Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Google Print

Google Print has changed it's user interface, putting the book page to the left and the search form to the right.

A book I was excited about, the BMC Catalog of Greek Coins / Corinth, has been missing from Google for several weeks. The page is still there but the full, searchable and viewable text is gone. I don't understand what causes Google to take down books already scanned.

BMC Mysia, Cyrenaica, and Lycia have appeared but without searching. Google unfortunately scanned the 1964 Forni reprints rather than the first editions, so believes the copyright date is 1964. I doubt Google will ever make these titles fully viewable — unless perhaps they accidently scan the first editions.

Three publications of the American Numismatic Society are fully viewable/readable on Google Print. Unfortunately, the plates didn't show up (as often happens). The titles are:

Google has a few other ANS publications in "snippet view".

166 coins stolen during shipment

New York dealer Alfredo De La Fe reported 166 ancient coins stolen during shipment. A package from Georgia was opened and re-sealed and the empty envelope arrived in New York.

The coins can be seen at

Stolen coins include Roman silver and bronze, Byzantine bronze, and Greek fractions.

A message on the Ancientartifacts list asks anyone with information to call postal inspector Michael J. Ray.

Monday, June 26, 2006

20,000 gold coins smuggled out of Romania in last 15 years

The Sunday Herald is reporting claims in from newspaper Ziua that 20,000 Dacien gold coins have been smuggled out of the country since 1990.

Romanian authorities have recovered 7845 ancient gold coins from smugglers. So the 20,000 claim is reasonable, an estimate that twice as many coins made it through as were caught.

(via PhDiva)

Friday, June 23, 2006

More follow-ups

People's Daily Online reported the exact amount CNG paid for the Eid Mar denarius seized by the Greek government: £18,000 (or about $32,750). Dr. Hubert Lanz claimed on CoinForgeryDiscussionList to know that the denarius is a recent forgery.

Arthur Brand's book, Het verboden Judas-evangelie en de schat van Carchemish, on the Carchemish hoard was published by Uitgeverij Aspekt B.V. It is described in the publisher's PDF catalog and can be purchased from online Netherlands bookstores including (search on Carchemish). The book is apparently not limited to coin smuggling; the title mentions the Gospel of Judas. The publisher's description says the book also covers the James Brother of Jesus Ossuary and the (Cleveland?) Apollo Sauroktonos. An English translation of some Carchemish material appears on MvR's site and includes pictures of three Athenian dekadrachms, a Delphi tridrachm, and an interesting Cypriot stater.

Monday, June 19, 2006

ANS' foreign decorations auction

This blog brings numismatic news you don't get elsewhere.

Last month the ANS sold part 1 of its collection of foreign medals, orders and decorations. The press release can be found on the ANS web site.

Morton & Eden auctioned the first half of the collection on 24-25 May. The Prices Realized [PDF] is on the Morton & Eden site, but unlike the other auctions there there is no Sale Report. I was curious how the sale went, so I made my own 'report.'

I added up the prices realized and got £898,660 (= approx $1,650,000).

I spot-checked the auction highlights and they seemed to be selling above estimates

Naval General Service Medal, estimate £15-20k, sold for 40k. (lot 23)
Conspicuous Gallantry group, estimate £4-6k or £6-8k, sold for 22k (lot 332)
Most Noble Order of the Garter, estimate £18-22k, sold for 30k (lot 294)

In the pre-sale Press Release director Wartenberg Kagan promised “Money raised from the sale will go into our acquisition fund to improve our core collection of American and world coins.” I wish her and the society good hunting.

Congratulations to the ANS on a successful sale. Part 2 of the auction will be held on 25-26 October.

If any blog readers attended the live auction please write about it in the comments section below. [Disclaimer: I volunteer for the ANS but this blog entry is my own idea].

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Künker auction closes tomorrow; 847 literature lots

This week's Künker auction features 847 lots of literature, the library of Prof. Dr. Peter Berghaus.

This auction includes many early books, including titles from the 16th century, as well as useful recent references.


PhDiva has been collecting newspaper stories on additional Turkish thefts: Time Magazine, Associated Press, New York Times.

CNG 72 Prices Realized are available. Barry Murphy says coin prices are higher, and that many in-print books are selling at auction for over retail. Barry also noticed this at the Malter auction. Perhaps some new folks are becomming interested in books?

David Welsh reports that Joel Malter passed away between days of his multi-day auction.

MvR and Arthur Brand have two new coin reports, neither of which has independent verification. The first is that CNG bought a dekadrachm that turned out to be fake. The second is that the Numismatic Museum in Athens bought a looted dekadrachm. Arthur Brand claims to be writing a book on "the Carchemish hoard" (in Dutch, not in English). I wish him success. Brand claimed for years to be creating a web site on looted coins which never materialized.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

“...a slightly shady background”

(Via Unidroit-L) Times Online is reporting that Classical Numismatic Group has returned an Eid Mar denarius to the Greek government.

CNG had bought the coin from two Greek runners. The runners/smugglers spilled the beans when UK Customs questioned them about 'a large sum of euros' they were trying to carry out of the UK — payment from CNG. The Greek government, whose laws give it ownership over goods excavated from Greek soil, pressed for the return of the Eid Mar using “a European directive on the return of cultural objects that passed into British law in 1994”, and of course CNG returned it.

