Anyone ever hear of a dealer named Davis & Clark in Paris in the '70s?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by DonnaML, Sep 27, 2020.

  1. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I was recently contacted by Bradley J. Bowlin of Eukratides Ancient Numismatics, the dealer from whom I bought my Cn. Plancius Republican denarius (Head of Macedonia/Cretan goat) earlier this year. He kindly mailed me some documentation of the coin's provenance dating back to 1975; it came with the coin when he bought it and he found it again a while ago:

    Roman Republic, Cn. Plancius, AR Denarius, 55 BCE, Rome mint. Obv. Female head (Macedonia [RCV, Crawford, & RRM II] or Diana Planciana [RSC]) right, wearing causia, CN. PLANCIVS before, AED. CVR. S. C. behind/ Rev. Cretan goat standing right, bow and quiver to left. RSC I Plancia 1, Crawford 432/1, Sydenham 933, Sear RCV I 396 (ill.), Harlan, RRM II Ch. 17 at pp. 141-144, BMCRR Rome 3920. 18 mm., 3.82 g., 5 h. Purchased from Eukratides Ancient Numismatics [Bradley J. Bowlin], Feb. 18, 2020. Ex. Davis & Clark, Paris, France, Jan. 27, 1975 (with “Certificat de Garantie” from Dr. Cahn, agreed expert, Basel, Switzerland.)

    Cn. Plancius - Cretan goat - jpg version.jpg

    p. 2 Head of Macedonia-Cretan goat den. - Jan 1975 Davis & Clark, Paris certificat do garantie.jpg
    This page is actually sewn together with its 2x2 cardboard holder, as well as two additional pages with very small photos of the coin, and even has a wax seal attached to the thread:

    Head of Macedonia-Cretan goat den. - Jan 1975 Davis & Clark, Paris certificat do garantie.jpg

    Has anyone ever heard of this dealer, or of the practice of providing a "Certificat de Garantie" based on the opinion of an "agreed expert"? I looked up Davis & Clark on Acsearch and found about 10 coins listed for which it was the dealer, all from 1974-1976. So it appears that at least as an auction company, it wasn't around for very long.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020
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  3. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    I've been on the french numismatic market since the early 80's and never heard of them. But I'm not living in Paris

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  4. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    I can't offer any help, but I'm happy for you. That's an impressive provenience record, and it was good of the dealer to send it to you.
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  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I found this in a Google search for "'Davis & Clark' numismatics Paris":

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  6. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    I think I saw a couple of such certificates for some unimportant coins in an unimportant recent sale in drouot. I have no idea what the roman or the gold coins posted here are worth but it seems quite strange that in the early 70s they sent the coins around the world for authentication like there were no experts available in Paris. So in terms of value such certificates are not worth the value of the paper they are typed on...
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  7. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Haven't heard of them.
  8. THCoins

    THCoins Well-Known Member

    Just tried to lookup their i.n.s.e.e. number. That should be the equivalent of a chamber of commerce registration number. But the number does not make sense looking in the database. Number should be 9 or 14 digits long. But may be that the system has changed in the meantime.
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  9. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    And the address rue Godot de Mauroy now seems to be a 38 companies building

    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020
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  10. singig

    singig Well-Known Member

  11. THCoins

    THCoins Well-Known Member

    Found this interesting snippet in a French book on the Art markets:


    In short summary: Davis and Clark sold mediocre coins to gullable investors at severely inflated prices, but with nicely stamped certificates.
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  12. Dobbin

    Dobbin Active Member

    Selling provenance with a coin thrown in for good measure?
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  13. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That is a very attractive and interesting coin, @DonnaML ! I love the Cretan goat on the reverse. Moreover, it inspired me to learn more about the causia.
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  14. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    The problem with this excerpt's assertion regarding the mediocrity of Davis & Clark's coins is that it may be true as a generalization, but is obviously untrue with respect to my coin in particular. Anyone who called it mediocre would be very foolish. It truly is "superbe."
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020
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  15. ab initio

    ab initio Well-Known Member

    Davis and Clark was buying quality Greek and Roman coins at higher than normal prices in the 70's at the Leu auctions in Zurich. The gentleman was French, medium to short height and rather plump. He kept well away from everyone else (dealers and collectors) who would get together during the auction breaks and afterwards for drinks and dinners. His purchases rarely exceeded the 5000 Swiss Franc limit and he chose his coins only for quality and eye appeal. He disappeared from the scene in the same way that he had arrived - suddenly. In my copies of the Leu auction catalogues I have notes of many of his purchases. We always thought that his company was reselling the coins to unsuspecting buyers that had no idea of actual prices, making huge profits: apparently their system could not work wonders forever...
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  16. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for the link. The causia, I believe, is what definitively clinches Crawford's identification of the obverse figure as the personification of Macedonia (rather than Diana Planciana, which was the identification by Grueber [in BMCRR] and in RSC). It's certainly very distinctive!
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  17. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you for the personal recollection! I wonder what the man's name was (possibly neither Davis nor Clark)? It was an interesting marketing idea to use these "certificats de garantie" -- wax seals and all! -- as a means of selling visually appealing (but not overly expensive) ancient coins to unsuspecting buyers at high prices. (Perhaps this dealer was a more inventive version of Ilya Z. today.) As you say, the system couldn't work wonders forever, and it apparently didn't, given that I found no trace of the company after the mid-1970s. Who knows what price Davis & Clark -- certainly an odd name for a French dealer; perhaps the source quoted earlier in this thread was correct that the company was British-owned, at least in part -- sold my coin for in 1975? All I know is that I paid a very reasonable price for it, given its high quality, when I bought it 45 years later from Brad Bowlin!
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  18. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    @DonnaML........I actually find the way he angled the presentation of his coins really cool!..Maybe trying to stand out in the crowd when technology wasn't around?
    IMO a nice piece of provenance to obtain for your GREAT looking coin a real beaut!
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  19. THCoins

    THCoins Well-Known Member

    The summary was of the french text for those not fluent in french. Nowhere did i express any personal assertion. To accuse me of making insulting statements i find rather rude and uncalled for.
  20. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you. I strongly suspect that the Dr. Cahn in Basel who certified my coin in 1975 was neither of these gentlemen, given that one of them was German and active at the beginning of the 20th century, and the other was the author of a book published in Alsace (then part of Germany) in the 1890s. They would both have had to be centenarians to be around in 1975!
  21. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    My apologies. I misread what you said as being your editorial comment as well as a summary, but I was obviously incorrect. I will change my comment from "Your assertion" to "this excerpt's assertion."
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