Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fictional bridges on Euro banknotes constructed in the Netherlands


“'The European Bank didn't want to use real bridges so I thought it would be funny to claim the bridges and make them real,' [Dutch designer Robin Stam] told Dezeen.”

(via Marginal Revolution)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

3D coin scans using focus stacking

On CoinCommunity.com, DVCollector shows a 3D scan of an Athenian tetradrachm. He took 56 pictures of the coin, each with a different focus, and used Helicon software to produce an image in extreme focus as well as 3D animation. Impressive!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Counterfeit 25 peso coin lab in the Dominican Republic

According to Dominican Today (no byline),
... Police ... dismantled an underground laboratory being used for forging 25 peso coins, following a raid on a house in the Sabana Perdida neighborhood of Santo Domingo North.

...

According to the police report, three machines used for manufacturing false 25 peso coins were seized during the operation, along with two engines, a drying oven and dozens of coins ready for processing.

...

In recent weeks traders and motorbike taxi divers in the area of La Caleta, Boca Chica have complained of being cheated by customers paying them for products and services with fake 25 peso coins.

The coins have a face value equivalent to 57 cents. Web site commentators suggest the counterfeiting story is unlikely. I disagree, given the large numbers of counterfeit UK pounds.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Unusual coin denomination: the spesmilo

I had been previously unfamiliar with the Spesmilo symbol. It apparently was only used on a single 'coin', a 1912 fantasy issue of the Esperanto congress. (The NGC web site lists examples in MS60 and XF40). According to Wikipedia the coin was used before the first world war by a few British and Swiss banks

Unicode has assigned the symbol U+20B7 SPESMILO SIGN.

The denomination was planned to equal 0.8g of 22k gold, or about 1/2 a US dollar, 2 shillings in Britain, or one Russian Ruble. It was supposed to be worth 1000 spesmiloj. The denomination is obsolete: Esperanto fantasies struck after 1945 are based on the imaginary Stelo system, not the Spesmilo.

On the Mac if I try to enter the Spesmilo sign I do NOT see the expected Sm abbreviation. Instead I see a P with a line through it. I have pasted it here: ₷. I have no idea what you will see. It is supposed to look like this:

The P with a line through it is the new currency symbol for the Russian Ruble. Microsoft has apparently rolled out support for the new Symbol in Windows. The Mac, at least mine running 10.8.5, has placed that glyph at the code point for the Spesmilo sign ... a denomination equal to one ruble.

Counterfeit US currency by MrMouse sold online

According to a blog post by Brian Krebs, a counterfeiter (or middleman) who goes by the alias MrMouse is selling high quality US notes at 45% of face value, payable in BitCoin.

MrMouse says his single-ply bills do not have magnetic ink, and so they won’t pass machines designed to look for the presence of this feature. However, this fraudster claims his $100 bill includes most of the other security features that store clerks and cashiers will look for to detect funny money, including the watermark, the pen test, and the security strip.

In addition, MrMouse says his notes include “microprinting,” tiny lettering that can only be seen under magnification (“USA 100″ is repeated within the number 100 in the lower left corner, and “The United States of America” appears as a line in the left lapel of Franklin’s coat). The sourdough vendor also claims his hundreds sport “color-shifting ink,” ...

I had no trouble finding the actual ads using search keywords mrmouse counterfeit.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

K Foundation Burn A Million Quid

Early in the morning of 23 August 1994, in an abandoned boathouse on the Scottish island of Jura, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty burned £1,000,000 pounds. It was the majority of the fortune they had earned in their brief career as pop stars (their band was The KLF).

This Saturday will be the 20th anniversary.

You can watch the burning on YouTube. There is also a television interview. A book on the burning, K Foundation Burn a Million Quid (1997) is available on Amazon for $10. AbeBooks has a copy of the book for £0.60.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Do the coins of Antiochos IV depict the Medusa Rondanini?

