Thursday, November 30, 2006

Victoria and Albert Museum drops reproduction charges

The Art Newspaper is reporting that the Victoria and Albert Museum 'is to drop charges for the reproduction of images in scholarly books and magazines'.

(via BoingBoing)

The collection does have some coins. I could only find a few in the collection search engine.

Triton X

Triton X auction catalog online.

Major expansion at

An important announcement arrived today from
We are pleased to announce that the entire series of The IBSCC Bulletin on Counterfeits has been incorporated into ( with permission from the copyright holder.

Included are all the coins photographed, published and condemned by the IBSCC - the International Bureau of the Suppression of Counterfeit Coins. These all have been classed as 'Forgery - Published' as they have been condemned by a recognised institution and will be the first to be displayed in any search.

The database now contains almost 6000 records - 3000 of these being published counterfeits. The database is by far the largest public counterfeit coin database in the world and is now an essential tool. All purchases made should be checked against this database to help verify authenticity.

We wish to expand the database further and encourage participation, whether this be contributing items, commenting on contributions or sponsoring or making donations so we can incorporate more publised counterfeits.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Judge orders US currency redesigned

Today Judge Robertson of the United States District Court in D.C. ordered the Treasury to redesign federal currency so it can be more easily handled by the blind and visually impaired.

Discussion going on at

Friday, November 24, 2006

Bulgarian police break smuggling ring

Sofia Echo is reporting that Bulgarian police have broken a network that smuggled ancient coins and antiquities to the US. Three men from Sofia were caught with 14,400 ancient coins. Bulgarian police are searching the houses of accused ring members and finding ancient coins.

Obscure Press reprints is offering the 1913 volume of the Numismatic Chronicle published by 'Obscure Press'.

The publisher describes the book as follows:

Originally published in 1913. Eight papers on ancient numismatics, 13 papers on medieval/modern, one on Oriental. Four Notices of Recent Publications, Index (p. 448 f), 22 plates (p. 457 f), Proceedings (p. 478 f). List of Fellows (p. 504 f). The papers on ancients are 'The Coins of Hierapolis in Phrygia', Leo Weber; 'The First Corbridge Find', H. A. Grueber; 'Chronology of the Danubian Wars of the Emperor Marcus Antonius', Rev. C. H. Dodd; 'Greek Coins acquired by the British Museum 1911-1912', G. F. Hill; 'Helena N. F.', P. H. Webb; 'Some Cretan Coins', Capt. J. S. Cameron and G. F. Hill; 'Countermarked Coins of Asia Minor', J. G. Milne; 'Some Uncertain Coins associated with Chios', J. Mavrogordato. Author: Oliver Codrinoton,M.D., And G.C. Brooke

Google Books also has a copy.

Who is Obscure Press? I don't know. Their description of 'their' book seems familiar to me, because I wrote it! The description comes from the Million Book Project page for Numismatic Chronicle 1913.

That page allows anyone to download a PDF of the volume. A Million Book user downloaded the book and sent it to a Print on Demand publisher.

I think this is a great idea. It will be an even greater idea if the Million Book Project, or Google, managed to scan in all the volumes and Obscure press figured this out well enough to create pleasant spines.

It's too bad the Royal Numismaic Society doesn't do anything like this.

If the founders of 'Obscure Press' are among my readers please tell us of your forthcoming titles in the comments section.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Collecting the Past and Illuminating the Future

Philippe de Montebello, the director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, lectured last week on antiquities collecting and will be giving the same lecture on December 7th.

"... the Director traces the history of collecting antiquities from the moment of their creation to the present day."

"... he discusses the growth of independent states and patrimony laws in the 20th century and the present controversies that have pitted source countries, archaeologists, curators, and collectors against each other. Mr. de Montebello concludes with an analysis of today's situation and the implications for the future of the Metropolitan's agreement with the Italian Government."

Last week's lecture was reviewed by The New York Sun.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Illustrations of School Classics

George Hill, former Keeper of coins at the British Museum, wrote a book Illustrations of School Classics with drawings of many coins and antiquities.

A brief biography of George Hill can be found on the wayback machine. This page was part of the International Numismatic Commission's web site when it was hosted by the ANS, but didn't make it to the new site.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Into the Antiquities Trade

Into the Antiquities Trade, by Kevin R. Cheek, Xlibris press, copyright 2003, list price $21.99 (but recently several used book web sites started selling for $2.70).

