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Al Kowsky

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While browsing through CNG E-Auction 545lot 432 caught my attention because I've got an example of this coin type. The coin in question is the first one pictured below.

https://auctions.cngcoins.com/lots/view/4-AURXNZ/coelesyria-laodicea-ad-libanum-septimius-severus-ad-193-211-bi-tetradrachm-25mm-763-g-12h-struck-ad-207-208-vf

The CNG description states the coin is Very rare, with only 6 examples cited by Prieur (I'm fairly certain more than 6 examples of this coin type are known). A striking feature with the CNG example is the weight of only 7.63 grams 🤔. That weight is unusually low, more like the weight of a didrachm. The coin pictured below the CNG example is the coin in my collection, with a weight of 14.37 grams. The last coin pictured is a different a different type using the same obverse obverse die but a different reverse die, Prieur 1119. Notice the eagle head is turned to the right & there is no wreath in the eagle's beak. This coin type is more common with 5 examples cited by Prieur, & 11 examples in CoinArchives. The last example sold in CNG Triton XXVI for $6,125.00 (including the buyers premium. One thing that appears to be in common with all three of these coins is they seem to be struck with the same obverse die in various stages of deterioration, the last coin being the earliest strike.

https://auctions.cngcoins.com/lots/view/4-85Z9PM/seleucis-and-pieria-laodicea-ad-mare-septimius-severus-ad-193-211-bi-tetradrachm-27mm-1387-g-11h-struck-circa-ad-205-207-choice-ef

CNG545lot432.jpg.1c000a0418ff94b865e488c435bedfc2.jpgSeptimiusSeverusPrieur1141AWKCollection.jpg.55aabcdfb836f3ad9396f6f6d8f3df28.jpgCNGTritonXXVIlot565.jpg.6cd2f835bd56db8450312c86564f28e7.jpg

So my question is this, what could account for the very low weight of the first coin 🤨? Could this coin be a modern forgery made from dies copied from genuine coins, or could it be an ancient fake, or could it be just an oddball coin? Please give me your thoughts & thanks for looking ☺️.

 

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38 minutes ago, Al Kowsky said:

While browsing through CNG E-Auction 545lot 432 caught my attention because I've got an example of this coin type. The coin in question is the first one pictured below.

https://auctions.cngcoins.com/lots/view/4-AURXNZ/coelesyria-laodicea-ad-libanum-septimius-severus-ad-193-211-bi-tetradrachm-25mm-763-g-12h-struck-ad-207-208-vf

The CNG description states the coin is Very rare, with only 6 examples cited by Prieur (I'm fairly certain more than 6 examples of this coin type are known). A striking feature with the CNG example is the weight of only 7.63 grams 🤔. That weight is unusually low, more like the weight of a didrachm. The coin pictured below the CNG example is the coin in my collection, with a weight of 14.37 grams. The last coin pictured is a different a different type using the same obverse obverse die but a different reverse die, Prieur 1119. Notice the eagle head is turned to the right & there is no wreath in the eagle's beak. This coin type is more common with 5 examples cited by Prieur, & 11 examples in CoinArchives. The last example sold in CNG Triton XXVI for $6,125.00 (including the buyers premium. One thing that appears to be in common with all three of these coins is they seem to be struck with the same obverse die in various stages of deterioration, the last coin being the earliest strike.

https://auctions.cngcoins.com/lots/view/4-85Z9PM/seleucis-and-pieria-laodicea-ad-mare-septimius-severus-ad-193-211-bi-tetradrachm-27mm-1387-g-11h-struck-circa-ad-205-207-choice-ef

CNG545lot432.jpg.1c000a0418ff94b865e488c435bedfc2.jpgSeptimiusSeverusPrieur1141AWKCollection.jpg.55aabcdfb836f3ad9396f6f6d8f3df28.jpgCNGTritonXXVIlot565.jpg.6cd2f835bd56db8450312c86564f28e7.jpg

So my question is this, what could account for the very low weight of the first coin 🤨? Could this coin be a modern forgery made from dies copied from genuine coins, or could it be an ancient fake, or could it be just an oddball coin? Please give me your thoughts & thanks for looking ☺️.

 

Absolutely love #2 & 3

Edited by El Cazador
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5 minutes ago, Hrefn said:

I hate the necessity for questioning the authenticity of coins, and it is particularly difficult to judge from a picture on the internet.  But……Regarding light weight coin:  Sprue removed at 11 o’clock?  

Agreed, but would someone at CNG not be alerted with such a light weight on a tetradrachm ?
It seems unlikely to me, hence the typo hypothesis. Someone has to ask them !

Q

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40 minutes ago, Hrefn said:

I hate the necessity for questioning the authenticity of coins, and it is particularly difficult to judge from a picture on the internet.  But……Regarding light weight coin:  Sprue removed at 11 o’clock?  

That was my suspicion too 😉. Aside from the light weight, the images look soft & soapy. For a coin that thin you'd expect a better impression.

38 minutes ago, Qcumbor said:

Agreed, but would someone at CNG not be alerted with such a light weight on a tetradrachm ?
It seems unlikely to me, hence the typo hypothesis. Someone has to ask them !

Q

I've done a lot of business with CNG & questioned a number of their coins in the past, so rather than looking like a trouble maker I'd rather have someone else question the if they feel it's necessary. I am surprised they didn't make a note of the light weight in the description....

