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British Museum Seals, Fancy Phallii, lovely livestock and questions that may change the future of humanity...I mean, they could


Ryro

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Admittedly, I usually scoff, put my nose in the air, and then blow a raspberries at modern replicas. Buuut, if really made by the British Museum 150 years ago and with such cool imagery and portraits then I was gonna be interested.

Unfortunately, I didn't land either of the Marius portraits, the Julius Caesar (that seemed really to be going under the radar), nor any portrait. The big booty Venus got away from me as well...

However, Savoca' lack of any description enabled me to get this amazingly strange scene of a cat tailed Phallus (with legs/wings?), snail and cricket left and above, altar/column right, monogram above, Greek writing right:

 

4270899_1687854587.l.jpg.357a6600f607687ecf88120dbb855016.jpg

Series from the British Museum (ca. 1860-1880 AD). Seal

19 mm, 2,46 g

very fine

This was the first seal in the series up for sale. Just simple livestock. Horse, goat and ram. But the artistry was such that I put in a bid and won, surprisingly, at opening:

4270891_1687854582.l.jpg.f827c49e46575cbb7f34cab12d3f35f2.jpg

Series from the British Museum (ca. 1860-1880 AD). Weight Æ

13 mm, 1,37 g

very fine

 

I'd love to see any others that are out there or that any buddies in this group might've purchased. What is the Greek written on the left side of the phallic scene? As well, see if anyone has further information on these, if they really come from the British Museum, and why the were made??

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49 minutes ago, Ryro said:

Admittedly, I usually scoff, put my nose in the air, and then blow a raspberries at modern replicas. Buuut, if really made by the British Museum 150 years ago and with such cool imagery and portraits then I was gonna be interested.

Unfortunately, I didn't land either of the Marius portraits, the Julius Caesar (that seemed really to be going under the radar), nor any portrait. The big booty Venus got away from me as well...

However, Savoca' lack of any description enabled me to get this amazingly strange scene of a cat tailed Phallus (with legs/wings?), snail and cricket left and above, altar/column right, monogram above, Greek writing right:

 

4270899_1687854587.l.jpg.357a6600f607687ecf88120dbb855016.jpg

Series from the British Museum (ca. 1860-1880 AD). Seal

19 mm, 2,46 g

very fine

This was the first seal in the series up for sale. Just simple livestock. Horse, goat and ram. But the artistry was such that I put in a bid and won, surprisingly, at opening:

4270891_1687854582.l.jpg.f827c49e46575cbb7f34cab12d3f35f2.jpg

Series from the British Museum (ca. 1860-1880 AD). Weight Æ

13 mm, 1,37 g

very fine

 

I'd love to see any others that are out there or that any buddies in this group might've purchased. What is the Greek written on the left side of the phallic scene? As well, see if anyone has further information on these, if they really come from the British Museum, and why the were made??

I assume that they're reproductions of original seals in the British Museum collections -- just like in the 19th century they used to sell electrotype reproductions of ancient coins in their collections. Have you checked these against the Museum's collections index?

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36 minutes ago, DonnaML said:

I assume that they're reproductions of original seals in the British Museum collections -- just like in the 19th century they used to sell electrotype reproductions of ancient coins in their collections. Have you checked these against the Museum's collections index?

Thanks @DonnaML! I recall you have a jaw dropping collection of antiquities. Them being made after originals is what I'm hoping for. Though, they had a seal with "Julia Domna" written on the reverse that clearly was a Greek goddess/woman. So, I'm not sure the BM would have better descriptions. I was thinking of sending an email but figure they have waaay too many stolen pieces of antiquity to respond. 

776.jpg.d7f0b69624e9b7becd3fdf96c92a8fee.jpg6251350fc37c160001ef9e14_9ba09c05-84ab-4799-8f45-b4bc6a340618.jpg.8e8159144aeee6fd01ec2ae1590a4e90.jpg

That said, where would one start trying to find an index of ancient seals at the BM? 

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49 minutes ago, Roman Collector said:

The key to reading the phallic seal is to realize it's backwards. It reads ΑΛΚΙΒΙΑΔΗΣ -- Alcibiades.

Mind blown. An all time favorite general/bro!mind-blown(1).gif.81a4f24646c0b6bc1e6b73d49e51206e.gif

As we were just PMing, I looked closer at the altar/column and am not sure that it isn't a Herme with the manhood knocked off. Could it be a reference to/seal of the greatest playboy the world would know until the times of Clooney/Pitt, and his Sacrilege of the Hermes??

Herma_Demosthenes_Glyptothek_Munich_292.jpg.e97eeb4ddaef1d7fd7695c82049441fc.jpg

The stories of him are legend:

Screenshot_20230716_204834_Chrome.jpg.7e9d93578dc45b4c2864f63326c0c0ab.jpg

Screenshot_20230716_205029_Google.jpg.c7d619230fa378b01159f0ebcf6768aa.jpgScreenshot_20230716_205046_Google.jpg.920e55e8645436ec66ef55b0b10fe212.jpg

Still searching the BM, via my phone, and not finding any of the types of seals Savoca had for sale today... led alone the dancing dick on my main mark...

Edited by Ryro
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5 minutes ago, Ryro said:

Mind blown. An all time favorite general/bro!mind-blown(1).gif.81a4f24646c0b6bc1e6b73d49e51206e.gif

As we were just PMing, I looked closer at the altar/column and am not sure that it isn't a Herme with the manhood knocked off. Could it be a reference to/seal of the greatest playboy the world would know until the times of Clooney/Pitt, and his Sacrilege of the Hermes??

