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When a pedigree becomes a boomerang


Prieure de Sion

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I don't know whether that's something to laugh about (at myself) or something to cry about.

As a seller, you naturally look forward to every pedigree that somehow promises a name - that you can then garnish nicely in the sales text. This was also the case with 2 coins that I bought at auction. First of all, I would have taken the coins without the pedigree, but of course you're happy to take something like that. And since I wasn't interested in the former collector at first, I just added his name to the text and wanted to do some research later. Who knows - maybe the collector was known.

However, I didn't realise then that the man was really famous. And unfortunately also notorious.

The former owner of the two coins is Prof Dr V.J.A. Flynn - and I would have preferred to have taken a closer look beforehand.

Have "fun" reading: 
https://kvramakrishnarao.wordpress.com/2022/02/17/the-historical-case-of-prof-v-j-a-flynn-a-friend-of-many-indian-historians-arrested-for-smuggling-jailed-and-deported-to-australia-for-further-proceedings/ 

 

A criminal, a smuggler, apparently - and now it's no longer funny - a paedophile.

Did the seller know who he had given as the provenance? Yes, that's the way it is with pedigrees. You hope for great names - and then you can very quickly get a well-known name, which then becomes undesirably "famous".

 

Oh man, that's what you call shooting yourself in the foot.

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10 minutes ago, Prieure de Sion said:

I don't know whether that's something to laugh about (at myself) or something to cry about.

As a seller, you naturally look forward to every pedigree that somehow promises a name - that you can then garnish nicely in the sales text. This was also the case with 2 coins that I bought at auction. First of all, I would have taken the coins without the pedigree, but of course you're happy to take something like that. And since I wasn't interested in the former collector at first, I just added his name to the text and wanted to do some research later. Who knows - maybe the collector was known.

However, I didn't realise then that the man was really famous. And unfortunately also notorious.

The former owner of the two coins is Prof Dr V.J.A. Flynn - and I would have preferred to have taken a closer look beforehand.

Have "fun" reading: 
https://kvramakrishnarao.wordpress.com/2022/02/17/the-historical-case-of-prof-v-j-a-flynn-a-friend-of-many-indian-historians-arrested-for-smuggling-jailed-and-deported-to-australia-for-further-proceedings/ 

 

A criminal, a smuggler, apparently - and now it's no longer funny - a paedophile.

Did the seller know who he had given as the provenance? Yes, that's the way it is with pedigrees. You hope for great names - and then you can very quickly get a well-known name, which then becomes undesirably "famous".

 

Oh man, that's what you call shooting yourself in the foot.


I feared I had a similar situation with some medieval coins I bought. The provenance was C Pitchfork, who turned out to be someone called Colin Pitchfork. That is the unusual name of a notorious double child-murderer and rapist who was the first ever to be convicted with DNA evidence.

Fortunately, Colin Pitchfork is also the name of the Numismatic Consultant at Noble Numismatics and a former President of the Australian Numismatics Society. Despite those achievements, he comes so far down the list in a Google search for his name he may even have fallen off the end.

I'm off to research the previous owner of another coin, a Mr JT Ripper. But I don't know whether his name will increase or decrease the price...

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30 minutes ago, Broucheion said:

Hi All,

It's a new category: the notorious provenance. I'm sure there will always be someone to buy it. Witness

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/18/adolf-hitler-telephone-auction-second-world-war

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/20/hitlers-phone-sold-for-almost-250k-at-us-auction.html

- Broucheion


What will they do with it? I inherited a Paul von Hindenburg 5 Reichsmark I don't know what to do with, let alone "Hitler’s mobile device of destruction."

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@Broucheion and @John Conduitt, those have to evoke Jewish collectors of all kinds of Nazi memorabilia.  You can't not admire the rationale; ensuring that this stuff remains in the historical record.  And, that said, the sheer fortitude involved in pursuing it.  But it's never stopped viscerally creeping me out.

Once, during a mercifully brief period in a pointedly 'conservative' part of the West, I was browsing history in the main public library.  There on a shelf was a tract for a notorious racist /neo-Nazi organization, known as (watch this:) the Church of Jesus Christ of Aryan Nations.  (Should've prefaced that: 'Oxymoron Alert.')  Familiar with the precedent of Jewish collectors, I initially took it home.  But I ended up just not being able to live with it.  Tore it up and tossed it.  As MAD Magazine would say, Yecch.

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...Okay, okay, okay, Busted.  --You're in the state, aren't you?  Think I saw that in your profile, or somewhere.

Yep, it was Spokane.  Fondly known as 'Spokey the Town.'  Who knows what, Exactly, the demographics look like now.  But in the day, I liked to say, 'this isn't a city; it's a small town with too many people in it.'  Home to a total of 4 1/2 Black people.  ...They never found the other half.

