Featured FInding Provenance

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, Mar 11, 2023.

  1. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    Also, speaking of NFA coins c. 1990, here's a little secret I'll share, now that I've discovered it. David Sear pulled a considerable portion of the "plate coins" for his 5-Volume "Millennium Edition" of Roman Coins and Their Values from NFA's Fall 1990 MBS catalog. (Sear was one of their catalogers; they also had Cathy Lorber on Greek & Simon Bendall on Byzantine -- truly top tier talent!)

    I bought this coin with no provenance whatsoever from Agora Auctions in 2014 (Sale 26, Lot 168). A Philip I AR Antoninianus struck to commemorate the "Ludi Saeculares" in celebration of the 1,000th Anniversary of Rome's founding, the "Millennial Secular Games" (fitting then, that it would be in Sear's "Millennium Edition"!):

    Philip I AR Antoninianus SAECVLVM NOVVM.jpg

    I had no idea where it came from, so I was thrilled to discover this coin in one of my NFA catalogs -- MBS Fall 1990 (18 Oct 1990), Lot 2198:

    Philip I AR Antoninianus Ex NFA MBS F 1990 2198.jpg

    I was perfectly happy with that for several years. Then, a few months ago, I bought Sear's 5-Vol. set, each of which he had individually signed and inscribed to Paul DiMarzio (the well-known collector of Roman coins from the London mint, from whose collection I also bought a couple of coins):
    Sear RCV x5 collage.jpg

    Again, I was happy enough with that. But to my delight and unending satisfaction, I discovered that I have exactly one "plate coin" in those 5 volumes -- the Philip I Millennium Games AR Antoninianus, illustrated for type 8963 on p. 154 of volume 3. (Also several others cited, but not illustrated, from the Dattari Collection, as Sear included some representative Alexandrian.)

    Sear RCV3 8963 Philip in NFA F 1990.jpg

    So, if you happen to have any coins that were included in that NFA sale (there were 2,656 lots -- a huge sale!), it's worth checking them against Sear's RCV plate coins, since that's where he got a lot of them.

    You don't even have to buy the auction catalog. That one can be found online. Cut-and-Pasting from my notes:
    • Mail Bid Sale: Fall 1990 (Oct 18, 1990) =
      450 pp. (unpaginated), incl. 100 Pl. (b&w + enlargements) fully illustrating 2,656 ancient coins (plus literature), Greek, RPC, Alexandrian, RRC, RIC, Byzantine in every metal in large quantity;
      Collections of Lawrence M Cutler, H. St. George Tucker, and The Alexander Struthers and Thomas Ward Collection, and NFA stock, also including “The Coinage of Roman Alexandria” [p.243-5, 2335-2566];
      with collector photos & biographical essays for Cutler and Struthers & Ward (only a photo for Tucker).
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2023
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  3. BenSi

    BenSi Well-Known Member

    Why did they use casts instead of the actual coin? I have seen this before and i have always been curious about that?
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  4. Gallienus

    Gallienus coinsandhistory.com

    Thanks very much Curtis! I will correct my attribution. This also reconciles with what I paid for it. I recall $950 was my winning bid.

    It makes me wonder, where did the lot 1085 NFA tag come from? During those days we were not so careful with attributions as people are today. Those were the days of a rapidly rising USA coin market where US coins were doubling every year and many items were being flipped overnight.

    It was also the time of the "Athena Fund", where wealthy people could invest in an Ancient Coins Investment Fund which would buy and hold rare Ancient coins. I was a very beginning ancients collector back then.
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  5. Sulla80

    Sulla80 Supporter! Supporter

    Your note illustrates the persistence required to dig into the past of your coin and the risk of unverified provenance (Arcadius and John II solidii and switched envelops).
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  6. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately most of my provenance hunting has to be done the hard way. The slog through countless auction cats and FPLs looking for that one gotcha. Though I must admit it sometimes does drag me down some rather interesting rabbit holes. Okay one day some months ago I was wandering through the R Numis site and found this coin.
    Taras Ar Nomos 240-238 BC Obv Youth holding a garlanded palm frond riding prancing horse right Rv Dolphin rider left. 6.34 grms 20 mm taras4.jpeg
    I had bought ths=is coin from Tom McKenna back in 1986 so.... But looking through the Rudolfo Ratto Auction Held on January 28 1929 I noticed that lot 566 sure looked like it.

