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"professionally restored" solidus


Heliodromus

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This coin in it's top dinged-up state was offered in Num Lanz 149.525 in 6-2010, and I'm guessing went unsold since I have it recorded as then being sold 1 month later on eBay in 7-2010 for $1477.

The coin is now being offered in an upcoming G&M auction for a starting bid of EUR 6400 + 20% ($8,340), described as having been "professionally restored". I guess this type of thing is to some extent a matter of taste, but the "professional" restorer has made a rather major mistake and not noticed the bottom divergent wreath tie extending across the bottom of the bust, and has instead truncated it at the back of Constantine's neck!

The face of the emperor on the reverse also seems a bit comical, especially the hairline whose outline should really be a single smooth shallow arc high across the forehead, as can be seen on facing busts from the same mint (Ticinum), as well as on statues of Constantine.

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If I'm paying more than 10k for a coin, at least I'd want a genuine surface without any tooling, doesn't matter how nice it looks, it's just been altered. It's like buying a top dollar modern coin in a slab that has been cleaned to death, while still more 'genuine' examples exist for better price. 

Edited by JayAg47
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They should have reworked the obverse inscription to something like DNSPONSIANUSAUG.   Then they could have asked ten times as much for it.  Gold being a malleable metal, a professional restorer should be able to bring out the full value of the coin.  

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My friend Ron Bude asked me to post this for him:

"At least GM said there was work done. My research shows undescribed repairs to be a pervasive problem (presented in Warsaw at the every six year ancient numismatic conference and now accepted for publication in the next Numismatic Chronicle). For coins for which I had an auction photo showing defect(s) and then later resale of the same coin at auction, 25 percent of them were “repaired” in the interim and were resold as genuine, intact coins - no mention of work done. I had no evidence to implicate any dealer of being complicit. But this high rate of “repair” surprised me and shows thus is a serious problem, for which this coin is but a single example. Watch for my article in the next NC."

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An interesting aspect of the "restoration" is that the coin seems to have lost weight as a result. Lanz had it at 4.43g, but now 4.28g by G&M. Auction house weights for the same coin typically only differ by a couple hundredths of a gram, so this 0.15g drop seems real unless a mistake. It's not obvious why it would have lost weight though.

 

Edited by Heliodromus
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Speaking of the upcoming Gorny & Mosch auction, according to Brad Bowlin and others in the Facebook ancient coins group, Lot 330, with an estimate of 40,000 EUR (!), is a modern fake:

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Brad Bowlin's comment: "this coin is part of a group of forgeries recently produced in Peshawar in Pakistan. I have been collecting and documenting them. They are not particularly good, but seem to be fooling a fair number of collectors."  A comment from another member: "Since I traveled the region back in 1983-1997, bactrian coins have stood out as one of the most dangerous areas of collecting. It appeared that hawkers with these coins were everywhere. Seeing the bucketfuls of large silver coins in Peshawar, I became aware that the coins had to be fakes. Later I learned that the coins of Bactria have always been subject to massive forgery. In recent times, a series of supposedly high quality fakes were produced in the 1970s. I wouldn't be surprised if a production is ongoing to this day."

So if anyone was thinking of shelling out 40,000+ EUROS on this, it might be wise to think again!

On the other hand, it's a nice elephant.

 

 

Edited by DonnaML
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9 hours ago, Heliodromus said:

An interesting aspect of the "restoration" is that the coin seems to have lost weight as a result. Lanz had it at 4.43g, but now 4.28g by G&M. Auction house weights for the same coin typically only differ by a couple hundredths of a gram, so this 0.15g drop seems real unless a mistake. It's not obvious why it would have lost weight though.

 

The devices seem to stand out more? I wonder if the fields were smoothed in order to remove the imperfections there, and the gold from this process was harvested and used to manipulate/fill in the existing devices? The coin seems to "pop" more in the after photo, and the relief looks higher. Perhaps some gold was left over after this process, or some "dust" couldn't be recovered?

Edited by Steppenfool
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This story was related to me years ago by a friend who was a regional world coin dealer setting up at shows around the Midwest.

A couple of times each year, a 'large' world coin dealer from the Southwest would visit him at home to go through his inventory. On one occasion, this 'large' dealer brought along a companion, a physician of sorts. As the visiting dealer went through the boxes, he would hand off some of the coins to his companion, asking "Can you fix this?"... "Can you fix this?"... "Can you fix this"...

Edited by DLTcoins
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17 hours ago, Steppenfool said:

The devices seem to stand out more? I wonder if the fields were smoothed in order to remove the imperfections there, and the gold from this process was harvested and used to manipulate/fill in the existing devices? The coin seems to "pop" more in the after photo, and the relief looks higher. Perhaps some gold was left over after this process, or some "dust" couldn't be recovered?

Something like that does seem to have happened around the wreath ties ... most of the dings were probably fixed just by pushing the displaced gold back into place, but the (awful looking!) wreath ties seem to have been a wholescale recreation effort - maybe excavating the field to leave the high points as the "restored" ties. Perhaps this explains why the tie across the bust was just smoothed out and removed, since otherwise the contrast between it and the vertical sections would have looked really bad.

 

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