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A Thread for Ongoing Research (Provenance / Catalogs / Books)


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I have been spending a lot more time in my numismatic library recently. That has led me to some really interesting discoveries. I thought it might be fun to start this thread to document some of this research. For now I intend to use this thread to post about;

  • Provenance discoveries as I make them.
  • Discoveries regarding collector tags and other ephemera.
  • Interesting or noteworthy articles and information that I come across.
  • Interesting catalogs or books that I think notable. (I’ve been adding both to my library at a record pace this last year!)
  • Observations on topics such as: notable fabric peculiarities for specific coin types, style comparison of dies, historic trends in the coin market based on my catalog research etc.

I will use this OP to link to later research posts. I hope others will consider adding to the thread with your random research also as I hope to link to contributor posts as well as my own.

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I’ll start off with the research equivalent of low-hanging fruit. I knew this coin was Ex Harptree Hoard ca. 1887 when I bought it from CNG back in 2017. However, the hoard was not photographed in its entirety after its discovery and this coin didn’t come with any ephemera that would allow me to connect it definitively to the hoard. Some additional research was needed.

The hoard was discovered in the summer of 1887 on the land of William Kettlewell, as workers were searching for the source of a spring that could supplement the nearby town’s water supply. A total of 1,496 coins were discovered in a broken pewter container buried about 6 inches under the ground. The coins were turned over to the British Museum for study. The BM kept about 25 coins and returned the rest. William’s son later loaned the pewter container and about 250 coins to the local church for display, where they were stolen. The remaining ~1200 coins were sold by Spink in September of 2016.

A fuller story of the hoard and its journey to Spink can be read here: https://www.spink.com/media/view?id=339

From this research, I knew that in order to connect my coin most securely to the hoard I would have to find it in the September 2016 Spink sale. Luckily, from what I can tell, Spink did a great job of photographing every coin in the hoard on at least one side (even the group lots). Not all of the group lots were illustrated in the print catalog but fortunately they are still available online at Spink’s website (Making a PDF of these online only lots is on my “to-do” list). I was happy to find my coin in one of the online group lots. 

For my records, I put together a collage of the relevant catalog information needed to connect my coin to the provenance. My coin is in the center of the group lot photo below.

Julian_II_AR_Sil-1D.jpeg.3a1e62eb644306f14a4411d90228dde3.jpeg

IMG_6942.jpeg.66bf02c25770ea993b5ae161db229497.jpeg
Roman Empire
Julian II, AD 360-363
AR Siliqua, Lugdunum mint, struck ca. AD 360-361
Wt.: 2.23 g
Dia.: 18 mm
Obv.: FL CL IVLIA NVS P P AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right
Rev.: VICTORIA DD NN AVG, Victory advancing left, holding wreath and palm frond
Ref.: LVG. RIC VIII 212; Lyon 259; RSC 58†c, IRBCH 1424
Ex Harptree Hoard (discovered in 1887), Spink Auction 16006, lot 2983 (part of)(September 26-27, 2016); CNG E-auction 407, lot 604 (October 11, 2017)

Edited by Curtisimo
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An excellent idea for a thread, @Curtisimo! I look forward to reading about your discoveries.

I am very fortunate that both my East Harptree Hoard siliquae are recognizable in the photographs of the 2016 Spink auction lots from which they came:

Constantius II (son of Constantine I), AR reduced Siliqua, Lugdunum (Lyon) Mint, 360-361 AD. Obv. Rosette-diademed [despite description by all dealers as pearl-diademed], draped, and cuirassed bust right, D N CONSTAN-TIVS PF AVG / Rev. Victory advancing left, holding wreath in right hand and palm frond in left, both wings visible [despite description by all dealers as one wing visible], VICTORIA DD NN AVG; in exergue, mint mark LVG (Lugdunum). 17 mm., 2.06 g. RIC VIII 211 at p. 193 [both wings visible]; RSC V 259b (ill. p. 131) [rosette-diademed; both wings visible, = RIC VIII 211]; Sear RCV V 17948 (ill. p. 165) [applicable to RIC 210-211 & 214]. Purchased from Herakles Numismatics, July 2022; ex Triskeles Auction 31, 27.03.2020, Lot 344; ex Spink Auction 16006, 26-27 Sep 2016, East Harptree Hoard Sale, Part of Lot 2929 (see https://www.numisbids.com/n.php?p=lot&sid=1689&lot=2929); from 1887 East Harptree hoard (one of 49 coins of this type in hoard; see article with inventory, “On a Hoard of Roman Coins Found at East Harptree, Near Bristol,” The Numismatic Chronicle (Vol. VIII, London 1888), pp. 22-46 at pp. 39-40; available at  https://archive.org/details/thirdnumismatic08royauoft/page/40/mode/1up).*

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Valens (brother of Valentinian I, reigned AD 364-378), AR reduced Siliqua, AD 364-367, Rome Mint. Obv. DN VALEN-S PF AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right / Rev. VOT- V- MV•LT - X in four lines within wreath. In exergue: Mintmark RB. RIC IX Rome 10c (p. 118), RSC V 91(h) (ill.), Sear RCV V 19687. 17 mm., 2.00 g.  From 1887 East Harptree hoard (one of 19 coins of this type in hoard; see https://archive.org/details/thirdnumismatic08royauoft/page/46/mode/1up). Ex Spink Auction 16006, 26-27 Sep 2016, Part of Lot 3028. (See https://www.numisbids.com/n.php?p=lot&sid=1689&lot=3028.)*

Valenssiliquajpgversion2.jpg.455e4a3619ac8402d1ebc800113968c7.jpg

My Valens siliqua (marked with black dot) in group photo of siliquae in Lot 3028, 26-27 Sep 2016 Spink Auction 16006 of East Harptree Hoard: 