    As a bonus the coin came from the Claudius Cote Collection. Back in the day his collection was a primary source for the identification of the coins of Taras.
    Things are looking pretty good but then I decide to look at the text and this is what it recorded.

    Collection_de_Claudius_côté_de_[...]_bpt6k9809067q (1).JPEG
    That's right the coin is from the famous Pozzi collection as well. I looked up the Naville auction and struck out. However S. Boutin in his book Collection Pozzi (1979) Lists my coin as no 385. As Pozzi was murdered in 1918 this would probably mean that my coin has a provenance of at least that date. Apparently Pozzi had planned to publish his collection and had engaged the services of A. Dieudonne of the Paris Coin Cabinet to catalogue his collection. The plates and much of the text had already been finished, however, Pozzi' death ended the project.
    Paint in Pozzi by John Singer Sargent now in Hammer Museum
  7. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    Wow, it's especially great that Côte listed the collection number, since the coin was not in the Pozzi sale (Naville Ars Classica I, 4 April [dated 14 Mar] 1921 [reprint 1966]). And the Boutin catalog (1979) was still an unpublished manuscript & would only be known to dealers like Ratto & collectors like Côte back in 1929.

    Here's another Pozzi-Côte coin (then C. Pitchfork):
    Might be worth checking what Wolfgang Fischer-Bossert says about your coin (no doubt it's at least cited), since if there's any more published provenance to find, he would be the one to have found it!

    In case you don't have the Boutin 1979 Pozzi Catalog (excellent resource, since it includes many more coins than Ars Classica I) here is your coin:

    Unfortunately Pozzi gives no prior provenance, so the trail may run cold (after having run very hot!), unless you can track it forward after Côte (see below):


    Incidentally -- since it's a provenance thread -- these images are coming from Mark Salton & Lottie Salton's copy of Pozzi-Boutin, which I got in a konvolut at Kolbe-Fanning's Salton Library sale:


    I always love finding two or more for one coin because then you don't only have a coin provenance. You have a social network, which is also a flow of numismatic data and knowledge.

    Using coins as "nodes," the diagram below shows the largest contiguous social network of inter-connected provenances from my own collection. (E.g., the Elis AE with Hera/Eagle, or the Hidrieus Tetradrachm, connect up to 5 or 6 known collectors.)

    It's grown since, but my latest draft includes ~57 private collectors fully interconnected with one another by about 34 coins (I only included coins that connected at least one new collector). Think "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" (though the furthest are 10 steps removed in my diagram below):

    Provenance Networks 34 x 57.jpg

    Knowing where a collectors coins tended to flow afterward can be very useful for tracking provenance forward in time from any known collection.

    For Pozzi, figuring out where they went mid-century is often the hard part. How long was it in Côte's collection and who got it next? Some of the ones below are ruled out because it went to Côte right away.

    So, I'm mostly just sharing these as general reference for anyone researching their own Pozzi's.

    A great many ended up in either the Lockett Collection (the largest single buyer from the Pozzi sale I'm aware of, who started collecting ancients with that sale), J.S. Wilkinson (of Malter 49, reportedly once known as "mini Pozzi," many of whose came from Lockett), or the Jacob Hirsch Estate (Hess-Leu 16-4-57 sale). (I've never seen a "named and priced" copy of the Pozzi catalog, but it would be a real treasure trove of info!)

    @Terence Cheesman 's coin wasn't in any of those three (for Hirsch it's hard to know, though, because only a fraction were published in the major catalog from Hess-Leu). I regularly check Pozzi coins against these:

    - Lockett (all the SNG images for Greek silver/gold, the sale catalogs are on rnumis.com for Greek AE, Roman, Byz; the Magna Graecia/Sicily are also in Steve Moulding's rnumis): http://www.sylloge-nummorum-graecorum.org/ [he also bought coins from Côte's Ratto sale!]
    - J.S. Wilkinson (Malter 49): unfortunately not online to my knowledge, but I'm always happy to check single coins for anyone;
    - Jacob Hirsch (Hess-Leu 16 April 1957, also later catalogs & many private sales): https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k9813075p

