Jump to content

My provenanced Republicans


Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

I'm sad to find so much push-back against the increasing importance of collecting provenanced coin and / or coins with old collection toning, and I'm surprised to find so little common understanding of issues around hoards, import and export controls and how these need to shape our collecting decisions today. I realise from replies to this thread that few people are aligned with me. For the moment it seems best that I press pause and resume instead conversing with those I know in life beyond the internet.

Everything that I have showed in the last two weeks is permanently available on my Flickr site 

Andrew McCabe

Along with 10,000 photos of mine and much information on provenances, museums etc. I think it's best that's where my coin photos and information continues to reside

 

 

Edited by Andrew McCabe
Edit
  • Like 23
  • Gasp 1
  • Heart Eyes 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Absolutely beautiful @Andrew McCabe! I’m definitely looking forward to this thread.

I also can’t resist posting my own Octavian denarius with a provenance.

Octavian_Curia_Julia_Den_A.jpeg.52bc1426339672fcf7c917a0860de0c6.jpeg

IMG_6605.jpeg.30fba8e2f833131dcbd479517cae1f44.jpeg

SWN_P2_1014_1966.jpeg.ec82a63ff6b26e61fc4c9e4dcbcb150d.jpeg

CNG_MBS_1357_2006.jpeg.c7959482b54f29d559f1a4035c500460.jpeg
Ex Achille Cantoni Collection (1844-1914†), P. & P. Santamaria, lot 207 (November 29, 1920); Ex Walter Niggeler Collection (1878-1964†), Munzen und Medaillen AG & Bank Leu AG, Sammlung Walter Niggeler 2 Teil, lot 1014 (October 21, 1966); Ex Marc Poncin Collection, CNG Mail Bid Sale 72, lot 1357 (June 14, 2006)

  • Like 17
  • Clap 2
  • Heart Eyes 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor
Posted · Benefactor
Posted (edited)

Welcome back to this forum, @Andrew McCabe. It's good to see you posting again, and perhaps even better to learn that you're actively collecting Roman Republican coins again, given that I was under the impression that you had sold some or all of your collection a few years ago. 

I have no Roman Republican coins myself with known provenances older than the early 1970s, or (ever since I sold my Vespasian aureus with a 1910 de Sartiges pedigree) any ancient coins at all with pre-1950s provenances, other than coins from hoards such as the East Harptree Hoard, plus a few coins with old collector's envelopes that look like they could date to the 19th century.

But I do have two ex Andrew McCabe Collection coins! Here they are with my write-ups & footnotes. Neither has a pedigree more than 20 years old. Unless @Andrew McCabe is aware of any earlier provenance.

Roman Republic, L. Memmius, AR Denarius, Rome Mint, 109-108 BCE. Obv. Male head to right (Apollo?), wearing oak wreath, star (*) [= monogrammed XVI; mark of value] beneath chin / Rev. The Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux), cloaked, with stars above their heads, standing facing between their horses, each holding a spear and the bridle of his horse, with each horse raising its outside front hoof; L•MEMMI in exergue. Crawford 304/1, RSC I Memmia 1 (ill. p. 65), Sear RCV I 181 (ill. p. 107), BMCRR II Italy 643, RBW Collection 1145 (ill. p. 237). 19 mm., 3.95 g.  Purchased Jan. 6, 2022 at Roma Numismatics E-Sale 93, Lot 897. Ex Andrew McCabe Collection; ex Numismatica Ars Classica AG, Auction 7, 27 May 2014, Lot 1944; ex Aureo & Calico, Auction 159, 3 March 2004, Lot 1056.*

 Memmius-Dioscuri(Roma).jpg.8741a811f811d79b108167fc3a069723.jpg

*Crawford says little about this issue, stating only (see Crawford I p. 315) that the moneyer “may be identified with L. Memmius, who visited Egypt as a Senator in 112,” that the obverse type “remains unexplained” (but resembles the head of Apollo on Crawford 350A, including in wearing an oak-wreath rather than a laurel wreath), and that the representation of the Dioscuri -- dismounted and standing next to their horses rather than mounted and galloping in the same direction with couched lances, their traditional portrayal on Roman Republican coins, especially during the 2nd Century BCE – is “unusual.” For detailed discussions of the Dioscuri in mythology, in their role as protectors of the Roman people as a result of their miraculous intervention on the Roman side at the battle of Lake Regillus, and as frequently depicted on Roman Republican coins (albeit rarely on Roman Imperial coins), see, e.g., https://www.ostia-antica.org/dict/topics/mint/mint04.htm#:~:text=The%20Dioscuri%20were%20known%20to,against%20the%20Latins%20in%20c; https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Dioscuri:

