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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
89000386

Larissa. Lot of 11 coins.

Triton XV, Lot: 386. Estimate $500.
Sold for $1600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

The eleven coins that follow are ancient forgeries (fourrées), imitating middle and late facing head drachms. Their stylistic diversity suggests that this “shady” occupation continued to thrive during the second half of the 4th century. It should be taken into account though that, once revealed for what it was, a fourrée was practically valueless and the duped individual would throw it away, cursing his bad luck. With the passage of time and the spread of metal detecting as a popular pastime, it is only natural that such discarded coins will form an increasing percentage amongst chance finds. Their study can reveal interesting technical details and also provide a glimpse into the operating systems and security standards of various mints as a good number of these fakes were struck with official dies.

Lot of 11 coins.

(386.1) THESSALY, Larissa. Mid to late 4th century BC. AR fourrée Drachm (20mm, 5.05 g, 3h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., wearing pendant earring and plain necklace; her hair held by an ampyx; border of dots / ΛΑΡΙΣ below ground line, hero Thessalos wearing petasos and chlamys, preparing to vault on the back of bridled horse cantering r. Imitating Weber 2853; the obverse die is copying the obverse of a coin such as lot 322 above (and not doing a bad job out of it either). Near VF, plating on obv. revealed by three chop marks and an edge cut; rev. almost intact but for an attempted piercing on the horse’s forehead; stylistically, the obverse quite convincing, the reverse less so.

Same obverse die as lot 386.4 below.

(386.2) THESSALY, Larissa. Mid to late 4th century BC. AR fourrée Drachm (19mm, 6.02 g, 12h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., wearing drop earring and plain necklace; her hair held by an ampyx; border of dots / ΛΑΡΙΣ above, ΑΙΩΝ below, bridled horse crouching l., preparing to roll; below, plant to which the rein is tied. Imitating a type as CNG 88 (14 September 2011) 193. Near VF, toned, has seen quite a lot of circulation and the silver plating held quite well; a small surface area to the l. of the viewer has peeled off to reveal the bronze core.

Both dies employed in the production of this coin seem stylistically very close to legitimate ones and the weight is correct; perhaps additional research will reward the owner with the revelation that this was an “official” forgery, struck from dies that were used in the production of genuine coins. The next step would be to find a genuine (not fourrée) drachm struck from these dies; then we would have proof that either the mint itself (officially) struck fakes or that the dies were not carefully guarded and some workers were able to use them for the production of fourrées, either moonlighting at the mint ‘after hours’ or at another location.

(386.3) THESSALY, Larissa. Mid to late 4th century BC. AR fourrée Drachm (18mm, 4.78 g, 10h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., wearing drop earring and plain necklace, her hair held by an ampyx; border of dots / ΛΑΡΙΣ above, ΑΙΩΝ below, horse crouching r., preparing to roll. Fine, toned, with a vertical cut on the obverse and the silver peeling off in some but not all high relief areas.

Imitating the standard, bulk issue of late facing drachms but somehow the letters are not convincing. The artwork, from what we are able to see, was not very different from that of the genuine pieces but the reverse is too flat, lacking the typical striking concavity encountered on the drachms of this type.

(386.4) THESSALY, Larissa. Mid to late 4th century BC. AR fourrée Drachm (19.5mm, 5.22 g, 2h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., wearing pendant earring and plain necklace, her hair held by an ampyx; border of dots / ΛΑΡΙ above, ΣΑΙ[ΩΝ] below, horse crouching l., preparing to roll. Imitating a type as Gorny & Mosch 165 (17 March 2008) 1237 that is quite a rare combination of letter disposition and head and horse directions. Stylistically though, the obverse is quite different from the above coin and copies an obverse die that is encountered with the hero Thessalos preparing to vault on the back of horse cantering r. (see lot 322 above). Near VF, toned and cleverly plated as the high relief area of the nose does not reveal the bronze core in spite of the considerable wear it has suffered; the reverse also quite convincing as it displays the expected concavity of the flan. Some weakness that is apparent on the reverse could exist on genuine coins as well and therefore would not be a cause for suspicion.

Same obverse die as lot 386.1, above.

(386.5) THESSALY, Larissa. Mid to late 4th century BC. AR fourrée Drachm (18mm, 4.59 g, 3h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., wearing plain necklace, her hair held by an ampyx; border of dots / ΛΑΡΙ below, letters double struck, horse crouching r., preparing to roll. Imitating an obverse die from the early facing heads, see CNG e-sale 129 (21 December 2005) 89; the reverse though styled along the lines of the late facing heads. VF, toned, with the rev. displaying turquoise and pink hues and missing part of the silver plating that has peeled off revealing the bronze core, also struck off centre.

