Olynthos - a group of highly suspicious tetradrachms

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by pprp, Jun 7, 2020.

  1. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    I just noticed for sale (or recently sold) a few tetradrachms from Olynthos which are most probably fake.

    Coin 1: Reported weight close to 17g which is alarming by itself. Note the scratch on Apollo's neck. olynth1.jpg

    Coin 2: Reported weight around 14g, the scratch appears again.


    Coin 3: Reported weight close to 17g. There are even traces of overstriking (can't tell the undertype). The scratch is there. olynth3.jpg

    Coin 4: Reported weight around 14g. Again the same scratch is there. I think it might be the parent of the others.


    I kindly ask @Barry Murphy for his opinion (with many thanks in advance).
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  3. Aaron Apfel

    Aaron Apfel Active Member

    Interesting, all of them also have identical stippling texture on the Adams apple of the neck, and identical thin diagonal scratches on the cheek (right behind the mouth). I'm guessing these are marks on the die used to strike the coin? But is that enough to suggest that they are fake? I honestly don't know much at all about modern fakes and how they are made.
  4. Herodotus

    Herodotus Well-Known Member

    No doubt they're fakes..I don't think it necessary to have an expert chime in. This novice collector can easily discern that they're copies. Looking at the reverses, the (artist)imperfections of the legends/lettering transfer to each coin.

    However, by themselves standing alone, the first two would make me take pause, the 3rd one could trick me as convincing.

    What's interesting is the wear on the 2nd. The legends (and kithara) look flattened like they've been shaved. The fabric of the 1st coin looks off.

    The casting pearl on the lips of the first three(not existent in the 4th) makes a good case that the 4th could be the host coin.

    It's akin to playing the game "Find 10 things different between these two pictures"
  5. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    A scratch on the die would cause a convex and not a concave structure on the coin... It should be some kind of excess metal like pieces of thin wool wire which stuck on the die which could leave such marks on the coins. Of course this is a possibility but I am not holding by breath... The very deep incuse square of the first 3 coins is also quite unusual. Given the unusual weight of 17g I would say that they overstruck on Athenian tetradrachms
    Ignoramus Maximus and DonnaML like this.
  6. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    The first 3 coins are clearly fake. The last may be the host or it’s fake as well. I am leaning towards it being the host but want to study it more tomorrow on something bigger than my phone. Nice catch pprp.

    There are many fairly convincing fake Chalkidian league tets around. I remember in 2003 being offered a group of 20 and at least 16 were forgeries, all from different die pairs, some porous, some nice. I passed on them, they then went to CNG and they passed on them, eventually they were sold to another dealer.

    Barry Murphy
  7. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    After close study, I am convinced that coin# 4 from the current Nomos sale is the host coin for this series of forgeries. This coin has a clearly defined eye that the other three lack. The scratch on the cheek on this coin looks like a real scratch and its deeper than on the other coins. The scuff on the arms of the Cithara looks like a real scuff whereas on the others it is shallower and week, but still present. The pellet between the lips is present on the other 3 coins and not the Nomos coin.

    Coin#3 from Roma at 17 grams should have raised alarm bells with someone.

    Barry Murphy
  8. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    Late to the party...Posts as this confirm my published belief that CT has the best ancient forum of the three most popular coin forums devoted to all numismatic subjects.

    Without sounding like an ancient coin expert and not even close to Mr. Murphy's expertise, as a generalist authenticator I can say that the top three coins are obvious fakes even if seen individually for the reasons already given. This without knowing that other examples existed with the gash on the neck. Matching defects on coins has always been one of the principal ways fakes can be detected.

    I also agree that the bottom coin is the genuine host. Note all the matching characteristics. One thing that is very hard for the counterfeiters to duplicate is the blocky crystalline pattern seen on the genuine coin.

    PS IMHO, the "pellet" on the lips is the result of a casting bubble from either the die or mold during manufacture.

    PPS Can anyone ID the under strike design on coin #3? I've heard that some counterfeiters overstrike genuine ancients with C/F dies.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
    Carl Wilmont likes this.
  9. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    What we think is an undertype could be just nonsense of the forger to make the fake more convincing...I tried to highlight what could be the traces, but it doesn't ring a bell to me... Anyone interested in a quiz?