The Seleukid emperor Antiochos IV, who ruled from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC, gave the Athenians a golden aegis with the Gorgon upon it. Presumably Pausanias, who lived in the 2nd century AD, actually saw the aegis at the theater in Athens.

What did the golden aegis look like? Antiochos IV actually had some of his bronze and small silver coins minted in Antioch depicting an aegis, perhaps the very aegis that Pausanias would see three centuries later.

The most famous Medusa from ancient times is the Medusa Rondanini. The marble Rondanini sculpture is an important piece of Cultural Property in Italy, and has been depicted occasionally on their currency such as the 1948 1000 lire note.

Janer Danforth Belson has suggested the Medusa Rondanini is a copy of the aegis Antiochos IV gave the Athenians. Belson believes “Classicizing features for the gorgoneion would have been chosen intentionally as an artistic tribute to the sculptural stype of Pheidias and his chryselephantine creation.” Belforth says “… the gorgoneion shown on this coin has many of the same iconographic features of the Medusa Rondanini rather than the usual round faces of the ‘grotesque’ type.”

If Antiochos IV's coins depict the Rondinini (or it's original) as Edward Newell first suggested in 1918, then Antiochos IV's aegis coin reverse provides an important contemporary reference confirming Belson's theory. Does the coin match? (Scroll back and compare them). I would say not much. It is possible the Rondinini only copies the center gorgoneion of the Athenian's aegis. Unfortunately the bronze coins are not detailed enough to make a positive identification. Antiochos also issued small silver coins depicting an aegis, but they are so small the gorgoneion is only a few millimeters across.

An even rarer coin type of Antiochos IV's depicts a side-facing winged head usually described as Medusa. I wondered if it could possibly depict the same sculpture.

First I had to find a side-view of the Medusa Rondinini. I had a hard time! Nothing on the regular internet shows the Rondinini from the side. I finally found the side view in Adolf Furtwängler's 1895 book Masterpieces of Greek Sculpture. I have placed it beside an image of the coin from the 2009 catalog by Münzen & Medaillen of the Roland Müller collection. The coin is rotated and scaled to match Furtwängler's picture.

I believe there is quite a resemblance!

Arthur Houghton and Catherine Lorber suggest the side-facing Medusa coins were struck at Antiochos IV's mint in Mallos. They connect Medusa iconography with later tetradrachms of Mallos that depict Athena with an aegis draped over her shoulders and back. This is possible, but I prefer connecting Medusa iconography with the forward facing aegis struck at the Antioch mint.

And with the Medusa Rondinini.

Dave Surber (of Wildwinds) collection being auctioned Tuesday

Many of you use Wildwinds.com, a web site cataloging ancient coins built in 2000 by Dave Surber.

Dave Surber passed away suddenly five years ago. His collection is being auctioned on Tuesday by Agora Auctions. 46 Greek coins, 61 Roman Provincial, 133 Roman Imperial, 21 Byzantine and Medieval. 26 lots of books. 35 group lots.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Collectors' source for Zero Rupee Notes

Collectors may obtain Fifth Pillar's anti-corruption Zero Rupee Notes from Joel's Coins. As of this writing Joel's price is $2/note (but cheaper in quantity.)

The 50 Rupee note that the anti-corruption piece mimics has an exchange value of 83 US cents. Thus in single quantities and encased in plastic the anti-corruption note is worth more than what it mimics, at least to collectors.

Of course, you can always download and print your own notes. Because of this it will be difficult for collectors to distinguish the notes distributed by Fifth Pillar from ink-jet printed notes.

Although Fifth Pillar printed more than a million of these notes and has been distributing them for six years they have been scarcer than hen's teeth on the collectors' market. Fifth Pillar's concept of using imitation bills to discourage corruption has been widely reported. Stories appeared in The Economist (and here), CNN, the World Bank's blog, and NumisMaster. Fifth Pillar also made a video.

This note will be historically important. Collectors of paper money should consider obtaining an example.