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Twelve acquisitions for 2022


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The coins and antiquities/artifacts that we add to our collections not only reflect our tastes and personalities, they also reflect our collecting habits over the course of our lives.  In my case the collecting bug has been pervasive, cutting across many areas of interests/obsessions.  I guess that can be traced back to when I was a kid.  Collecting, or accumulating, was ingrained at an early stage with coins gathered from my dad's jukebox side-business (we was a music teacher by profession), collecting baseball cards form Tops bubble gum packages and our trips to various camping grounds in Michigan, where I gathered "pretty rocks" as a kid.  The stage was set for a lifetime of accumulation, sometimes systematic, but also more often buffeted by changing circumstances that divert one's concentration to other directions, sometimes external, such as having to move to California due to the rotten economy in Detroit in 1979, often times internal - feelings of shifting moods that predispose me to extended periods of inaction and indifference.  

That rather long-winded intro is my way of setting the stage for this list of items that I acquired this year.

1. My beloved owls

I have always had a fascination with Athens, perhaps influenced by excessive Romanticism, but also by the historical importance of Athens' role as the first "democracy" as flawed as it was.  My elementary school actually included ancient and world history.  It was there that I learned of the the Battle of Marathon, thus beginning my interest in ancient and modern history.  It is amazing how these seeds can lead to a lifetime of study!

Since my shift of interest changed from generally world coins, with a focus on Spanish colonial and mainland coinage, to ancients (actually a return home, in a way) in 2019, I have focused on Athenian owls in their various permutations, along with the numerous imitations that proliferated following the 5th century BC.

While not a glitzy  mint state coin by any stretch, this Athenian owl is a good example of an "as found" or nearly "as found" coin from a hoard.  As such I find this coin appealing for its "honestly" - not excessively cleaned and not encased in plastic for hyped marketing. Its surfaces are slightly porous and there are some contact marks, all of which lend to its appeal as an ancient coin from the "Golden Age" of Athens.

Athens, tetradrachm,  c. 440 BC, late transitional standardized owl found in Israel, 'as found'.

16.93 grams


Inspired in part by the threads, posts and articles by NewStyleKing, I began to look more systematically for new style owls available through online dealers and at auction.  Never any easy segment of Athenian coinage to collect, I did acquire a couple of new coins of this complex and interesting type

This is a very attractively struck coin which has, alas, been cleaned to a quite shiny state, as can be seen in the photo.  It should darken over time, but it is a pity that such a thing was done.

Athens, new style tetradrachm, 106/5 BC.  From CNG eAuction 525 lot 206.  

Thompson 757d

16.73 grams


2022 saw a continued focus on imitative owl coinage.  This coin has a couple of countermarks, something that I look for, especially if they are decipherable.  I am not sure if the obverse of the Pharaonic as a Paleo-Hebrew K ("kaph") or an Aramaic K ("he").  The reverse has what appears to be a clearer Paleo-Hebrew or Aramaic W ("shen") to the right of the owl.

Egypt, pharaonic tetradrachm in the style of an Athenian standardized owl, late 5th-mid 4th century BC.  From Roma E-Sale 103, lot 546.

17.06 grams


Late this year a group of imitative owls appeared on the market.  I was told that these coins came as a group from Syria.  I don't have any additional information.  Could they be from a new hoard discovery, or are they from a collection of owls from the 1989 Syrian hoard?  The group are predominantly pharaonic imitations, with a few possible Athenian owls also present.  I am still want for a few more coins to arrive before doing an in-depth analysis of them.

Here are two:

Egypt, pharaonic tetradrachm the style of an Athenian standardized owl, late 5th-mid 4th century BC.  Syria Group 2022.

16.71 grams


Egypt, pharaonic owl late 5th-mid 4th century BC.  Syria Group 2022.

16.97 grams

Just taking the obverse of this coin into account, it would almost pass as coming from the Athens mint.  However, stylistic differences with the palmette on the helmet, along with a rather coarsely engraved owl and olive branch on the reverse, point it more in the direction of an imitation, probably from Egypt.  

There's an interesting countermark on the obverse that appears to be a facing profile with dots on either side.  There is, to the right, square graffiti, with an open bottom, that could be a Sabean B, which, if correct, indicates that this coin spent some time in Southern Arabia. 


This month I was able to acquire, without totally breaking the bank, a Liyhan imitation owl in "silver".  I use the term silver with some qualification, since this series of very crude coins runs the gambit from high-silver content to basically bronze.  Additionally the style of the dies rather quickly deteriorates, becoming more abstract, which, in the view of modern art, isn't such a bad thing.

