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A Major Acquisition


kirispupis
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Okay. I admit that many of you won't be impressed by this coin, but for me it's a huge pickup. First, I've been after it for some time.

Ariarathes I was the head of Cappadocia at the time of Alexander's invasion. He was among the few in the area not to fall under Macedonian dominance, primarily because Alexander didn't feel it worth the effort. At the time of his death, it was probably on his To Do list, but Cappadocia remained independent. It wouldn't stay that way for long. After his death, Eumenes was tasked with placing the area under Macedonian control, and with the help of Perdikkas it was overwhelmed and Ariarathes executed.

This coin was such an important pick-up because it serves as a key piece in three collections.

  1. My Philip II, Alexander III, and the Age of the Diadochi collection, where it was one of a handful of common coins I had yet to procure. With this purchase, there is only one common coin left and nine that rarely come up for auction.
  2. My Kingdoms After Alexander collection, where it represents Cappadocia (my rule is to pick up the first king of each, except in cases where the first king didn't issue coins or where they're cost prohibitive)
  3. My Cappadocia collection, where it serves as the first coin. Since I already have Ariarathes III and Ariaramnes examples, the rest are far easier.

This is also one of the few areas I've actually visited. I spent several days in Cappadocia during a trip to Turkey about 12 years ago and the place is stunning.

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Nevertheless, it was easily the most difficult coin for me to obtain. While his coins do come up at auction regularly, I'd aimed at this griffin attacking stag coinage. Three times I attempted to purchase one.

  1. The first time, I simply didn't bid high enough. I thought I had it in the bag, but when my bid was exceeded at the live auction, I couldn't decide whether it was worth it to increase my bid, so I didn't and was the underbidder.
  2. The second time, I placed a high bid because I was now serious about procuring it. To my amazement, a bid came in for 2 CHF more at the Leu auction and grabbed it. I had to look up the rules and the move was fair, though dirty. I've since curtailed my purchases significantly from Leu, because this policy is mean.
  3. The third time, there were multiple copies at auction. Again, I was prepared to bid high. I looked up the day before the exact start of the auction and prepared for it, only to log in several hours early to check and find that the auction had started early and they'd already sold! One of them went below what I was willing to offer.

So, I was on the lookout when this one appeared on VCoins. Since this wasn't the issue I was looking at, I had a dilemna. The following was my reasoning.

  • Ariarathes I had three issues I know about. There's the griffin attacking stag, this one, and a bronze issue. I definitely wasn't going to settle for bronze after pursuing the silver issues. Of the two silvers, this one is the rarer by a roughly 1:2 ratio, but it also typically sells for less because the reverse isn't as exciting. The weight and value of the two are similar.
  • Both silver issues are copies of other coinage. This one is close to the standard Sinope coinage at the time, while the griffin+stag coinage copies the earlier Mazaios coins.
  • The griffin+stag coinage is often poorly struck and the aramaic inscription is often worn or off the flan. This one has a very clear inscription and is well-centered.
  • The price of this coin was a third of what I budgeted for the stag+griffin

Therefore, I made the call to buy it and then waited an anxious month-and-a-half for it to reach my house from Germany. It stayed in customs for over a week alone. But, I now possess it and am extremely happy.

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Paphlagonia, Sinope. Ariarathes I of Cappadocia
Circa 325 BCE
AR Drachm 5.53 gm, 17mm
Persic standard
Obv.: 'm in Aramaic, head of the nymph Sinope to left, her hair bound in a sakkos, wearing triple-pendant earring and pearl necklace; to left, aphlaston.
Rev.: 'ariyrth' in Aramaic, sea-eagle with spread wings standing on a dolphin to left.
HGC 7, 434; SNG BM Black Sea 1459; SNG Stancomb 761
Ex Tom Vossen

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Way to go! And from Alexander's lifetime no less😲

The best Cappadocian I can add is this much later cheeky victory or Nero:

2370359_1637247631.l-removebg-preview.png.a75d8eb570e2e73ec80294ad1fe144be.png

CAPPADOCIA (1,77g, 15mm) Caesarea, Nero (54-68), AR Hemidrachm

Obv: NERO CLAVD DIVI CLAVD F CAESAR AVG GERMANI; laureate head of Nero, right.

Rev: Nike standing, right, with foot on globe and inscribing shield set on knee

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I wonder why Deutsche Post takes so long? 

I've ordered from Norway (DHL), Belgium (but the package itself was from the Italian post), the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and France.   The Netherlands package was the slowest, followed by Germany.

I ordered two coins from Dr. Busso Peus via Deutsche Post (not their fault, I requested D.P.), which took a month each.  The DHL took a few days. France was the fastest of the non-DHL packages.

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Exceptional! Here is a coin with a very similar reverse design, that was also a very important target for me.

image.png.0842fa684649e90478afcfd17686d8f5.png

Moesia. Istrus circa 280 - 256/255 BC
Obol or Trihemiobol AR 12 mm, 0,77 g
Facing male heads, the left one inverted / IΣTΡIH, Sea-eagle left on dolphin, ΔI beneath dolphin.
Dima, Tabelul III, Grupa IV, Subgrupa VII, II – Pl XXI, 10

 

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I've seen a bunch of these for sale recently - on EBay and maybe the Frank Robinson auctions too - that have test cuts. It seems that this coin type commonly has test cuts, so it's great that you were able to get a more pristine specimen. Congrats!

 

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@kirispupis Lovely coin! It’s interesting that the same coin design with 2 versions having inscription in different languages, wonder is this the only example in ancient world.

