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The joys of numismatic research



 
 
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  #141  
Old March 26th 04, 09:42 PM
Reid Goldsborough
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On Mon, 15 Mar 2004 19:05:58 -0500, Reid Goldsborough
wrote:

Here's a pic of it, only a middling pic (too much glare, which
obscures some of the detail) -- I need to retake the pic at some
point:

http://rg.cointalk.org/misc/Archaic_Owl.html


I reshot the same coin, above, with the photo at the same URL, above.
Here's some more information about it, and the history behind it. But
first, let me correct one thing I wrote earlier about this coin. I
wrote that the coin was likely minted for the buildup of the Hellenic
navy when I should have written Athenian navy. Thanks for the
correction, Michael.

The coin is an Archaic Owl tetradrachm weighing 16.3g and was minted
in Athens c. 490-482 BC. It can be attributed as Sear 1842v., Seltman
Group Gi, Price and Waggoner Group IVg, Szego 3.

This was one of the first Owls, and it's also one of the finest styled
of the archaic Owls, with Athena having a relatively small head, long
neck, and fine overall features. Paul Szego described the styling of
this variety as "primitive" but "permeated with the sweet freshness of
archaic charm."

This coin in all likelihood was minted to build up the Athenian navy
in preparation for the anticipated Persian invasion, which would take
place in 480 BC. The Greek victory over the Persian fleet at the
Battle of Salamis would determine the subsequent course of Western
history, a epochal moment that the historian Victor Davis Hanson
called the supreme confrontation between East and West, between
despotism and individual freedoms. About Salamis, wrote Georg Hegel,
"The interests of the world's history hung trembling in the balance."

Afterward, the Greeks were able to continue their embryonic, and
unprecedented, experimentation with individualism and democracy. For
the next three and a half centuries, Greek ideals about constitutional
government, private property, free scientific enquiry, rationalism,
and separation between political and religious authority would
permeate lands from Italy to India, and via the Roman Empire, would
spread through Europe and on to us.

The Battle of Marathon of 490 BC is better known to us today because
of the heroics of a lone long-distance runner, but the Battle of
Salamis was far more momentous.

--

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Coin Collecting: Consumer Protection Guide:
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  #143  
Old May 4th 20, 03:14 PM posted to rec.collecting.coins
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Default The joys of numismatic research

On Monday, March 15, 2004 at 7:05:58 PM UTC-5, Reid Goldsborough wrote:
Anybody have some "knowledge finds" they'd like to share. With me,
acquiring information and knowledge is every bit as rewarding as
acquiring coins.

Case in point. Last night, in finishing reading through information
from articles and books I've collected but hadn't yet gotten to, I
uncovered some *really* interesting stuff about a coin I bought about
a year ago, which before I knew relatively little about. It's an
ancient coin, an Athenian Owl, but it's not one of the common
classical Owls typically dated 449-413 BC (interesting coins too) but
rather a rarer archaic Owl that preceded these. I bought it
unattributed from Harlan Berk, who had just bought it himself a couple
of hours earlier, at a major coin show. Because of this, I got a very
good deal on the coin. But I had some work to do. g

Here's a pic of it, only a middling pic (too much glare, which
obscures some of the detail) -- I need to retake the pic at some
point:

http://rg.cointalk.org/misc/Archaic_Owl.html

The coin grades aVF, a decent enough grade (for my purposes) with
these coins, which are often badly beat up, even those illustrated in
reference sources. Specimens are available in nicer condition, but
prices can soar into the stratosphere (five figures).

I knew of course that the coin was an archaic Owl, but in looking
through Sear and Wildwinds I couldn't further attribute it with any
confidence. Last night I finished reading through, and looking very
carefully at, the most widely used references for these coins,
including Starr's Athenian Coinage, Kraay's Archaic Coins of Athens,
and Seltman's Athens: Its History and Coinage Before the Persian
Invasion. But the most useful source, and the one that nailed the
attribution of my coin (persistence pays!), was Price and Waggoner's
Archaic Greek Coinage: The Asyut Hoard, which documents in exquisite
detail a hoard of about 900 Greek silver coins dug up by Egyptian
workmen in 1969.

The very unusual thing about this hoard is that despite the irrational
laws in source countries, most of the coins in this hoard were
documented. Typically coins dug up in source countries are secretly
ferreted out of the country and into the market via shady characters
in source countries and European middlemen without any knowledge about
the find spots and so on being preserved. These Asyut Hoard coins
reached the market the same way, but somehow information about their
finds spot and the coins in the hoard was preserved, with photos made,
which furthered the state of numismatic knowledge. No mention was made
in the book about why or how this happened with this particular hoard.
Almost always stuff like this, close to the source, is hush-hush.
Lives have been lost, literally, when finders and others have been
exposed.

By reading this book, I was able to determine that my coin was in all
likelihood minted c. 490-482 BC. It's one of the finest styled of the
archaic Owl coinage, with Athena having a relatively small head, long
neck, and fine overall features compared with other archaic Owls. But
here's the really interesting part. This coin, part of a large
emission of the same variety, was in all likelihood minted to build up
the Hellenic navy in preparation for the anticipated Persian invasion,
which would take place in 480 BC and which would determine the
subsequent course of Western history. The Greeks defeated the Persian
fleet at Salamis in a battle that has been called the "supreme
confrontation between East and West," between despotism and individual
freedoms (Hanson).

Afterward, the Greeks for the first time formed a formal allegiance of
the various Greek city-states (the Delian League) and were able to
continue their unprecedented experimentation with individualism and
democracy. This ushered in the golden age of ancient Greece, the
thinking of men such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and the
genesis of Western science, philosophy, and civilization.

Back to coins. g. I was also able to attribute my coin as Sear Greek
1842v. (for variety), Seltman Group Gi, Price and Waggoner Group IVg,
Szego 3.

Fun stuff.

--

Email: (delete "remove this")

Coin Collecting: Consumer Protection Guide:
http://rg.ancients.info/guide
Glomming: Coin Connoisseurship: http://rg.ancients.info/glom
Bogos: Counterfeit Coins: http://rg.ancients.info/bogos


mailto:

referto: a review of her book by classics professor Hillary Susan Mackie
referenced at:
Hilary Mackie, "Deborah Tarn Steiner, The Tyrant's Writ: Myths and
Images of Writing in Ancient Greece," Mythosphere, 1 (1997). Book
Review
http://dacnet.rice.edu/Faculty/?FDSID=67

Topic: Libertas Americana Medal
Referenced at:

https://books.google.com/books?id=wi...page&q&f=false

https://books.google.com/books?id=wi...page&q&f=false

 




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