Herma_Demosthenes_Glyptothek_Munich_292.jpg.e97eeb4ddaef1d7fd7695c82049441fc.jpg

The stories of him are legend:

Screenshot_20230716_204834_Chrome.jpg.7e9d93578dc45b4c2864f63326c0c0ab.jpg

Screenshot_20230716_205029_Google.jpg.c7d619230fa378b01159f0ebcf6768aa.jpgScreenshot_20230716_205046_Google.jpg.920e55e8645436ec66ef55b0b10fe212.jpg

Still searching the BM, via my phone, and not finding any of the types of seals Savoca had for sale today... led alone the dancing dick on my main mark...

I, too, have been trying to make sense of the iconography on the seal. Assuming that it refers to THE Alcibiades and not some other unknown schlemiel with the same name, the presence of the column and the phallus makes sense. But what's with the cricket and snail and the cat tail?? BIZARRO. I have tried a variety of search terms at Google to learn if there is some sort of reference or paper that discusses the imagery. But I've tried "Alcibiades 'cricket'" and "Alcibiades 'snail'" and "Alcibiades seal" but to no avail.

 

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@Ryro just in case you  didn't  know,  you can take objects into the BM on Wednesday afternoons with an appointment.  Just look up study room services.

I had an old stone  pillar  knocking around in the family and  no-one  knew what it was or where it was from, so I asked the BM. It was far too heavy to bring in so it was  done with  photos  but over a few months (it was being shown around different departments) they figured it out. (A late "Celtic" to early Saxon standing altar as  it happens).

There was  no cost, lots of help and  the  only restrictions were  they wouldn't provide  official docs or a value - not that I asked.

If that doesn't work I'd suggest the V&A, which specializes in more  decorative arts, and I strongly suspect there would be someone there who would  know more about it.

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Deinomenid said:

@Ryro just in case you  didn't  know,  you can take objects into the BM on Wednesday afternoons with an appointment.  Just look up study room services.

I had an old stone  pillar  knocking around in the family and  no-one  knew what it was or where it was from, so I asked the BM. It was far too heavy to bring in so it was  done with  photos  but over a few months (it was being shown around different departments) they figured it out. (A late "Celtic" to early Saxon standing altar as  it happens).

There was  no cost, lots of help and  the  only restrictions were  they wouldn't provide  official docs or a value - not that I asked.

If that doesn't work I'd suggest the V&A, which specializes in more  decorative arts, and I strongly suspect there would be someone there who would  know more about it.

Thanks so much! What an awesome story! I'd love to see your altar. 

Since I'm stuck in the US, I'll have to try via email. Hopefully they'll do it virtually or just off the pictures. 

What is the V&A?

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The Victoria and Albert Museum. It specializes in the history of art and design, which may (or may not!) sound  like a hyperspecialized fashion school course subject,  but is actually a huge and spectacular museum with a much broader appeal, and your  auction items are just the sort of thing they are interested in.

I'm sorry, somehow  I got it  into my head you were over there (may be some of the music videos!) , but when I was asking for help there was  never anyone asking me  if I was English or  lived there.

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1 hour ago, Deinomenid said:

The Victoria and Albert Museum. It specializes in the history of art and design, which may (or may not!) sound  like a hyperspecialized fashion school course subject,  but is actually a huge and spectacular museum with a much broader appeal, and your  auction items are just the sort of thing they are interested in.

Perhaps scandalous…I would recommend going to the Victoria and Albert Museum over the British Museum. Have lived in London for a good while, I was fortunate to spend extensive time visiting both. The depth and spread of the V&A is truly unparalleled. While the British Museum has famous artifacts like the Sutton Hoo hoard and Elgin marbles, the museum tends to only display limited amounts of artifacts per culture. The V&A starts in late antiquity so it has no ancients but I wonder if a better collection exists out there. The craftsmanship of medieval exhibits is only challenged by the Ashmolean in the UK. 

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Thanks for all of the help thus far! I reached out to V&A and received this kind rebuff. They just don't research seals apparently:

 

Thank you for your email.

 

Our Prints and Drawings Study Room is a service which allows visitors to view works on paper (designs, fine art prints, watercolours, old master drawings, photographs, commercial graphics, greetings cards, playing cards, fashion plates, posters, wallpapers, etc). Unfortunately, seals are outside of our area of expertise.

 

V&A Staff cannot provide valuations or definitive attributions. If you require either of these, we recommend that you contact a reputable antiques dealer or auction house in your local area and ask them for an appraisal instead. We are not able to recommend dealers or auction houses for this purpose.

 

As your question relates to the British Museum, our recommendation would be to contact the British Museum directly.

 

Wishing you the best in your research.

 

Warm wishes

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BM should be best port of call though surprised at v and a.

Please let us know the answer though.

I had to quickly close my screen the other night when my daughter walked past. The Google search and related images were “engraved phallus with tail”!

Not a sight I really wanted to share. 😀

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  • 3 months later...
16 minutes ago, Roman Collector said:

This thread just keeps getting better and better!! 👍

Still no response from the BM, despite another follow up email... but now I'm starting to wonder if these weren't sold as a result of Peter Higgs extra curricular behaviors?

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