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David Soknacki

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  1. Be aware that it may have a repair in the right obverse field, and possibly at the bottom of the obverse. D
  2. Thanks so much; you are providing a wonderful resource.
  3. When I wanted to have some coins tested with XRF equipment, I went to a local lab that tests metals for mining. I found that these labs have current, precise equipment, and typically the service is quite cost effective.
  4. Just an observation. I encourage forum members to keep track of costs, if only as a defence for tax authorities or bankers. If tax authorities or bankers ask about income from other than regular employment, or when your collection passes to your heirs, it might be a very good idea to have records.
  5. I thought members would be interested in my correspondence with ChatGPT. While AI has many uses, one still needs to be careful. To summarize what's below, ChatGPT keeps misdescribing the obverse of the classical period Athenian tetradrachm even when corrected. D The correspondence starts here: can you produce an image of an Athenian tetradrachm from the period 454 to 404 BC? As an AI language model, I don't have the ability to produce images. However, I can describe an Athenian tetradrachm from the period 454 to 404 BC for you. An Athenian tetradrachm from this period would have been a silver coin with a weight of approximately 17.2 grams. The obverse (front) of the coin would feature the head of the goddess Athena, facing right. She would be wearing a crested helmet with olive leaves and a floral scroll. The reverse (back) of the coin would depict an owl, the symbol of Athena, standing on an amphora (a type of ancient Greek jar) with an olive sprig and crescent moon in the background. The inscription "ΑΘΕ" (short for "ΑΘΗΝΑΙΩΝ," meaning "of the Athenians") would also be present on the reverse. Me: Sorry but that is not correct. During the period 454 to 404 BC the obverse did not show an owl on an amphora. I apologize for the error in my previous response. You are correct that the Athenian tetradrachms from the period 454 to 404 BC did not feature the owl on an amphora on the obverse. During this period, the obverse of the tetradrachm depicted the head of the goddess Athena, facing right, wearing a crested helmet with olive leaves and a floral scroll. The helmet was adorned with three olive leaves on each side, and the scroll was usually located behind Athena's head. The inscriptions around the image of Athena varied over time, but typically included the word "ΑΘΕ" (short for "ΑΘΗΝΑΙΩΝ," meaning "of the Athenians"). The reverse of the coin featured an image of an owl, the symbol of Athena, standing on an overturned amphora. The owl was depicted facing forward with its wings spread, and the amphora was often decorated with floral designs. The inscription around the image of the owl typically read "ΑΘΕ" as well. I hope this information is helpful, and please let me know if you have any further questions! Me: Do you not see the contradiction in your response? You started with "the Athenian tetradrachms from the period 454 to 404 BC did not feature the owl on an amphora" but later wrote "the coin featured an image of an owl, the symbol of Athena, standing on an overturned amphora." I apologize for the confusion. My previous response contained an error in the description of the obverse and reverse sides of the Athenian tetradrachm from the period 454 to 404 BC. To clarify, the obverse side of the coin featured the head of the goddess Athena, facing right, wearing a crested helmet with olive leaves and a floral scroll. The inscriptions around the image of Athena typically included the word "ΑΘΕ" (short for "ΑΘΗΝΑΙΩΝ," meaning "of the Athenians"). The reverse side of the coin featured an image of an owl, the symbol of Athena, facing forward with its wings spread. The owl was often depicted standing on a prostrate amphora, which had a distinctive shape with two handles and a wide body. The inscription around the image of the owl typically read "ΑΘΕ" as well. Once again, I apologize for any confusion my previous response may have caused. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.