The article did not name the directive/law under which the denarius was demanded. I am not familiar with UK law. If this had happened in the US, the law would be the stolen property act. It seems unlikely the UK didn't have laws against stolen property in 1994, so I wonder what the Times is talking about.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

CNG Book auction closes tonight

CNG's auction 72 closes tonight, including 800 lots of books mostly on ancient coins.

Some really excellent stuff is being offered at extremely low estimates, including Daehn's Ancient Greek Numismatics — A Guide to Reading and Research in *hardcover* estimated at $20, all three volumes of Lindgren in *hardcover* estimated at $100 (the first volume is nearly unattainable in hardcover). Also a complete run of Bulletin on Counterfeits estimated at $100.

Some turkeys, like An Inventory of Greek Coin Hoards estimated at $30 (available new from the publisher for $7).

There are a number of titles I'd like to purchase for the Digital Historia Numorum image project. Unfortunately I'm going to hold back — too many other commitments this summer, and I still haven't found time to scan my BMC Mysia. However, I'd encourage all my readers who are successful to consider taking an evening and scanning plates for this worthwhile project.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Karkamis treasure

(via MvR) MvR has provided us with a Hürriyet story and English translation on “the Karkamis treasure” — an enormous hoard of 3000 ancient coins including 13 dekadrachms. Found in 1995, smuggled out of Turkey and sold in the last decade. The article says a few dekadrachms remain for sale from Hikmet Gül, but that he's gone missing.

I could not find the translated article on Hürriyet's website. The dollar values for the coins cited by Brand appear to be on the high side. Brand calls the find “the Carchemish-hoard” on his yahoo group EarlyElectrumCoinage and that phrase doesn't occur in the article.... still, no reason to doubt that a major hoard was smuggled out of Turkey and sold through top US dealers.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dissertatio de Alexandri Magni Numismate

Syvert Haverkamp, Dissertatio de Alexandri Magni Numismate.

Google brings us a 1722 dissertation on ancient coins with 22 pages of somewhat bizarre engravings.

(A search on the general web found a copy for sale for $1350 and one recently sold at auction for €260.)

Google is really doing well with numismatic books, probably because the participating libraries have deep numismatic holdings. Google's book holdings are difficult to search but have recently gotten faster.

I've been hyperlinking titles in the Historia Numorum bibliography directly to titles in Google books. I'm not sure if this is a good idea; Google hasn't guarenteed the links will be permanent. Google has said the Book Search isn't for reading, it's for finding. Which is unfortunate, because Google could make a great library. It could also become, for numismatics, something much better than a library. Imagine if ISEGRIM's search engine could display pages from Google Book Search...

You may enjoy the official Google Book Search blog.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Malter Book Auction

David Welsh describes yesterday's auction of Joel Malter's library and praises the catalog.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Image Rights and criticism

ArtWatch International reports (free registration required) that a small Italian museum, Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori, refused to allow Apollo Magazine to publish a photo of Christ Crowned with Thorns in James Beck's review of the Metropolitan's Fra Angelico exhibition (another free registration required).

The ArtWatch web page's teaser for their editorial says 'Museums Use Image Rights to Hamper Criticism'. It's unclear if any hampering occurred, as Beck's review included Christ Crowned with Thorns. Reproduction rights were received or were unnecessary. ArtWatch doesn't tell us which, choosing instead reminding us of the chilling effect of copyright on art criticism.

Beck doubted the chronology of Fra Anglico's life as offered by the exhibition catalog. Beck's points irritated the Museo, which threatened copyright litigation even though fifteenth century paintings probably aren't copyrightable.

Museums must learn that if their feelings will be hurt by negative reviews of their scholarship they probably shouldn't loan their works to US museums. We have a free art press.

A decent-sized Christ Crowned with Thorns can already be found on the Internet without the hassle of free registration. Free digital copies of fine art and antiquities will soon be the norm for important pieces. Cameras and disk space are cheap. In the future 15th century paintings will be freely discussed by all — no matter whose scholarship gets ridiculed.

In the meantime, I still cannot find pictures of the coins in the Lydian Hoard, recently stolen from the Uşak Archaeological Museum.

The Metropolitan Museum — the same museum having trouble with photo rights to Christ Crowned with Thorns — gave the actual Lydian treasure to Turkey. I wish The Met had chosen to give scholars some high-resolution copyright-free photos. Seems a shame to pack up a famous treasure and send it to a tiny regional museum in Turkey (where less than 800 people saw it in five years) yet ignore a billion Internet users. Many of us on the Internet enjoy pictures of our global heritage.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Aitna tetradrachm

The Israel Museum has put a beautiful 50 page booklet online. The Coin of Coins: A World Permiere was their exhibition of the Aitna (Aetna) tetradrachm. This unique coin is believed to be the world's most valuable. No one knows how much it would bring on today's market; Lucien de Hirsch bought it for 8,000 Belgian francs in 1882.

After Hirsch's death the coin was given to the royal library of Belgium. The Belgians never bothered to exhibit it, so the Israel Museum's exhibition was the world premiere.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A puzzling Mule Coin from the Parabita Hoard

In April Discovery News reported a previously unsuspected forgery technique in use in ancient Taras. Giuseppe Giovannelli and Stefano Natali of the University of Rome discovered a fourree of a boy-on-dolphin drachm that was made using a more sophisticated technique than the silver foil used by most ancient counterfeiters.

The first paper on this coin, A puzzling Mule Coin from the Parabita Hoard: a Material Characterisation is available for download. (Via blogographos)