I don’t possess any Araiathes I coin but I have his successor’s drachm, here you go

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KINGS OF CAPPADOCIA. Ariarathes V Eusebes Philopator (Circa 163-130 BC). Drachm AR
Obv. Diademed head right.
Rev: Dated regnal year B/2. ΒΑΣΙΛEΩΣ - ΑΡΙΑΡΑΘΟV - EVΣEBOYΣ, Athena Nikephoros standing l., holding Nike on her right hand, resting hand on shield ornamented with Gorgoneion; transverse spear behind her; in field, T Λ

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Congrats, that's quite a feeling to have only one reasonably obtainable coin to go in a major collecting set!  I'm glad the acquisition saga for this one turned out well in the end... a scarcer coin that's probably overall more attractive than the Mazaios imitation you would have ended up with, for much less money too! 👍👍

I loved Cappadocia when I visited as well, not too long after you were there.

This isn't very related, but in case you have a comment on it, I picked up a really unusual Cappadocian coin recently.  It's a brockage of an Ariarathes IV bronze (Athena seated reverse, I believe, at 4.23g and 17mm). (Simonetta says Ariarathes III.)

image.jpeg.634a384d615c08b7a24e0f9ca7d05006.jpeg

I'm not that knowledgeable about the Cappadocian series.  Have you seen this sort of thing before?

Edited by Severus Alexander
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20 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

This isn't very related, but in case you have a comment on it, I picked up a really unusual Cappadocian coin recently.  It's a brockage of an Ariarathes IV bronze (Athena seated reverse, I believe, at 4.23g and 17mm). (Simonetta says Ariarathes III.)

I'm not that knowledgeable about the Cappadocian series.  Have you seen this sort of thing before?

This is a very cool coin, though I'm far from an expert in the coinage. It's an entertaining series to research given the bitter feud between Simonetta and Morkholm. It seems that there's little resolution here, though AFAICT most sellers seem to accept Simonetta's arguments on the silver coinage but not on the bronze.

Ariarathes IV is next up on my list, though I'm debating which one to purchase given the controversy.

FWIW, here's my coin from Ariarathes III. Roma seems to accept Simonetta's attribution here.

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Kings of Cappadocia, Ariarathes III
Circa 230-220 BCE
Æ 5.04g, 20mm, 12h
Head to right, wearing bashlyk / Goddess facing between two seated sphinxes; [ΒΑ]ΣΙΛ[ΕΩΣ] to right, [A]ΡIAPAΘ[OY] to left, TY above, [ANA] in exergue.
Simonetta 5b = Simonetta, Coins 5; SNG Copenhagen Supp. 632 = SNG von Aulock 6258; HGC 7, 801
Ex Gorny & Mosch Giessener Münzhandlung 2012
Ex Fortuna Fine Arts (New York)
Ex Roma 2019
Ex Roma 2022

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20 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

 It's a brockage of an Ariarathes IV bronze

This is very unusual and a good looking coin but I do not like the lighting on the photo which does not make it clear that the coin is a brockage.  The obverse shows a bright edge on the top but the reverse shows it on the bottom.  That makes both sides look 'normal'.  If lighted in the same way, the dark shadow under the but and behind the head would be light rather than dark.  I don't have a Greek Brockage and AE brockages are not all that common.  This is 'some coin'.  The Claudius (barbarous) below shows the light coming from the top on both sides so the reverse looks incuse in comparison. 

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1 hour ago, dougsmit said:

This is very unusual and a good looking coin but I do not like the lighting on the photo which does not make it clear that the coin is a brockage.  The obverse shows a bright edge on the top but the reverse shows it on the bottom.  That makes both sides look 'normal'.  If lighted in the same way, the dark shadow under the but and behind the head would be light rather than dark.  I don't have a Greek Brockage and AE brockages are not all that common.  This is 'some coin'.

Thanks, @dougsmit!  Yes, I realized the problem with the photo, which is the seller's... I had to invert the reverse as they didn't even realize it was a brockage!  They took the reverse photo upside down and described it as an "indeterminate incuse."  Oops!  😁 Once I've darkened the scratches from the over-enthusiastic cleaning I'll take a new, proper photo, like the lovely one of your Claudius.  Well, as close to proper as I can get, anyway, maybe half as good as yours?

@kirispupis, you're right about the entertaining disputes between Morkholm and Simonetta... they don't pull any punches! 😆 Thanks for your impression of the overall state of play, that's very helpful.  Good luck with your Ariarathes IV, I look forward to seeing it!

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5 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

I'll take a new, proper photo,

Here is a good question:  Should one use the same lighting for both sides of the same coin or is it OK to treat each side as an individual making adjustments as work best for that side?  I usually say it is OK to make changes BUT, in the case of brockages, I believe it might be better to shoot the same way to preserve the odd look of the brockage.  Opinion?

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16 hours ago, dougsmit said:

Here is a good question:  Should one use the same lighting for both sides of the same coin or is it OK to treat each side as an individual making adjustments as work best for that side?  I usually say it is OK to make changes BUT, in the case of brockages, I believe it might be better to shoot the same way to preserve the odd look of the brockage.  Opinion?

Good question indeed, @dougsmit!  I certainly agree that it's best to preserve the odd look of the brockage.  In individual cases, that might still be compatible with making some adjustments?  You're probably right the adjustments will have to be relatively minor, though.  Without other cues, the eye (or rather the brain) will tend to interpret the light on both sides as coming from the same direction.  Since a brockage is chock-full of misleading such cues, it would be easy to mess the brain up.

Here's another seller's photo.  My opinion: incorrect lighting from above the portrait, but at least the lighting is the same on both sides.

image.jpeg.165c55b23008c71de849045f6f1d808d.jpeg

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