  6. Thank you @Deinomenid for re-opening the discussion on ‘ancient coins as an investment.’ Based on my experience and observations, on average ancient coins preserve some of their value, but in comparison to other options they offer poor returns. I’ve been an ancients collector since the 70s, and over that period have traced the values of my purchases. After adding all the costs, including inflation, then subtracting a dealer’s selling commission, on average I don’t make a profit when I sell a coin. Sometimes I don’t recover nominal cost. A few times I do well. … but there is a silver lining. If the tax authorities ever audit when my collection is sold, my heirs will probably be able to show that it was done at a loss. Also, thinking one can do well over the long term in ancients usually doesn’t factor in opportunity cost. Here is an example. I purchased the Sybaris nomos below in Mar 1997 from a CNG auction for USD 1 100, which is about USD 1 900 in today’s money. What is it worth today, net of a dealer’s commission and selling costs? Charitably, let’s say USD 2 700. As a comparison, investing that amount in the S&P 500 would be worth about USD 14 000. I expect that if I invested many hours searching for mis-priced material, purchased and sold in lots, travelled to shows and otherwise treated the hobby as a business, I could reduce my losses. Maybe even make a profit. But that would change the nature of my activity. For myself ancient coin collecting is a great hobby, but as an investment? Not so much.
  7. Hello Aether 1. I asked this question a couple of years ago, in another forum. It sparked a lively correspondence. You might wish to take a look at Ex-Numis Success Rate Question: https://www.cointalk.com/threads/ex-numis-success-rate-question.385097/ 2. To summarize, while my success rate was under 5% they advised their success rate is in the 15% range; I don't know if it has changed since then. Take care. D
  8. Here's what RIC said about this coin in 1949 (vol 4 pt 3 p 67): "SPONSIANUS: No Emperor of this name is known to history, and the strange barbarous aurei (sic) found in Transylvania, that combine the radiate head, IMP. SPONSIANI, on obverse, with an imitation of the reverse of a Roman Republican denarius, remain an unsolved mystery. "
  9. I asked similar provenance questions in this and the numismatikforum.de forum recently. One of the insights that came from the German forum is that there are smaller individual dealers or wholesalers who assemble themes (for instance, Iberian coins), then consign them to a well-known auctioneer. Although these come to market as the “X collection,” a more accurate term would be the “X assortment.” For myself, I’ve taken the view not to value a provenance that I cannot verify. So I’m delighted to own a coin formerly in the Gell-Mann collection, and have traced another coin back to a Chapman auction in the 1920s. But I treat unverifiable provenance like other marketing and grading descriptions offered by dealers, and do not document it in my collection.
  10. I hope that Forum members can help, as they have done in the past! I am stuck trying to find more about the provenance for a 20 asses coin I purchased in Roma’s recent auction. While Roma wouldn’t tell me anything about provenance beyond their listing, they included this slip of paper Can anyone identify the seller from this tag? I’ve tried the usual search engines without success. I was able to find that this coin was previously sold by Artemide. Forum members might be interested to observe the change in the coin between the Artemide and Roma sales. Above is from Artemide Aste auction 57 lot 5, 29 Apr 22 Above is from Roma auction 25 lot 23, 06 Sep 22 Roma listed the coin as: Etruria, Populonia AR 20 Asses. 3rd Century BC. Facing head of Metus, hair bound with diadem; X:X (mark of value) below / \'poplv\' in Etruscan script. EC I, 37 (O1/R1); HN Italy 142; HGC 1, 103. 8.63g, 22mm. From the Paulo Leitão Collection. (Again thanks to @Phil Davis for identifying Paulo Leitão as “a serious high-end collector and sometimes dealer “ in my earlier thread.) So any further information about the ticket shown above will be welcome. Thanks for your consideration. D
  11. Recently I purchased two coins from Roma’s auction 25. Lot 23 was catalogued as from the “Paulo Leitão” collection, and lot 137 from the “F Cruse” collection. Roma says that they will not disclose any further information. If anyone can provide any background on “Paulo Leitão” or “F Cruse,” I’d appreciate it. Below is a photo of one of my purchases, formerly in the collection of the mysterious F Cruse. … thanks for listening, and any help you might be able to provide. D Sicily, Syracuse Æ 28mm. Time of Timoleon and the Third Democracy, circa 339/8-334 BC. ΖΕΥΣ ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΟΣ, laureate head of Zeus to left / ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ, free horse prancing to left. 20.18g, 28mm, 5h.