 “[T]he worship of the Dioscuri, as divinities, had its origin at Rome, from the victory which the consul Postumius gained, near the lake Regillus, over the Latins and the sons of Tarquinius Superbus (B.C. 493 or 496). It was said that, after that engagement, the Dioscuri appeared in the forum of Rome, wearing conical bonnets, over each of which was a star. They stood resting upon their lances, beside their horses, which were drinking at a fountain. These twin heroes disappeared as soon as they had announced the news of the battle, at a moment when, on account of the distance from the scene of the slaughter, no one could have as yet become acquainted with the event. It is also related that, during the action, two young men, mounted on two white horses, were seen fighting valiantly for the Romans. . . .

The Dioscuri most frequently appear, on coins of the Roman Republic, as horsemen galloping, with couched lances, and stars above their pilei. . . . In the imperial series, this type (which was meant to denote brotherly concord), is of rare occurrence.”

It has been suggested that the portrayal of the Dioscuri on the reverse of this coin may be based on an ancient statuary group similar to the pair of statues unearthed in 1561, located at the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome since 1583:

Dioscuri_(Castor_or_Pollux)_Rome_Capitolphoto2.jpg.692ec22eeef9d0a1e126b2db2099ec17.jpg

See https://www.walksinrome.com/uploads/2/5/1/0/25107996/castor-and-pollux-piazza-del-campidoglio-rome_orig.jpg. And, if taken together, the pair of statues certainly resembles the reverse of the L. Memmius denarius:

Dioscuristatuesphotossidebyside.png.cbdcf9149dc3f3fa6aee16fc4394a80b.png

Roman Republic, L. Rustius, AR Denarius, 76 BCE (Crawford) [or 74-72 BCE], Rome Mint. Obv. Head of young Mars or Minerva right, wearing crested helmet, S•C downwards behind helmet; beneath chin, * [= XVI; mark of value] / Rev. Ram standing to right; L•RVSTI in exergue. Crawford 389/1; RSC Rustia 1 (ill. p. 85); BMCRR I Rome 3271; Sear RCV I 320 (ill. p. 132); RBW Collection 1423 (ill. p. 293); Harlan, RRM I Ch. 17 at pp. 104-108 [Michael Harlan, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (Vol. I) (2012)]. 18 mm., 3.87 g., 5 h. Purchased from Roma Numismatics Ltd, Auction XXV, 22 Sep 2022, Lot 706 [obv. identified as Mars]; from Andrew McCabe Collection (collector’s ticket included), ex Tauler & Fau, Auction 95, 2 Nov 2021, Lot 194 [obv. identified as Mars] (Poinssot sale).*

image.jpeg.b0628fc1b8efa34ee35ec94e6ba9c90f.jpeg
 

*Moneyer The moneyer, Lucius Rustius, is “not otherwise known,” but was “perhaps from Antium” (Crawford Vol. I p. 404), a coastal city in Latium 61 km. south of Rome. He may have been the grandfather or otherwise an ancestor of Quintus Rustius, the named moneyer for an Augustus denarius (RIC I 322) with an obverse depicting the jugate busts of Fortuna Victrix and Fortuna Felix -- for whom a two-fold cult existed at Antium -- set on a bar with ram's head finials. (See Harlan RRM I p. 106; see also BMCRR I p. 398 n. 2, suggesting that the ram’s presence on both types indicates that it was associated with the family as a symbol or crest).  

Date of Issue Crawford’s proposed date of 76 BCE is based on his interpretation of hoard evidence (particularly the type’s presence in the Roncofreddo hoard; see Crawford I p. 82). However, see C. Hersh and A. Walker, “The Mesagne Hoard,” ANSMN [American Numismatic Society Museum Notes] 29 (1984) (Table 2), dating L. Rustius’s issue to 74 BCE, which is the authors’ new terminus date for the Roncofreddo hoard. Harlan also rejects the 76 BCE date and assigns this moneyer to an even later date, 72 BCE, for the reasons stated at RRM I p. 104, including the unlikelihood of an “S•C” issue in 76 or 75 given that Rome was hard-pressed for cash in those years, unable to send adequate funds to support the war in Spain and failing to meet other important needs.