    These also had enough ex-Pozzi's to catch my attention (more than a few):
    - Tom Virzi (for Greek Bronzes, Bank Leu Auktion 6, 8 May 1973): https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bd6t5373794w/
    - George Bauer Coll. (Edward Gans MBS 16, 19 April 1960): https://archive.org/details/mailbidsaleno16g00gans/
    - Olga H. Knoepke (Glendining 10 December 1986), who also had many Vlasto's according to my notes, but not the Cheesman specimen, nor either of my Pozzi's: https://archive.org/details/collectionofcoin00glen/
    - Robert O Lawson Collection (Superior, 3 June 1985), specifically Judaeans ex-Pozzi: https://archive.org/details/robertolawsoncol1985supe/
    - Rev. Edgar Rogers also acquired a bunch of the Thessalian, some still in private hands, but severely muddled the references in his 1934 book on The Copper Coinage of Thessaly (which actually also discussed many small AR too).
    - Virgil Brand Collection in 10 parts (at least 3 or 4 w/ ancient); unfortunately I haven't seen the catalogs yet, but I've noticed many Pozzi's were off the market for ~60 years until Brand's coins were sold by Sotheby's 1982-1984.

    Of course, any major collection of Greek formed after 1921 will usually contain a few. Mark Salton had more than the 4 that Stack's noticed in their recent sales; I suspect many flowed through his Fixed Price Lists, but unfortunately they're hard to come by now (I've only got 2 of at least 33 FPL + 22 MBS!).

    There were also dozens in the Morcom Collections of Greek AE (CNG 76 & e-auctions), many of them privately purchased by RKM, not in the Ars Classica but still often in the Boutin catalog. BCD, of course, had a bunch, often with intermediate provenance published (but not in the case of my Pelinna Diobol).
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2023
  8. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Well-Known Member

    I enjoyed @Curtis commentary which can be seen above.
    Coins can stay out of general circulation for decades. I bought this on from Tom Mckenna FPL-88-1 January 1988 (not 1986 as recorded above) and have owned it since. I assume he must have bought it either from an auction or more likely at a show.
    However this brings up another question. The Pozzi coins found in the Naville represent only a fraction of his collection. How were the rest dispersed? This would have a bearing as to when Cote acquired the coin. We are essentially left with two possibilities
    A. Cote bought the coin from the estate.
    B. Cote bought the coin from Pozzi through private treaty, however after the coin had been placed in the corpus of the Pozzi collection which was eventually published by Boutin.
  9. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    Heck, I have enough trouble attributing some of the coins - provenance seems a near impossible task. Although Mr. Clay did note that one of my IMP X sestertii of Septimius Severus belonged to the collection of a British scientist in the 1820's - it is the bottom (second) coin on this thread:


    If it wasn't here it was somewhere else. I purchased the sestertius on French ebay for a terrific price - IMP X sestertii are typically found in poor condition which this one certainly is not. Nothing was said in the sale about the coin being formerly part of a known collection. It is odd how these coins lose their provenance like that, and it also makes you wonder how and where the coin was originally found.

    I should also mention that it seems like there are an enormous amount of coins being sold lately - not sure why or if this is typical. But it also seems that no matter the number of coins for sale prices seems to be quite stable and high.
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  10. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    Many years ago when I first started selling ancient coins, ca. 2000, I helped a friend sell about 300 hundred ancient coins that he had inherited from his uncle. The coins, which were in no particular order and all types, had originally been obtained by his uncle when his uncle was in France and Germany fighting at the tail end of WW II. Niether one of us knew much about ancient coins - the photographs were done on a scanner. We sold two of this type - Julius And Augustus, in this condition, for $60 for one and less than that for the other. Always wondered what happened to these and some others that were high grade, low price, but then again, it was a buyer's market then and ebay had many many dealers selling great coins - Ancient Auction House and Paganecoins were just two of them.
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  11. larssten

    larssten Well-Known Member

    Regarding the Ratto sale of February 8th 1928, it says about the "Morcom-collection" in the cataloge-intro (translated to English via Google Translate):

    The remarkable and important series of Greek and Roman coins, described in this catalogue, come from several collections, the richest of which is that of Colonel R. H. Morcom, of Bromsgrove (England).

    This well-known enthusiast, and of exquisite taste, endeavored to bring together a series of portraits of Roman emperors and empresses, and in this section was not limited to the so-called imperial coins, but added a large number of colonials, thus forming a collection of the most interesting from an iconographic point of view.

