Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Counterfeit Euro coin detectors

The European Anti-Fraud Office maintains a list of machines capable of authenticating Euro coins. Currently there are about 50 machine types approved.

This list is now very important, because a new regulation, which comes fully into force January 2012, requires every Euro country to have enough machines to check “25% of the total cumulated net volume of coins issued by that Member State from the introduction of euro coins until the end of the previous year.” I'm not sure what that means; the number of coins must be in the hundreds of billions, although the regulation later talks about only the three highest circulation denominations (currently €2, €1, and €0.50).

The regulation is written in legal language and is full of references to organizations I know nothing about such as the “Counterfeit Coin Experts Group”, “Coin National Analysis Centre” and the “European Technical and Scientific Centre”.

Even if sufficient machines existed to check 25% of coins existed, how would the coins arrive at the machine to be checked? Do banks have enough coins to meet the requirement or will citizens be required to bring in their piggy banks and coffee cans?

The image is of one of the approved machines, the CT Coin Pelican 309S, which can check 1100 coins / minute. The image comes from NoteCheckers.com (providing “Counterfeit Currency Detectors & Cash Management Equipment for the UK, Ireland & Export”.

People collect 19th century “counterfeit detectors”, I wonder if any of my readers are collecting the approved EU counterfeit detectors?

Monday, November 15, 2010

CNG fall book sale

The CNG fall book sale includes many bargains, including Lindgren's European Mints for $15 and Lindgren III for $10.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lambskins may be suitable for Numismatic study, the horse is not

The Wikipedia article “Numismatics&rdquo says “The Kyrgyz people used horses as the principal currency unit and gave small change in lambskins. The lambskins may be suitable for numismatic study, but the horse is not.”

I am not sure of the origin of that phrase; it was added by Wikipedia user “Wragge” in May 2005. (I would be curious to know if Wragge lifted that phrase from an earlier writer.)

The Kyrgyz people now use the Kyrgyzstani Som but in India one may now deposit goats into a local bank.
Women in remote Korawan, 70 km from Allahabad, have come up with a novel bank which exclusively deals with goats — accepting the animal as savings and lending it out as loans.

"Prema and her friends hailing from Afrozi village have establish a bank which deals exclusively in goats," development block coordinator Subedar Singh told PTI.

In tough terrains of Mirzapur district, most of the people are engaged in crushing stone to earn a living.

"Wives of these people help them in crushing stones and breed two-three goats for additional income," Singh said.

"Though the area is best suited for goat breeding, no effort was made to establish it as a full fledged business activity," he said.

"We provide goats to women having interest in taking up breeding as a full-time activity as loan. When a goat gives birth to kids, generally two to three in numbers, one of them is deposited with the bank again," Prema explained.

Goats in the bank are medically examined every week.

"In case a goat dies, then it is either replaced from the market or from the bank depending upon the availability," Prema said.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Full Disclosure

From the catalog of Sotheby's November 1858 auction of the Whittall collection:
Great care has been taken to exclude false coins; but if any coin should be suspected at the time of sale, it is to be withdrawn, as Mr. Whittall will not consent to sell as false what he is confident to be genuine. This observation applies also to Lot 293, in which instance alone the writer differs from his employer as to the authenticity of any coin contained herein.
Lot 293 was a tetradrachm of Tenos similar to this one.

I don't know who served as cateloger for Sothehby's in the 1850s. He must have held a great deal of power. I can't imagine a modern coin dealer allowing an employee or contractor to publicly doubt his counterfeit-spotting eye in the dealer's own catalog!

I do not know what the lot sold for. There is a '1' printed next to it; I assume that is the estimate, £1. The lot description itself repeats the warning, being followed with “⁂The authenticity is left to individual opinion.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Charles Doyle relaunches CoinReplicas.com

Peter Rosa's nephew Charles Doyle has revamped his website. The San Francisco Chronicle web site is carrying his press release.

For more information on Peter Rosa see Classical Deception by Wayne Sayles or “Fake Coin Factory” by Larry Stevens.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Google Translate now supports Latin

The Official Google Blog is reporting Google Translate now supports Latin.