Identity of Obverse Head (Young Mars or Minerva) The various authorities are seriously divided on the identity of the deity portrayed on the obverse. See, e.g.: Crawford 389/1 [Minerva]; RSC Rustia 1 [young Mars]; BMCRR I Rome 3271 [young Mars]; Sear RCV I 320 [young Mars]; RBW Collection 1423  [Minerva]; Harlan, RRM I Ch. 17 at pp. 104-108 [Minerva]; Farney pp. 284-285 [Minerva] [Gary D. Farney, Ethnic Identity and Aristocratic Competition in Republican Rome (Cambridge U. Press, 2007) (cited pp. available on Google Books)]; Liv Mariah Yarrow blog [Mars; see https://livyarrow.org/2022/09/23/mars-not-roma-again/#comment-7939]; Hollstein pp. 36-38 (Mars) [William Hollstein, Die stadtrömische Münzprägung der Jahre 78–50 v. Chr., Zwischen Politischer Aktualität und Familienthematik: Kommentar und Bibliographie (Quellen und Forschungen zur Antiken Welt XIV) (Munich 1993)].

Without going into the full details of the various arguments, I believe most of them can best be categorized as variously based on appearance, astrology, geography, and different combinations thereof. Having reviewed all the arguments I was able to find, I lean rather strongly towards the “young Mars” interpretation, partly for rather simple appearance-based reasons (despite my rejection of the idea that the obverse figure on the Q. Lutatius Cerco denarius can be identified as Mars or Roma on the basis of unsupported pronouncements as to whether the face is more “masculine” or “feminine”). Here, by contrast, the appearance-based reasons are more concrete. First, I posted a question to Liv Mariah Yarrow about the obverse deity on this type, on her 22 September 2022 blog post entitled “Mars, not Roma (again)” (see citation above) -- a post identifying at least seven Roman Republican types that she believes Crawford misidentified as Roma rather than Mars, and characterizing the issue as a “blind spot” for Crawford (id.). Prof. Yarrow responded to my question about the L. Rustius type by stating “Mars 100% I see Mars. The hair is too short to be Minerva.”

Although of course I cannot assert that there are no exceptions, it’s certainly the case that helmeted portrayals of Minerva (and Roma as well) on Roman Republican coins usually show noticeably longer hair flowing out in back from beneath their helmets than the portrayal on this type shows, or is shown on portrayals of Mars in general. See, e.g., the 158 examples of Republican portraits of Minerva yielded by a search of CRRO (http://numismatics.org/crro/), including only a handful of denarii, specifically Crawford 328, 348/3, 465/5, and 494/38 -- all of them depicting Minerva with much longer hair than the obverse figure on this type.

Even more persuasively, as pointed out by William Hollstein, op. cit., at p. 37, “die weitaus größere Zahl der Rustius-Denare einen Kopf mit ausgeprägtem Adamsapfel, so daß er eher als der des Mars angesehen werden muß” [translated by DeepL as “by far the greater number of Rustius denarii have a head with a pronounced Adam's apple, so that it must be regarded rather as that of Mars”]. This characterization appears entirely accurate to me: the obverse deity on my own specimen certainly appears to have a prominent adam’s apple, and so do most of the figures on the examples listed on acsearch; the most recently sold specimens can be seen at  https://www.acsearch.info/image.html?id=10323504 and https://www.acsearch.info/image.html?id=10323505. On the other hand, I detect no adam’s apples on any of the Minerva portraits cited above! 

None of the astrological, geographical, or other arguments changes my opinion. First, as to astrology and the zodiac, there are arguments that actually favor a Mars identification. See, e.g., BMCRR I p. 398 n. 2, pointing out that the ram, as depicted on the reverse of this type, was, in its manifestation as Aries, “the emblem of the month of March, which, before the time of Julius Caesar, was the first in the Roman calendar. This would establish a connection between the obverse and reverse types” given that March was, of course, named after Mars. Even assuming the absence of any etymological connection between Aries (the ram) and Ares (Mars) -- and there does not appear to be one -- the association between Mars (March) and Aries the ram remains.  

