CNG Keystone 3

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Restitutor, Feb 15, 2021.

  1. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Well, according to this description, the book has 21 leaves of plates, which certainly suggests more than a few dozen coins:

    Title The coins / by A.R. Bellinger.
    Publisher New Haven : Yale University Press
    Creation Date c1949
    Notes Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
    Series The Excavations at Dura-Europos : final report 6
    Format viii, 212 p., [21] leaves of plates : ill., map
    31 cm.
    Language English

    Plus, there are two other related publications available online; this one makes clear that the discoveries did include (at least) two hoards consisting of close to 900 coins:

    Two Roman hoards from Dura-Europos,
    by Alfred R. Bellinger.
    Main Author: Bellinger, Alfred Raymond, 1893-
    Language(s): English
    Published: New York, The American Numismatic Society, 1931.
    Subjects: Coins, Roman.
    Numismatics > Numismatics /Syria.
    Physical Description: 2 p. ., 66 p. XVII pl. on 16 . 17 cm.

    See text at:


    During the campaign of 1928–1929, the Yale Expedition to Dura-Europos on the Euphrates unearthed two hoards of coins. The more important, which is here treated first, was found on Jan. 26, 1929, in a pot from a house just inside the main gate of the city. It consists, besides a few unidentifiable fragments, of 789 pieces, of which 507 are base silver Antiochene tetradrachms and 282 are Antoniniani. The earliest emperor represented is Caracalla, the latest, Gallienus. The other hoard was found on Dec. 5, 1928, during the excavation for the Expedition's house. Unfortunately it was not found intact, like the other; it is impossible to be sure that we have all the pieces which originally belonged to it, and, on the other hand, at least one of the coins which were gathered up cannot have been a part of it. There are 89 tetradrachms and 5 Antoniniani of which we can be sure; they extend from Caracalla to Trebonianus Gallus. In addition, there are seven bronze coins of Elagabalus, Severus Alexander and Gordian which may well have belonged to the hoard; three illegible bronzes; and one bronze piece of Antiochus VIII, whose presence with the others must be purely accidental. Probably the silver represents most of the original collection and, since it is parallel to the other hoard, it is not likely that what we have lost would affect our general conclusions.

    Remarks on the significance of these finds in relation to the history of Dura will be found in The Excavations at Dura-Europos. Preliminary Report of Third Season, 1929–1930. Yale University Press. Since it was not possible to treat the numismatic aspect in that place with the fulness it deserves, the American Numismatic Society has generously offered to undertake a fuller publication. Thanks are due to the Society's President, Mr. E. T. Newell, not only for this offer, but for constant advice, to whose value the many citations in these pages testify. Indispensable assistance was also rendered by Mrs. A. R. Bellinger in cleaning the coins and preparing material for illustration, and by Mrs. Hopkins, Clark, 1895-1976. The latter was a member of the Expedition when the hoards were found, and it was hoped that she might publish them herself. This unfortunately proved impossible and she had to abandon the project after much labor, for the benefit of which I am most grateful. Miss Cox, Dorothy Hannah, 1893- has been good enough to arrange the casts for illustration, in the course of which labor she has rectified many errors of detail.

    The larger part of each hoard, as has been said, consists of silver tetradrachms. They bear on the obverse a portrait of the emperor with his name, in Greek characters, and, on the reverse, an eagle with the legend Δημαρχικimageς έξουσίας and sometimes a mention of the consulship (Ὕπατος τό ά, β' etc.). From the reign of Elagabalus on, this type is restricted to the mint at Antioch, but it was not there that the issue of such tetradrachms originated. The standard is undoubtedly the Phoenician standard which, in 126–5 B.C., replaced the Seleucid coinage at Tyre. The types there used are, obv., bust of Melqarth-Heracles, rev., eagle standing l. on prow. Since this series lasted past the middle of the first century A.D., it is evidently of this that Josephus speaks (Bell. Jud., II, 212) when he mentions "the Tyrian nomisma, which is worth four Attic drachms." Tetradrachms of the same standard were struck at Antioch by the early Roman emperors, but on these pieces the imperial portrait supplanted Melqarth on the obverse and the eagle was abandoned in favor of the Tyche of Antioch or a second portrait. It is not until Nero that the eagle is restored to the reverse; thereafter it is the regular type. It is still a question which of the issues from Nero to Trojan should be assigned to Tyre, which to Antioch. Since it has no bearing on these hoards I shall not enter upon it here. The reader will find it discussed by Hill in the British Museum Catalogue for Phoenicia and by Dieudonné in an article entitled "L'Aigle d'Antioche" in Revue Numismatique, 1909, pp. 458 ff. In the latter place will also be found a consideration of the various elements represented by the eagle type, which, derived ultimately from the eagle on the hand of Zeus on the reverse of the Alexander-type, becomes at last a symbol of the Roman empire. On the pieces in these hoards the eagle always has spread wings and a wreath in his beak. Since these characteristics are constant they are not specified in the catalogue.