The choice of Latin doesn't seem to appear on the main translation page (selecting 'Language Tools' from www.google.com) yet but can be seen here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jewelry and furniture

Tine de Ruysser makes banknote jewelry.
When I make jewellery from valid banknotes, it is like making gold jewellery: everyone can see that the jewellery is worth money. The jewellery is pretty, and comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. The price changes accordingly.

All banknotes are valid currency at the time the jewellery is made. The banknotes are only folded and not damaged in any way: no cutting is used, nor is any glue applied. Each note can be unfolded and used as currency....

I do not think I could pull off this look! Note that ‘jewellery’ is a British spelling; not a typo.

If the jewelry does not appeal how about some of Johhny Swing's furniture (from 2008).

Highly descriptive title for a numismatic article

In the category “Most descriptive title for a numismatic exhibit review” I nominate VietNamNet Bridge's story (no byline) 1000 turtles, 1000 ancient coins, 1000 farming utensils to be exhibited.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Richard L. Francis Jr. says 'Don't Reveal Detection Secrets'

An editorial in Numismatic News by Richard L. Francis Jr. complains that by publishing counterfeit diagnostic information the numismatic community is aiding forgers.

Mr. Francis is technically correct but misguided. His solution is to keep the information secret on a web site. He says only ANA members with at least five years should be allowed to use the site. Mr. Francis' recommendation is a poor one. He assumes that forgers have less than five years of ANA membership, and don't know any gullible ANA members who would share the password with them.

For ancient coins the ISBCC has keeps a secure anti-counterfeit website, http://ibscc.coinarchives.com/login.php. Not all the members check it before accepting fakes for auction. Interested collectors play an important role in keeping things working.

The reason counterfeit information should be available to the public is that sharing it helps collectors to detect fakes more than it helps forgers to hide them.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

... the cash on the ice is recycled

needcoffee dot com's Widgett interviews David Parker of Wells Fargo who explains the ATM in Antarctica.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Stolen Valor Act Held Unconstitutional

Eugene Volokh just blogged that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional.

The Stolen Valor Act is a 2006 law that was designed to punish creeps who pretend to be soldiers by buying and displaying medals as if they earned them in the military. Unfortunately, it also banned mailing military medals and collecting old medals such as Civil War medals.

I think Volokh is reporting the whole law has been thrown out. If Congress decides to pass an new version I hope they focus on creepy impostors and grant exceptions for museums, films, and collectors.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New symbol for the Indian Rupee

D. Udaya Kumar's design for the rupee symbol has been approved by the Indian Ministry of Finance.
For India, the next step after government approval is submission to the Unicode Consortium...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Article on fine art forgery in the New Yorker

Readers, I haven't been posting lately. Everything is OK, I am just too busy these days to post.

David Grann has a story in The New Yorker about fine art authentication. If you read it make sure to read the whole thing—the tone changes about half-way through.

The article did not mention that it's easy to make replicas of human fingers from photographs using the techniques of Japanese security expert Tsutomu Matsumoto. So if you have a photograph of an Old Master's fingerprint please don't put it on the Internet!

Friday, May 14, 2010

over 90% of €500 notes owned by criminals

A BBC story by Dominic Casciani reports that “more than 90% of the 500 euro notes that are provided in the UK have actually gone into the hands of serious organised criminals.”

A story by James Boxell in the Financial Times headlined “UK bars €500 note imports over crime fear” says banks and currency exchanges will be banned from importing the denomination. It isn't clear if individuals may still import €500 notes. Boxell reports that “... it has not been criminalised and people will still be able to pay them into UK bank accounts.”