Edited by JeandAcre
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I think this provenance also reflects the fact that humans, with all the flaws and virtues, collect coins, as well as art and other objects.  The OP's provenance is a perfect example of a collector whose nefarious deeds accompany the coins from his or her collection.  I can't imagine what my provenance will be with the coins residing in the boxes.  I hope there isn't one, as I truly prefer anonymity.  

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As a more relevant analogy to this situation, familiar to most U.S. collectors, the famous numismatist Walter Breen was a notorious pedophile (and defender of pederasty), who died in prison.  (According to what I've read, his wife Marion Zimmer Bradley, the famous fantasy author, was a pedophile as well, who sexually abused her own children.) Yet, people still buy Breen's books on numismatics. Does anyone know if a  pedigree to Breen increases a coin's value? I certainly hope not.  

@JeandAcre, from everything I know, most collectors of Nazi militaria and other memorabilia -- 99% of which has no historical value whatsoever -- are not Jewish. To the contrary, however much they may protest that it isn't so, they're either quasi-Nazis themselves or have a perverse fascination with fascist iconography. The kind of people who think the Hugo Boss-designed SS uniforms are cool, and love Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda movies. 

 

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@DonnaML, many thanks for the clarification, grim as it is.  To come clean, I was mainly referencing a Jewish dealer, who sold lots of coins from the Maccabeans through the Second Revolt.  Nope, regarding his clientele, I was making a frankly irresponsible assumption. 

...I can't forget clerking at a local independent bookshop, that had an earlyish deluxe printing of Mein Kampf.  There was this one guy for whom the price was beyond his immediate means.  He was virtually salivating.  It was quite the spectacle.

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1 hour ago, DonnaML said:

@JeandAcre, from everything I know, most collectors of Nazi militaria and other memorabilia -- 99% of which has no historical value whatsoever -- are not Jewish. To the contrary, however much they may protest that it isn't so, they're either quasi-Nazis themselves or have a perverse fascination with fascist iconography. The kind of people who think the Hugo Boss-designed SS uniforms are cool, and love Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda movies. 

 

+1. I'm Jewish as well and don't know a single other Jew who collects Nazi memorabilia. I did have a close friend who refused to buy anything German, though, except her car (because they make nice cars). My grandfather, whose first language was Ladino, traveled throughout the world but completely refused to visit three countries - Germany, Poland, and Spain. He held the worst contempt for Spain, even though it was 500 years ago.

FWIW, my wife and I own two German cars (though mine was assembled in Mexico), I attended university in Berlin, and we've been to Spain.

Personally, if I had a coin linked to an awful person, I would be tempted to just discard that part of the provenance. Those types of people should not be remembered.

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17 minutes ago, kirispupis said:

+1. I'm Jewish as well and don't know a single other Jew who collects Nazi memorabilia. I did have a close friend who refused to buy anything German, though, except her car (because they make nice cars). My grandfather, whose first language was Ladino, traveled throughout the world but completely refused to visit three countries - Germany, Poland, and Spain. He held the worst contempt for Spain, even though it was 500 years ago.

FWIW, my wife and I own two German cars (though mine was assembled in Mexico), I attended university in Berlin, and we've been to Spain.

Personally, if I had a coin linked to an awful person, I would be tempted to just discard that part of the provenance. Those types of people should not be remembered.

Indeed. I have a small collection of German (mostly Prussian) coins and medals. I would never buy one with a swastika on it, though. Or anything minted from 1933-1945.

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Wow, @kirispupis.  The reference to your Ladino-speaking grandfather, and Spain, is a very sobering reminder of how, by way of euphemism, venerable the European tradition of anti-Semitism is.  Even from here, it's effectively the least fun part of medieval history.  ...And no one's exempt; cf., just for two, Edward I and Louis IX in the 13th century.

...For whatever it's worth, please be indulgent enough to receive my congratulations on you Sephardic descent!  I have some residual Ashkenazi.  But, we could just start with Spinoza.  Oops, not to mention Maimonides.  (I began life as a philosophy major.)

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5 minutes ago, JeandAcre said:

Wow, @kirispupis.  The reference to your Ladino-speaking grandfather, and Spain, is a very sobering reminder of how, by way of euphemism, venerable the European tradition of anti-Semitism is.  Even from here, it's effectively the least fun part of medieval history.  ...And no one's exempt; cf., just for two, Edward I and Louis IX in the 13th century.

...For whatever it's worth, please be indulgent enough to receive my congratulations on you Sephardic descent!  I have some residual Ashkenazi.  But, we could just start with Spinoza.  Oops, not to mention Maimonides.  (I began life as a philosophy major.)