    The closing of the mint of Tyre by Hadrian leaves no problem of attribution until the reign of Caracalla, who initiated the experiment of striking tetradrachms at a number of mints which are distinguished by various symbols placed under the eagle. In this he was followed by Macrinus and Diadumenianus and, since there is no general agreement among the authorities as to which symbols belong to each mint, that question is taken up in the body of the catalogue in connection with each piece of these three rulers. Elagabalus and his successors struck tetradrachms at Antioch only.

    From Galba to Nerva the tetradrachms bear the legend ЄΤΟϒC NЄOϒ IЄPOϒ A, B, etc., on which, cf. Eckhel, Doctrina Numorum veterum, vol. IV, pp. 416–418. The latest example of this formula is a piece of Trajan with ЄTOϒC NЄOϒ IЄPOϒ B (Dieudonné, R.N., 1927, p. 166). Thereafter the inscription is invariably some abbreviation of Δημαρχικimageς έξουσίας, which is the Greek for tribunicia potestate. Eckhel, p. 418, says: "Inde a Trajano annus novus sacer inferri numis non desiit, sed alia tantum formula adhiberi coepta; nimirum pro ЄTOϒC NЄOϒ IЄPOϒ scriptum deinceps ΔHMAPXIKHC ЄΞOϒCIAC, tribunicia potestate, quae et singulis annis renovabatur, quod aequivalet τimage NЄOϒ, et sacra fuit, quod est pro IЄPOϒ, et singulis annis unitate aucta perinde imperatorum annos numeravit, quam Graecorum ЄTOϒC." The assumption by the emperors of tribunician power goes back to Augustus and, since it was renewed yearly, was the simplest way of dating by the emperor's reign. However, in this case, as in some others on coins, it is noticeable that the phrase is not used for dating, for the number never accompanies it, as it regularly does on inscriptions, so that Eckhel's explanation is not entirely accurate. When dates are used they are furnished by the consulship, which comes after the tribunicia potestate when it occurs.

    The weights vary considerably. A certain amount of fluctuation is caused by the cleaning: this error is not more than 0.2 grammes, while the weights of pieces not defective run all the way from 8.1 g. to 16.6. The great majority lie between 11 g. and 13.5 g. Application of the frequency table fails to prove any significant variation of the standard from one reign to another.

    The Antoniniani, coins of a standard originated by Caracalla to check the alarming deterioration of the denarius, are part of the imperial coinage and, as such, bear Latin inscriptions and the variety of types familiar throughout the empire. The specimens before us have a certain importance since most of those before valerian were certainly struck at Antioch. In this period, before the introduction of mint marks to assist in attribution, the solution of that question rests largely on stylistic grounds, and it is therefore useful to have representatives surely of the mint at Antioch to confirm and supplement the arguments from style.

    The list of the larger hoard is given first. Weights, to the nearest tenth of a gramme, follow the numbers of the coins in square brackets, unless the condition is too poor to make the weight significant.

    [More at link]

    See also this article:

    Seleucid mint at Dura-Europos " [article]
    Alfred R. Bellinger & Edward T.newell
    Syria. Archéologie, Art et histoire Année 1940 21-1 pp. 77-81


    page 1, A Seleucid Mint at Dura-Europos.jpg
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  3. Curtis

    Curtis Supporter! Supporter

    Oh, okay! That makes it sound like an important series of numismatic studies. Arthur Bellinger was certainly a very important numismatic scholar.

    It appears his Dura reports are available free on JSTOR, including plates, as PDFs:

    Fifth? I don't see unless the title is different.

