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Theophilus Follis now in hand; opinions, please...


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In one of the fastest deliveries I've ever experienced as a coin collector, the Theophilus Follis mentioned in another recent thread arrived, astonishingly, today.

First off, it looks amazing in hand. The dealer pictures, as usual, only did it partial justice. That said, some potential concerns came up in that other thread and so here I wanted to photograph the coin myself, including under magnification, to determine whether I have anything additional to worry about.

A few pictures in slightly raking light and then in direct light:


Theophilus (AD 829-842) Æ Follis; Constantinople mint; 830-842;
Obv: Half-length figure standing facing, holding labarum and globus cruciger; Rev: ΘEO / FILE AVG / OVSTE SV / hICAS in four lines;
27.66mm; 7.46 grams; Sear 1667


And some photos taken with a USB scope of various parts of the coin:

My least favorite part of the coin. The lower left side of the coin looks like it had experienced some corrosion. Though it looks purple in all photographs, it doesn't really look purple in hand. At certain angles, the Θ and E even stand out a bit, as though mostly still present. But every time I photographed this area, it looks purplish. I'm not sure how much that ultimately matters, but this part of the coin gives me the most concern.


The greenish blobs at the top of the coin appear solid. I prodded them gently with a toothpick and didn't notice any crumbling.


I don't think I see any signs of tooling, but I'm also no expert in this area.




This magnified portion of the globus cruciger looks like it reveals his fingers at the bottom of the orb. These don't show very prominently in hand.




Any opinions on this coin would be greatly appreciated, as I'm still relatively new to Byzantine coins. The coin was purchased from an established dealer (off Vcoins) with a generous return policy and authenticity guarantee. Still, I want to check it out so I'm not stuck with something that might start growing fetid foam sometime in the near future. According to my only semi-educated opinion, I don't think so, but I'll happily accept any other opinions, because pretty much everyone here knows more about this subject than I do. That said, I also completely understand that the decision to keep or return the coin is all mine and only mine. I'm just looking for advice and opinions. Thank you!

Update: this typed paper envelope also came with the coin. It contains a thin translucent film inside and a few other small pieces of paper. Presumably from a previous owner.

Edited by ewomack
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On 8/27/2022 at 4:42 PM, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

P.S.  I think the slightly raking light yielded better results.

I'm still trying to overcome my own coin photography woes.

I completely agree. The direct light makes it look a little washed out. Direct light seems to work great for moderns, medievals and most ancients. In my experience so far, it seems to work less well for Byzantines. The pictures I posted of my Justinian I and Leo V coins all used raking light because direct light just didn't seem to work for them. I'm not sure why, but, for me, so far, it seems exclusive to Byzantine coins. Also, thank you for your replies.

5 hours ago, Edessa said:

Very nice, I'd keep it. Just remember to check it every couple of months to make sure that it doesn't need to be treated for active bronze disease.

Thank you. Yes, that's extremely good advice. I have to admit that every time I pick it up, which currently happens multiple times a day, I can't imagine returning it. But I still have some time to decide. But I will likely end up keeping it.

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Lost provenance alert!!!

That is one of Phil Peck's old envelopes (originally sold as "Morris Collection" at Heritage, his brother's name).

I know this, originally, from @curtislclay's comment [CT Post 4263007, 18 Mar 2020]. Images below from from Glenn Simonelli [CT Thread 356841, 17 Mar 2020]. Unfortunately my Phil Peck coins were all slabbed by NGC (at the behest of Heritage), and the envelopes disposed of.

Cut-and-paste from my "provenance glossary" below. This is one of the images from my small "collector label database" that I see most often. When I search ACSearch for "Morris" or "Peck" and "Theophilus" I don't see your coin, so it was either in a group lot, didn't make it into the Heritage sales, or he sold/traded/gifted it long ago to another collector.

On 8/27/2022 at 3:12 PM, ewomack said:

Update: this typed paper envelope also came with the coin. It contains a thin translucent film inside and a few other small pieces of paper. Presumably from a previous owner.

spacer.png Photo Source: Glen Simonelli

Phil Peck (Philip C. Peck, New York, b. c. 1941/2). Graduated Princeton 1984 (where he was a friend of Curtis Clay). Brother of Morris Peck. The "Morris Collection" = that of Phil Peck, sold at Heritage beginning 2019. At least for ancients, all those I’ve personally seen were encapsulated for the Heritage sales by NGC c. 2019 and most (perhaps all?) note the provenance on the tag: “The Morris Collection” (example). But others have received them with Peck's envelopes (these were apparently discarded when others were encapsulated, which is a tragedy.

  • Most or all of the collection was sold in four main groups: Morris Collection, Part I = Heritage Auction 271920 (26 May 2019); Morris Collection, Part II = Heritage Auction 271933 (18 Aug 2019); Morris Collection, Part III = Heritage Auction 61151 (26 Jan 2020); Morris Collection, Part IV = Heritage Auction 61160 (10 May 2020).
  • Curator at the Chase Bank Money Museum from 1965 until until it closed permanently in 1977, its collection donated to the Smithsonian and ANS. Announced in Coin World (09/29/1965; pg. 86) [see also results here]: "Chase Money Museum Names Peck As Assistant Curator. Philip C Peck, a New York numismatist, has been appointed assistant curator of the Chase Manhattan Bank’s Money Museum at Rockefeller Center…" See also the announcement in the Princeton Alumni Weekly (v 66), 7 Dec 1965: p. 58.

Quoting CC again from CT [CT Post 4195978 (curtisclay, 1 Mar 2020)]:


Collecting Roman coins (and some others) was the central interest of Phil Peck's life. After a BA at Princeton in 1964, he became curator of the Chase Manhattan Bank's Money Museum in New York City for several years, then acquired a master's degree in library science and spent the rest of his working life as librarian for various institutions or firms in New York. I have known him since my freshman year at Princeton in 1962/3, when he met one of my roommates who told him that I too collected Roman coins! I have lost touch with him over the last twenty years or so, but understand that he had to be moved to an assisted living facility a couple of years ago and could no longer collect coins. His brother consigned the bulk of his large coin collection to Heritage, who sold it under the pseudonym "the Morris Collection".”

(Question: Are Phil Peck & Morris Peck related to the Jeff Peck from Pennsylvania, active in the numismatic literature world [Jeffrey M. Peck, possibly born in Pittsburgh 1950]?)

Edited by Curtis JJ
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