Crawford, on the other hand, supports his identification of the obverse portrait as Minerva by stating that the “constellation aries was the astrological ‘house of Minerva’ and a ram was doubtless chosen as reverse type to complement the head of Minerva on the obverse” (citing Mommsen). See also Hollstein, op. cit. at p. 37 n. 8 (“Minerva galt als Schutzgottheit des Sternbildes aries [Minerva was considered the tutelary deity of the constellation aries] (vgl. Manil. 2,439: Lanigemm Pallas, Taurum Cytherea tuetur; und Servo Aen. 11,259”).  But even if that is the case, the Antoninus Pius Zodiac series of drachms from Roman Alexandria accompanies the reverse depiction of Aries the ram with a portrait of Ares (Mars)(see Emmett 1461.8) -- not one of Athena/Minerva. Nor am I aware of other Roman Republican (or indeed Imperial or Provincial) coins pairing Minerva/Athena with a ram. (Cf. Crawford 123/1-3, 550/3b [rams’ heads paired with Roma, Janus, Saturn, and Venus].) However, I believe it is unnecessary to determine the usual astrological meaning -- if any -- of rams on Roman coinage, given the apparent association (see above) between the gens Rustia and the ram as a family symbol or crest. The zodiac may well be entirely irrelevant. See also Harlan RRM I at p. 105-106, stating that “there is no way to distinguish between [the] two [zodiacal] interpretations and neither offers anything special,” pointing instead to the Augustan Q. Rustius coin cited above and the possible association of the Rustii with the ram and the town of Antium, where the gens may have originated. 

However, Harlan then proceeds to propose a highly convoluted theory leading him to conclude that the obverse figure was intended to depict Minerva after all. See Harlan RRM I at pp. 106-108. Without recounting every element of the theory, it is based, among other things, on the importance of sheep to the Antium region, the mythical founding of Antium by a son of Ulysses and Circe, the fact that less than 50 km. from Antium there was a mountain with a temple to Circe and an altar to Minerva, and a town displaying a bowl that had supposedly belonged to Ulysses, the supposed fact that the ram depicted on the coin may have called to mind Ulysses’ adventure with the Cyclops (involving an escape by Ulysses and his men tied to the underbellies of sheep, including a large ram), the existence of an ancient tourist attraction 80 km. south of Antium presented as the Cyclops’ cave, and the status of Minerva as Ulysses’ counselor and protector. Id.  The theory is not only convoluted but farfetched, in my opinion, and fails to account for “Minerva’s” unusual short hair (not to mention the adam’s apple). As well as the absence of any unambiguous reference on the coin, pictorial or otherwise, to Ulysses or the Odyssey.

Finally, Gary D. Farney, in his book cited above, relies on Crawford’s Minerva identification and suggests that it is supported by an ancient gem (cited as Richter [1971] no. 105) (not illustrated) depicting Minerva riding a ram. He concludes that the ram depictions on both types issued by the Rustius family “‘may be regarded as a badge or crest of the family,’ possibly connected with some sort of devotion the family had for Minerva.” Farney p. 285 (citation omitted). For the reasons outlined above, and without knowing more about the gem Farney mentions, I am not persuaded.

Use of S•C [Senatus Consultum] See Crawford Vol. II pp. 606-609 for a discussion of the use of “S•C” on approximately 40 Republican issues including this one, concluding that it “seems probable, though not absolutely certain, that routine coinage, although authorized by the Senate, bore no special mark and that only when an issue was separately authorized during the year” was it marked with an “S•C” or an “Ex S•C.” Specifically, Crawford notes at p. 608 that “by far the greatest concentration of these issues falls between 80 and 51. The early part of the period is known to be one of recurrent financial crises . . . and it is possible that the financial administration of the Roman Republic was in this period conducted on such a hand-to-mouth basis that the Senate was frequently unable or unwilling to decide at the beginning of the year how much coinage should be struck; instead it had recourse to specially authorized issues during the year.”

Presence of Mark of Value The denarius mark of value * ( = XVI asses) appears on the obverse of this type for the first time since approximately 107 BCE, except for the so-called “restored” issues (Crawford 369-371) from ca. 82-80. See Harlan RRM I p. 104. It was also the last appearance of the mark on any denarius. See BMCRR I p. 398 n. 2. Grueber states that its appearance here was “purely accidental” (id.), and Crawford views it as “merely an archaism” (Crawford I p. 404). Harlan, however, suggests that the * mark as used here may have signified an office title rather than a mark of value, supposedly adopted from the use of a similar mark in the title CVR•*•FL [curator for minting denarii, with the mark standing for denarii] found on the reverse of Crawford 393/1b, issued by Cn. Lentulus in either 76-75 BCE [Crawford] or 74-73 BCE [Harlan]. See Harlan RRM I pp. 104-105. This interpretation requires accepting Harlan’s dating of the L. Rustius issue to 72 BCE, after Cn. Lentulus, and identifying L. Rustius as the moneyer who took over from Lentulus and picked up the * from the title CVR•*•FL. Id.

In terms of noted previous owners, I also have one coin that's simultaneously ex BCD, ex RBW, and ex ASW (Alan S. Walker)!

