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On the Topic of AE John III Vatazes Hyperpyron: Authenticity and New Evidence


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Recently, the topic of John III Vatazes’ AE Hyperpyron and their authenticity came up. I was in the camp of them being modern forgeries. More evidence has come to light

817167E5-4738-4302-82AC-C618DA226F28.jpeg.e2717301d668309657aef9d39caa4947.jpeg
20mm, 3.7 g. offered at n&n london


BDDBCF89-D104-4005-B11C-6756A628DC6F.jpeg.f0aa840a777308668efbcbea0b90087a.jpeg
A plate coin and example from Bendall’s article https://www.romanumismatics.com/article_detail?article_id=2&lang=en&tag=Byzantine

Same obverse? If so, we can conclude the entire series is fraudulent (which the top coin most certainly is).

9C4C42CF-F393-4FFB-876F-D30664EE5578.jpeg.548e879d21ba3c9950869747083cbe35.jpeg8AC99F80-E840-4FCB-AD95-62D9B669DE63.jpeg.ff69a51c349d45759dbc837ebb96c34d.jpeg

More examples of this type and signa. Keep in mind, this entire AE series is connected by the same reverse die. If any obverse die cna be proven fake, then the whole series crumbles

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2 minutes ago, TheTrachyEnjoyer said:

Recently, the topic of John III Vatazes’ AE Hyperpyron and their authenticity came up. I was in the camp of them being modern forgeries. More evidence has come to light

817167E5-4738-4302-82AC-C618DA226F28.jpeg.e2717301d668309657aef9d39caa4947.jpeg
20mm, 3.7 g. offered at n&n london


BDDBCF89-D104-4005-B11C-6756A628DC6F.jpeg.f0aa840a777308668efbcbea0b90087a.jpeg
A plate coin and example from Bendall’s article https://www.romanumismatics.com/article_detail?article_id=2&lang=en&tag=Byzantine

Same obverse? If so, we can conclude the entire series is fraudulent (which the top coin most certainly is).

9C4C42CF-F393-4FFB-876F-D30664EE5578.jpeg.548e879d21ba3c9950869747083cbe35.jpeg8AC99F80-E840-4FCB-AD95-62D9B669DE63.jpeg.ff69a51c349d45759dbc837ebb96c34d.jpeg

More examples of this type and signa. Keep in mind, this entire AE series is connected by the same reverse die. If any obverse die cna be proven fake, then the whole series crumbles

F023655D-F769-4F12-9390-73DDC10FE335.jpeg.6476b399e14cf4686e85ccb1fc477887.jpeg

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Sounds like Bendall thinks they're probably genuine (not that he couldn't be wrong, just trying to understand his argument and evidence). He didn't mention XRF in his summary at the end, but the part that would make me suspect they could be genuine is that they more or less "passed" the XRF test. Not in the sense of being typical (they were obviously unusual and remarkable, in fact), but in the sense of not obviously having the elements of modern alloys. It depends on what, exactly, he checked for in the XRF, but usually metals that were refined in recent centuries will set off alarm bells right away... I would like to see the XRF reports or at least more data/methodological description (not faulting him, this is obviously a brief research note).

Of course, forgers know all that, and there are many cases of forgeries using ancient coins / ancient flans as the base. It may even be possible to re-smelt and prepare new flans, though I don't know if that would introduce detectable modern elements.

There was a similar situation with the Koson AR Drachms that appeared c. 2003 or so with a similar story, all 80+ examples coming from a single source, without any previous suggestion that they existed at all. Those seem to have passed their XRF tests and most people handling them have concluded they were genuine (not everyone agrees, but they've been added to RPC 1701C [online] as a new type).  

1 hour ago, TheTrachyEnjoyer said:

If any obverse die cna be proven fake, then the whole series crumbles

Unless the fake die is based on a real one, right? A "transfer die," possibly with detail filled in where the original strike was incomplete? All fake might be the more likely answer, but that's not impossible is it? [Edit: Given the rest of the context, with new finds in a single source, I guess I would consider them fake until proven otherwise.]

