Ancient Coin Certification

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by Scot Kamin » Sun, 05 Dec 2004 16:44:11





Quote:
> I hate to burst your bubble, but those who specialize in ancient coins
> professionally do not think that ANY grading company is really competent to
> attribute or authenticate ancient coins accurately.

But surely there are standards of grading ancient coins. If so, there
are people who have mastered those grading standards. If there are
people that have mastered them, then a really competent grading company
can be formed.

The real question is this: If such a grading company were to be formed,
would ancient collectors use it?

Seems to me that the existing grading companies gained success from two
market segments: newbies afraid of being taken because they didn't know
how to tell cleaned or counterfeit American coins, plus coin investors.
But isn't such investing - particularly with an eye towards MS60-MS70
coins - pretty much an American coin phenomenon?

 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by JOP » Sun, 05 Dec 2004 15:55:52


Quote:
>Subject: Re: Ancient Coin Certification

>Date: 12/4/2004 1:30 AM Eastern Standard Time



>> Which grading companies certify ancient coins? I saw ole Bob on SAHTV
>selling
>> treasures of Alexandria certified by NGC. Around $500 for a certified coin
>from
>> NGC. Where they doing that in the past?

>I hate to burst your bubble, but those who specialize in ancient coins
>professionally do not think that ANY grading company is really competent to
>attribute or authenticate ancient coins accurately.

>Dave Welsh


You are not offending me in any way. About 3 nights ago on SAHTV  Robert
Chambers was offeing ancient coins graded by NGC. VF or EF for about a $100
differential from "the Great".
John N

 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by Dave Wels » Sun, 05 Dec 2004 15:30:43



Quote:
> Which grading companies certify ancient coins? I saw ole Bob on SAHTV
selling
> treasures of Alexandria certified by NGC. Around $500 for a certified coin
from
> NGC. Where they doing that in the past?

I hate to burst your bubble, but those who specialize in ancient coins
professionally do not think that ANY grading company is really competent to
attribute or authenticate ancient coins accurately.

Dave Welsh

 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by JOP » Sun, 05 Dec 2004 13:52:38


Which grading companies certify ancient coins? I saw ole Bob on SAHTV selling
treasures of Alexandria certified by NGC. Around $500 for a certified coin from
NGC. Where they doing that in the past?

Just wonderin
 John N

 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by Dave Wels » Sun, 05 Dec 2004 18:23:50



Quote:


> > I hate to burst your bubble, but those who specialize in ancient coins
> > professionally do not think that ANY grading company is really competent
to
> > attribute or authenticate ancient coins accurately.

> But surely there are standards of grading ancient coins.

Yes, you will find a reasonable introduction to the subject at
http://www.classicalcoins.com/page106.html

Unfortunately, grading ancient coins is so complex that it is very difficult
to reduce a well expressed grade to a Sheldon number. To give you an
example, some coins that grade VF for preservation are more desirable and
more valuable than some coins that grade EF for preservation.

The difference, of course, is that there are so many variations in flan
quality, engraving quality of the dies, and strike quality that large
differences in desirability existed at the time that these coins were
struck. To that we now have to add variations in surface quality,
patination, and toning.

Quote:
> If so, there
> are people who have mastered those grading standards. If there are
> people that have mastered them, then a really competent grading company
> can be formed.

There is one. http://www.davidrsear.com/
But David Sear would be insulted to be described as a "grading company." He
authenticates coins and the grade assignment is just a part of that service.

Quote:
> The real question is this: If such a grading company were to be formed,
> would ancient collectors use it?

No experienced ancient coin collector that I know likes slabbed coins. When
I buy a slabbed coin at auction I remove it from the slab. It is worth less
in the slab than out.

Quote:
> Seems to me that the existing grading companies gained success from two
> market segments: newbies afraid of being taken because they didn't know
> how to tell cleaned or counterfeit American coins, plus coin investors.

The whole concept of slabbing coins was driven by the idea that grading
coins could be reduced to a formula and that coin values could be accurately
assigned according to the grade. Collectors being what they are, of course,
they have still found ways to differentiate between coins of the same grade.
It's humorous, really. Personally, I find coins that are so similar that
they can only be accurately graded using a microscope to be boring. Counting
how many steps are visible on the entrance stairway to Monticello, for
example, is a lot less significant to me than assessing the strike quality
and patina on a Roman sestertius.