Strangely, Boxell's report says that although the finance industry doesn't mind the restriction “... there were some objections from banknote makers.” Really? I would suspect banknote makers would applaud the new move, as criminals will now need five times as much of their product!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Call for papers on the destruction of casts of ancient art

Via Rogue Classicism: September 24-25, 2010
... Plaster cast collections of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture and architecture usually formed a core part of royal, museum, and finally university collections. Their heyday is marked by the nineteenth century when the cast collections—by now including other periods— constituted universal museums in Europe and in the United States. However, the nineteenth century marks also the beginning of a decline in the reputation of plaster casts that eventually ended in entire collections being dispersed and discarded, if not actively demolished. Our workshop aims to inquire the reasons for these destructive acts...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

When provenance becomes to cheap to meter

Jim Giles reports for New Scientist on “Barcodes help objects tell their stories”:
The Tales of Things website, which goes live this week, aims to take this idea into a new realm. It allows users to create an entry on the site for any object they like. A basic entry features an image and associated text, but audio, video and other content can also be added. The site then generates a unique two-dimensional barcode, known as a QR code, for the user to print off and attach to the object.


Linking objects with people's memories of those items could be one of the most interesting uses for the site, says Andrew Hudson-Smith of University College London, one of the five UK academic institutions behind the project. Museum curators have also expressed an interest in tagging their collections, he says.
(via Bruce Sterling: Beyond the Beyond)

Friday, April 09, 2010

George Kolbe auction 110

Apologies for light posting the past month.

The catalog for George Kolbe Auction 110 is now online. 565 lots of numismatic books, closing May 13th.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Chinese civil servant to throw ancient coins into ocean

A strange report in People's Daily Online notes that Zhang Feng, civil servant of Qingdao city, will scatter about 70 coins of the Ming Dynasty (1405 to 1433 AD), each glued to one yuan coins released of 2009, into the Pacific and Atlantic oceans during the upcoming “Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.”
"The reason that we will scatter the ancient coins into sea, which Zheng He had brought to many countries, is that we want to tell the world that China is back to adventure at seas." Zhang Feng said.
It is surprising that China is announcing a new seagoing effort by coin tossing rather than through radio, television and Twitter.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New oline issue of Counterfeit Coin Newsletter

Issue 13 of Robert Matthews' Counterfeit Coin Newsletter is available on his web site. It includes short coverage of a 2009 'hoard' of late Roman bronze, then ten most expensive counterfeits authenticated by PCGS, Turkish tourist fakes, and as usual coverage of fake UK 1 pound coins.

(There is also a nice photo of an ornamental vase made of old coins the author saw on holiday in the Ukraine.)

Newton and the Counterfeiter is briefly reviewed, as well as scientific papers on "Using the optical mouse sensor as a two-euro counterfeit coin detector" and "Laser and electron beams physical analysis applied to the comparison between two silver tetradrachm Greek coins".

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blood Antiquities documentary

Blood Antiquities is a 47 minute documentary on antiquities smuggling. No coins so far (I haven't watch the whole thing.)

At 2:24 and 9:00 we see video of Arthur Brand, who sometimes posts under the alias 'Euainetos', and whom many people used to believe was a false identify of Michel van Rijn

The filmmakers show antiquities dealers in Belgium filmed both with and without hidden cameras. There are also a lot of village and museum footage from Afghanistan.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Here we have bronze coin of Pyrrhos of Epiros depicting a Macedonian shield with Phyrrhos' monogram. (This coin is not in my collections).

On the right is the description of the coin from Barclay Head's Historia Numorum, p. 230. The description shows the Greek inscription ΠΥΡ (Pyr) with a line over it.

What does this line mean, and how should it be encoded for web pages?

When I converted the Historia Numorum to HTML I rendered the line using inline CSS with an 'overline' text decoration:
<span style="text-decoration: overline;">
It is also possible to render such text using the Unicode 'combining overline', U+0305. Here are two examples:
  • ΠΥΡ (CSS)
  • Π̅Υ̅Ρ̅ (combining overlines).
The first format, using a CSS style, looks great in browsers but when the text is selected and copied to Notepad it loses the overline. The second format, using a Unicode combining character, looks terrible on Firefox/WinXP, but can be copied to Windows Notepad with the overline intact.