Roman Republic, C. Antestius, AR Denarius 146 BCE. Obv. Head of Roma right wearing winged helmet with peaked visor (ornamented with griffin’s head?), pearl necklace, and earring of pellets in form of bunch of grapes, C • ANTESTI upwards behind [partially off flan, ANTE ligate], X [mark of value, 10 asses] beneath chin / Rev. Dioscuri holding spears, on horseback galloping right; puppy running right below horses’ hooves, with both forefeet raised; in exergue, ROMA; minor flan flaws on reverse. Crawford 219/1e, RSC I Antestia 1, BMCRR I 859, Sear RCV I 95/1 (ill.), Sydenham 411. 19 mm.. 3.76 g., 3 h.  Ex CNG Auction 378, July 13, 2016, Lot 408; ex RBW [Richard B. Witschonke] Collection; ex BCD Collection [see old coin ticket], purchased by RBW from BCD March 1985; ex ASW [Alan S. Walker, currently Dir. of Nomos AG]. *

image.png.7198437ffb47ac9c8dffabd58942f424.png

image.png.ad8f91e640c94b03eb40cbaa5b37097c.png

** Crawford states at Vol. I p. 258 that the moneyer “is otherwise unknown,” and suggests that “[t]he moneyer’s cognomen, if the puppy is held to be significant, may perhaps be Catulus,” meaning puppy or wolf cub in Latin. (Emphasis in original.)  Grueber suggests a different (and even more speculative) possibility for the significance of the puppy, namely that “[t]he dog was evidently the symbol of the Antestia gens, and consequently the earlier coins, which have that symbol and are without moneyer’s name, may have been issued by a member of this gens.” (See BMCRR p.114 n. 1.)  The earlier coins Grueber refers to comprise the amonymous dog series cataloged as BMCRR 486-492 (Crawford 122/1-122/6), dated circa 206-195 BCE -- i.e., 50+ years prior to the issuance of this coin. Without more, positing a family connection to those earlier anonymous coins based solely on the presence of dogs on them would seem rather tenuous, especially given that there do not appear to be any dogs on the later Antestia gens coins, either under the Republic or under Augustus during the period when moneyers’ names were still listed. 

Some of the subtypes or varieties of this issue have the moneyer’s name on the reverse, with the puppy on the obverse behind Roma’s head. According to Grueber (p. 114 n. 1), this kind of varying interchange was an “innovation” that began with this issue.

Edited by DonnaML
  • Like 18
  • Cool Think 1
  • Heart Eyes 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Andrew McCabe said:

Three from Giuseppe de Falco, a first class seller in the 1960s, two of which from the Bastianelli collection which is cited a few times by Michael Crawford in RRC and that focused on early Roman denarii

 

Pompey the Great and Varro

Mario Ratto FPL March 1964 lot 294 ex Giuseppe De Falco fixed price list Dec. 1960 lot 243 (£It.38,000) = A. Alföldi "Commandants de la Flotte Romaine sous Pompée, César, et Octavian" in Mélanges offerts a Jérome Carcopino, 1966, p.35,pl.1,9 (this coin)

 

Rostrum Tridens (first series during second Punic war) denarius - extremely rare

E.E. Clain-Stefanelli coll. (sold by NAC) ex Giuseppe de Falco fixed price list 83 (Dec.1969) lot 240 ex Bastianelli coll. (22,000 Lire)

 

RRC 53 anonymous denarius

RBW (Richard Witschonke) collection ex Spink Numismatic Circular Oct.1989 lot 5209 (£100) ex Sternberg VII (25 Nov.1977) lot 239 (est. 300 DM) ex Giuseppe De Falco fixed price list 83 (Dec.1969) lot 156 (£It.20,000) ex Bastianelli coll.

IMG-20240518-WA0011.jpg

IMG-20240518-WA0013.jpg

IMG-20240518-WA0012.jpg

These are sharp!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Andrew McCabe said:

Muses 

 

Melpomene muse of tragedy with club and theatrical mask, NAC 73 (2013) lot 142 Student Mentor coll. ex Sternberg XI (20 Nov.1981) lot 499 ex Peter Hofer coll. (Feb. 1980 catalogue) ex Sotheby’s (1 Dec. 1976) lot 250 Eton college coll. Thackeray 1882 Roman Coins at Eton College includes a selection of Roman Republican coins tho not this coin.