    I've only looked at the plates for a couple of them. Most are Tetradrachms (as your summaries would suggest), but I see at least some AR Antoniniani and perhaps the reverse of some denarii in the top one (Two Roman Hoards, 1931).

    Since there were fewer denarii included in the hoard(s), that could've made those coins especially important.

    EDIT: The THIRD AND FOURTH DURA HOARDS plates have lots of denarii illustrated. That may well be where those coins are pictured. I can no longer find the Keystone 3 catalog to check but if anyone has the description or images of the 6 coins in question, it would be a straightforward matter to check.

    EDIT: For anyone who is not aware, you can get a free JSTOR account with your email address (if you're a student or staff/faculty or affiliated with a university library, you'll have access that way). They have a number of important numismatic journals and many important studies are available there to read and/or download.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2021
  4. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    I believe they are also available at
    +VGO.DVCKS and Curtis like this.
  5. scottishmoney

    scottishmoney Unwell Unknown Unmembered Supporter

    I got the email from CNG this morning, they may have sent it yesterday. It wasn't the first thing I noticed about the auction though, I am watching some lots in the electronic auction and noticed that the Keystone Auction ended prematurely. Fortunately there was nothing I was watching in the Keystone auction, but I do remember there was some British hammered in the auction and surely that was not excavated in Syria.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  6. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Out of curiosity and nothing better to do, I went through the 196 coins of Julia Domna in the Yale catalog. Overall I was impressed by the clear and accurate presentation. I only found one blatant error
    This is not Domna.

    Most of my disagreements with the data stemmed from their decision to call coins of a woman as coins of the man under which she was honored but not taking consistent care to pick the correct emperor. I was impressed by the listing below:
    which added a note that it was the dates of Geta that allowed the coin to be attributed to 209-211 AD (Geta as Augustus) since the legend reads MAT AVGG suggesting that she was mother to two Augusti. The coin was listed as belonging to Septimius Severus but the portrait and obverse legend is usually attributed to the time after Septimius' death so the coin should have been dated to 211 when there were two sons alive but Julia was no longer wife but then mother. That is minor but thereare several others that suggest there was no understanding of the situation. This, however, is disclaimed by the note accompanying each record
    Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.
    By 'ongoing' I assume it means they have no time to review coins in the collection for a century. There were several coins donated in 2007 that were correctly listed which is no surprise since that donor bought Domna coins from Barry Murphy. I assume all these coins were catalogued according to the seller/donor listings and there is no one there now working on the project.

    I did not look at the coins of Septimius because a simple search of that name turned up 1477 hits but included coins of Severus II and all the family of Septimius. I have not tried using operators to show only the man I wanted yet.
    I am glad to see this resource online which is the 21st century way of removing the coins from the damp basements of museums. I wish the photos were better but they are clear enough allowing for the way they were taken. Overall, the resource has merit and is work visiting. It is suggested on the site that Covid has eliminated the possibility of making an appointment to see coins in person but I have no idea who would be allowed to do this under normal circumstances.

    tibor, PeteB, Valentinian and 5 others like this.
  7. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    That is a clear Faustomna;)
    Roman Collector likes this.
  8. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    The most recent pre-pandemic snapshot of the page on the Wayback Machine states the following:

    "The Pratt Study Room is located on the first floor of the Gallery and is open by appointment to individuals and small groups. For more information, or to schedule an individual or class visit, email

    You will need to provide at least three weeks’ advance notice as well as a list, by accession number, of the objects you wish to view."
    +VGO.DVCKS and Curtis like this.
  9. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    In my view, CNG did the only thing they could. If a powerful institution, with legal means to fight and powerful alumni, contested title, there was no way a small firm like CNG could fight that. Best to pull the sale, let the dust settle, then sell what lots they can.

