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Fake Pergamon Eumenes I Tetradrachms sold by Leu and Noble


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Edit: Barry Murphy has confirmed that the Leu coin below is a fake. The other Leu coin is likely a fake as well as the Noble coin. These are likely modern pressed die forgeries.

I'm comparing these two Eumenes I tetradrachms which have an obverse die match with a very similar strike. 

Coin 1: Sold at Leu 3/11/2023 Web Auction 25 Lot 712:


KINGS OF PERGAMON. Eumenes I, 263-241 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 28 mm, 16.98 g, 12 h), Pergamon, circa 255-250. Diademed head of Philetairos to right. Rev. ΦIΛETAIΡOΥ Athena seated left, holding a shield adorned with a gorgoneion with her right hand and with her left a spear held downwards over her left shoulder, resting her left elbow on a sphinx; to left, below her arm, ivy leaf; on the throne, A; to right, bow. SNG Paris 1606 ( same dies ). SNG von Aulock 1355. Westermark Group III, V.XXII/R.1. A sharply struck and beautifully toned example with a bold portrait. Minor marks, otherwise, extremely fine.
From a Bavarian Collection, formed in the early 2000s.


Coin 2: Sold at Leu 5/22/2021 Web Auction 16 5/22/2021:
KINGS OF PERGAMON. Eumenes I, 263-241 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 29 mm, 17.23 g, 12 h), circa 255/50-241. Laureate head of Philetairos to right. Rev. ΦΙΛΕΤΑΙΡΟΥ Athena enthroned left, resting her left elbow on shield decorated with gorgoneion and crowning dynastic name with a wreath held in her right hand; spear leaning against her side; to outer left, A; to inner left, ivy leaf; to right, bow. Westermark -, cf. V.XXXIII/R2 ( same reverse die ). Rare. A beautifully toned example with a superb portrait struck in very high relief. Struck slightly off center, otherwise, nearly extremely fine.

Is it common/possible for obverse dies to be paired with each of these different reverse types? Any thoughts on this coins in general? Any doubts about authenticity of either/both piece?

Edit: Found a third coin with a double die match to the first. Sold by Noble on 7/28/2020 The reverse is notably missing some elements in the design:

MYSIA, Pergamon, Kingdom of, Eumenes I, (263-241 B.C.), silver tetradrachm, (16.50 g), Pergamon mint, issued c.263-255 B.C., obv. head of Philetairos to right, laurel-wreath and diadem entwined, dotted border, rev. Athena enthroned to left, supporting shield with ivy leaf under arm, A**Q* monogram on throne, bow and **FILETAIPOU* to right, (S.7218, ACNAC Dewing 2207, SNG Cop.334, BMC 31, SNG Von Aulock 7453, Meydancikkale Hoard 3005). Attractively toned, extremely fine, struck in high relief with a portrait full of character in high relief, rare.

Should also note that these are obverse/reverse matches to the BM piece. Here is an electrotype sold by CNG:

KINGS of PERGAMON. Eumenes I. 263-241 BC. Electrotype "Tetradrachm" (30.5mm, 17.09 g, 12h). British Museum electrotype by Robert Ready (marked RR on edge). Laureate head of Philetairos right / Athena enthroned left, holding shield in right hand, left elbow resting on sphinx seated right; spear diagonally in background, ivy leaf to inner left, bow to outer right, monogram on throne. Cf. Head, Guide, Period V.A., 9 (Attalos I); cf. GPCG pl. 32, 4 (for prototype). Toned, polished. As made.
Duplicate from the England - McFadden Electrotype Collection.

As you can see, the sphinx in the BM piece has damage to the head which I assume is why it's missing. Can't say the same for the examples above.

Edited by filolif
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The force of the hammer blow on the reverse die causes less damage on the obverse die than the reverse die . It is thought that obverses can last twice as long as reverse dies before they become horrible. Coin production estimated figures by deCallatay surmise that 20,000 obverses can produce only 10,000 reverses before things get awful.  That's the idea, but it is likely that differing reverses can be mated with one obverse type either by mistake, carelessness or design. Thus mules are common, but useful.

From this a sort of understanding, a description of mint activity can be hypothesised.

In the New Style coinage of Athens a catalogue of obverses married to reverses has been made.

NewStyles, generally have distinctive reverses where OFTEN symbols exist, amphora lst control letters,  2nd control letters and differing 3rd magistrates can be used to construct a striking chronology. Now sometimes obverses can be struck with a completely different reverse type than usual. This can produce another chronological ordering  This, I believe, Westermark did with the Philoterii above. I've never seen it...anyone got an English copy?

It does not preclude modern forgeries though!

Where Westermark is mentioned it can be seen that the coins, 1 & 2 have differing cataloguing but 3 looks like 1!


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Initially I was thinking the strike similarity and die pairing may be indications of a forgery. But now I'm more concerned that these coins resemble the British Museum piece except they don't have damage to the head of the sphinx. Yet the head of the sphinx is missing! I'm wondering if there can be an explanation for that which doesn't involve modern forging:

image.png.dc03c458e5588e6f01be5879f7a9e11f.png image.png.95185cc2454ae2b30f65bb80a1a36c1f.png image.png.64a07f66e823bd61019695127de18446.png image.png.38b1e7af92394e965776e0eae57be843.png

Here is the photo of the actual BM coin:


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And another thing I just noticed: When you look at the feathers on Athena's helmet, there is doubling which can be seen on the BM piece and is then duplicated on the other pieces:

image.png.7ac7fcdabccc34d02bd55d0ab9e5ab07.png image.png.471393ffa8197c51856d5f9974b20985.png image.png.2d1d174aad89f3d4c1e8966ba182039d.png


To me, this is very concerning but I'll be interested to know what others think.

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I am absolutely not a specialist but there's also a  relevant BM coin (not electrotype) I could see with the double strike. It may have been misinterpreted as a feature, as in a part of the plume? 

BM item 1987,0649.487



Regardless of my possibly halfassed theory  could this  potential  purchase  not  just fall  into the "too difficult" category? As in if you  bought  it  you would never  quite  get the appropriate  enjoyment as there would be a nagging doubt.






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But you can get obverse and reverse matches. If an obverse can satisfy 20K strikes and is mated with 10K reverses AND Philoterii are not the most heavily coined series, then any hoard  is likely to have one or two duplicates! Philoterii were not really international coins despite being of Attic weight! They, I believe stayed in Attalid territory as the Attic weight counterweight to the cistophorus.

I wish someone would write an appreciation of the Philoterii and it's place in the Attalid economy. 

Where and what type of coin hoards are they found in......you know that type of thing. 

Some coin types don't get the coverage they deserve.

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Looks like the BM coin was acquired in 1987, so in line with UNESCO 1970, the BM should sell it off to atone for their buying dubious coins without provenance.  


Maybe it's ended up in the curators pocket.....that's all gone quiet now!



Edited by NewStyleKing
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  • filolif changed the title to Fake Pergamon Eumenes I Tetradrachms sold by Leu and Noble

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