(There are two (or more) different reverse dies up there, right?)

Edited by Curtis JJ
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41 minutes ago, Curtis JJ said:

Sounds like Bendall thinks they're probably genuine (not that he couldn't be wrong, just trying to understand his argument and evidence). He didn't mention XRF in his summary at the end, but the part that would make me suspect they could be genuine is that they more or less "passed" the XRF test. Not in the sense of being typical (they were obviously unusual and remarkable, in fact), but in the sense of not obviously having the elements of modern alloys. It depends on what, exactly, he checked for in the XRF, but usually metals that were refined in recent centuries will set off alarm bells right away... I would like to see the XRF reports or at least more data/methodological description (not faulting him, this is obviously a brief research note).

Of course, forgers know all that, and there are many cases of forgeries using ancient coins / ancient flans as the base. It may even be possible to re-smelt and prepare new flans, though I don't know if that would introduce detectable modern elements.

There was a similar situation with the Koson AR Drachms that appeared c. 2003 or so with a similar story, all 80+ examples coming from a single source, without any previous suggestion that they existed at all. Those seem to have passed their XRF tests and most people handling them have concluded they were genuine (not everyone agrees, but they've been added to RPC 1701C [online] as a new type).  

Unless the fake die is based on a real one, right? A "transfer die," possibly with detail filled in where the original strike was incomplete? All fake might be the more likely answer, but that's not impossible is it? [Edit: Given the rest of the context, with new finds in a single source, I guess I would consider them fake until proven otherwise.]

(There are two (or more) different reverse dies up there, right?)

I agree. However, its very suspicious coinage. They are made of a gold colored brass never seen in any other contemporary coinages or fourees. They all feature the same obverse die and are all produced with methods at odds with contemporary Byzantine or Bulgarian coin production. They feature odd styles as well. Consider that they are either original dies inspiring fake copies or die transfers from fake dies, I think the reasonable conclusion is fake until proven real. 
 

Why any forger would transfer a die from a bad contemporary imitation only recently come to market is beyond me…Now, it could be that these AE hyperpyrons just happened to be contemporary fakes of the pomegranate signa in antiquity while modern forgers happened to copy an authentic hyperpyron of the same style and signa copied all those years ago…or more likely, the same people who made these fakes also made the silver trachy fake. 

I understand bendall thinks they are authentic due to the patina and clipping but I have to disagree with him on this. The reasonable and safe conclusion here is fake until proven real and I think bendalls evidence is far from that. How is a minting method different than contemporary processes evidence for a contemporary fakes? As for patina, people have been faking great patinas since the dawn of ancient coin fakes

Edited by TheTrachyEnjoyer
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I guess this is why having a "secure archaeological context" for at least some examples makes a big difference!

Are you going to publish on this (or has anyone else already)?

If so, you should definitely try to get a copy of the XRF report and see if the details are dispositive either way.

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7 hours ago, TheTrachyEnjoyer said:

Recently, the topic of John III Vatazes’ AE Hyperpyron and their authenticity came up. I was in the camp of them being modern forgeries. More evidence has come to light

817167E5-4738-4302-82AC-C618DA226F28.jpeg.e2717301d668309657aef9d39caa4947.jpeg
20mm, 3.7 g. offered at n&n london


BDDBCF89-D104-4005-B11C-6756A628DC6F.jpeg.f0aa840a777308668efbcbea0b90087a.jpeg
A plate coin and example from Bendall’s article https://www.romanumismatics.com/article_detail?article_id=2&lang=en&tag=Byzantine

Same obverse? If so, we can conclude the entire series is fraudulent (which the top coin most certainly is).

