Underweight Athenian Owl

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by gsimonel, May 15, 2019.

  1. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    Please forgive the poor quality scans. A friend sent them to me with some questions that I am unable to answer, so I'm posting them here in the hopes that someone can give him some answers. Here's the first:
    The coins have been in his collection about 40 years, and he doesn't remember where he got them. Here's what he told me:

    Athens, silver, obv. Athena head right, obv. ΑΘΕ with owl and olive branch. No problem there. The coin measures 22 mm (a little small), and weighs about 12.52 g (a little light). The coin is worn but it is not real bad

    As you know the Athens tetradrachm is about 17.4 g. 12.52 g would be ok for a didrachm (stater) on the Aegineton standard of 12.2 g.

    I suggested that he do a specific gravity test, and here is what he wrote back:

    12.50 g dry weight
    1.26 suspended weight
    9.92 specific gravity
    .700 fine silver

    CNG coins of this type
    22.5 -24 mm Coins of this type weigh 17.06 g,

    1.61 suspended weight
    10.59 sg
    .999 fine silver

    My weighing methods are probably primitive, but the silver content is low.

    Does anyone have any ideas about this coin? Unusual denomination? Eastern imitative?
    Severus Alexander likes this.
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  3. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    Doesn't look struck
    Alegandron and Paul M. like this.
  4. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    A fake IMO. Probably what you were suspecting, yes? :(
    Paul M. likes this.
  5. AussieCollector

    AussieCollector Moderator Moderator

    Looks off to me, but I'm no expert
    Paul M. likes this.
  6. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    I had certainly entertained that possibility. Owls trade for so much over their melt value that someone could still make a very nice profit making fakes of 70% silver.

    But I was wondering if there are any studies of the quality of the silver in eastern imitatives.
  7. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    I'm not aware of any studies, but ancient imitations of these tend to be in good silver at the correct weight. With the weight, bubbling, and odd rims I'm pretty sure this is a modern cast fake.
    Orielensis, Paul M. and TIF like this.
  8. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    A quick check of CNG seems to confirm this.
  9. Paul M.

    Paul M. Well-Known Member

    +1 fake. Maybe buried and/or treated with acid to look older and remove traces of the casting process.

    The difference between 17g of .995 silver and 17g of .700 silver is pretty minimal compared to the potential profit from selling a fake owl.
  10. AussieCollector

    AussieCollector Moderator Moderator

  11. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    Totally fake, imo.
    Jay GT4 likes this.
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