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Unusual packaging for an owl shipment


robinjojo

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Earlier this year a package from Turkey, by UPS Save, containing a small size woman's coat arrived at the doorstep.  I was advised by the seller to look for the coin in the button.  Very strange.  

The coat was bundled in a plastic UPS wrapping with layers of tape.

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Carefully cutting through the layers of tape I found a coat.

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The coat had one large button.

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I pried the front of the button from the backing.  Inside was a coin wrapped in aluminum foil.

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 Unwrapping the foil revealed a coin, an owl.

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Following a light cleaning in acetone (the coin's surfaces were rather sticky), here it is now.

Athens eastern imitation or pharaonic owl, 4th century BC.  Basically "as found".

17.06 grams 

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I can see how this coin was shipped, to avoid scrutiny by Turkish and US customs.  I am sure that many of you have had coins shipped in a manner to reduce the chances of them being subject to customs inspections, although probably not in the manner of this coin's transit.  I hope this situation is a one off for me.  

I was unable to reattach the front of the button - too bent.  The coat was donated to a local charity.  Hopefully someone can easily find a replacement button and put the coat to good use.

 

 

 

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Thanks, but I still feel some guilt going outside normal shipping procedures, a furtive approach that makes me uncomfortable.  I really wasn't sure how this coin was being sent, with only the advice to find the coin inside the button.  Obviously the coin was inserted somehow, but the metal of the button is very flimsy and impossible to handle, especially once it was bent from the prying. 

I think some sort of machine must have been used, a button making machine perhaps?  Obviously the pressure had to be such that the coin would not be damaged as the two parts of the button were joined.  It's all rather mysterious and I guess I'll never know, since I expect my current and future shipments will be above board.  

Finally, I think it is somewhat indicative of the state of exporting coins into the US.  One hears of drugs being hidden in shipments on container ships, or in the undersides of cars or trucks.  So it is with ancient coins entering the collecting ecosystem, whose sources flow into it in vague and little known ways, at least for me.  I'm sure that middlemen feed dealers and auction houses, leading to the introduction of coins from obvious hoards, such as the flurry of tetradrachms of Tigranes II that are popping up at auction or in multiple listings through dealers on venues such as VCoins and MA Shops. 

The owl in the button is a first for me, and a one timer I hope.

Edited by robinjojo
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I read Turkey and scrolled past the picture thinking it was a frozen turkey, then I saw the coat 😄

Very cloak and dagger.   I've had a few coins delivered inside books - I believed for protection as they were only sent from the UK, but I haven't seen anything as deceptive as your coat 😄

There's an old joke of the soldier who forgets his coat when visiting home, so his mother posts it to him.   He finds it without buttons with a note "To save postage, I removed the buttons... P.S. you'll find the buttons in the pocket"

ATB,
Aidan.

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I hope not.  The seller does not reside in Turkey.  I think that what I have posted is of a general nature, including the photos, and I don't think there's a Turkish or US sleuth who's hot on the heels of a shipment of a rather humble rusty owl.  Now if this coin was an Eid Mar aureus, that would be another matter, attracting attention like flies to honey. 

But, I guess stranger things have happened.  Actually I posted a similar thread on CoinTalk some months ago, so far no ominous knocks on the front door in the wee hours of the morning.

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19 minutes ago, robinjojo said:

I hope not.  The seller does not reside in Turkey.  I think that what I have posted is of a general nature, including the photos, and I don't think there's a Turkish or US sleuth who's hot on the heels of a shipment of a rather humble rusty owl.  Now if this coin was an Eid Mar aureus, that would be another matter, attracting attention like flies to honey. 

But, I guess stranger things have happened.  Actually I posted a similar thread on CoinTalk some months ago, so far no ominous knocks on the front door in the wee hours of the morning.

I was mostly referring to the photo of the packaging. In the unlikely event that an official did take an interest there is probably enough info that hasn’t been redacted that a request to UPS could give them all the shipping info they could want. Overcautious?.. perhaps, but for your own sake and the sellers I thought it best to ask the question.

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So am I right in thinking this coin has probably been looted? I appreciate Turkish laws around antiquities is problematic, but is resultant of other nations plundering from them over the centuries and yes in its current state the law actively encourages a black market and illegal trade. I also noted the flood of tetradrachms of Tigranes II, similar to the on going high supply of owl tets from the 2018 hoard. Are people not bothered about the looting of others' heritage?

Im not getting on a high horse here, I collect Greek silver so am in the same camp

(As a side note, I've always found the legitimising of an English aristocrat provenance hilarious, it's just means it was stolen longer ago!)

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I'll need to get the pics off of my computer, but I once bought a bunch of medieval Hungarian coins off of someone on eBay, and they came packaged inside of the CD case for a pirated computer game.

This one feels way more "US border patrol seizes watermelon full of heroin" though!

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I must admit I'd feel rather uncomfortable if I were to receive a coin like this. Everything about it is kind of fishy, and even though everything could be just fine, the manner in which the coin was concealed points to a certain, not so good, direction....

The only case that may relate to your question, is some coin cleaning stuff I received from the UK. The package mentioned something like beauty products. But I would recommend not putting it on the face 🙂

Nice Owl nevertheless. Are you going to try to clean it? 

Edited by Limes
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5 hours ago, Tetradogma said:

So am I right in thinking this coin has probably been looted? I appreciate Turkish laws around antiquities is problematic, but is resultant of other nations plundering from them over the centuries and yes in its current state the law actively encourages a black market and illegal trade. I also noted the flood of tetradrachms of Tigranes II, similar to the on going high supply of owl tets from the 2018 hoard. Are people not bothered about the looting of others' heritage?

Im not getting on a high horse here, I collect Greek silver so am in the same camp

(As a side note, I've always found the legitimising of an English aristocrat provenance hilarious, it's just means it was stolen longer ago!)

I have no idea whether the coin was looted, or found individually or as part of a hoard, or came from someone's collection.  All are possibilities. 

This type of shipment was intended to evade scrutiny by Turkish and US customs officials.  I am sure that they are on the lookout for packages of this nature, but due to high mail volume many slip by, I think.  I really wasn't sure what to expect and was somewhat surprised when the shipment arrived, the "button" hint from the seller notwithstanding.  

4 hours ago, Limes said:

I must admit I'd feel rather uncomfortable if I were to receive a coin like this. Everything about it is kind of fishy, and even though everything could be just fine, the manner in which the coin was concealed points to a certain, not so good, direction....

The only case that may relate to your question, is some coin cleaning stuff I received from the UK. The package mentioned something like beauty products. But I would recommend not putting it on the face 🙂

Nice Owl nevertheless. Are you going to try to clean it? 

Thanks.  No, I am not going to clean it any further.  A coin in that condition is best left with the hoard surfaces intact.  This actually gives the coin an appeal that is absent others that have been over-cleaned, with bright surfaces.  Also, any further cleaning would likely reveal corrosion or lattice-like surfaces, not desirable in any way.

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You have to admit, the guy doesn't lack imagination. 

Closest thing that happened to me - a few years ago I bought an uncommon banknote from a local Facebook group. The price was very good for me, the banknote was in decent condition. The seller was not very popular. 

I received a large envelope (about A4). Inside there was a pornographic magazine. I was very close to call the guy AND complain on the group. But the banknote was there, in another envelope. No clue why he did this. 

Note - it was UNC.

Note 2 - I mean the magazine. The banknote was F-VF. 

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