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In Black & White


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Howzabout a thread showing your brightest and darkest coins? Probably not going to win any awards for deep content lol... just for fun!

Here's mine, a Vetranio and a Tiberius, big contrast!



Vetranio 2024-01-16.JPG


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You managed to get good pictures. That's not easy in either case.


Without the sand patina this would be a black hole. So I keep the sand patina.


Antoninus Pius
Syria, Laodicea ad Mare
Obv.: ΑΥΤΟ ΚΑ ΤΙ ΑΙ ΑΔΡΙ ΑΝΤωΝƐΙΝΟС СƐΒ, laureate-headed bust of Antoninus Pius wearing cuirass and paludamentum, right
Rev.: ΙΟΥΛΙƐωΝ ΤωΝ ΚΑΙ ΛΑΟΔΙΚƐωΝ ΘƐΟ ΗΠΡ, turreted and draped bust of Tyche wearing bunch of grapes, left
AE, 9.73g, 25mm
Ref.: RPC IV online 6265 temp.; SNG Copenhagen 350; BMC 61


this one is quite glossy


Faustina II
Obv.: FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL, Draped bust right.
Rev.: PVDICITIA, Pudicitia (Concordia) standing facing, head right, holding cornucopia and raising skirt.
Ag, 3.44g, 18mm
Ref.: RIC – (Cf. RIC 507a ), CRE 165 [R4]


Edited by shanxi
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Nero, 54-68 Semis circa 64, Æ 18.5mm., 4.69g. Laureate head r. Rev. Table seen from front, bearing urn and wreath; round shield resting against table leg. C. 47. RIC 233.

This has a very dark green patina which the image doesn't really portray.

This following coin is very light, not shiny but "white."


VITELLIUS (69). Denarius. Rome.
19mm 2.89 gm

Laureate head right.
Tripod surmounted by dolphin right; below, raven right.

Tripod surmounted by dolphin right; below, raven right.

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This coin is totally black. I am using the picture from the auction house as my attempts failed to get a correct pic (I need to raise the brightness and I can't get the accurate color)


Same with this one - this is my pic but the coin is darker in reality 


These 2 denarii are very "white" showing traces of mint luster. 



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Posted (edited)

You want dark? Here's dark



My 'lightest and darkest' coins, in my Roman coin collection, depend as much on my skills as a photographer as they do on the coins themselves. 
I usually get the photo right on the third go-round, with small improvements each shooting, and using the dealer photo as a benchmark (when available). 
Here's the rare instance when I kept an older photo in my gallery when I shouldn't have bothered, then reshot with better lighting. 


Still a very dark coin! Lots of black on black! Better lighting makes the biggest difference, with a nod towards photo processing. 

While 'darkest' will inevitably involve a bronze coin with a dark patina, a light coin will be silver with no patina and no iridescence, probably dipped in acetone and overcleaned. Little mirrors are hard to photograph!  All the examples in this thread qualify. Cameras with automatic exposure will darken the image in the absence of an aperture step-up. For my silver coins, I always step up the aperture one or two stops, which brightens the image and risks blown-out highlights. That's how I end up with too-light coins and end up reshooting the photograph. 


Gordian III. AR Denarius. RIC IV.3 #115. 

Edited by Anaximander
Added dealer tag with photo for Aelia Eudoxia.
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Here's a few I picked up some time ago.  These are a good example of how coins are often cleaned:  to the bare metal.  There are many reasons to go this far, but usually cleaners will apply a fake patina.  For some reason these escaped that treatment and I do actually like the appearance.


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I find bronze coins to be often easier to photograph than silver, at least while using automatic exposure. But it's not a hard and fast rule; my photos of an Æ of Amisos, HGC 7 #241, taken over a period of 10 years, seem to get worse! 

image.jpeg.75e9bf427fbf5535e964f7e2f4bd9f48.jpeg image.jpeg.fe6da775b81d52dcb17f666506518b14.jpegimage.jpeg.e175202abf4e6f7f3f2caa3f4d40305b.jpeg

I take it, @KenDorney, that your coins of Amisos are bronze (HGC 7 #243). They're all quite lovely, even if they're super-light.

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Posted (edited)

This denarius was originally sold in CNG e-auction 352, lot 392 on June 3rd, 2015. When CNG auctioned the coin, it was pictured with dark, spotty toning:




However, when I bought this same denarius from Lodge Antiquities in 2020, it was sold to me as a blast white coin:




Which look do you prefer?

Edited by MrMonkeySwag96
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That's quite a cleaning job, @MrMonkeySwag96.  Not your doing, I get it. The coin is attractive either way, but I would hope for something in between. 
The cleaned coin is really well photographed, for a "blast-white" coin. 

Now add some patina, but naturally.  I've read where silver will patinate if exposed to the elements (the more air pollution, the better). The heat and humidity of the summer could be just the thing.  Does anybody have any experience with weather-induced patination? 

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I hope videos are allowed. If not, I apologise and I will delete this comment.


Titus elephant denarius, coined for the inauguration of the Colosseum. It could light up a room with how shiny it is:



Neapolis didrachm, with the head of Parthenope, who is said to have founded the city. Ex Bertolami, but I couldn’t find provenance. It has a very rich toning, I wonder if there exists a plate somewhere 😉 


Bonus dark: 

Rhodos drachm. It is actually very very dark, but since it has a strong iridescent toning (not visible in this pic), I don’t count it as my darkest coin, since looking at it at an angle makes it really shiny, while the Neapolis one almost looks like a bronze for how dark it is! This is another one that might have some provenance. Ex Künker, but that is all I could find!


See the difference when photographed in direct sunlight:


while the Neapolis one is just pitch black. This is the lightest I could make it appear in photo:


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