Monday, July 30, 2007

CNG 76

CNG 76 is online.

It includes a half Athenian Dekadrachm.

A few years ago CNG started describing the Etrurian 'gorgon' coins as depicting Metus, the personification of Fear. I haven't noticed any other catalogers doing this. I wonder what lead to the change?

In Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon, Stephen Wilk theorizes some 'gorgons' might depict Fear and Dread, but he knows of no examples.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Three weeks ago hobbyblog shut down.

It was the first ancient coin blog with regular content, and an old-timer when I started blogging.

hobbyblog posted one coin per day. The coins were often rare provincials. I visited hobbyblog a few times a week. It was a good blog.

I recently changed blogger templates and my blogroll went away. But hobbyblog was first on that list. The coins are all still there in the archives, there just aren't new posts.

Caron and Tilde

I know my readers are all hungry for information on the typographic symbol for the reverse of a coin. No luck yet.

Unrelated to coins, but today I was reading Known Anomalies in Unicode Character Names. It's a list of the mistakes the worlds smartest experts on alphabets made when writing down the names of the characters.

A note under 'Caron' (inverted hat on some Czech letters) says "The term 'caron' is suspected by some to be an invention of some early standards body, but it has also been claimed by others to have been in use at Linotype before the days of digital typography. Its true origin may be lost in the mists of time." By mists of time, they mean the 1980s! Wikipedia has details.

It reminded me of a similar story, the history of the tilde. The famous squiggle character, ~, which existed for hundreds of years in Spanish to indicate a different n and is on every keyboard, was only born in 1963! It is not much older than I.

Jean Elsen list 241

The catalog for Jean Elsen list 241 arrived in the mail yesterday.

400+ ancient coins, plus many medieval and modern, and numismatic books.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Podcast of Thom Bray interviewing Wayne Sayles

Thom Bray's Pieces of Time has a new 'podcast'. This one features Thom Bray interviewing Wayne Sayles.

The new podcast is 14 minutes long. I listened to it on my computer, but it can be downloaded to an iPod or MP3 player.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Short article on forgery detection by Ilya Prokopov

FORVM has a short article by Ilya Prokopov on detecting fakes struck with modern dies. It is well worth reading.

A brief discussion on FORVM's boards shows what might be a clever fake of a Greek coin detected using the technique.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Coin shortage in Assam

The BBC reported a few weeks ago that millions of Indian coins are being smuggled into neighbouring Bangladesh and turned into razor blades. A new token currency has arisen: “To deal with the coin shortage, some tea gardens in the north-eastern state of Assam have resorted to issuing cardboard coin-slips to their workers. The denomination is marked on these slips and they are used for buying and selling within the gardens.”

(via Marginal Revolution)

I couldn't find any photos of the cardboard 'coin-slips'. They are the same size as the coins they replace.

The USA has taken steps to prevent this from happening here: It's illegal to melt pennies or nickels. It is also illegal for travelers to carry more than 100 nickels out of the country.

Only two days left for bringing Cypriot coins into USA

David Welsh, on UNIDROIT-L, reports that import restrictions are being imposed on Cypriot coins.

The full text is available in The Federal Register v. 72 no. 134.

As of Monday you'll need a valid Cypriot export permit to bring ancient Cypriot coins into the USA. If you were planning on importing anything, spare yourself some trouble and do it this weekend.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Three more BMC Greek titles from Google Book Search

Vol. 16 Ionia, by Head, 1892.

Vol. 17 Troas, Aeolis and Lesbos, by Wroth, 1894.

Vol. 19 Lycia, Pamphylia and Pisidia, by Hill, 1897.

All three volumes can be downloaded as PDF files.

Google now offers a 'view plain text' option that lets you see, as well as cut-and-paste, the OCRed text. (Cutting and pasting seemed to work better if I switched views to 'standard HTML mode', another new feature.) For these particular volumes the OCR is quite poor, probably because of the tables and multi-lingual text.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

More )(

The )( symbol is a new obsession of Wayne Homren, who reports in today's e-Sylum that he has contracted the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany, The Type Museum here in London, the International Printing Museum near Los Angeles, the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA; the JAARS Museum of the Alphabet in Waxhaw, NC; and the St. Brides Printing Library in London.

No useful replies yet.

In a June 3 comment here, Dr. Robert J. O’Hara pointed to an 18th century list of alchemical symbols, Medicinisch-Chymisch- und Alchemistisches Oraculum (1755), which includes both )( and ℞. Both symbols abbreviate words beginning with RE (Realgar and Recipe). If one needed to abbreviate “reverse” down to a single character to save space it makes sense to use a symbol which had already served that purpose. )( was such a symbol, but would numismatic readers in the 18th century have understood it?

The earliest numismatic use that I know of is from 1758, in a book published in Vienna, Prague, and Triest by Ioannis Thomae Trattner. However, I just haved looked. I don't have any 17th or 18th century books, and Google has scanned only a few. I would be curious to find earlier citations of the symbol. It would be interesting if the symbol started with publishers known for printing alchemical works. I have before never considered a connection between numismatics and alchemy.

It is interesting that the symbol died out. It was used by Eckhel, who is the father of numismatics as a science. It seems logical that authors would want to make the works look more like Eckhel's, so why did the symbol die out? Possibly type setters didn't have the symbol, but perhaps even in the 19th century no one knew the name of the symbol or its exact meaning?