  12. ... and lastly, let me add NGC's comment about attribution, that just came in: quote There is a great deal of subjectivity when it comes to distinguish between official and imitative Athenian tetradrachms. I suspect that if you surveyed ten specialists you would probably get a split of opinion right down the middle. Unfortunately, there is no hard evidence to support either position. Having said that, I am of the opinion that the combination of the somewhat odd portrait style and the low weight (a full gram below a "typical" weight) casts sufficient doubt on its being a product of Athens. An acceptable die axis and correct purity/metal content would not, necessarily, have any bearing on a determination since there is nothing to preclude a mint outside of Athens producing an imitative coin in that way. I understand that we may not agree on this identification, but I hope this note at least explains our perspective. unquote
  13. I brought three Athenian tetradrachms into the testing lab. My goal was to see if any of the results were surprisingly different, whether due to the equipment or coin. Here are the results a) archaic type (Seltman Gi, A144): 98.42% ag, 0.86% cu, 0.71% pb b) classical type (as posted above): 98.32% ag, 0.68% cu, 0.60 au, 0.41% pb c) new style (Thompson 304): 98.86% ag, 0.72% bi, 0.42% pb D
  14. Thank you, @Ed Snible, for the reference – it was exactly on target. The Athenian tetradrachms from Tel Mikhal referred in the article have almost exactly the same mean weight and silver content as my tetradrachm. The article concludes “the silver content of the Eastern owls was as strictly controlled as authentic Athenian tetradrachms and provides further evidence to support the view that these coins are either authentic Athenian products or some form of centrally minted eastern issues produced from Greek silver.” The article refers to two further papers from which I ought to be able to compare the silver profile of this coin to silver mined from Laurion. It’s a project of mine for later this month. A word about XRF testing. There is a commercial materials testing laboratory nearby, which used a Fischerscope x-ray “xdal” (trade name) fluorescence measuring instrument on the coin. Although accurate and professionally operated, XRF has limitations. We collectors know about surface enrichment, and XRF penetration in metal is measured in microns. However, I wouldn’t agree to drilling a hole in the side of my coin! @Curtis JJ asked about the basis for NGC's opinion. I've asked them, but have not yet received a response. Again thanks for your interest. D
  15. Fellow collectors might be interested how I tried to find out more about my purchase of a tetradrachm. I thought it was going to be easy since I was buying an example of the most common coin from antiquity ... About four years ago I bought this tetradrachm from Naumann Where the catalogue described it as: ATTICA. Athens. Tetradrachm (Circa 454-404 BC). Obv: Helmeted head of Athena right, with frontal eye. Rev: AΘE. Owl standing right, head facing; olive sprig and crescent to left; all within incuse square. Kroll 8; HGC 4, 1597. Condition: Extremely fine. Weight: 16.22 g. Diameter: 27 mm. From my unscientific review of Athenian tetradrachms in acsearch and the sixbid archives I observed very few of this weight or lighter, most of which have problems such as damage, porosity or test cuts. So I decided to see what I could find out about authenticity, metal content and mint. A testing lab analysis shows the coin contains 98.32% ag, 0.68% cu, 0.60% au and 0.41% pb. Since I cannot find any metal composition study for the series, I do not know whether these trace metals and their proportions are typical or unusual. Next I reviewed the die axis, thanks to Dr Van Alfen and ANS’s MANTIS database. This coin has a 5 o’clock die rotation. Of 146 ‘classical’ period tetradrachms in the ANS database, the 5 o’clock rotation is unusual but not unique: axis count percent 1 3 2.1% 2 7 4.9% 3 6 4.2% 4 1 0.7% 5 6 4.2% 6 2 1.4% 7 2 1.4% 8 26 18.1% 9 70 48.6% 10 18 12.5% 11 1 0.7% 12 2 1.4% Finally I had the coin reviewed by some who have far greater experience than I. David Sear pronounced it genuine “though of unusually low weight.” NGC attributed the coin to “near east or Egypt, c 5th – 4th Centuries BC” and Dr van Alfen attributed it to Athens. My conclusions are that this coin is contemporary and probably of Athenian mintage. Any insights from the community are welcome. D
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