While this coin has some porosity, which probably indicates a fairly low silver content, it is still a decent one, with quite clear features.  I've been following sales of this type over the past few years, and the bidding can be very competitive.  Now, I don't need to consider taking an equity loan out on the house to buy one!

Northern Arabia, Lihyan. ,silver 'tetradrachm' owl, 2nd-1st centuries BC.  From CNG eAuction 529, lot 348.

13.02 grams


This is one other Liyhan "tetradrachm" that I picked up this year, actually close to the acquisition of the "silver" example.  This is a totally debased coin in even cruder, later style.  What's unusual for this coin, even for a Liyhan coin, is that the ethnic and the olive branch motif is reversed, with the AOE ethnic to the left, on the reverse side.  This dark coin was a bit challenging to photograph, but the main design is quite clear.

Northern Arabia,  Lihyan, AE 'tetradrachm' owl 2nd-1st centuries BC.  From CNG eAuction 528 lot 188.

12.70 grams


2. A few world crowns added to the mix this year.

I did pick up a few world crowns and a nice 19th century French medal.

Spain, Philip IV, 8 reales, Seville, 1593 B possibly 3 over 2.  From Daniel Sedwick's auction 32, lot 1073.

Cayón 4036; Calicó 250

27.53 grams



This Leopold I thaler filled a hole in the collection left by the need to sell a good part of the collection back in 1993, when we were buying our house and needed to come up with a decent downpayment.

Holy Roman Empire, Leopold I, AR thaler, 1691, Hall Mint.  From the World Wide Coin's of California Fall 2022 Auction, lot 33.

KM 1349, Her 633-634,  Davenport ECT 3242.

28.41 grams



While viewing the lots in a HJB sale this year, I came across this French medal with a really nice ancient theme: Athena and Skyla, with the latter perched in the former's helmet.

France, AR medal, University of France, 19th century (circa 1850), by Alphée Dubois (1831–1905).

27.9 grams



3. And a couple of other nice ancients (and the beat goes on...)

This is a coin that did not attract any bids whatsoever in the Roma E-Sale 100.  It is really nice coin, for a "limes" type, with a fine portrait.  The reverse isn't bad either.

Marcus Aurelius, "limes" denarius AD145-160.  From Roma E-Sale 100, lot 1100.

3.40 grams




I have developed a keen interest in Turkoman coinage, with its mix of western and eastern themes and motifs.  This is a coin that I picked up through MA Shops the past summer.

Artuqids of Mardin, Nasir al-Din Artuq Arslan, AH 598(1201-02).

SS37.2; Album 1830.1

14.25 grams


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  • Benefactor

Great pickups for the year! Of course my favorites have to be the owls. The Lihyan ones are particularly interesting.

I'm a bit surprised you haven't ventured into bronze owls. There are a number of interesting ones, including a double owl. Why do I have a feeling whoever thought of this was on something... 🙂


Kings of Thrace. Agathokles, son of Lysimachos
circa 290s-283/2 BCE Adramyteion
AE Bronze, 13 mm, 1.90 g, 11 h
Laureate head of Apollo to right. Rev. AΓA-ΘO Double-bodied owl standing facing.
HGC 3 -. Terin Series 7, 8
Ex Leu

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1 hour ago, The Pontian said:

@robinjojohello! How do you know that your athenian tetradrachm was found in Israel ?

This information was supplied by the seller, who I trust.  I have seen various types of coins with "hoard" surfaces, i.e., dark, oxidized and sometimes porous in varying degrees appearing for sale from time to time from Israel and the surrounding region. 

Now it is possible that the owl came from elsewhere, and if it did, I'd bet on either Syria or Turkey. A lot of owls have been found in both countries.  Interestingly, at least based on my experience, the owl hoards from Syria, notably the famous 1989 hoard, were dominated by imitations from Egypt, the pharaonic owls.  However, in addition there were very rare imitations present as well, including a few issued by the Persian Satrap Sabakes.

In contrast, the owl hoards at least in recent years from Turkey appear to be comprised of Athenian owls, with that mega hoard found a few years ago, whose output of classical Athenian owls have flooded the market for the past few years now.

So I guess, lacking documentation of a find, including hard evidence, which finders are loath to disclose, even if they have it, the actual origins of the coins we buy, unless supported by credible provenance, is something that is hearsay at best.

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