 

Hercules Musarum. Gorny & Mosch 181 (12 Oct.2009) lot 1946 ex Nomisma 37 (4 Oct.2008) lot 109 (€550) ex Franco Semenzato (Venezia) 29 Nov.1980 lot 230 (£It.700,000). Semenzato, still in Venice but no longer dealing with ancients, had this sale catalogued by Roberto Russo, so in effect akin to a pre-NAC Russo sale

 

pensive looking Polymnia, muse of Rhetoric, Stack's 20th Nov.1967 lot 989 Hall Park McCullough (1872-1966) coll. with ticket ($120), from the Southern California collection. Hall Park McCullough, a member of an old New England family and a Vermont lawyer who lived also 1035 Fifth Avenue NYC, 1872-1966. Thus the coins were probably collected around the turn of the 20th century. Both his father and grandfather were governors of Vermont.

IMG-20240521-WA0008.jpg

IMG-20240521-WA0010.jpg

IMG-20240521-WA0009.jpg

Fantastic group

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor
On 5/22/2024 at 4:19 AM, Andrew McCabe said:

This whole thread is of course not about the coins - anyone can buy a sharp coin from from a recent hoard with a stated provenance of "Swiss collection before 2005" - usually an absolute lie, indeed a fraudulent claim. We have moved from "condition is the key value driver" because hoards of sharp coins continue to be illegally marketed, so there'll be no end of sharp coins, to "provenance is the key value driver" because you cannot create old provenance for newly dug coins

@Andrew McCabe, I certainly hope that warning doesn't apply to the two "ex Andrew McCabe" coins I posted earlier in this thread, and that you didn't decide to sell them because there was anything dubious about their provenance! The phenomenon of recent illegally-exported hoards of ancient coins showing up in the market doesn't seem to happen as much with Roman Republican coins as with other types; at least I haven't read about anything like that. For one thing, most Roman Republican coin hoards have historically been found only in Italy and Iberia (see, for instance, the 2016 Lockyear article), so there isn't the same risk for Republican coins that hoards illegally excavated in Eastern Europe or Anatolia will mysteriously make their way to Western Europe and end up with the typical phony "from a Swiss collection formed before 2005" provenance. And at least for buyers in the USA, as long as a Roman Republican coin is dated after 211 BCE and has a pedigree showing that it was outside Italy before January 2011 (the applicable date under the MOU with Italy; I'm not sure what the applicable date is for Spain), there isn't any  worry about import restrictions, or a coin getting confiscated by US Customs. So I would think that generally speaking, it can be safer (insofar as legalities are concerned) to buy Roman Republican coins than it is to buy a number of other types of ancient coins.

  • Like 2
  • Yes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, DonnaML said:

@Andrew McCabe, I certainly hope that warning doesn't apply to the two "ex Andrew McCabe" coins I posted earlier in this thread, and that you didn't decide to sell them because there was anything dubious about their provenance! The phenomenon of recent illegally-exported hoards of ancient coins showing up in the market doesn't seem to happen as much with Roman Republican coins as with other types; at least I haven't read about anything like that. For one thing, most Roman Republican coin hoards have historically been found only in Italy and Iberia (see, for instance, the 2016 Lockyear article), so there isn't the same risk for Republican coins that hoards illegally excavated in Eastern Europe or Anatolia will mysteriously make their way to Western Europe and end up with the typical phony "from a Swiss collection formed before 2005" provenance. And at least for buyers in the USA, as long as a Roman Republican coin is dated after 211 BCE and has a pedigree showing that it was outside Italy before January 2011 (the applicable date under the MOU with Italy; I'm not sure what the applicable date is for Spain), there isn't any  worry about import restrictions, or a coin getting confiscated by US Customs. So I would think that generally speaking, it can be safer (insofar as legalities are concerned) to buy Roman Republican coins than it is to buy a number of other types of ancient coins.

One of the most profound statements I have ever read on any coin forum @DonnaML. What an interesting thread about promoting the value of provenance over coins that have circulated for hundreds of years by decent ordinary people whose interest was intellectual and not profit motivated. I gave up collecting pattern milled coinage because of issues over grading when trying to improve or realise coins and moved into ancients as grading was not so important. I can now see “provenance “ is becoming part of grading. G*d help us.

Edited by Dafydd
Typo
  • Like 2
  • Popcorn 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Andrew McCabe said:

There is little or no risk in buying Roman Republican coins with toning whether or not there's a listed old provenance. The toning indicates it's been above the ground for a long time possibly centuries. No bad facts will arise. Coins from my collection which I sold usually were toned, but as I deliberately collect old auction provenances, perhaps I didn't find one or it may have been a condition issue or I may have found an example with an even better provenance. My collecting criteria now is condition, rarity, provenance and I need a new acquisition to have good provenance plus superb condition or good provenance plus being very rare. In the past, any one of those three was sufficient for me.

