Tuesday, October 31, 2006

If you are a writer, you need a will

Novelist Neil Gaiman points out the difficulties folks will have reprinting your work if you die without a will.

(John M. Ford, Gaiman's friend, isn't the same as John J. Ford, the numismatist).

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Unintentional humorous eBay ad

eBay buys a lot of Google keywords. Chuqui shows us one that is especially inappropriate.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lanz fall auctions

Lanz auctions 131-4 are online at sixbid.com.

Auction 131 is a specialist collection of 832 Carian coins, including some great rarities.

Auction 132 is ancients and 134 is numismatic literature.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Yesterday I became an ANS Fellow. This is a big honor. I'm in good company; David Sear became a fellow at the same time. I had not realized I was nominated, although I see my name at the bottom of a list of 2006 Nominations for office. My biography there says I write legal websites which isn't quite true. I write numismatic websites. I also write software and patents.

Luckily I attended the presentation of Agoranomia to professor Jack Kroll and to hear the lecture by Andrew Meadows, and found out about the nomination, and the election the following day. And my suit was clean. So I went, and was elected Fellow.

Fellows get to vote at the ANS meeting, but it's a one-party system. Fellows vote yes/no on the board's recommendations. There is no electioneering or campaign speeches at the annual meeting.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Burachkov's Catalogue of Coins of the Greek Colonies on the Coast of S. Russia, &c.

I received a PDF of Burachkov's Catalogue of Coins of the Greek Colonies on the Coast of S. Russia, &c. (1884) today from a Ukranian visitor to my web site. It's in Russian. I wanted it for the 32 plates of line drawings, several of which were cited in Historia Numorum.

My intention is to extract the plates from the PDF and place them as navigable .JPGs on the web site, linking the citiations in Historia Numorum to the correct plate in Burachkov.

The PDF is large — 124 MB — so I can't place the whole book on the site. If anyone wants to take a crack at OCRing this Russian-language title, or just wants a PDF to read, let me know and I'll mail you a CD-ROM.

http://www.michelvanrijn.nl/ has shut down

Michel van Rijn's artnews site has shut down.

The site claims it was shut down after receiving photo-threats against one of his children.

It was a good site. van Rijn bravely kept the site up in the face of threats against his own life. With the site gone, there is nowhere for disgruntled looters to inform on each other.

Looters — please don't send your dirty laundry to this blog. I don't have many incriminating audio tapes to protect me from the 'art world'!

(via PhDiva and ancients.info)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Electrum coin of Alexander the Great?

Here is the description of a small electrum coin from Imhoof-Blumer's 1883 book, Monnaies Grecques page 465:

35. El. 10m. Gr. 1,965, limée. – Tête diadémée d’Alexandre le Grand? à g.
Rx. Moissonneur, à dr., dans le même costume, se baissant pour couper le blé avec la faucille. Devant lui cinq, derrière lui trois épis debout. Cab. de France. Pellerin, Rois p. 208, vign. Rec. III, p. 3, pl. 86; Eckhel, D. N. V. IV, p. 25; Mion VI, 34, 269; Lenormant, Rois Grecs, p. 160, pl. LXXXI, I.

Imhoof-Blumer is describing uncertain coins of Asia Minor.

In English, a 1.97g electrum coin, obverse Hd. of Alexander the Great facing left, reverse "Harvester" facing r., in the same costume (short chiton with pointed bonnet), bending down to cut corn with sickle. In front of him five, behind him three ears upright.”

The coin isn't pictured in Imhoof-Blumer's book, and because it is uncertain I don't know what mint to look under in more recent books for a picture. I don't know what the word "limée" means.

Anyway, it seems odd to me that an electrum coin would feature Alexander III. Does anyone recall if this coin type ever earned a more reasonable attribution? I searched ISEGRIM for electrum and gold coins but with people on the reverse but didn't find any with sickle or wheat.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Index to BCD Peloponnesos

Coins of Peloponnesos: The BCD Collection gets my vote for numismatic book of the year. Although only an auction catalog, it has better text and more interesting coins than anything else I've seen - so far - this year.

The coins themselves are searchable on coinarchives but the printed book itself contains a great deal of descriptive text, new theories, etc.

Today I was looking for coins of Cranii [= Kranion] from the island of Cephallenia [= Kefalonia or Kephallonia] in the catalog. There aren't any coins from the island, but it took me a while to figure this out. I could have realized this a lot faster if I'd used the downloadable index to BCD Peloponnesos. Highly recommended.

