I can see why some ancient coin collectors dislike slabs

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by savitale, Aug 11, 2021.

  1. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    They really bring down the price!

    IONIA. Ephesus. Ca. 4th century BC. AR tetradrachm (23mm, 14.98 gm, 12h). NGC Choice XF 5/5 - 2/5, edge filing, marks. Ippocritus, magistrate. E-Φ, bee with straight wings seen from above / Forepart of stag kneeling right, head reverted; palm tree behind, IΠΠOKPITOΣ to right. BMC 47. Attractive deep cabinet toning.

    Sold at Heritage on January 22, 2021 for $3,360. Coin has some nice eye appeal but the designators (Surface 2/5, Edge Filing) knocked it down.

    Ephesos 1.jpg
    Ephesos 2.jpg

    Solution? Crack it out, omit the Heritage Sale from the description, and list it at CNG for $12,500!

    IONIA, Ephesos. Circa 390-325 BC. AR Tetradrachm (23mm, 14.97 g, 12h). Hippokritos (I), magistrate. Struck circa 360-350 BC. Bee with straight wings; E-Φ flanking / Forepart of stag right, head left; palm tree to left, ΙΠΠΟΚΡΙΤΟΣ downward to right. Pixodarus Class F, obv. die O96; BMC 47; Jameson 2266 (this coin). Old cabinet tone, minor porosity, a few marks. Good VF. Well struck. Ex Golden Horn Collection (Stack's, 12 January 2009), lot 2181; Walter Niggeler Collection (Part I, Leu/Munzen und Medallien, 3 December 1965), lot 259; Robert Jameson Collection (publ. 1932).

    Ephesos 3.jpg

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  3. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    I suspect the Niggeler and Jameson provenances did quite a bit of that, assuming they were omitted at Heritage as it appears from your description
  4. Theoderic

    Theoderic Active Member

    When submitting coins to NGC isn't it possible to request that established provenance, especially from very notable collections, be listed on their label? If not, they're short-changing their customers by obliterating its history.
    Cheech9712, savitale and benhur767 like this.
  5. sand

    sand Well-Known Member

    @savitale Is the coin listed in a current CNG auction? Or is it listed in a past CNG auction? I searched the current CNG auctions, but I didn't find the coin.
    It seems like edge filing is a major problem, for an ancient coin, because it is a red flag, for possibly being a fake cast coin, with the casting seam filed down. Why else would someone file the edge of an ancient coin? Perhaps during a clumsy cleaning process? Perhaps in a misguided attempt to make the coin rounder and therefore more visually appealing?
    Or might the ancient coin flan have been filed, before the coin was struck, or soon after the coin was struck, for some reason? I think I read, that this happened, for some types of ancient coins.
    I agree, that edge filing would certainly knock down the value of the coin, unless the coin is one of those special types, whose edges were filed before or soon after being struck.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2021
    savitale and ominus1 like this.
  6. sand

    sand Well-Known Member

    P.S. : It's interesting, that the edge filing is not mentioned, in the CNG description, according to the OP. Maybe CNG missed it.
    savitale likes this.
  7. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    I cannot comment on the "edge filing" noted on the NGC Slab as I have not seen the coin however I can report that the coin was in fact in the Niggeler Collection thought the lot number is actually 378. The Leu description does mention the Jameson pedigree as well. However the Heritage auction does not mention either pedigree only mentioning that the coin came out of the "Golden Horn" Collection" auctioned off by Stacks January 12 2008. This auction does not mention any provenance of any kind at all. It is likely that sometime between 1965 and 2008 the pedigree was lost. This is unfortunately an all too common phenomenon with ancient coins. Whether the Niggeler-Jameson pedigree is worth something like $ 9000 is unknown at this time. It could very well be. However some tetradrachms from this mint have been selling in the $5-7 K US range lately so the price differential may not be quite as severe as it might first appear.
    My tetradrachm from Ephesos This one does not have such an illustrious pedigree. (But I am hopeful, it does look like it has been around for a while).
    Tetradrachm of Ephesos 350-340 BC Ileos Magistrate Obv, Bee seen from above. Rv Forepart of a stag right head reverted facing a palm tree. Pixodaros Class G obv 119 15.26 grms 22 mm. It is almost 3 mm thick Photo by W. Hansen ephesost2.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2021
  8. spirityoda

    spirityoda Coin Junky Supporter

    That bee coin is amazing and on my want list. Not sure I can buy 1 that nice.
    IMP Shogun, Kentucky and savitale like this.
  9. Silphium Addict

