Monday, July 8, 2013

Roman Coin Hoard Found in Festival Clean-up

Obviously I haven't been posting, involved in other projects. But here's a good one. They were metal-detecting for tent pegs in a field where a festival had been held. The pegs can harm livestock and machinery. Bingo, they hit a hoard of ancient coins.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

1,000-Year-Old Coins on Remote Australian Beach

How did copper coins, some dating back a thousand years, arrive on a remote island beach off Australia? An expedition has been formed to learn more, if possible. There is a related legend of gold doubloons and ancient weapons (via Esylum newsletter). Story Here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

On the Trail of Yet Another Fake

As is often noted here and elsewhere, China, probably among others, is source of scads of fake coins, some of a sort that don't even seem worth faking, others that go for big bucks. I happen to like the 1910 Mexican Silver "Caballito," partly because I'm partial to horse images, also because it is very well done coin. I notice most go for at least $100, an offer starting below $50 on eBay is unusual. I just noticed one starting at .99-cents! Could be the real deal, of course, but...? Looking for further info, I find the Caballito is often faked. The entry on this site is a sad story but worth reading through, maybe it will save you a similar experience.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Not Worth a Penny" Describes Many Coins

Most of us are aware of moves afoot to eliminate the U.S. penny which is worth more as metal than as buying power. But the penny is hardly the least valuable of coins. Among many listed in this article (tip of the hat to Esylum newsletter) is one requiring two thousand to equal a U.S. penny in "value."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Government Says Ancient Coin Collectors Are Outlaws

The battle over interpretation of "theft of culture" laws, regulations and policies has had an effect in many collecting areas, and that is now very true of ancient coins. Importation is in many cases illegal, according to the U.S. State Department. While there is no doubt that the market for antiquities and collectibles can encourage theft, smuggling and vandalism, such activities hardly encompass the whole of the field. The problem has been presented to the U.S. Supreme Court, as lower courts have proven reluctant to deal with it. Story here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dead Man's Gold Hoard Looted by Thieves

An estimated $200,000 in gold coins was stolen from the home of an apparently eccentric and decidedly reclusive Vermont resident whose death went unnoticed by authorities for months. "Radkin" sounds like he deserves a biography, a very interesting character. Dealers became suspicious when large numbers of gold coins were offered by four people who were later arrested ... Story here.

Is It a Genuine Fake or Just a Repro?

Museum shops are a great source of reproductions of coins of all sorts. I have an album of what I called fakes, many of which are more appropriately termed reproductions. A basic definition seems to be that a fake is produced to deliberately deceive. So it would seem that a reproduction can graduate to fake status if it hits the market in a deceptive way. At any rate there are tons of "repros" out there and my bet would be many are resold as genuine, thus becoming fakes. Here are some interesting examples of what's available from museum shops, just the tip of the iceberg. Buyer beware.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Test For Increasingly Common Fake Silver

This post refers to silver bars but applies to coins as well, they are being pumped out in abundance from China, no doubt elsewhere. The writer mentions weight as a reliable test but I have seen recently where counterfeiters can duplicate the right weights today, so ... it is unfortunately true that knowing your supplier and having reliable recourse are necessities of the market today. Here is the essay/tutorial.

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Hobo" Carved Nickel Fetches $24,200

It is hard to imagine what the artist would think to learn that his handiwork sold for over $24,000. Hobo nickels were carved by ... hobos, in the old days called tramps and other names indicating they were homeless wanderers, often hopping freight trains for transport. Well, courtesy of a link provided by eSylum newsletter, here is the story.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Mystery of Hobo Hand-Carved Nickels

If you don't know hobo nickels you're in for a treat with a visit to the site of the Original Hobo Nickel Society. What was once a a folk art -- carving a new image into a U.S. nickel -- is now a hobby for some, a profession for others, with prices in the hundreds. Scroll down on the page for a look at some great examples of what's being done today, along with awesome prices for these little treasures.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Faking It: These Ancients are Modern

There are a number of processes for producing modern coins that pass for ancient, and there is also the art of tooling which means working fresh details into an old coin. A very thorough discussion of these tactics appears here -- and many of the types of work discussed frequently appear on auction sites, often with nothing said by those in the know.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tracking Treasure with a Metal Detector

I get out once in a while with a metal detector but I have to admit I get a lot of pleasure reading about other peoples' finds, often far more fantastic than anything I've dug. Particularly the British reports -- hoards of gold and silver. Well, here's a site that seems inhabited by average folks discussing their finds, seeking help with identification and otherwise chatting it up about treasure. Might make fun reading now and then, and maybe you'll pick up a tip or two.

Monday, January 7, 2013

On the Trail of Masonic Mysteries, Lots of Links

Years ago, Freemasonry and its rituals and other intrigues were matters of great mystery, frequent subject of fiction and nonfictional tales. In more recent times it seems the Masons have come out from behind the veil of secrecy. From the associated sites I've visited, it seems they are quite open to questions, quite willing to shoot down the wilder claims about their activities and history. Or, are they simply "hiding in plain sight"? Well, here's a good starting point for investigation from a numismatic perspective.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Something Spooky About Banks? A Ghostly Tour

Castles and mansions are the sorts of places where you'd expect to find ghosts, but banks? Yes indeed. According to the article there are a great many haunted banks. Come to think of it, I recall dealing with a loan officer who seemed not exactly of this world... Thanks to CoinsWeekly for the link.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Links That May Help in Your Search for Clues

Nothing beats a good collection of research sites when you're out to solve a numismatic mystery. Unless you're an expert at creating an advanced search, the search engines will load you down with a lot of dead ends and generalities. Here's a site listing a number of useful links. You might also consider joining the host organization, the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. It's a great group with a lot of knowledgeable and influential members. The newsletter is open to questions from readers. Check it out, visit "Home" in the header of the above link.