Provenance Hunting - The laser tooling example

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Carthago, Feb 8, 2016.

  1. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

    On a parallel thread there is debate about the value of searching for provenances. While some of the value may simply be intrinsic, there is very real value - like financially - to knowing the earlier history of your coin.

    I bought this coin from Tom Cederlind (RIP) several years ago at NYINC. The top photo is what it looked like when I bought it...a darn nice example with great portrait detail for the type. Some time later, like I think 2-3 years, I ran across the 2nd example in CoinArchives from a sale maybe a decade earlier than when I bought the coin. Hmmmm, it looked like my coin but something didn't look Antony had more hair detail than the older one! How could this be?

    Marc Antony Denarius Heavily Tooled.jpg
    Original Antony.jpg

    The 3rd photo below shows you 3 coins. Mine "before" at the bottom, mine "after" in the upper left hand side, and what I believe to be an obverse die match example in the upper right so you can see what the real die based hair detail should look like. See the detail difference due to the forger's hand?

    Antony Tooling Comparison.jpg

    I took this to a coin show and showed it to several major dealers before bringing it back to Tom. Most had no explanation other than it had obviously been tooled, but one of them told me that it looked like laser tooling. I thought he was nuts, but I've since learned that it happens, or at least did happen, for a time. Very dangerous coin.

    Tom took the coin back no questions and gave me my money back. He used to tell me every time I'd see him "You know, I've still got that Antony. It's a very dangerous coin and we still don't know what to do with it." It's how we would start every conversation. LOL

    So this is one reason of several why I think it is important to know the history of your coins.
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  3. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    Did you ever look at the tooled areas under magnification? I'm just curious what it would have looked like versus tooling with hand tools.
  4. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

    Yes, I looked at it at length under a high power stereoscopic microscope. I will admit I was not then and am not now an expert on tooling, but compared to my other coins I couldn't see anything to indicate that the hair had been modified. It looked a bit porous in the hair channels and I'm wondering if that is from the evaporation of metal under high heat, but I have also seen something similar in my other coins. I took some pictures of the magnified areas but I can't find them right now. I posted them on Forvm some years back so they may still be there. I pretty much got a collective shrug of shoulders from the experts there too.

    If I didn't find the earlier photo, I would still happily own the coin and be none the wiser. I'm glad I did my research.
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  5. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    Hey thanks for the reply @Carthago

    Guess sometimes ignorance is bliss? ;):oops:

    I wonder the difference - if any. Maybe this type of tooling is too new? Interesting and scary.
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  6. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    Wow! That's downright scary.

    The only issue that stands out to me is that the detail in the hair is much greater than the amount of wear that the obverse legends (which are highly worn) would seem to indicate. But I'm not sure I would have noticed this if I had not know it was tooled.
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  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    Can you explain the A of ANTONIV which has a piece at top right that is not on the old version. I could understand if that were the old photo and the scrappy part removed but added is harder to explain. Perhaps it is just the photo but the old version shows some very weak field wrinkles that should disappear before that larhe spur.
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  8. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

    It is my understanding that this happened for a period of time, some years ago (maybe 7-10) but I don't know if it is still a problem. I think it would take some very specialized equipment and skill, not necessarily found in every forger's workshop.

    I found the picture I posted on Forvm of some of the detail under magnification. I believe this is the upper part of the ear and surrounding hair.

    Antony 542-2 magnified Ear 1.jpg_thumb.png
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  9. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

    I think it's just washed out in the blurriness of the original photo, Doug. There is also a pretty nice scratch under the bust you can see in the newer photo but hardly in the old one.

    Yes, the question will be whether the old one is a cast of the new one. The coins weighed within .01g the same if I recall.
  10. brassnautilus

    brassnautilus Well-Known Member

    is provenance the same as photographic record?
    correct me if I was wrong, but these provenance records you guys talk about sometimes go back to before existence of photography?
  11. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Well-Known Member

    Wow, that's very scary indeed.
  12. 4to2centBC

    4to2centBC Well-Known Member

    Did that coin pass thru Lanz at some point in time?
  13. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

    Provenance simply refers to prior ownership.

    Photographic record is the best way to identify your coin from old records, but photos only start to be available in the late 19th century. Prior to this, sometimes there were very accurate line drawings that are suitable for provenance matches. For instance, I bought a book last month from the RBW Library sale that includes a line drawing of the Labienus aureus in the British Museum. My book was printed in 1827 and the coin was purchased by the BM in 1867, so the coin was drawn from a private collection at the time! While this is a museum coin, I know people who have found coins in their collections today that were hand illustrated in 18th century publications. IMG_6379.JPG AN00184927_001_l.jpg
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  14. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

    Good guess, but no. Actually, NAC originally in 2005 and then post tooling with Gorny in 2009 before I bought it from Cederlind privately.
  15. Alegandron

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

    Wow, eye opener.

    I have been involved in plastics molding and metal bending, stamping, forging, casting, grinding, etc. etc. for 40 years. Laser technologies have advanced a lot over the years. Additionally, I am aware of a stereolithography (think of 3-D Printers) approach to manufacturing molds for plastic and powdered metal molds that are high tolerance. We used a powdered based copper/steel medium that 3-D lasers would duplicate based on our CAD/CAM drawings. We made prototype product, as well as injection molds that we could bang out short runs of 25,000 to 100,000 items. The tolerances were pretty good, and we were ahead of our time (compared to other competing manufacturers during the 90's). It was a $10M machine at that time, so it was critical that for us to produce anything, that our homework and drawings were right. It usually took 8-12 hours to produce an item, but it came out well.

    I suppose that technology and costs have advanced since the 90's ( ;) ), that would enable someone to have relative cheaper access to these capabilities, and to replicate a coin that would be economically viable to invade a market... Ugh...

    One key would be to age and weather the end-product to the 1500 to 2500 years aging required for an expert to be fooled.
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  16. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    I actually may have access to a laser etcher (used to inscribe tools with control number) and may in fact see what I can do with various modern coin metals. I know they can etch metal, never seen anything cut as deep before...but I've never used one. I have also seen many creative designs made with the laser etcher. If I can get at it, I don't expect nearly as dramatic results but I'm just curious to see how far I can push it.
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  17. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    I saw a recent TV documentary on advances in very small 3D printers capable of printing computer chip size objects with extreme accuracy. I remember when the first calculators were marketed. I saw the latter grow into things that do wonders for a price less than the old add/subtract ones. The same advance in technology could well make our problem with replicas so very much worse. I won't be her in fifty years to see the problem. Some of you will. Good luck.
    Alegandron likes this.
  18. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian

    It's a damn shame because there was absolutely nothing wrong with the original coin. NOTHING. :mad:
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  19. Quant.Geek

    Quant.Geek Well-Known Member

    The German auction houses are the worst when it comes to tooling. For some reason, the Germans seem to love "tooled" coins...
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  20. Alegandron

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

    I have noticed that also...
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