Until recently I thought the overline indicated a monogram, but Bradley Hudson McLean (An Introduction to Greek Epigraphy, p. 56) explains that the line is an 'abbreviation mark' or 'abbreviation sign' indicating that not all letters are present. This convention was used by engravers and also medieval copyists.

McLean also has a short description of ligatures on page 55, and his examples are the same as some two-letter symbols for magistrates that I have been calling 'monograms'. Usually when we think of ligatures today we think of printers combining ff or ffi for legibility but McLean also mentions the Roman practice of putting one letter on the other, called 'compendia'.

An example of a compendia on a coin is the OV-ligature on this coin of Nikopolis ad Istrum, right before the 12 o'clock position. I don't know of a good way to render compendia in HTML.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

bleg: Where can I get a Zero Rupee note?

I blogged two years ago about the zero rupee note. I would like one for my collection and have been unable to locate them. Does anyone know where I can find a collectable one? Preferably one that actually was used over a gem unc specimen.

High resolution zero rupee notes can be downloaded from 5th pillar. Maybe the intention is that users should print them themselves.

The World bank is now blogging about the notes.

The notes are available in the Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam languages.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Is the word 'triskeles' the plural of 'triskele'?

In numismatics, 'triskeles' is singular. For example, John Melville Jones (A Dictionary of Ancient Greek Coins) defines it as “... a device formed or based upon three legs joined at the hip...”. [emphasis mine].

Wikipedia and Wiktionary considers the word to be 'triskele'. 'triskeles' is the plural of 'triskele'. This isn't merely a Wikipedia error, the Oxford English Dictionary considers the word to be 'triskele', although it undermines itself because of one its reference citations uses 'triskeles' in a singular context.

Google Books knows of 846 mentions of 'triskele' and 780 mentions of 'triskeles'. Some of the triskeles mentions are from numismatic fields, which use the word as a singular, and others are clearly using it as a plural (for example, discussing “scrolls and triskeles”.

The earliest English reference in Google Books to 'triskele' is 1868, The runic hall in the Danish old-northern museum by George Stephens. The earliest singular reference to 'triskeles' is an article on acquisitions of the British Museum in The Classical Review from 1889.

I discussed this topic in a thread on FORUM's Classical Numismatics Discussion Board where it came out that the Greek word Tri-skelês is an adjective and thus neither singular nor plural. A similar Greek word that made it into English as an adjective is 'isosceles' used to describe triangles.

I believe there are enough authorities using 'triskeles' as a singular to get it into the OED and other dictionaries as a variant spelling of 'triskele'. Certainly Barclay Head uses it as singular, and the OED cites him as an authority under 'triskeles' (for the similar word 'triskelion'). I think we have a case of the same Greek word being borrowed into English twice — with different spellings!

Syracusan dekadrachms for sale, in Chicago, below melt value

The New York Times reported (no byline) on October 9, 1939 that Nate Lew, owner of a Chicago second-hand store, bought 23 stolen Greek coins for $2. The coins included 10 Syracusan dekadrachms.

The coins were stolen on June 3, 1939 from the Philadephia Academy of Fine Arts. “Gis Butz, 54 years old, who had one of the [dekadrachms], and Nicholas Niketas, 45, who had the other nine, had been charged with with disorderly conduct.... Nate Lew is aiding the police in tracing the three coins still missing.”.

At over 40 grams each the dekadrachms alone would have contained at least 400g of silver, 12 and a half ounces. Two US silver dollars would have contained one and a half ounces of silver. So the thieves sold the dekadrachms to Nate Lew for less than 12% of melt value.

Imagine walking into a second-hand store with 10 dekadrachms and 13 other museum quality ancients, asking for $5 or $10 for the lot, and being talked down to $2! Nate Lew drives a hard bargain.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Coin show in NYC

There is a big coin show in New York City this week. I'll be there tomorrow.

Here is an article on coin show security by Col. Steven Ellsworth.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Bookride on book thieves

I remain too busy to post. Here is a link to Robin Healey blogging for Bookride on book thieves.