Chapter 1 describes selling ancient coins wholesale to Harlan J. Berk and visiting the Philip II exhibit at the Museum of Thessalonike in Greece. Chapters 2-3 describes illegally entering Afganistan during the Soviet occupation to buy antiquties from the Mujahideen. Chapter 4 includes attending an NFA auction and meeting people involved with the Dekadrachm Hoard.

A lot of pages discuss 'cultural property' issues. The author, an antiquities dealer and owner of Apolonia Ancient Art) takes the pro-collecting position. Chapter 5 is devoted to cultural property theory.

In chapter 6 the author is recruited by an American spy to watch for terrorists in the art world. Chapter 7 finds the author buying Cambodian antiquities from figures in the Thai military.

Chapter 8 is a return to the US, selling coins to dealer Dennis With. Mr. With turns out to be a colorful criminal.

Chapter 9 takes us to South America to buy antiquities and the discovery of secret Muslim bankers operating there.

Fakes and authenticity is discussed in chapter 10. 11 is about the Taliban blowing up the giant Buddhas. 12 covers Giacomo Medici's trial (the author takes the pro-Medici position). 13 is about that gold phile. Chapter 14 covers the trial of dealer Frederik Schultz and the legal precedent his case may have established. The final chapter is more thoughts on antiquties policy.

The best parts of the book are the author's stories of his own adventures obtaining and selling coins and antiquities. The author has a lot to say about the trials but I sometimes couldn't tell if the story presented came from other published accounts or if Cheek was giving a new inside story.

Xlibris is a print-on-demand vanity publisher. The book could have used additional proofreading. The writing is good and the first nine chapters tell good stories.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

RPC Supplement 2 online

A post on Moneta-L let me know that a supplement to Roman Provincial Coinage is online.

The supplement is 110 pages and 21 MB. It can be downloaded using the browser in the usual way (shift-click, or right-click 'save target as'). Get it from, a personal site at the Universitat de València in Spain.

I assume this is legit. The copy is high quality, not a scan job, and the URL of the download site is in the PDF itself.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Coin of Astypalaea?

A FORVM post asked for an identification of this coin.

The reverse seems the harpa (sometimes spelled harpe), the unusual sword or sickel used by Perseus to behead Medusa. It was used by other figures, such including Saturn on this Republican denarius, Phanebal, the War Deity, and the fighters of Etenna.

If this coin is Greek, the 'C' is actually a sigma. If so, there is only one possibility for this coin, the mysterious island of Astypalaia.

Nothing seems to be known of this island in ancient times. Wikipedia helpfully says “The island had no particular importance during the ancient age.” The current population is 1238 residents, I imagine the ancient population would have been about the same. It's not a small island, either, 99 square Km.

Numismatically, the odd thing about this island is that it copied the types of Seriphos, the home of Perseus. No one knows why. All of the Perseus coins from the island that I've seen use the regular '&Sigma' sigma, so this coin is an oddity if I've identified it correctly.

Müller incorrectly attributed Alexander III staters and tetradrachms with harpa control mark to Astypalaea. Price cites Noe assigning the tetradrachms to Argos and cites Newell assigning the staters to Salamis. BCD seems to suggest the A/harpa bronzes belong to Argos, leaving Astypalaea with very few types.

There is a museum on the island with ancient coins. Perhaps one day I'll be able to visit. I'm very curious to know if they have any of their early gorgon and Perseus bronzes.

If anyone can suggest another attribution for this coin I'd be very interested.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sorry to leave that last post up for so long. It's a downer.

AbeBooks is a website with 100,000,000 books for sale. It consolidates the lists from 13,500 booksellers. Users can browse for authors, titles, and keywords. Results can be sorted by author, title, or price.

Results can also be sorted by 'Newest'. This is useful for finding bargains. Sellers often don't know the market and offer for prices much lower or higher than usual. For example, today I see a copy of SNG Morcom being offered for $15.

If a book is rare -- there are no other copies on AbeBooks -- it makes sense for the sellers to offer the book at some rediculously high price. Maybe shoppers won't know the price is too high, or be in too much of a hurry to care. High list prices also establish the starting point for bargaining.

There are always idiots who enter prices that are oddly high for no good reason. Why did Bob's Books list Sear GCV: Europe for $98.26 when there are plenty of copies at $60. Why did Revaluation Books (UK) offer Wheaton College Collection for $75 when copies are easily had for $6.23 and $10?

I've never sold books through AbeBooks. To become a seller, there is a $25 monthly subscription fee. I sell books (paperback fiction I didn't like) through, which is free. When listing books for sale on it tells you what other copies recently sold for. I always ignored that and tried to come 1 cent or 50 cents below the next cheapest copy. If I didn't do that, my books never sold.