• The joys of numismatic research

    From starspace100.web.archive@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Mon May 4 07:12:28 2020
  • From starspace100.web.archive@gmail.com@21:1/5 to Reid Goldsborough on Mon May 4 07:14:22 2020
    On Monday, March 15, 2004 at 7:05:58 PM UTC-5, Reid Goldsborough wrote:
    Anybody have some "knowledge finds" they'd like to share. With me,
    acquiring information and knowledge is every bit as rewarding as
    acquiring coins.

    Case in point. Last night, in finishing reading through information
    from articles and books I've collected but hadn't yet gotten to, I
    uncovered some *really* interesting stuff about a coin I bought about
    a year ago, which before I knew relatively little about. It's an
    ancient coin, an Athenian Owl, but it's not one of the common
    classical Owls typically dated 449-413 BC (interesting coins too) but
    rather a rarer archaic Owl that preceded these. I bought it
    unattributed from Harlan Berk, who had just bought it himself a couple
    of hours earlier, at a major coin show. Because of this, I got a very
    good deal on the coin. But I had some work to do. <g>

    Here's a pic of it, only a middling pic (too much glare, which
    obscures some of the detail) -- I need to retake the pic at some


    The coin grades aVF, a decent enough grade (for my purposes) with
    these coins, which are often badly beat up, even those illustrated in reference sources. Specimens are available in nicer condition, but
    prices can soar into the stratosphere (five figures).

    I knew of course that the coin was an archaic Owl, but in looking
    through Sear and Wildwinds I couldn't further attribute it with any confidence. Last night I finished reading through, and looking very
    carefully at, the most widely used references for these coins,
    including Starr's Athenian Coinage, Kraay's Archaic Coins of Athens,
    and Seltman's Athens: Its History and Coinage Before the Persian
    Invasion. But the most useful source, and the one that nailed the
    attribution of my coin (persistence pays!), was Price and Waggoner's
    Archaic Greek Coinage: The Asyut Hoard, which documents in exquisite
    detail a hoard of about 900 Greek silver coins dug up by Egyptian
    workmen in 1969.

    The very unusual thing about this hoard is that despite the irrational
    laws in source countries, most of the coins in this hoard were
    documented. Typically coins dug up in source countries are secretly
    ferreted out of the country and into the market via shady characters
    in source countries and European middlemen without any knowledge about
    the find spots and so on being preserved. These Asyut Hoard coins
    reached the market the same way, but somehow information about their
    finds spot and the coins in the hoard was preserved, with photos made,
    which furthered the state of numismatic knowledge. No mention was made
    in the book about why or how this happened with this particular hoard.
    Almost always stuff like this, close to the source, is hush-hush.
    Lives have been lost, literally, when finders and others have been

    By reading this book, I was able to determine that my coin was in all likelihood minted c. 490-482 BC. It's one of the finest styled of the
    archaic Owl coinage, with Athena having a relatively small head, long
    neck, and fine overall features compared with other archaic Owls. But
    here's the really interesting part. This coin, part of a large
    emission of the same variety, was in all likelihood minted to build up
    the Hellenic navy in preparation for the anticipated Persian invasion,
    which would take place in 480 BC and which would determine the
    subsequent course of Western history. The Greeks defeated the Persian
    fleet at Salamis in a battle that has been called the "supreme
    confrontation between East and West," between despotism and individual freedoms (Hanson).

    Afterward, the Greeks for the first time formed a formal allegiance of
    the various Greek city-states (the Delian League) and were able to
    continue their unprecedented experimentation with individualism and democracy. This ushered in the golden age of ancient Greece, the
    thinking of men such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and the
    genesis of Western science, philosophy, and civilization.

    Back to coins. <g>. I was also able to attribute my coin as Sear Greek
    1842v. (for variety), Seltman Group Gi, Price and Waggoner Group IVg,
    Szego 3.

    Fun stuff.


    Email: reidgold@removethisnetaxs.com (delete "remove this")

    Coin Collecting: Consumer Protection Guide: http://rg.ancients.info/guide Glomming: Coin Connoisseurship: http://rg.ancients.info/glom
    Bogos: Counterfeit Coins: http://rg.ancients.info/bogos

    mailto: reidgoldsborough@yahoo.com

    referto: a review of her book by classics professor Hillary Susan Mackie referenced at:
    Hilary Mackie, "Deborah Tarn Steiner, The Tyrant's Writ: Myths and
    Images of Writing in Ancient Greece," Mythosphere, 1 (1997). Book

    Topic: Libertas Americana Medal
    Referenced at:



    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)