 

There is a risk buying coins from an auction where every coin is obviously from a large recent hoard. The surfaces all look identical, the coins are untoned, the coins all are from the same period, the coins may be mostly uncirculated. Leu Numismatik has sold an extremely large group of Roman Republican coins evidently from a single hoard and all with the fantasy provenance of "Swiss collection before 2005". The risk to a collector is that someone publishes a study and finds additional information proving these to be from a recent illegally dug hoard. If legal action is then taken the coins could then be subject to confiscation by customs on import or export. You could lose ownership. Roma Numismatics sold many evidently large recent hoards over the years and look what happened. Almost all the Cassius Tripod and related Brutus types sold since 2006 come from a single hoard discovered it is presumed about 2005. If someone does a study of these and if legal issues arise, any or all of these could be confiscated. My two examples are not from this hoard but from collections established before the first world war. CNG sold a large hoard of Roman Republican Victoriati about 2017 in concert with other sellers. The hoard has been published by Pierluigi Debernardi who thanks CNG for the help and who confirms in print that it's a very recent and likely illegally dug and likely from Italy hoard. One day someone from Italy is going to read that article and from that date those coins will not be safe to own as who knows what might happen. Right now the DA for New York isn't chasing $300 Victoriati but one day he might.

 

It should go without saying that a hoard that's been dispersed without being recorded will never appear in Lockyear"s database as he won't know what's in the hoard, unless and until someone publishes using background information as happened with the CNG victoriatus hoard published by Debernardi.

 

So, for your own safety, buy toned coins, buy from old established collections where you can, buy coins with known older provenances. They cost a bit more. Toned coins are the safest route as if it's natural toning (you can tell with some experience) it's been around long before the New York DA started to get interested in unprovenanced coins.

 

A reasonable cut off date is when the Euphronios later scandal blew up early 2000s which led to the US Import MOUs late 2000s. Prior to about 2000 it was accepted by everyone that coins in trade came from recent hoards. Since about 2010 that pipeline has essentially been banned, tho as Leu Numismatik shows, some dealers continue to blatantly ignore.

 

If you knowingly buy coins from sales which are obviously stocked with recent hoard coins, there may be consequences in the future when you try to sell those coins.

You make excellent points, and it seems the Eid Mar fiasco has provided a prime opportunity for those aiming to outlaw ancient coin collecting.

What I was trying to express is that for most collectors, especially those collecting lower-grade coins, provenance has never been a major concern since investment wasn't their primary motivation and Government intervention wouldn't have been a consideration for them. Personally, I prefer toned coins, but when collecting by type, opportunities sometimes outweigh that preference. 

It is quite dystopian to imagine governments interfering with the collection of artifacts whose history is preserved through private collections. Museums aren’t the solution either. In another area of collecting, such as military medals, I am often asked about donating to museums. My advice is always 'don’t,' as museums are too polite to refuse but often can't display the items, causing the memories associated with these artifacts to be lost.

In my opinion, declaration of mandatory state ownership conflicts with democracy. 

 

In the UK, metal detecting supported by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has virtually eliminated the often clandestine market for coins that could technically be considered 'looted.' There is every incentive for detectorists to declare their finds, as they can realise their worth while also contributing to the associated archaeology and if course creating modern provenance.

Defining 'looting' can be complex. For instance, if a coin is found on state-controlled land, such as the Palace of Knossos in Crete, it is undoubtedly illegal to remove it. However, if the same coin is found on private land a few miles away, the ownership should logically belong to the landowner. Understanding the various international laws regarding the exportation of historical items and determining their significance is challenging. Is there any real difference between my badly worn Marc Antony fleet denarius and a gold Eid Mar, or are the boundaries determined solely by value? 

Clearly " property of a UK collector " is not a provenance but I would imagine the majority of coins in circulation have no provenance and have little chance of proving their origin. I have many old catalogues from firms such as Glendinings that were printed in the 1920's featuring hundreds of coins but without images, so the coins  cannot be retrospectively provenanced from vague descriptions. At some point in their history, virtually every coin we own would have been lost or hidden so the timeline of when its recovery becomes looting is a matter of opinion.

