.
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
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  3. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator


    @dougsmit posted one here. When you mentioned the Stearns Bicycle connection, I knew I had read about that here somewhere before.
    ancientcoinguru, RAGNAROK and Evan8 like this.
  4. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector


    "The Richest man In Babylon"
  5. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Well, it's not an ancient, but it was part of my last love token collection.

    I think you'll see how it's topical here. ;)

    "Penny-farthing Pedal Pusher": pictorial love token on 1876 Seated Liberty dime


    Larger obverse picture
    Larger reverse picture

    Host coin: 1876 USA Seated Liberty dime.
    Obverse: original Seated Liberty design, unaltered.
    Reverse: Victorian "penny-farthing" (high wheel) bicycle in landscape with foliage and cattail plant in foreground, bird in sky.

    Ex- "whitewolfcoins", eBay, 06/21/2017.

    This is a wonderful high-Victorian love token charm, anonymous since it was carved without any engraved initials, simply for the sake of art alone. It likely served as a charm on a lady's bracelet or gentleman's watch fob. The engraving is excellent and the whimsical subject matter evokes the era perfectly. Furthermore, the engraving is likely closely contemporary to the host coin, since the penny-farthing, high-wheel bicycle went out of fashion in the 1880s with the development of the safety bicycle, which more closely resembles the kind we are familiar with today.

    Wikipedia article: Penny-farthing

    I bought a fun companion piece to this one, from the same seller.
  6. Aidan_()

    Aidan_() Numismatic Contributor

    Now that is cool!
    Evan8 likes this.
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