EastHarptreeHoardValenssiliqua(photoofLot3028Spink2016sale).jpg.f996549f9a6acb3330395a65b221d21b.jpg

Footnote applicable to both coins:

* The East Harptree hoard was discovered in 1887 on the land of Mr. W. Kettlewell of Harptree Court, while a search for a new spring was being conducted. Mr. Kettlewell kindly made them available for study at the British Museum, and they were written up by John Evans for the Numismatic Chronicle of 1888, pages 22-46. The British Museum was given a few of the most interesting coins, and the rest were returned to the owner. Many years later they were given to the father of the consignor by Mr. Kettlewell's son, and they have remained in their packing ever since. Evans noted \The coins when found were to some extent coated in dirt, and with what was probably a little chloride of silver. When carefully washed and brushed their remarkably good preservation became apparent, and there were none but what could be attributed to the emperor under whom they were struck\\. The coins offered here are as they were when returned from the BM in 1887/1888. Many exhibit light deposit, which could be easily removed by a competent conservator, but at the expense of the mint bloom that is apparent on many. The overall quality is remarkable, and few, if any, are clipped. Large numbers look ordinary to the naked eye, but when tilted towards the light, or examined under magnification, reveal extraordinary quality. (See https://www.numisbids.com/n.php?p=lot&sid=1689&lot=2858 .)

Whoever bought any of those lots probably made a nice profit on them, paying 130 GBP or less per coin and considering what siliquae from the hoard generally sell for an individual basis.

Like you, I very much enjoy discovering and documenting pedigrees. I look forward to posting in Numisforums about a 1973 provenance  I happened to discover yesterday for a beautiful Roman Republican denarius I purchased that morning at the Burgan Numismatique auction of part of the collection of Bernard Poindessault (see https://coinsweekly.com/bernard-poindessault-1935-2014/ ). I found it by comparing the coin to almost 300 images of the type in the Schaefer Roman Republican Die Project, hosted at numismatics.org, and then figuring out the meaning of Schaefer's cryptic abbreviation of the auction house's name (a Swiss house I'd never heard of).  It's only the third or fourth time I've successfully found an old pedigree for one of my coins at the RRDP, so there's often a lot of effort put in for relatively meager results! 

Edited by DonnaML
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4 hours ago, DonnaML said:

I am very fortunate that both my East Harptree Hoard siliquae are recognizable in the photographs of the 2016 Spink auction lots from which they came:

Both great coins Donna. I will just reiterate that I think Spink did a solid job on documenting and photographing the hoard. Not to name any names but one could easily contrast with the terrible job that was done handling large parts of the Dattari collection which was arguably a much more important group of coins.

4 hours ago, DonnaML said:

Whoever bought any of those lots probably made a nice profit on them, paying 130 GBP or less per coin and considering what siliquae from the hoard generally sell for an individual basis.

I thought about this too. I bought my coin in 2017 from CNG and I assume they were the winner of the Spink group lot my coin came from. I calculate that their break even was about $200. I got my example for $280 hammer, which was $20 under estimate. If my example was typical they would have made about $1600 profit on the lot.

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Next up is a provenance find I was extremely happy to make. I recently bought a bunch of Seaby’s Coin and Medal Bulletins and I found my JC portrait coin in both the January and December issues for 1976.

I bought this coin last year without any verifiable provenance and I have since been able to push the provenance back 48 years, illustrated from three different auction houses and one named collection. Not bad!

Julius_Caes_Portrait_Den.jpeg.0e91813822474ac46b07de0cea2f65a7.jpeg

IMG_7263.jpeg.2c8fc0d4d02755d0b1a0a0f341801e28.jpeg
Roman Imperitorial
Julius Caesar, 49-44 BC. 
AR Denarius (Lifetime Portrait), P. Sepullius Macer (moneyer), Rome mint, struck first half of March 44 BC
(17 mm, 3.53 g, 4 h)
Obv.: CAESAR [DIC]T PERPETVO Laureate and veiled head of Julius Caesar to right. 
Rev.: P•SEPVLLIVS - MACER Venus standing front, head lowered to left, holding Victory in her right hand and long scepter adorned with star in her left; to right, round shield set on the ground. 
Ref.: Babelon (Julia) 49 and (Sepullia) 4, Crawford 480/11, CRI 107b, RBW 1684, Sydenham 1072
Ex Seaby’s Coin & Medal Bulletin (January 1976), lot A51; Ex Seaby’s Coin & Medal Bulletin (December 1976), lot C541; Ex Münzhandlung Ritter Lagerliste no. 19, lot 327 (November 1983); Ex Collection formed in the Rhineland, Leu Numismatik Web Auction 24, lot 496 (Dec. 3, 2022)

 

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My god, I’m such a fool. Last year I sold 50 odd M & M. Price list's, also a large run of HJB catalogues, CNG early catalogues, nice items for provenance research, I had to trim the bookshelves down. My interest are RPC coins and have two shelves of auction and dealer Catalogues if anybody need help researching RPC coins provenance please contact.

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4 hours ago, Greekcoin21 said:

My god, I’m such a fool. Last year I sold 50 odd M & M. Price list's, also a large run of HJB catalogues, CNG early catalogues, nice items for provenance research, I had to trim the bookshelves down.

HJB catalogs 1-197 can be found at https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/auctioncompanydetail/510329 and the later ones at issuu.com.

CNG catalogs 1-56 can be found at https://digitalhn.blogspot.com/2020/03/older-cng-catalogs.html .  Coins in catalogs after 60 are available on the cngcoins.com site (excluding unsolds).

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