I should mention that I was, for several years, employed by one of the
largest volume dealers in US coins, and have probably graded more US coins
than some of those who are now employed by grading services.

Quote:
> But isn't such investing - particularly with an eye towards MS60-MS70
> coins - pretty much an American coin phenomenon?

I really can't comment on that because I got out of dealing in US coins
before slabbing was introduced. In those days investors focused on rarities,
and investment level coin trading of coins that were not rare (such as 1909
SVDBs) was by BU rolls or even by mint bags.

There are many collectors of ancient coins who acquire their coins as
investments. That is even more common in Europe than it is in the USA. Such
collectors tend to focus on coins in the finest condition and in the best
engraving style.

Dave Welsh
Classical Coins
www.classicalcoins.com

 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by Michael E. Marot » Sun, 05 Dec 2004 22:36:41


Quote:

> >... those who specialize in ancient coins
> professionally do not think that ANY grading company is really competent to
> attribute or authenticate ancient coins accurately.

I have a lot of respect for you Dave and that is the reason why I have
to disagree respectfully.  As you probably know, I have written about
grading and authentication services for The Celator. That gave me the
opportunity to interview people and listen.

I do agree that there are "problems."

--*  For two or three years now, NGC has been working with Jonanthan
Kern to slab Imperial Roman denarii.  NGC does not "do ancients" but
they will certify a limited range of coins, in large quantities, when
_someone_ _else_ "certifies" them, in that case Jonathan Kern.  I do
not know the situation with what I gather from this threat are
Alexander drachms or tetradrachms.  However, those coins are, like
denarii, "all alike" and easy to attribute in bulk lots.

--*  Independent Coin Grading (ICG) is the one company that really
does authenticate and certify ancients.  As you probably know, J. P.
Martin was the ANA Authenticator.  His personal interest is in
ancients.  (WHen J. P. was with the ANA, I sent him several ancients
that I had matched with some catalogs, but never found exact matches
for.  He also ran a specific gravity test for me on an ancient.)  Once
ICG was successful as a company with US coins, they moved into
ancients.

--* One problem is that ICG grades these coins on the US 70-point
scale.
"VF-20" just does not say much about a coin. As you know, we grade
ancients by obverse and reverse and by device and legends versus flan,
as well as centering, patina, etc., etc.

--* The basic problem is that we collectors of ancient like to TOUCH
our coins.  After 2500 years in the ground, there is not much you do
to an Owl, as long you don't drop it.  More than that, as with
grading, there are facts about a coin that just cannot be seen through
plastic.  Ancient coins were meant to be experienced.

--*  Finally, it is not just "ancients." Colonial American collectors
feel pretty much the same way.  It is not that these areas of
numismatics are somehow "different" but that slabbing only applies to
a small segment of US Type and the kind of people who buy and sell it.

--*  I am sure that you agree with most of this, at least in the main.
 The point we seem to be apart on is whether any grading company is
competent.  I believe that ICG is competetent.  J. P. Martin has
experience authenticating ancients.  I do grant that anyone's opinion
is arguable and once you decide that you "don't like grading services"
it is pretty easy to shoot down egregious examples.

Michael
ANA R-162953
MSNS 7935

 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by Michael E. Marot » Sun, 05 Dec 2004 23:06:29


Quote:

> There is one. http://www.davidrsear.com/
> But David Sear would be insulted to be described as a "grading company." He
> authenticates coins and the grade assignment is just a part of that service.

Yes, this is true, and I did not mean to overlook Sear in my previous
post, but he does not slab coins.  He does issue certificates with
photos.  I have sent him one coin and got back a nice certificate with
lots of details in the write-up.  So, yes, there is Sear.  (There is a
difference, however, between authenticating -- especially, a tough one
that you got only so far on and are now turning over to an expert --
and slabbing.)

Quote:
> No experienced ancient coin collector that I know likes slabbed coins.

In my previous post, I took issue with your claim that no slabbing
company is competetent.  I will not take issue with this.  I have had
one US coin slabbed and I happen to own two in slabs now.  I would
never slab an ancient.