Ex Bremer Münzenhandlung (Hanfried Bendig) Lagerliste 11 (September 1999) 13, total cost DM 370.


(386.6) THESSALY, Larissa. Mid to late 4th century BC. AR fourrée Drachm (18.5mm, 4.88 g, 1h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., wearing plain necklace and pendant earring, her hair held by an ampyx; border of dots / ΛΑΡΙΣ above, ΑΙΩΝ below, horse crouching r., preparing to roll. Imitating one of the many late facing head obverse dies that served for the striking of the substantial issue of Larissa drachms during the second half of the 4th century BC. Near VF, toned; the obverse has been stripped in several places from the thin silver layer whereas the reverse is still intact; the lettering is reasonably convincing as also is the off-centring of the horse.


(386.7) THESSALY, Larissa. Mid to late 4th century BC. AR fourrée Drachm (18mm, 4.60 g, 11h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., her hair held by an ampyx; border of dots / [Λ]Α[ΡΙΣ] above, [Α]ΙΩΝ below, horse crouching r., preparing to roll. Imitating one of the better dies from the vast selection of the late facing heads and quite convincingly too; the reverse is an equally faithful copy when compared to the average reverse of the series. Good Fine, toned; the silver seems to be rather impure; a tiny obverse test cut on the bridge of the nose and quite a lot of the bronze core showing, especially on the reverse and the edges.


(386.8) THESSALY, Larissa. Mid to late 4th century BC. AR fourrée Drachm (18.5mm, 4.52 g, 10h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., her hair held by an ampyx; border of dots / ΛΑΡΙΣ above, ΑΙΩΝ in exergue, horse crouching r., preparing to roll. Imitating obv. and rev. dies of one of the late facing head drachms. Near Fine, there has been an attempt, possibly in modern times, to coat part of this ancient fake with silver (or some other silvery substance) so that it can pass for genuine. Quite a waste of time and resources in the opinion of this writer.


(386.9) THESSALY, Larissa. Mid to late 4th century BC. AR fourrée Drachm (19mm, 4.71 g, 6h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., wearing double-strand (?) pearl necklace and pendant earring, her hair held by an ampyx; border of dots / ΛΑΡΙΣ above, ΑΙΩΝ in exergue, horse crouching r., preparing to roll. Imitating one of the most artistic dies of the late facing heads and quite successfully too; the reverse is also very convincing. Fine, lightly toned; the obverse would be very appealing if it wasn’t for the worn nose and a metal flaw on the chin revealing the bronze core underneath; there is also an attempted piercing (test?) on the reverse and a (modern?) attempt to repair the edge at 7 to 8 o’clock on the reverse by the unfortunate addition of differently coloured metal.

Acquired from Torkom Demirjan through the good services of a British dealer, December 1978, for $75.

Those were the days when fourrées were very rare and treated like curiosities or ‘coin faults’, with the corresponding jacking up of the price when an interested buyer was found.

(386.10) THESSALY, Larissa. Mid to late 4th century BC. AR fourrée Drachm (19mm, 4.66 g, 3h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., her hair held by an ampyx; border of dots / [ΛΑΡΙΣ] above, ΑΙΩ[Ν] in exergue, horse crouching r., preparing to roll. Imitating one of the larger heads amongst the late facing head Larissa drachms. Fair, nearly 50% of the silver coating has been shed, revealing a bronze core that was not of equal thickness all around, a trait found more often than not on genuine ancient coins.

Acquired from Matt Kreuzer in the late 90’s for $35.


(386.11) THESSALY, Larissa. Mid to late 4th century BC. AR fourrée Drachm (18mm, 3.94 g, 7h). Head of the nymph Larissa three-quarter facing l., wearing plain necklace and pendant earring, her hair held by an ampyx; border of dots / ΛΑ[ΡΙΣ] above, [Α]ΙΩΝ in exergue, horse crouching r., preparing to roll. Imitating, quite successfully from the artistic point of view, one of the handsomest obverse dies of the late Larissa facing head group; the rev. is also convincingly sculpted. Fine, nicely toned silver with a square test punch mark on the l. side of the nymph’s face; a piece of the coin has been cut off and some of the bronze core underneath seems to have eroded away; the same applies to an opening at 7 o’clock on the reverse where one can see the empty space under the silver layer. This may have come about due to the use of poor quality bronze alloy for the production of the blanks.