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4 minutes ago, Al Kowsky said:

That was my suspicion too 😉. Aside from the light weight, the images look soft & soapy. For a coin that thin you'd expect a better impression.

I've done a lot of business with CNG & questioned a number of their coins in the past, so rather than looking like a trouble maker I'd rather have someone else question the if they feel it's necessary. I am surprised they didn't make a note of the light weight in the description....

Done -- I sent them an e-mail. I'll post what they say.

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Judging by the other tetradrachms from around the time, 7.63g is impossibly low. But I don't think it's a modern forgery. The weight would be a strange error trying to save silver when the coin sells for $6k.
 

1 hour ago, Qcumbor said:

Agreed, but would someone at CNG not be alerted with such a light weight on a tetradrachm ?
It seems unlikely to me, hence the typo hypothesis. Someone has to ask them !

You'd hope so, but Harlan J Berk listed a coin with 'R' stamped on it, so anything's possible.

 

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2 hours ago, Al Kowsky said:

That was my suspicion too 😉. Aside from the light weight, the images look soft & soapy. For a coin that thin you'd expect a better impression.

I've done a lot of business with CNG & questioned a number of their coins in the past, so rather than looking like a trouble maker I'd rather have someone else question the if they feel it's necessary. I am surprised they didn't make a note of the light weight in the description....

I don't think anyone could fault you for asking if the weight recorded is accurate or if it was a typo. I wouldn't jump to speculating that it's fake until you get the answer to that question, though it doesn't seem like the normal typo (i.e. dropped or transposed digit). I've emailed CNG a few times about mistaken attributions or similar and they've always been very courteous and appreciative.

I noticed acsearch has two light-ish weight examples as well:

Leu Numismatik - 9.99g: https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=6364693

CNG - 10.71g: https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=3305952

Those two share the same rev die I think but not the same rev die as the first one you linked. Even if we were to assume the silver content varied within this type, it's hard to imagine it could vary by so much. I don't know what the main base metal is in these billon tetradrachms but it'd have to be iron or similar to be able to have the weight vary so much given the density of silver relative to iron and other base metals like copper.

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2 hours ago, Kaleun96 said:

I don't think anyone could fault you for asking if the weight recorded is accurate or if it was a typo. I wouldn't jump to speculating that it's fake until you get the answer to that question, though it doesn't seem like the normal typo (i.e. dropped or transposed digit). I've emailed CNG a few times about mistaken attributions or similar and they've always been very courteous and appreciative.

I noticed acsearch has two light-ish weight examples as well:

Leu Numismatik - 9.99g: https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=6364693

CNG - 10.71g: https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=3305952

Those two share the same rev die I think but not the same rev die as the first one you linked. Even if we were to assume the silver content varied within this type, it's hard to imagine it could vary by so much. I don't know what the main base metal is in these billon tetradrachms but it'd have to be iron or similar to be able to have the weight vary so much given the density of silver relative to iron and other base metals like copper.

Technically speaking the tetradrachms of Septimius Severus are not billon, they are silver. The British Museum defines billon as "coinage metal essentially of silver & copper, with silver in the range of of 10-30%". McAlee lists the mean % of silver in the Severus tetradrachms at 59.81%, & a mean weight of 13.32 grams. The tetradrachms of Caracalla are closer to billon with a mean silver % of 35.59%, & a mean weight of 12.94 grams. I have no idea why most dealers & NGC label his tetradrachms as billon... Thanks for posting the links from www.acsearch. The link from Leu Numismatik did note in their description that the weight of 9.99g was light, & CNG should have done the same thing 😉.

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10 hours ago, Al Kowsky said:

Technically speaking the tetradrachms of Septimius Severus are not billon, they are silver. The British Museum defines billon as "coinage metal essentially of silver & copper, with silver in the range of of 10-30%". McAlee lists the mean % of silver in the Severus tetradrachms at 59.81%, & a mean weight of 13.32 grams. The tetradrachms of Caracalla are closer to billon with a mean silver % of 35.59%, & a mean weight of 12.94 grams. I have no idea why most dealers & NGC label his tetradrachms as billon... Thanks for posting the links from www.acsearch. The link from Leu Numismatik did note in their description that the weight of 9.99g was light, & CNG should have done the same thing 😉.

If the average is about 60% with not too much variation, then the super low weight of the CNG example is definitely very concerning. Would be great if there was a frequency table of weights for his tetradrachms.

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17 hours ago, Kaleun96 said:

I don't think anyone could fault you for asking if the weight recorded is accurate or if it was a typo. I wouldn't jump to speculating that it's fake until you get the answer to that question, though it doesn't seem like the normal typo (i.e. dropped or transposed digit). I've emailed CNG a few times about mistaken attributions or similar and they've always been very courteous and appreciative.

I noticed acsearch has two light-ish weight examples as well:

Leu Numismatik - 9.99g: https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=6364693

CNG - 10.71g: https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=3305952

Those two share the same rev die I think but not the same rev die as the first one you linked. Even if we were to assume the silver content varied within this type, it's hard to imagine it could vary by so much. I don't know what the main base metal is in these billon tetradrachms but it'd have to be iron or similar to be able to have the weight vary so much given the density of silver relative to iron and other base metals like copper.

Also from ACSearch:

Solidus Numismatic, Auction 32, Lot 147 at 9.97g.

CNG e326, Lot 329 10.71g.

Roma E Sale 11, Lot 81 (different reverse die, eagle looking right), 10.68g.

The other obverse die matches are more normal weight.

 

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