Quote:
> > Seems to me that the existing grading companies gained success from two
> > market segments: newbies afraid of being taken because they didn't know
> > how to tell cleaned or counterfeit American coins, plus coin investors.

dw> Counting how many steps are visible on the entrance stairway
dw> to Monticello, for example, is a lot less significant to me ...

As far as I know from the interviews I have conducted for the articles
I have written and the maillists and newsgroups I have read and the
people I have just talked and listened to, the slabbing of ancients
originated directly from telemarketing efforts. Once a coin is
"certified" it is easier to sell to a doctor or lawyer.

Quote:
> There are many collectors of ancient coins who acquire their coins as
> investments. That is even more common in Europe than it is in the USA. Such
> collectors tend to focus on coins in the finest condition and in the best
> engraving style.

...and the most commonly recognized coins.  The best Clodius Albinus
or Percinius Niger will not get you what you can sell yet another
really nice Nero or Caligula for.  Bad guys bring more money than good
guys.  Romans sell easier than Greeks.  Imperials sell better than
Republicans.  Investment is all about having what _other_ people want.
 True, true, there are astounding collections of rarities, but those
are most often sold _after_ the owner no longer needs the coins.  If
you want to make money in coins in your lifetime, then buy the best
examples of the most common. That is not my advice, but David Vagi's.

Michael

 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by Michael E. Marot » Sun, 05 Dec 2004 23:22:52


Quote:

> But surely there are standards of grading ancient coins.

Actually, there are not.  You will find no "ANS Handbook of Grading
Ancients" and no "Complete Guide to Parthians" etc.  There are no
standards.  Agreement on grade comes from common knowledge gained by
experience.  This is the way US coins used to be when it was a
gentleman's hobby.  Once US Coins became an "investment" they changed.

Also, you will find no "Rainbow Sheet" grades, no "Teal Book" of
prices.  A coin sells for whatever it sells for.  The assumption that
an honest sale depends on both buyer and seller having the same
information pretty much applies to ancients. Anyone who is passionate
about ancients (medievals, Chinese, etc., etc., etc.) usually has
immersed themself in the substantive literature.  For ancients in
particular, you do find the occasional "barbarian" who cannot read
Latin or Greek, but you would be hard pressed to find someone like
that who never read Michael Grant.  So, ancients are a level playing
field where everyone has the same knowledge.

Quote:
> ... there are people who have mastered those grading standards.
> ... then a really competent grading company can be formed.

Again, ICG is one such company and as David pointed out, there is
Sear, as well.  The ANA used to do this, of course, but stopped.  Even
so, there is a world of difference between authentication and
slabbing.  Again, I had an interest in the town of Cyrene, I pursued
the coins, and I attributed them myself, but I only got so far with
one using the SNG Copenhagen, so I had it attributed by the ANA.  It
is not slabbed. Now, if I had 100 denarii of Nero that I wanted to
sell by calling professionals ...

Michael
ANA R-162953
MSNS 7935

 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by Earl Bollinge » Sun, 05 Dec 2004 23:36:55



Quote:


>> Which grading companies certify ancient coins? I saw ole Bob on SAHTV
> selling
>> treasures of Alexandria certified by NGC. Around $500 for a certified
>> coin
> from
>> NGC. Where they doing that in the past?

> I hate to burst your bubble, but those who specialize in ancient coins
> professionally do not think that ANY grading company is really competent
> to
> attribute or authenticate ancient coins accurately.

> Dave Welsh


But there really really is a need for some kind of a certification service,
in order to help weed out all the fakes and counterfiets
that are appearing in the market. Between the Eastern Europeans, Asians, and
Middle Easterners who are all making fakes by the thousands if not millions,
how are we to tell them all apart? It is not just gold coins but they are
faking lower grade common coins too.
 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by Jorg Luek » Mon, 06 Dec 2004 00:12:20


On Sat, 4 Dec 2004 08:36:55 -0600, Earl Bollinger

Quote:





>>> Which grading companies certify ancient coins? I saw ole Bob on SAHTV
>> selling
>>> treasures of Alexandria certified by NGC. Around $500 for a certified
>>> coin
>> from
>>> NGC. Where they doing that in the past?