9C4C42CF-F393-4FFB-876F-D30664EE5578.jpeg.548e879d21ba3c9950869747083cbe35.jpeg8AC99F80-E840-4FCB-AD95-62D9B669DE63.jpeg.ff69a51c349d45759dbc837ebb96c34d.jpeg

More examples of this type and signa. Keep in mind, this entire AE series is connected by the same reverse die. If any obverse die cna be proven fake, then the whole series crumbles

n&n london?

And why do you condemn this coin?

Ross G.

Edited by Glebe
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Just to complicate matters shown below is a gold version of the coin in question.

Note that on both the gold and silver versions the reverses are upright, while on the brass coated copper versions in Bendall’s supposed “Kosovo hoard” they are inverted.

Also a copper coin with the same reverse as the coin in question is shown below. This too has an upright reverse – and is evidently from a tranche of copper types different from the ones covered by Bendall’s article.

It seems the story with these types is rather more complicated than Bendall imagined.

Ross G.

 

1429943007_S.2073au-IJohnIII-16b-3.33g-(K25k1)-HWCA3262003-10513.jpg.296c48fcfd69f0ba8f8b803655369a3a.jpg

 

457508897_S.2073ae-IO1R1(k)2bGiovanniIIIVatat-3.jpg.67a583809e2155a22927452658172b06.jpg

 

 

Edited by Glebe
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Note that this same topic was discussed a few weeks ago in another thread on this forum but I don't know to link to it.

THat thread included a couple of examples of genuine 2073 hypers with the "grenade" siglum. (Why Bendall calls it a grenade I have no idea).

Ross G.

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33 minutes ago, Glebe said:

Note that this same topic was discussed a few weeks ago in another thread on this forum but I don't know to link to it.

THat thread included a couple of examples of genuine 2073 hypers with the "grenade" siglum. (Why Bendall calls it a grenade I have no idea).

Ross G.

Hi Ross, grateful for your comments here.  You can just paste the URL of the thread into the text box, and Invision automatically makes it look like this:

 

Edited by Severus Alexander
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I think XRF information would be helpful.  As far as the common style of the obverse "grenade" obverses, as well as the shared reverse designs, I am not sure that one can conclusively say that the coins from this hoard are modern fakes.  My experience collecting imitation owls has taught me that imitations, even back a couple thousand years ago, can be very close to the style of Athenian classical and even intermediate owls.  Some are so close to the original that picking out minor details, such as eye style are needed to attribute a coin as an imitation.

The modern fakes, at least with owls, tend to be quite obvious in most cases.  The coins from the Kosovo hoard, if they are modern fakes, are the product of what seems to be a pretty labor intensive undertaking.  Also, they really are not fetching very high prices at auction, since they are imitating a fairly common coin.  

I have one of these coins, and if in the end they are deemed modern I will  note this on the coin's label.  I'm glad to own this coin, one that is currently controversial and something of a puzzle numismatically and historically.

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The copper copies of the John III hypers come in two basic types – those with upright reverses and those with inverted reverses.  These days the latter are generally what appears on the market and it is they which are the subject of Bendall’s article on the copper copies.

Anyway in his article Bendall lists 6 separate obverse dies for the inverted reverse types, and illustrates all of them except the second Type B die.

These 6 dies seem to cover not just the brassy types in vogue at the moment, but also just about all the (inverted reverse) copper copies that have appeared in the past with various other patinas.

Below though is another example of a brassy copy from yet another obverse die (which doesn’t seem to be Bendall’s second Type B*).

Also shown is a second obverse from the same die, although I don’t have the reverse for this last coin.

Ross G.

* P.S. Or maybe it does - who knows what Bendall defined as Type B2?

413509739_S.2073ae-IIfO27(cf.5)R241b2.78gTaulerFau11-1177.jpg.8a308f2d5bd698ab6c740e868dd2b052.jpg

 

395750134_S.2073ae-IIaO27(cf.5)Rxx2o.jpg.a574955d270512a3973973ca6fdc9379.jpg

Edited by Glebe
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Just to complete the picture here is an example of a copper hyper from the “grenade” obverse die with an upright reverse (as with the gold and silver versions), at various stages of cleaning. 