I apologize for taking this off topic a bit, but anti-semitism is everywhere. Your original story occurred in Spokane, only a four hour drive from my house. Recently, we had to pull our son out of his university in Boston for a few days so he could decompress due to the amount of anti-semitism on campus. Our synagogue has also been vandalized several times. These are scary times.

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4 minutes ago, JeandAcre said:

Wow, @kirispupis.  The reference to your Ladino-speaking grandfather, and Spain, is a very sobering reminder of how, by way of euphemism, venerable the European tradition of anti-Semitism is.  Even from here, it's effectively the least fun part of medieval history.  ...And no one's exempt; cf., just for two, Edward I and Louis IX in the 13th century.


Yes this coin is from one of two hoards (and one empty container) found on the same plot in Colchester from the time of Edward I. The 26,000 coins were believed to have belonged to a Jewish financier expelled in the pogroms of the late 13th century.

Henry III Posthumous Issue (under Edward I) Class 6 Long Cross Penny, 1272-1275
image.png.82e9634eca25034efa5ce036f1a5ef42.png
Bury St Edmunds. Silver, 19mm, 1.38g. Crude bust holding sceptre with III to left, naturalistic hair curls like an Edward I bust; no initial mark, legend begins at 11 o'clock; HENRICVS REX III. Long cross; ION- O(N)-SAN-TAD. (S 1377). From the Colchester II Hoard 1969.

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Posted (edited)

I do have one coin with a swastika on it.  It is a chopmark probably administered by an Indian, Chinese or other Asian merchant, I imagine,  in the 17th-18th century.  The coin itself is an 8 reales of Potosi, dated (16)29, assayer T.  The chopmark can be seen on the cross side, in the upper left quadrant.

D-CameraPotosi8realesPhilipIV(162)9assayerTPaoletti182KM19_a26.77grams3-29-23.jpg.d00a86117b7bc0280be920a76c843d06.jpg

This is the only exception I'd make.  The swastika is an ancient symbol that has unfortunately been appropriated by Nazis and fascists in the past century. I would never buy a coin or any other object that includes symbols from Nazi Germany, nor any coin from that country from 1933-1945.

I do have some coins from the Holocaust, but that is for remembrance, which I hope future owners will continue.

 

 

Edited by robinjojo
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So the real question is: how much time is enough to erase the distaste of owning objects associated with evil men? Because if you collect Roman, you've got a cabinet full of coins issued by murderous, torturing, genocidal, megalomaniacal, perverse, misogynistic pedophiles. 

Edited by JAZ Numismatics
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Not at all like the virtuous Greeks. 

I have nazi items which I inherited from my grandfather who flew in WWII and was an RAF representative during the surrender in Berlin. I find them interesting and historically relevant, but the flag is pretty creepy. But history is history, and collecting it doesn't condone it in my mind. 

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25 minutes ago, kirispupis said:

I apologize for taking this off topic a bit, but anti-semitism is everywhere. Your original story occurred in Spokane, only a four hour drive from my house. Recently, we had to pull our son out of his university in Boston for a few days so he could decompress due to the amount of anti-semitism on campus. Our synagogue has also been vandalized several times. These are scary times.

The irony is that historically, the Jewish community largely embraced the Trojan horse of diversity, which welcomed Islam and Leftist ideologies into the US with open arms. It was all based on acceptance and compassion, traits that educated people generally abound in. But it was misplaced, and now we are suffering the consequences. I'm guilty of this mistake myself, and I've completely rethought my position. Intolerance can be a virtue.

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15 minutes ago, JAZ Numismatics said:

So the real question is: how much time is enough to erase the distaste of owning objects associated with evil men? Because if you collect Roman, you've got a cabinet full of coins issued by murderous, torturing, genocidal, megalomaniacal, perverse, misogynistic pedophiles. 

Well, @JAZ Numismatics, to be honest, that was a major factor in the erosion of my interest in Roman coins, especially as a collector.

People have differing timelines, regarding the wider milieux that they're willing to put up with.  Even though I'm still actively collecting medieval European (granted, less of that, even --but with retirement, other factors are in play), Edward I (thanks, @John Conduitt) remains deeply problemmatic.  A couple of decades ago, when I stumbled onto well-documented descent from him, I needed a week or so to get through the initial phase of processing it.  ...I'd've been happy to stop with Henry III.  (Major patron of the arts; devoted family man; thoroughly incompetent politician.  Aggregately, likeable on more levels than not.) 