    Silphium Addict Supporter! Supporter

    Nice find of a significant old provenance by CNG which would certainly boost its value
    Can’t really comment on the edge filing. I understand the concern about removing a casting seam. I do recall some ancient coins have edges filed when used for jewelry. However, this particular coin already has some of its features affected at the edge of the compact flan
    savitale likes this.
  10. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    I think the problem is that "edge filing" can mean different things to different people. It is indeterminate and open to interpretation. If it does not affect obverse and reverse images, many people may not care much about it and even leave it out in descriptions.
    The problem is that a coin in a slab can no longer be properly examined. Hence, NGC has to mention anything regardless how insignificant it is. Once something like "edge filing" is on the slab, however, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and will have deterred collectors that are looking for the "perfect" coin.
    savitale and Roman Collector like this.
  11. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    This is indeed very annoying. You have one person companies/ dealers buying at auctions, now on top you get big auction houses doing the same. Of course most collectors probably don't have the same resources as the dealers so the competition is not fair. And it all works against the collectors.

    Coming to the omission of the edge filling and the 2/5 surface, it should have been mentioned in the description. That's why one needs to always research before buying a coin.

    On the importance/added value of the provenance, it's as important as the interested buyers deem it to be. I would have paid the 3.5k$ for a coin from jameson with these defects. But 12.5k$, thanks but no thanks.

    PS. No it's not a shadow intermediary who buys from auctions and then resells to these dealers. It's the dealers who do it.

  12. mikebell

    mikebell Member

    With this coin the surface rating on the slab is bizarre, surfaces and everything else look reasonably good. As for edge filing - from the presented images, it's impossible to tell. Possibly the coin has had an assay at some point.

    As for CNG spotting the opportunity and adding a generous margin - that's life in the big city.
    savitale and Silphium Addict like this.
  13. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    Beautiful coin!
    spirityoda likes this.
  14. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    It is in their fixed price catalog.
    DonnaML and sand like this.
  15. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    Personally I am not a provenance collector and I wouldn't pay a significant premium for one. But a question for those who are: does omitting a recent auction sale count as loss of provenance? Would that bother you or not?

    I have no skin in the game, and I don't feel dealers are obligated to reveal where they acquired the coin from or to make it easy to find recent sales that would suggest a lower valuation. But I'm curious how provenance collectors feel.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2021
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  16. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    Doesn't matter the coin was sold already. It seems there are a few collectors in north/south america who do not research their purchases and /or don't care of market values. Or maybe their advisors guide them into buying such coins.
  17. scarborough

    scarborough Well-Known Member

    In my opinion this coin’s recent market history shows dealers as profit maximizing companies. I don’t think of coin dealers as either friends nor evil … they simply want to make a profit like every other business.

    We as collectors are fortunate that many companies realize that having ethics, guarantees and good customer relations enhances businesses.

    In my opinion, here we have an example where a provenance would not enhance margin. Maybe the dealer was not aware of the slabbing. Maybe it was. In any case the dealer’s behaviour surely maximized its profit.

    If consciously selective, this wouldn’t be the first time that a dealer chose which provenance to list.
  18. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    I know the buyer that just bought the coin: he was well aware of the Heritage and Stacks sales prices (didn't bid on them in those auctions). The added pedigree is worth the premium in his eyes; fair play to CNG for piecing the pedigree back together.

    I viewed the coin two days ago at the ANA show: the edge issues are hardly worth mentioning but I agree that a slab with that denoted and the poor surface grade will have killed the coin. I suspect NGC is particularly cautious when it comes to edges as the edge is partly obscured by the slab.

    Personally, I'd want the coin to be a bit sharper so I passed on it, although I did consider it (also knowing the recent sale price). I will likely sacrifice some pedigree when adding one at some point.
  19. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    Stop looking at the same coins I do! :happy:

    Seriously though, how much is that pedigree worth to you? To me it's worth about $0, but I'm curious what it is worth to others.
    El Cazador likes this.
  20. sand

    sand Well-Known Member

    A good pedigree, in other words, a good provenance, is worth something to me, especially if I can view the provenance on the internet, rather than just relying on someone's word. This is because, if I can view a good provenance on the internet, then I have more confidence, that the coin is authentic, and not a fake. By "good" provenance, I mean that, if a coin was owned by an expert, or if a coin was sold or auctioned by an expert, then the coin is more likely to be authentic, and not a fake. Of course, even a coin with a good provenance, can be a fake. But it is less likely.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2021
  21. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    Good point. So to you an old provenance provides some "insurance" that the coin is not a fake. I guess then the question becomes how much are you willing to pay for insurance?
    sand likes this.
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