I have acquired the catalogs of all of the BCD auctions. The others are Boeotia, Euboea, and Corinth. This collection will be an important reference in the future, at least as important as SNG von Aulock is for Asia Minor, and the volumes are must-haves for collectors of Greek coins.

Trio of matching fourrees

Today's photo shows three ancient counterfeits, all taken from the same dies. The first has intact plating — it was sold as an official mint issue.

Weights 1.57g, 1.97g, 1.99g.

I purchased these over the course of several years. I also have a fourth example, of the same workshop but of another die pair.

Because these coins are from the same workshop any differences in them come from corrosion in the ground and manufacturing variations at the “mint.&rdquo Having three pieces securely from the same mint might be able to illuminate details of the forger's art. Perhaps in a few years when it gets cheaper I'll be able to test them for composition. For example, is the silver plating of uniform composition? Are the copper cores similar in composition? (They certainly aren't in weight.) Maybe these little coins can tell us something about counterfeiting tech in the 3rd-4th centuries BC.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Vinh Phuc: Antiques sold as scrap

Vietnam net Bridge reports Antiques sold as scrap.

These are not classical antiquities, just 400 year old bronze kettles. “The excavators broke the antiques into small pieces and sold them as scrap” for seven dollars and fifty cents per kilogram.

Does this happen all the time? “In 1987, Minh excavated a jar with about 20 kg ancient coins. He used the jar to store rice, and gave the coins to children to play games.”

In stories from the Far East, 'ancient coins' usually means 400-year-old cast 'cash' (the coins with the square holes.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dr. Busso Peus auction

The Dr. Busso Peus auction catalogs arrived in the mail yesterday.

The usual wonderful ancients, but also 754 lots of books, many of which I covet. The catalog is online.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Orphan Works Legislation Dead

Photo District News is reporting that the 'Orphan Works Legislation' has been killed, mostly by the photographer's lobby.

An 'Orphan Work' is one whose copyright owner cannot be found. The proposed legislation was going to allow publishers to reprint works if they promised to give the profits to the copyright holder should the author or estate show up to claim it.

(via TeleRead).

Often I'm reading an out-of-print, hard-to-find book and decide it's wonderful and should be introduced to a new generation of readers. It's worthy of a reprint. Unfortunately, no publisher will touch an in-copyright book unless the rights-holder can be found, thus depriving publishers of money and readers of pleasure. So no reprint. Wait for a copy to appear at auction, or beg a photocopy from someone willing to infringe.

Sometimes the author dies or disappears while the book is in print. Authors Registry keeps a list of authors due more than $100,000 in royalties that cannot be found. In some cases this list is rediculous (they claim not to be able to find Bob Dylan) but in most cases the estate is just so clueless as to not know they are entitled to $100,000.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Cut Portion of a Silver Dekadrachm

FORVM is offering for sale a cut dekadrachm. The sales blurb suggests that it was cut in ancient times to make change.

A few months ago FORVM offered a dazzling collection of cut coins on eBay, including this and an archaic octodrachm of Abdera. There were so many cut specimens that some lots included more than one piece!

Here are some samples:

Greek Silver - 4 Cut Coins

Kings of Cyprus, Eulthon, 560 - 525 B.C.

2 Cut Ancient Coins, Acanthos? Kelenderis?

Lot of Ten Cut Greek Silver

The eBay buyer is apparently finished with the dekadrachm and is selling on consignment. (I can't recall how much this piece sold for on eBay. I remember a price in the $400s but perhaps am thinking of the octodrachm).

The surprising thing about the dekadrachm is that it is a Hellenistic-era coin. Usually cut coins are very early. Before coinage rough bits of 'hacksilber' were used and some early coins were cut up when they reached pre-coinage regions to join the hacksilber. No word on where all the cut pieces came from, or if they were found together -- did someone collect these over decades, or did they all surface in a single hoard?

It is surprising that this cut piece is so pleasingly centered on Zeus. In The Medici Conspiracy pleasing breaks on Greek vases are a sign of foul play. That shouldn't be an issue here, as no one is claiming that this dekadrachm broke while it was in the ground. It was purposely cut in antiquity, probably by someone who respected Zeus.

(FORVM claims copyright on the photo, used here without permission.)