  10. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    Note the crystallization on the top edge. That's why I think there may have been a less valuable genuine coin used for the planchet.
  11. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    That's funny pprp, I did the exact same thing this morning. Couldn't come up with anything.

    Barry Murphy
  12. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    With some imagination it could be the wings of a griffin but the weight is totally off for teos and abdera. Maybe 16.78 was just a typo from Roma which the current auctioneer copied without cross checking...
  13. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    The 16.78 might have been a typo.
  14. Rich Beale

    Rich Beale Well-Known Member

    Coin #3 was consigned to our Auction XIX but withdrawn after being determined to be a forgery.


    It was returned to the consignor, but I note with some disappointment that it is back in circulation, this time at Tauler & Fau.
  15. Herodotus

    Herodotus Well-Known Member

    E-Auction 60 -- Lot 21 to be specific.

    "Macedon. Chalkidian League. Tetradrachm. 370 BC. Olynthos. (Robinson & Clement Group H, 16 - A14/P15). (Sng Ans-unlisted). Anv.: Cabeza laureada de Apolo a izquierda. Rev.: Cítara de siete cuerdas, alrededor: X-A-Λ-KIΔ-EΩN. Todo dentro de cuadrado incuso. Ag. 16,78 g. Wonderful specimen. From the PLM Collection. XF. Est...4000,00."



    EDIT: Question.

    Do blacklists exist for consignors that intentionally shop around known fake coins to different auction houses?
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
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  16. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    This points to an issue: acsearch archived this coin without the withdrawal, and you have also disabled comments. So unaware bidders can't know it was withdrawn and the reason...

    Edit: since we have Simon here @acsearch.info
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  17. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    9E537292-DB3D-4774-8220-51D46C9902E3.png Richard,

    Im glad the coin was returned to the consignor and not sold. Just a semantic question though.... withdrawn suggests it was never sold at auction, but coin archives shows a hammer price which you had to provide. So was it withdrawn before the sale, or was it caught later and you contacted the buyer to get it back?

    barry Murphy
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  18. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

  19. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Well-Known Member

    I checked Triton XVIII for lot 120 and it appears to be a bronze of Tigranes II. This is not the most egregious error I have seen. One time I was looking at a tetradrachm of Kos in a European Auction. The pedigree stated that it was in one of their previous auctions something like a few years previous. I looked it up. It was not the same coin. Ooops. With the increasing interest with pedigrees one can assume that individuals will attempt to create spurious auction provenances for their coins. This is a problem and will most likely get worse. However another problem is simple carelessness. Up to about six years ago I was really oblivious to the need keep histories of my coins. Why would I care if my coin came from some collection of a person that I never knew or even heard about.
    Now I am more interested however some years ago I divided my coins into two groups; the ones I planned to keep and the much larger group that I had planned to dispose of. The second group has been whittled down to the point that it now consists of 4 coins. One of the coins that I had planned to sell had a actual CNG E Auction tag. Okay a pedigree. Or so I thought. After writing it up I decided to take a look to see what I had actually paid for it and discovered it was not the same coin. Curses. At some point the coin was switched. Ooops Had I not checked that coin would have went to the auction house with an erroneous provenance. It might have even got into the auction with that bogus record.
    All I can say is that; if you are interested in buying coins with pedigrees you had better do as much research as you can to ascertain if the information given is accurate.
    Tetradrachm of Kos very similar to the one mentioned above. 280-250 BC Obv Head of beardless Herakles in lion skin headdress right. Rv Crab. HGC 1308 15.16 grms 28 mm Photo by W. Hansen kos3.jpg Ever since I first saw one of these I wanted one. I find it interesting that this coin is still on the older Chian weight standard.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2021
  20. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    My two guesses and $3.40 will buy a gallon of premium gas:

    I see a winged animal, forepart of a horse (Mysia) or a Winged Boar (Samos, Mytilene, etc.)
  21. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    The coin I posted is from an auction that was just published. It is fake as explained earlier in this thread but it keeps circulating in auctions. It now got a matching fake provenance as well.

    Your kos tetradrachm is stunning.
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