Hence we have examples of this obverse type from both tranches of the copper copies, with the reverses both upright and inverted,

Ross G.

(This is not my coin by the way).

1111099412_S.2073ae-IO6(K25)R81b07a-08giov-III.jpg.d2edbd7bb1608330259887365391989e.jpg

image.jpeg.3b46b8ea2f19f96c48f474ac0da133d1.jpeg

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Here is yet another example of our favorite doubtful type. (Top coin below - weight 3.71g, and note the upright reverse).  

But what this coin made of? The seller describes it as "debased gold", but it looks more like copper or brass covered with some sort of induced(?) patina.

 The obverse die is unknown to me but the reverse die features on a number of gold (imitative) versions of the type, a couple of which are shown below. (This seems to be the first new obverse die of these types that has appeared in some time).

Ross G.

1437784501_S.2073ae-IO4R6(h)3.71g1b(Avdeb.)Art.Este60E-686.jpg.651c29391948c99cfa7b98a1f6522957.jpg

 

 

1570455151_S.2073au-IJohnIII-10b-3.38g-(Gh)-ForumSH8458.jpg.12cfe960363c237324bad456e42b6ab8.jpg

 

1575010234_S.2073au-IJohnIII-21b-3.97g-(Hh)-spartahelm-Ebay190317.jpg.2c9a081d94a9a5d1755522bfd6b3fa18.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Glebe
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  • 3 weeks later...

More on this topic:

https://www.biddr.com/auctions/berlinermuenzauktion/browse?a=2864&l=3213307

This firm is offering a hyperpyron of John III Vatazes that at first glance appears to be a contemporary imitation of AU. 
4F3E673C-DF2E-433C-A34C-E25AA655EA92.jpeg.979960f4cb39e8fd708ee4ccfe85da04.jpeg

They copied the ω Π from Iω ΔΕΠΟΤ. What might be considered an innocuous issue has a more interesting connection 

DE1216D6-2944-40D1-9E5A-6F4FA2DFBD6F.jpeg.98959204d25f0709e22b0f63638c06fc.jpeg

The obverse is a die match to the recent “AE Hyperpyrons”. (https://www.romanumismatics.com/article_detail?article_id=2&lang=en&tag=Byzantine plate coin)

Local imitations that were struck in AU and AE with extreme variations in degree of competence connected by die matches seems quite odd. 

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8 hours ago, TheTrachyEnjoyer said:

More on this topic:

https://www.biddr.com/auctions/berlinermuenzauktion/browse?a=2864&l=3213307

This firm is offering a hyperpyron of John III Vatazes that at first glance appears to be a contemporary imitation of AU. 
4F3E673C-DF2E-433C-A34C-E25AA655EA92.jpeg.979960f4cb39e8fd708ee4ccfe85da04.jpeg

They copied the ω Π from Iω ΔΕΠΟΤ. What might be considered an innocuous issue has a more interesting connection 

DE1216D6-2944-40D1-9E5A-6F4FA2DFBD6F.jpeg.98959204d25f0709e22b0f63638c06fc.jpeg

The obverse is a die match to the recent “AE Hyperpyrons”. (https://www.romanumismatics.com/article_detail?article_id=2&lang=en&tag=Byzantine plate coin)

Local imitations that were struck in AU and AE with extreme variations in degree of competence connected by die matches seems quite odd. 

This is the first example of this particular obverse type that I have seen in gold (as opposed to the brassy examples), which makes 15 different obverses for the gold imitative types, with 19 reverse types.

Note that the gold imitatives first appeared on the market in 2003, all with upright reverses, while the first copper versions didn’t appear (as far as I know) until 2007, initially with upright reverses, but then with inverted reverses, as is the case with offerings today.

Ross G.

 

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