 

The issue of toning is pertinent. Recently, I posted about a Didius Julianus denarius I bought at a FUN convention. This coin, initially sold in the UK, appeared in Florida three weeks later, during which time it had been artificially toned to disguise a blemish. How can a border force officer distinguish between genuine and artificial toning? If it’s not obvious to me, it certainly won’t be to them. The concern now is that blanket confiscation might become the default approach for officials, potentially harming cross-border trading. So much for an open and transparent market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I should have added that although the intent of the MOU between Italy and the USA is based on the credible goal of restricting the trade in looted artifacts, its enforcement complexities will undoubtedly create problems for collectors and dealers travelling and trading internationally. Following the Eid Mar case which has brought the MOU into prominence and, no doubt, read by every border official as you couldn't miss it, I for one will be very cautious  about travelling internationally with ancient coins, with provenance or not. I now become a potential target for hindrance if not worse at the border because I always declare what I am carrying. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

36 minutes ago, Andrew McCabe said:

I collect coins with old provenances (and toned coins even where I've not yet found a provenance)

 

a) for safety, to ensure the coins can be resold a hundred years from now and will never be seized

 

b) because the history of the collectors, collecting, trade, dealers etc is of great interest and worth my collecting focus 

 

c) because famous collectors (and dealers) are famous in part because they had very good taste and so it's a short cut to making a safe purchase decision. Nobody ever made a mistake buying a Haeberlin provenance denarius 

I am not sure what is your agenda. Either you are preaching for provenance which is like shooting at your own feet because there are people with resources who can find provenances quicker and easier than you. They also probably have much more budget available. Or you want to get better hammer prices for your consignments.

  • Yes 1
  • Confused 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, ajax said:

I am not sure what is your agenda. Either you are preaching for provenance which is like shooting at your own feet because there are people with resources who can find provenances quicker and easier than you. They also probably have much more budget available. Or you want to get better hammer prices for your consignments.

I think Andrew's reasons for pursuing coins with provenance were very clearly stated.  As we collectors face an ever changing landscape of legal restrictions on our hobby it is sensible and prudent to minimize risk for ourselves and heirs by seeking coins that avoid these issues as much as possible.  This is to say nothing of the joy and satisfaction in being the current caretaker of a coin that's known chain of ownership may stretch back a century or more.  As for those who could find provenance of Roman Republican coins I doubt there are 10 people on this planet who have the knowledge, resources and time of Andrew.      

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/10/2024 at 10:26 AM, Andrew McCabe said:

I'm sad to find so much push-back against the increasing importance of collecting provenanced coin and / or coins with old collection toning, and I'm surprised to find so little common understanding of issues around hoards, import and export controls and how these need to shape our collecting decisions today. I realise from replies to this thread that few people are aligned with me. For the moment it seems best that I press pause and resume instead conversing with those I know in life beyond the internet.

Everything that I have showed in the last two weeks is permanently available on my Flickr site 

Andrew McCabe

Along with 10,000 photos of mine and much information on provenances, museums etc. I think it's best that's where my coin photos and information continues to reside

 

 

How does deleting pages of your good content help educate collectors that aren't aligned? It's the internet: you'll never have a unanimous set of replies but removing quality content and commentary is a disappointing and unnecessary setback.

  • Like 6
  • Yes 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/10/2024 at 11:26 AM, Andrew McCabe said:

I'm sad to find so much push-back against the increasing importance of collecting provenanced coin and / or coins with old collection toning, and I'm surprised to find so little common understanding of issues around hoards, import and export controls and how these need to shape our collecting decisions today. I realise from replies to this thread that few people are aligned with me. For the moment it seems best that I press pause and resume instead conversing with those I know in life beyond the internet.

Everything that I have showed in the last two weeks is permanently available on my Flickr site 

Andrew McCabe

Along with 10,000 photos of mine and much information on provenances, museums etc. I think it's best that's where my coin photos and information continues to reside

I hope you will reconsider as expert commentary & advice is highly valued.

  • Like 3
  • Yes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/10/2024 at 9:26 AM, Andrew McCabe said:

 For the moment it seems best that I press pause and resume instead conversing with those I know in life beyond the internet.

As someone that has almost nobody "in real life" to talk coins with, you leaving, over someone saying they don't understand the importance of provenance, really bums me out.

When I see a true professional that I admires posts I take the time to read them so that I continue to learn. I have always read your posts, here and elsewhere. 

I hope you come back and continue to share your coins and knowledge. 

  • Like 1
  • Yes 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know you can't give offence and can only take offence but I hope my rational opinion was not taken as offensive. I "liked" all of the original posts as I thought they were fabulous coins with superb descriptions. I do understand however that not everyone will want to engage with contradiction as life is too short. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...