>> I hate to burst your bubble, but those who specialize in ancient coins
>> professionally do not think that ANY grading company is really competent
>> to
>> attribute or authenticate ancient coins accurately.

>> Dave Welsh

> But there really really is a need for some kind of a certification
> service,
> in order to help weed out all the fakes and counterfiets
> that are appearing in the market. Between the Eastern Europeans, Asians,
> and
> Middle Easterners who are all making fakes by the thousands if not
> millions,
> how are we to tell them all apart? It is not just gold coins but they are
> faking lower grade common coins too.

First, I don't think fakes are that prevalent though they certainly do
exist.  But buying from reputable dealers is good, if not perfect,
protection.  The problem with ancient grading and authentication is
twofold.
Grading ancients is not nearly as easy, nor as important, as with US
coins.  There's no MS66/67 split where a coin goes from a $300 gem to a
$3000 rarity.  There are a lot more things to consider in an ancient coins
as well.  Waer and strike are important, but so is centering, corrosion,
patina, how the coin was cleaned, flan cracks, and many other
characteristics.  VF20 doesn't cut it too well in modern coins and not at
all for ancients.
Another problem is that ancient coin collectors like to touch their
coins.  And, it's O.K.!  Fonding a $30,000 dekadrachm in your palm isn't
going to imapct its value.  Touch that MS65 1921 Peace dollar and money
goes flying out the window.  Ancients and plastic don't mix!
In my view, that really is ICGs problem.  They try to put a grade on
coins.  Most collectors feels these grades are meaningless and too high
based on wear.  Plus, most people want to touch their coin.  I will say
that I have never seen or heard anyone say that they've seen a fake ICG
ancient.  The grade, the attribution, and the plastic people have issues
with, the autheticity is a different story.
Someday technology may afford us a way to microencode our coins with a
label/serial that guarantees autheticity and contains a lot more data that
a simple slab without the plastic barrier.  I've even wondered if one
could get a digital image fingerprint of a coin, then store the image and
information online that could be used to ID the coin for insurance,
authenticity, and provenence.  When I get independantly wealthy I will
look into digital IDs or microtags for ancients.
 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by Ian » Mon, 06 Dec 2004 00:18:12


 > I will say

Quote:
> that I have never seen or heard anyone say that they've seen a fake ICG
> ancient.

I have (as have others). I showed an image of the item to Mr Marotta too
on a different forum.
 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by Reid Goldsboroug » Mon, 06 Dec 2004 00:52:35




Quote:
>I will say
>that I have never seen or heard anyone say that they've seen a fake ICG
>ancient.  The grade, the attribution, and the plastic people have issues
>with, the autheticity is a different story.

There was discussion in one of the email discussion lists about a fake
Apollonia Pontika drachm, one of the New York Hoard forgeries,
appearing in an ICG slab.

If you look at the discussion of slabbing in ancient coins online
discussion lists, which are populated by more serious, experienced,
and knowledgeable collectors than average, you hear lots of stories of
ancient coins misattributed by ICG.

ICG does a great job with U.S. coins. Some collectors have criticized
them for being too lenient with their MS-70 grading, but I think they
do a commendable job in general and should have a bigger market share
than they do.

Ancient coins is a different world. It takes a great deal of knowledge
and access to a great many reference books to do ancient coin
attribution and authentication well.

--


Consumer: http://rg.ancients.info/guide
Connoisseur: http://rg.ancients.info/glom
Counterfeit: http://rg.ancients.info/bogos

 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by Reid Goldsboroug » Mon, 06 Dec 2004 01:23:09




Quote:
>Yes, you will find a reasonable introduction to the subject at
>http://www.classicalcoins.com/page106.html

One of the challenges of ancient coins is language. Most serious
collectors enough about Latin and ancient Greek to be able to make out
coin inscriptions. But I wonder how many are fluent. I'm not trying to
single you out, Dave, but you're obviously beyond the stage of a
serious collector in terms of knowledge. I was wondering if you happen
to be fluent in Latin and ancient Greek so as to be able to read
ancient Roman and Greek literature that hasn't been translated?