    It is also from this same Cabinet that the majority of Greek bronze coins come, including first-rate and very beautiful pieces, and described among the first 838 numbers of the catalog.

    From this I am certain that the first 838 are of Morcom, but how about the rest of the catalogue? My Nero sestertius has lot nr. 2114 and would like to know what collection it is from :)

    The other collectors are Hands and Wertheim plus two un-named collectors:

    The collection of the late Rev. A. W. Hands consists almost exclusively of so-called consular coins. This collector, who published numerous popular numismatic works, had a predilection for the coins of the Roman Republic and his latest collaborative articles for the Numismatic Circular of Spink and Son Ld of London, relate to the mythological types appearing on these coins.

    Guess this means Hands could be the Roman Republican coins of lot 839-1601?

    A third important collection, included in the same sale, is that of Mr. Julius Wertheim, from Berlin, whose beautiful Greek series were sold in Lucerne in October 1926. The Wertheim collection is very rich in consular and imperial coins, silver and bronze, and includes a remarkable variety of types, among which are many rarities.

    Since Wertheim submitted both Consular and Imperial coins, I assume his collection is from lot 1602 until the last lot 5163?

    Can I assume that my coin lot 2114 is of Wertheim? Or is there a chance that they just mixed in the coins from the various consignors so its not so easily identified?
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  12. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    Also, the next sentence reads: "This nucleus is supplemented by two other lesser collections."

    So, relying strictly on the catalog text, I'm not sure we can say from whose collection that lot came. (Still, fantastic provenance from a legendary sale. And a splendid example!!)

    HOWEVER... people at the time would likely have known the collectors & their coins, so contemporary or later publications may give additional info. For instance, if Simonetti referenced it in his books he may have given the collection or maybe other older references cataloging coins of Nero or even a later mid century sale.

    Oftentimes important collections were mixed unlabeled in those days, but presumably the bidders (usually just a few dealers) would have known & passed along info about individual coins, and recorded it in tray tags. (E.g., I have one from Morcom IDing the recently deceased amateur from Ars Classica XV as EP Warren.)

    Sometimes that history was preserved, sometimes not. A few people around today may even know (second- or third-hand).

    Occasionally, hand-annotated catalogs will mention more about the collections. Rare and precious where they can be found. It's never happened to me but a plaster cast may even turn up in a museum collection...

    A century later it is still always possible new information will emerge!
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2023
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  13. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis

    Here's a fun place to find provenance: hoard reports. Pierluigi Debernardi published "The M-Hoard of Early Roman Republican Denarii and a New Chronology for the Later Anonymous Silver Series" in the Numismatic Chronicle 181(2021). I actually had read the paper a couple of times but one night while I was recently working on a list of different hoards and flipping through it again I noticed a very familiar coin on plate 11, T15_24. This hoard which hit the market starting circa 1988 through various venues, was huge at over 1000 coins and only a small number are illustrated, but the reverses of all of the Crawford 57/2 crescent denarii are shown:
    Screen Shot 2023-10-02 at 12.27.22 PM.png

    Sure enough, that's my Crawford 57/2. It doesn't really add much as I already knew the coin was ex RBW who purchased it from Paul Vecchi in 1988 but it does add an interesting new entry to the coin's history and provenance.

    I love seeing my coins illustrated in publications. Sometimes they provide some more information like this, other times it just allows me to add to the notes about the coin that it's illustrated in such-and-such or is the plate coin in so-and-so's book, which I'm happy with as well.
  14. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    Nice one! My Republican collection is relatively small, so I haven't tried much to trace any to possible hoard reports, but I've been meaning to. (One challenge is that published hoard reports are more limited for RRC than Greek & RIC, for which I have many ex-hoard coins.)

    In general, though, being familiar with published hoards -- especially hoards documented in commerce! -- is a great way to find additional provenance.

    Here's one I've just added (but not yet received). I bid on it because I was aware of additional provenance, and that this was a "plate coin," but it wasn't mentioned in the auction listing:
    Epidauros AR Hemidrachm BCD Collection Epiduarus Hoard Requier 105.jpg

    Argolis, Epidauros AR Hemidrachm (14mm, 2.55g), c. 290-250 BCE.
    Obv: Laureate head of Asklepios left.
    Rev: EΠ monogram in wreath.
    Ref: Requier 105 (this coin illustrated on pl. 5).
    Prov: Ex 1979/80 Epidaurus Hoard (Coin Hoards VII, 69; CH VIII, 298); CNG 84 (5 May 2010), 502, BCD Collection; CNG EA 547 (4 Oct 2023), 155, Weise Collection.​

    In both previous sales this coin was referenced as "Requier, Monnayage, series 1, dies D3/R4" and ex-BCD Coll. with no mention of the Hoard. However, the reference is incorrect.

