Tags applied to coins

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Clavdivs, Jan 27, 2020.

  1. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    I purchased these two coins for $2.98 total..
    They're super rough but I find them very interesting - especially the tags applied directly to the coin.
    Pretty obvious that these were never museum pieces (to say the least :woot:), so must have been added by a previous collector. Whatever name or number that was once on the tags is long gone.
    It's difficult to determine what the tags are made of - they are hard as if they are metal - but more likely paper that has been hardened by the abundance of glue (as you can see this collector was very liberal with the glue!!).

    What would possess someone to catalog their coins in this manner is beyond me. But I do find that it adds to the interest to these rough coins..

    Please post any coins you have with tags or markings applied by collectors or museums.


    Gallienus, Rome,265-267
    Obverse: GALLIENVS AVG Radiate head of Gallienus to right.
    Rev. ABVNDANTIA AVG / B Abundantia standing right, emptying cornucopia.
    2.9g, 20mm


    Gallienus, Rome, 262 AD.
    Obverse: GALLIENVS AVG Radiate bust of Gallienus to right.
    Reverse: AEQVITAS AVG / VI Aequitas standing front, head to left, holding scales in her right hand and cornucopiae in her left.
    3.2g, 20mm
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  3. Suarez

    Suarez Well-Known Member

    How do you know for sure it's a tag? Could be just crud that's stuck to it.

    I've seen modern markings on coins done with ink and even a few with punched emblems but never anything this crude.

  4. arnoldoe

    arnoldoe Well-Known Member

    Here is another one from the same collection that didn't get a thick coat of glue on the tag (instead it got spread out over the entire bottom half of the coin)

  5. Suarez

    Suarez Well-Known Member

    Oh wow! I stand corrected. Whoever did that deserves a spanking.

    You can probably dissolve that pretty easily in acetone (nail polish remover) without affecting the coin metal. Concentrated hydrogen peroxide would work well here too.

  6. arnoldoe

    arnoldoe Well-Known Member

    I got them from a french seller on Ebay who listed a bunch of coins from the collection in group lots.. The tags seem to go in chronological order, and the collection had at least 3231 coins (if there is a tag for every number).. + I saw a roman republican denarius that i didn't win from the seller that had a tag numbered in the 20s...
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2020
  7. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    Awesome info - ya the tags on mine are certainly ugly but I have no intention of removing them. I think they are interesting.
  8. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    Interesting coins and tags!

    It's astonishing to see that as late as the 1980s, it was considered best curatorial practice to write accession numbers on objects in some sort of unremovable oil paint.

    The coin below is not mine but comes from a (partly) digitized academic collection I worked with. Fortunately, at least in the linked institution, the practice of permanently altering ancient objects and archival material has been abandoned in favor of non-invasive and reversible approaches.

    Bildschirmfoto 2020-01-27 um 22.01.08.png
  9. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    I have seen this type of tagging on specimens of french collections, mostly rectangular pieces of paper glued on coins with an inventory number. I was also told that museums and public collections used to have the same system up until at least the mid 20th century.
    galba68 likes this.
  10. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    I wonder if the tags were affixed with epoxy. That would certainly prevent their removal.
  11. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    While I agree the tags should be left in place, if the coins were mine, it would drive me crazy wanting to read numbers. Assuming these are quite old, I would want to identify the type of glue to see if there was something I might be able to do to soften the surface and wipe away enough to reveal the number. The old glues that come to mind are mucilage and library paste which might be locally reversible and hide glue that might be harder. IMO the value of these coins would be decimated if the tags were removed and multiplied by a similar factor if the collection identity could be found. I suspect a museum. These are not coins that would be put on display but the order of the numbers suggests they were studied.

    My favorite numbered coin is fortunate to have neat direct paint and no glue.
    Germanicus, AE dupondius
  12. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    And then there is a permanent stamp:
    AE Dupondius
    OBVERSE: IVSTITIA, draped bust of Livia as Justitia right, wearing stephane
    Restoration issue under Titus.
    Rome, AD 80-81
    9.9g, 27mm
    Cohen 9, RIC II 424 (Titus), BMC 289 (Titus), Komnick 15
    Modern stamp, 7 over 36 on obverse
    ex Brian Buckland
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2020
  13. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    It hurts.
  14. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Someone wrote a number in red ink in the exergue of this one:

    Domna VESTA standing with Palladium and scepter denarius.jpg
  15. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    This is horrific - that's all I can say about this practice!!!

  16. Andrew McMenamin

    Andrew McMenamin Well-Known Member

  17. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

    Not an ancient but I wanted to participate. The practice was pretty widespread at points in history. This one was also unlikely to have been displayed anywhere. It does make this one a little cool, in my opinion. I probably wouldn't have purchased this coin without it.

    Ryro, benhur767, TIF and 3 others like this.
  18. otlichnik

    otlichnik Member

    It is horrific to think of this being done today. But it is also very interesting to find coins with this done long ago. I agree that the tags should stay put. It is part of their history.

    I don't have any marked-up coins, but two of my mace heads have old inventory marks. You can see AE28 on the white part of the first mace. It is harder to see on the second, but red numbering is just visible and there is other numbering not visible.


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  19. harley bissell

    harley bissell Well-Known Member

    ANYTIME ARTIFACTS ARE HELD IN PUBLIC TRUST THEY MUST BE REGULARLY INVENTORIED SO THAT DEDICATED PUBLIC SERVANTS DON'T STEAL THEM. IN THE PERIOD BEFORE MODERN CAMERAS THESE NUMBERS WERE ALL THAT THEY HAD WHICH WOULD NOT PERMANENTLY DAMAGE THE ARTIFACTS. It is a major mistake to judge people outside their time period. They had good motives and they thought that they were doing god's work. Anyone doing this sort of thing in our time period should know better.
    Orielensis likes this.
  20. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    Different era - but there were alternatives and well I certainly fail to see how they thought this was “god’s work”.. that is for certain.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2020
  21. benhur767

    benhur767 Sapere aude

    Here's mine. I bought it because the numbers add a level of historical interest, the price was right, and it's a scarce type. To me it's attractive despite the amount of wear. I don't know the provenance of the numbers but they are old and enigmatic: maybe from a museum, maybe an old collection.
    Septimius Severus. AR denarius, Rome, 202 CE; 18mm, 3.18g, 12h. BMCRE 381–2, Hill 549 (R), RIC 182, RSC 291. Obv: SEVERVS – PIVS AVG; head laureate r. Rx: LIB AVG III P M – TR P X COS III P P; Liberalitas standing l., holding coin counter and cornucopia. VF.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2020
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