Monday 13 January 2014

Feathers and Turnips: Guessing Games of US Coineys

Ancient Macedonia and Thrace
There is currently some US coiney interest in what seems to be a dugup coin from 'Thracian-Macedonian region' (rather too large an area to be considered any kind of 'provenance') which they say is evidence of the 'same die being used for silver and electrum units'. The coin was sold in the Triton XVII auction, Lot: 114, "From the RAJ Collection. Ex F. Shore FPL 111, no. 7". The auction catalogue describes it thus:
THRACO-MACEDONIAN REGION, Uncertain. Circa 500 BC. AR Drachm (13mm, 4.02 g). Forepart of goat right / Quadripartite incuse square punch. Tzamalis –; Dewing 1008 (same obv. die); cf. Rosen 311 (electrum, but same obv. die). Near VF, toned, minor roughness, worn obverse die. Extremely rare, the second known. [...] Rosen electrum coin is listed under the general category of “Uncertain Asia Minor.” However, the fabric of these two drachms, which were found subsequent to the Rosen catalog, suggests a mint in the Thraco-Macedonian region, as does the type of a goat. 
Absolutely no information is given in the catalogue to say how the object was found, where, when and how it left the source country. I have no idea what the "RAJ collection" is, but I bet that is the idea of presenting the "information" in such a pseudo-jargonistic manner. It might have come from here (link goes here), which hardly looks like its the sort of provenance that CNG should be relying on as suppliers of non-dodgy artefacts.   Or maybe here? Or here?

Whatever this collection was, other evidence suggests it was not put together with much discrimination.  Here's another of the "Ex RAJ Collection" coins sold by CNG... just look at the detail of the feathers, almost as if the die was cut yesterday, no? (Come on seriously, how were the feathers depicted on this coin and why is that not mentioned in the description?  If that coin has not been retooled, what did the die look like?). 
Odd feathers on a coin, CNG Research coins

The combination "From the RAJ Collection. Ex F. Shore FPL" occurs quite a lot in recent CNG sales. The name referred to is Fred B. Shore, a coin dealer from Montgomeryville, PA 18936 USA, collector of Parthian coins and author of "Parthian Coins  and History, Ten Dragons Against Rome" (CNG, 1993). He's a "full-time dealer in quality ancient coins. Printed catalogues available upon request". Quite where Mr Shore gets his coins from is not clear, I do not have any of his printed catalogues.

From Ed Snible blog
So basically, I wonder just what it is that hoiking this coin out of an unknown context (perhaps an archaeological site) really tells us, comparing the pictures on it shows its the same shape as a coin of another metal also hoiked somewhere at some time somehow. The coin fondlers guess it is from "a mint in the Thraco-Macedonian region" because of the "fabric" (not described or defined here, and I defy them to do it, I bet that when it comes down to it, the term means basically "feel") and the picture of a goat. (If that is not a die fault, it looks more like an antelope running with a turnip in its mouth.)

Is this the sort of basis on which the claims of heap-of-a-coin-on-a-table-noomismatics being a 'discipline' are based? looking at pictures and a gut-feeling and an assumption that only Thracians and Macedonians would ever have put a goat on a coin?  Ridiculous. Where did that coin come from and what information was trashed hoiking it out so US enthusiast-hobbyists can play their guessing games and put dollars into the pockets of fat cat dealers?

Needless to say, none of these people took up the challenge of demonstrating their methodology with the Acre coin that I discussed last year.


No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.