    In fact, it is from die-pair D4/R4 -- for which it is the "plate coin" (105) in Pierre Requier's 1993 SNR article (p. 37 & pl. 5, edited below for format), identifying it as having come from the 1979 Epidaurus Hoard:

    Epidauros AR Hemidrachm Epiduarus Hoard Requier 105.jpg

    I had about 6-10 "plate coins" on my watchlist in CNG's auction yesterday. Wherever CNG listed the publication (for this & a couple others they didn't list it), the coins sold for very high premiums over non-provenanced examples of type.

    That's why I try to bid on/buy coins for which I'm aware of lost/unmentioned provenances and publication histories: I got this one for less than most comparable examples & 1/3 less than it's sale 13 years ago.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2023
  15. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    Here are this morning's provenance finds. Five new (to my knowledge) "plate coins" (plus others referenced in the same volume)...

    Two related tips:
    [1] Always check the die-studies! (See also my comment immediately above.)
    [2] Buy coins that are likely to be known to those writing up the die-studies. (Again: same collection as my comment immediately above.)

    I bought these bronze coins from Lokris a few years ago. I knew they were from an important collection, that of "BCD" (duplicates from Lokris-Phokis, i.e., not in the main sale of the BCD Lokris-Phokis collection, NAC 55, 8 October 2010 [full catalog available online], but sold by their partner firm Naville).

    Humphis-Delbridge Plate Coins BCD Lokris Opunti Photos.jpg

    Jacqueline Morineau Humphris & Diana Delbridge published their book in 2014, The Coinage of the Opountian Lokrians, published by the Royal Numismatic Society (London), and available with many other valuable publications for free download: https://numismatics.org.uk/society-publications-2/special-publications-and-coin-hoards/

    The photographs were taken from plaster casts (rather than the coins directly), so there are some slight differences in appearance:
    Humphis-Delbridge Plate Coins BCD Lokris Opunti.jpg
    (I'm used to comparing cast photos, but this is by far the most recent publication I've encountered to use them! They mostly went out of fashion mid-20th cent. But I enjoy old- fashioned when it comes to numis. lit.!)

    Not sure why it took me until now to check for these coins, but there they are. I found several others described and cited, but not illustrated. For about half the coins there was an additional findspot of which I was unaware. (All of this is especially useful since the seller had lost the collector tags!)
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2023
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  16. Gallienus

    Gallienus coinsandhistory.com

    I was wondering if anyone could help find any info on this stater of Tarsos, capital city of Cicilia that I acquired in the mid-1990s?

    Greece Tarsos, Cicilia stater
    wt = 10 g (postal scale, no tenth gram accuracy)

    dia = 21mm with most points being 20mm
    rot= 2h e.g. medal rotation then rot ccw 2 hours?
    acquired ca mid-1990s.

    A similar, but different coin appears in WildWinds
    SNG France 215, Tarsos, Cilicia. 425-400 BC. AR Stater, 10.13 grams. Satrap on horseback right, head left, wearing Persian headdress, holding reins in left hand and uncertain object in right hand / Aramaic "TRZ" (Tarz") above Hoplite, nude, kneeling right, wearing Corinthian helmet, holding shield on left arm and spear in right hand, all placed diagonally within dotted incuse square. BMC 162; SNG Cop 258; SNG von Aulock 5913; Traité 514-516; Sear -. CNG, 6-27-01, $207.50

    I can't use ACSearch as without a full membership I can only go back to 2000.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.
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  17. Sulla80

    Sulla80 Supporter! Supporter

    Here's one that looks like you coin:
    Cilicia. Tarsus. c. 425-400 BC. Stater, 10.63g. (h). Obv: Persian satrap on horseback. Rx: TRZ Warrior, nude but for the helmet, kneeling left, holding round shield ornamented with Medusa head and spear. SNG Aulock 5913. SNG Paris 226. SNG Levante 61.

    even with a membership I don't see any coins before 2000 of this type
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