--


Consumer: http://rg.ancients.info/guide
Connoisseur: http://rg.ancients.info/glom
Counterfeit: http://rg.ancients.info/bogos

 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by J A » Mon, 06 Dec 2004 01:42:25


Quote:

> The whole concept of slabbing coins was driven by the idea that grading
> coins could be reduced to a formula and that coin values could be accurately
> assigned according to the grade.

I have to disagree with that statement. Third Party Grading was to establish to provide an impartial judgment as to a coins grade or state of preservation.

The idea that a grading services affixes a value to a coin just ain't so. The grading service determines the grade, to the best of their abilities, and the market (buyers and sellers) determine the
value.

At least that's the way I've always understood it.

ICG has been grading ancient for a while.

JAM

http://www.icgcoin.com/

http://www.icgcoin.com/services.htm

 
 
 

Ancient Coin Certification

Post by Dave Wels » Mon, 06 Dec 2004 05:01:01



Quote:


> >Yes, you will find a reasonable introduction to the subject at
> >http://www.FoundCollection.com/

> One of the challenges of ancient coins is language. Most serious
> collectors know enough about Latin and ancient Greek to be able to make
out
> coin inscriptions. But I wonder how many are fluent. I'm not trying to
> single you out, Dave, but you're obviously beyond the stage of a
> serious collector in terms of knowledge.

Nobody gets beyond the stage of a really serious collector in depth of
specialized knowledge. Collectors such as Michel Vlasto know far more about
their area of specialty than a dealer such as I ever will. Dealers have to
know something about everything, not everything about a specialized topic..

 I was wondering if you happen

Quote:
> to be fluent in Latin and ancient Greek so as to be able to read
> ancient Roman and Greek literature that hasn't been translated?

I was once. I can still work my way through it, but it's a fairly slow
process now. I need a dictionary handy now because I have forgotten much of
what was once a fairly good classical vocabulary. Nonetheless I can still
spot occasional errors in the Loeb translations.

One of my objectives (when time permits, right now it doesn't) is to refresh
my knowledge of Latin and Greek and to read through the Loeb Classical
Library in the original languages.

I would encourage every collector to learn Latin and Greek. It is not that
hard if you are not so badly overcommitted as I am right now (to a great
extent that is due to my activities in defending collectors' rights), and
the rewards are immense - it's almost impossible to adequately describe
them. Our Western civilization has lost a great deal in turning away from
study of the classics.

I have been telling people for years that you can't begin to appreciate
Homer, for example, unless you read the Iliad and the Odyssey in Greek. In
English it's just a very interesting story. Chanted in polytonic Greek, to
the accompaniment of a simple melody on a lyre (a ukelele works too) it is
the ancient equivalent of going to the movies (and in my opinion a damn
sight more interesting than most movies). The musical rhythm of the language
has a hypnotic quality that just carries you away in your imagination. It is
really extremely sophisticated art, despite the fact that these poems were
composed long before post-Mycenean Greek became a written language. A
Homeric recital is a wonderful way for a group of Classics fanatics to
entertain each other. If each prepares 100 lines and takes a turn as the
bard, one book of the Iliad or the Odyssey, the usual duration of an
evening's recital by a bard, is quite feasible.

I tend to be a bit of a fanatic on Homer because in my youth, I memorized so
much of the Odyssey. This was not caused by any noble motive on my part, but
was the way in which Jesuits dealt with youthful misbehavior. Twenty lines
of Homer, the standard ration, was nothing for me. I could come back in
fif*** minutes and be out of jug. Then they started giving me fifty lines
and when I became able to deal with that in less than a half hour my quota
went up to 100 lines. A really brilliant system of corrective discipline - I
can still remember some of it.

The Gathas of Zarathustra (and much of the rest of the Zend Avesta) are just
as fascinating, incredibly powerful stuff, but a lot less accessible.
Zoroastrian priests memorize them in the same way that bards memorized
Homer. I gained some exposure to them in learning enough Pahlavi to read
Sasanian coins. They have given me a better understanding of why Robert
Oppenheimer decided to learn Sanskrit so that he could read ancient Indian
sacred literature. Avestan Pahlavi and Sanskrit are almost the same
language, by the way.

Dave Welsh
Classical Coins
www.classicalcoins.com