    Btw @DonnaML I agree. I have multiple degrees, (completing my doctorate in two weeks), but your undergrad school is always your "college".
    Curtis, Pellinore, +VGO.DVCKS and 2 others like this.
  10. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    Mike Gasvoda of CNG posted this response in another ancient coin group regarding Yale:

    The fact is, we don't know how the coins ended up in the collection. It came from an estate to CNG third hand. We performed extensive research on this collection when it came to us, including communication with Yale. This was April of 2020. Due to Covid the collection sat in the safe for some time. Covid also prevented Yale from accessing their records. Only when the sale "went live" did some questions come up about just how these coins were acquired. The fact is, we at CNG don't know. We don't even know who the collector was that formed the collection. All we know is they lived on the east coast and were active in the mid-20th century. We were happy to work with Yale when there was some indication the coins once resided in their collections. Unfortunately, due to 70 years of time since the collection was purchased (and we assume it was one piece at a time) we will likely never know exactly how it came about.
    Curtis, Pellinore, Jay GT4 and 7 others like this.
  11. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    The plot thickens. But also, frustrating. Still no smoking gun.
    I would love to see what makes Yale so sure these weren't from the coins, that they admit in the article, they have sold over the years.
    Did CNG really just give up what may be some honest collectors coins due to:
    My ex girlfriend once resided in my life. Do I get all of them back?
    Or is there proof, one way or the other, that these coins belong to one party currently?
    +VGO.DVCKS, Curtisimo and DonnaML like this.
  12. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Usually, "there was some indication that" means they probably have some pretty good proof but just are not ready to present yet. Its academic speech, in other words. Nothing is ever "proven", just "it would seem to indicate" or "would seem to lend strong support for". :)

    I am guessing they have more than just a hunch in other words.
  13. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    One would hope, but we as collectors are constantly fighting the latest law, pushed by academics, asserting that our coins are guilty of being stolen property until proven innocent. If you attend a CPAC hearing or read their writings, it's obvious that much of Archaeological academia subscribes to that model.
  14. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    And, as the nosey observer:happy:, I want to find out what the pretty good proof is:pompous:
  15. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Except that Yale itself often buys coins on the secondary market, so it's very unlikely that they take that position.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  16. ACCLA-Mike

    ACCLA-Mike New Member

    On their Facebook page, CNG explained that they cancelled the entire sale because "Yale believed that all of the coins in this sale at one time resided in their collections. They asked if they could also get the others back. After working with our consignors this was the outcome."
    +VGO.DVCKS, DonnaML and Curtisimo like this.
  17. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Thanks for that clarification. If the coins were purchased one at a time by the collector as CNG believes and as the hand written tags would suggest that makes the likelihood of all the coins in the sale being stolen from Yale’s collection very remote.

    The tags noted multiple dealers and sources for the coins... hard to believe all of them would be in on the heist. That would be about as likely as all of my coins previously being from the MET.

    Very strange... I hope we find out more at some point.
    +VGO.DVCKS and FrizzyAntoine like this.
  18. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    I hope I could make a friendly correction and emphasize that these laws are pushed by some academics. As an academic I can certainly attest that I for one am not pushing any such law.
    Curtis, Jay GT4, Volodya and 7 others like this.
  19. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    LOL, isn’t that WHY they are exes? Do you REEEEALLY want them back?
    Ryro, DonnaML, +VGO.DVCKS and 2 others like this.
  20. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    @dltsrq, Massive thanks for mentioning HathiTrust!!!!!!! ...Last I checked JStor, it still was limiting free access to academics and students. In other words, for some of us misfortunates, "J-Store." (Has that changed?)
    HathiTrust is more like one could Only Wish Google Books was. Right, for access, but also for content. Yikes. 'Justice and mercy have kissed eachother.'
    ...OMG, just looked for something published the better part of a century after American Public Domain kicks in (cf. our common nemesis, Google Books), and it's Freaking There, In Full Freaking View.
    This is the best kind of craziness I've had all day ('s still Monday here).
    ...Not so very long ago, someone here posted a picture, along with the now very vaguely South Asian word, for that gesture (which I sometimes use in real time --last instance was for the maintenance guy at the apartment), of putting your hands together, Durer 'Praying Hands' style, and bowing. @dltsrq, you Get that!!! Yep, From Here, unsoliticited as it may be.
    I'm Tabbing that bad monkey!!!
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
    Pellinore likes this.
  21. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    Another response from Mike Gasvoda posted in another group, that sheds some light. It sounds like coins and trays were both allegedly stolen from Yale:

    There weren’t photos until the auction went live. It was the trays that tied back to Yale. Handwriting actually. It wasn’t of concern to anyone until we photographed the trays and put those photos online.
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