45 minutes ago, kirispupis said:

I apologize for taking this off topic a bit, but anti-semitism is everywhere. Your original story occurred in Spokane, only a four hour drive from my house. Recently, we had to pull our son out of his university in Boston for a few days so he could decompress due to the amount of anti-semitism on campus. Our synagogue has also been vandalized several times. These are scary times.

What on earth led you to think that you were the initial culprit in this regard?  No, I have to think that a reality check, regarding what's happening in real time, was precisely what was called for. 

Regarding that, a common pathology seems to be a moronically, but no less tragically ignorant coidentification of an entire ethnicity with a far more specific set of policies.  ...Or other agendas, moral, cultural, etc.  Smells very familiar, even from other contexts.

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49 minutes ago, JAZ Numismatics said:

The irony is that historically, the Jewish community largely embraced the Trojan horse of diversity, which welcomed Islam and Leftist ideologies into the US with open arms. It was all based on acceptance and compassion, traits that educated people generally abound in. But it was misplaced, and now we are suffering the consequences. I'm guilty of this mistake myself, and I've completely rethought my position. Intolerance can be a virtue.

Isolationist USA does not fare better in terms of security than the compassionate one. 911 didn't come out of leftist ideologies. (Although I'm always curious to learn what someone from the US thinks counts as leftist). Russia has been massively intolerant for centuries and yet was most recently attacked by Islamic State. There are plenty of places in the Middle East that couldn't be much less tolerant and yet stoke up the greatest fires.

How long you wait until the association with evil people dissipates must surely relate to how people feel about them now. As someone who collects Celtic coins, I should hate Nero, and I don't much like him. Yet I have a coin of him. It was 2000 years ago. But I have plenty of coins that might trigger someone, well before I get to Roman. Are any of these beyond the pale?

Now this is leftist...

Rebel Communist State First Northern Đồng, 1946
image.png.7de4f9e6580307499b0b8e896d3ccc8a.png
Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Aluminium, 32mm, 4.45g. Head of Ho Chi Minh right, value to right of spray; VIỆT NAM DÂN CHỦ CỘNG HÒA. Wheat branch, 1 ĐỒNG (with short bar on Đ). Edge: Reeded (KM 3).

This guy was a fascist...

Edward VIII East Africa Ten Cents, 1936-H
image.png.40e38e904a37d1c7695c81ececf885ce.png
Heaton's Mint, Birmingham. Bronze, 30.6mm, 11.19g. Central hole divides crown and denomination; EDWARDVS VIII REX ET IND:IMP: / TEN CENTS / KN (engraver). Curved tusks flank the centre hole; EAST AFRICA 10. Edge: Smooth (KM 24).

From the time of Oliver Cromwell. Still not forgiven by some in Ireland.

Commonweath Shilling, 1651
image.png.a469ed71640568121fa8e1d458303a40.png
Tower. Silver, 32mm, 5.8g. English shield within laurel and palm branch; mintmark sun; THE. COMMONWEALTH. OF. ENGLAND. English and Irish shields, value .XII. above, beaded circle, date at top; .GOD. WITH. VS. (S 3217).

A popular pub name in the time of Samuel Pepys.

N.E.V. at the Black Boay Farthing, 1651
image.png.c7563a15fea8771d1eef2fb072403798.png
London. Copper, 15mm; 0.98g. *AT.THE.BLACK.BOAY around a young negro boy holding a clay pipe in his right hand (away from his mouth) and a beer mug or serving jug in his left hand. *.IN.RATCLIFF.1651 around twisted wire inner circle; N.E.V. within (BW 2371).

 

Edited by John Conduitt
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1 hour ago, JAZ Numismatics said:

So the real question is: how much time is enough to erase the distaste of owning objects associated with evil men? Because if you collect Roman, you've got a cabinet full of coins issued by murderous, torturing, genocidal, megalomaniacal, perverse, misogynistic pedophiles. 

I think it differs for everyone. The Holocaust is especially magnified now because everyone of my generation knows people who lost people. My grandfather's third wife (who I only knew as my grandmother) was from Poland. He family moved long before the war, but her family that remained was destroyed. I also remember friends in grade school who had grandparents that had been in concentration camps.

Some time ago, I brought a Judea Capta coin (that was later clarified on this forum as not a Judea Capta) to my aunt's house and there was some discomfort. I must admit being uncomfortable with my Alexander Jannaios and John Hyrcanus coins after I read their history. While I have many coins from absolutely horrible people, the fact that they were ancestors that within my community have some respect is discomforting, though I still have their coins in my collection.

In terms of bad Romans, I believe Mary Beards recent book Emperor of Rome has provided some context in that we don't really know who was bad and who wasn't, because smear campaigns were common. It seems safe to assume, though, that most emperors had a bad side and were not people you would wish to cross.

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