Reliable Ancient Coin Authentication

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by kevin McGonigal, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I have decided I need to authenticate a coin, an Athenian Didrachma. In looking up the authentication of ancient coins I have discovered that NGC does not actually offer a guaranteed authentication of ancient coins and I am not interested in the grading aspect which they offer. Apparently David Sear does, if he is still doing this kind of service (anybody know?) but I am not certain that he is. Is there another service that does authenticate ancients? I don't want drop $50 or $60 into an authentication service that has no real credence or value. Thanks for any info you can give me.
    Deacon Ray likes this.
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  3. David Sear's service seems to be the most reliable authentication service, stateside, that offers a guarantee. He's still in business and one can fill out the submission form here.

    Athenian didrachms and drachms are much rarer than the tetradrachms, so I understand your scepticism. Care to share a photo?
    kevin McGonigal likes this.
  4. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    If I can get a better photo than the one from my camera phone I will.
  5. akeady

    akeady Well-Known Member

    David Sear is rightly well-regarded as an expert, but you are paying for an opinion, not a guarantee. If a coin is subsequently proven fake, your only recourse is to pursue the seller, not Mr Sear. There was a well-publicised case recently of someone who has lost $30K on a coin which was authenticated but later condemned by the IAPN's IBSCC and not taken back by the dealer.

    ominus1 likes this.
  6. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    Sear doesn’t offer a guarantee.

    Barry Murphy.
    ominus1 likes this.
  7. USCoinCollector42

    USCoinCollector42 Well-Known Member

    Post some photos on CoinTalk before dropping heavy $$$ for an 'authentication' that may not be necessary.

    I'm sure some of the ancients folk around here can give some helpful incite.
  8. Sorry for misinformation. I thought he would offer a guarantee. As in refund his service fee; not pay for the fake coin.
  9. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    This is the Didrachma, Athenian, to be viewed for authenticity. C Didrachma, Athenian, reverse.jpg an you determine from these photos if this is a cast copy?

    Attached Files:

  10. Pishpash

    Pishpash Supporter! Supporter

    I am not an expert, but I don't like the look of it.
    TIF likes this.
  11. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I tried using my wife's phone camera with possibly better images. Better Obverse, Didrachma, Athenian.jpg Better Reverse Didrachma, Athenian.jpg
  12. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    There is nothing about that coin that strikes me as authentic... not the fabric, not the style, etc., plus it looks cast. :(

    The usual disclaimer applies: I am not an expert.
  13. USCoinCollector42

    USCoinCollector42 Well-Known Member

    I doubt it’s authentic. It has a cast appearance (pitted/smooth in the wrong areas) and the reddish color around the bust on the obverse looks artificial.

    Paying for ‘authentication’ seems like a total waste of money.
    TIF likes this.
  14. Pishpash

    Pishpash Supporter! Supporter

    Does it have a seam?
  15. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Ditto to all @TIF said
  16. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    There really isn't any possibility of your coin being authentic for the reasons I mentioned above and more. Here is every example I found in ACsearch going back to 2002. Only nine coins (some were offered or sold more than once in that time period).

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
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  17. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    No seam, but the eye seems to be cratered.
  18. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all this help and I am sorry for the poor quality images. I'm still working on this aspect of coin collecting, posting pictures. I purchased this coin at a great eastern show in the mid 1970's for some $300. I have no idea who the dealer was. I never thought much about its authenticity until I read how rare these pieces are and had recently purchased a different Greek coin which both the dealer and I thought spurious. I bought that one for a small sum as a curiosity. That turned out to be a jeweler's copy but its surface reminded me of the old didrachma and as I looked at the old coin I saw the similarity from a lost wax copy on the surface. Three hundred dollars was a very big purchase for me back then but it's the sort of loss collectors of ancients are bound to incur if one collects enough ancient coins over a long period. One thing is for sure. I have imbedded this image of a cast surface in my innermost reptilian brain and will instantly recoil at seeing something like this again. I'll add this to the recently purchased lost wax copy and perhaps start a collection of those to serve as a brake to my enthusiasm (or cupidity). Thanks again for enduring the pain from gritting your teeth at my fuzzomatic photos.
  19. Johnnie Black

    Johnnie Black Neither Gentleman Nor Scholar Supporter

    Sorry to hear about that @kevin McGonigal $300 is still a lot today. At least it can be a featured piece in your Black Cabinet.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  20. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I am not sure why but my immediate reaction to any request for authentication of an Athenian Didrachm is that it must be false. Drachms and tetradrachms are common both in real and fake but the number of coins sold as didrachms I have seen that were nothing more than tourist/gift shop grade replicas makes me doubt that the maker even intended to make the rare coin but just made such poor fake tetradrachms that the weight was closer to the didrachm.
    Speaking from recent personal experience, it hurts to realize you were fooled long ago when you were more foolish but at least you saved the $50 by getting the CT seal of disapproval. Our negative authentication does come with a guarantee. If that coin were to turn out to be genuine, we would buy it. :banghead:
    Cucumbor and Roman Collector like this.
  21. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray QUARANTINED! Supporter

    I don't think anyone will offer you a 100% guarantee. I have great respect for the folks at NGC and although they won't guarantee authenticity—they see and handle a lot of ancients and they are very good at spotting altered and fake coins. If you don't trust the dealer, I wouldn't purchase the coin.

    Edited: I meant to say no third party grading company will offer a 100% guarantee.
    @IdesOfMarch01 , is correct—there are many excellent and reputable dealers who will guarantee the authenticity of their coins.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
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