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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Greek Coins (Moderators: Dino, Meepzorp)  |  Topic: artist signatures on coins 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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JBF
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« on: February 06, 2019, 02:14:56 pm »

The Classical era has examples of signatures on coins, does the Archaic? or the Hellenistic have examples?  Do non-Greek cultures have examples? (including symbols representing an artist)?  Both contemporary with Greek and after the Classical era.

I am specifically referring to artist's signatures, although some signatures are not clear whether they are artist or magistrate.

Inquiring minds want to know.  Smiley
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cicerokid
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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 09:09:44 am »

There are none on the Athens New Style.
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shanxi
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 09:57:12 am »

There is a Mark Anthony type with a small P in the hair that is thought to be the artist's signature.

Link to the British Museum:
https://tinyurl.com/yb6fu7fd

https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=1588634



and a Baktrian coin with MNA engravers signature:
https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=1099264


I'm quite sure there are some more
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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2019, 11:09:24 am »

My example of the Marc Antony type:  http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-145750

There is a Ptolemy I (323-283 BCE) AR tetradrachm of Alexandria with a small  Greek_Delta behind the ear of Ptolemy's portrait.  This may be an artist's signature.  My former example (recently sold) of that type below (14.23g; 28mm):

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Jay GT4
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2019, 11:30:32 am »

Here's my Velia signed coin:

Lucania, Velia AR Didrachm

Helmeted head of Athena left, wearing Phrygian helmet decorated with centauress, KE monogram behind

Lion left, tearing prey, A above, KE monogram below, ΥΕΛΗΤΩΝ in ex.

Circa 334-300 BC

7.22g

Williams 327 (O.174/R.243)
BMC 74; HN Italy 1294.

Ex-Calgary coin

The KE obverse monogram is the signature of Kleudoros, the artist or mint master of Velia.

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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2019, 12:59:11 pm »

Where is the Antony coin signature, in relation to the ear? (what o'clock?), I _don't_ doubt it is there, I just don't see it

The Bactrian gold is beautiful, I wonder if MNA stands for Master of Numismatic Arts.  Wink  But not really, the Romans had a knack at abbreviation, the Greeks didn't.  The Greeks just truncated words and names.  So, MNA is the first three letters of someone's name.
It may seem obvious to us, but it is something to mention.

The Kleudoros stater is Greek, but also one might technically consider it Hellenistic, since it is after Alexander III of Macedon.  The polis, when subsumed by Empire in the East, was still active in the West.  Kleudoros may be a magistrate, but he is definitely the artist, he has a 3/4 facing head Athena with a full signature in the headband.  I am sure you know Jay that Kleodoros coins like yours rather distinct and artistic compared to many others of later Velia.  There must be quite a few coins from Sicily and Magna Graecia after Alexander that have signatures, but do they come to an end in the East and mainland Greece at that time?  Do signatures in the East come to an end with the arrival of the Macedonian kings

The Ptolemy signature seems like a stealth signature, something the artist could put in there, but would not necessarily be noticed, I wonder if the Antony coin could be that way too, but I can't notice it. tongue

So, we have one Roman Republic, one Bactrian, and one (Eastern) Hellenistic), any more than that?  I am glad to see those that we got, but I would like to find more.
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2019, 01:05:08 pm »

Where is the Antony coin signature, in relation to the ear? (what o'clock?), I _don't_ doubt it is there, I just don't see it


7 o'clock, took me also some time to see it.
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2019, 01:25:51 pm »

It is a large "P" that looks initially like the hair locks to its left.
Mine also seems to have a "period" mark to its right.
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2019, 01:33:34 pm »

Let's see if the photo comes through. I don't usually attach an image on iPad.
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n.igma
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2019, 01:48:57 pm »

....
and a Baktrian coin with MNA engravers signature:
https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=1099264


A note of caution on this coin http://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?pos=-18480
Refer Francois de Callataÿ" Pourquoi le «distatère en or au portrait d’Alexandre»
est très probablement un faux moderne" in Revue Numismatique 2013 (Vol. 170)

The M and MNA on the neck truncation of the head on many Sophytes coins is doubtfully an artist's signature. They are the same letters that are found on some of the obverse dies of Athena/Owl types earlier in the series where they are clearly a component of the mint controls on the coins.

Similarly the delta on the Ptolemy coins is disputed by many scholars as an artist's mark. Rather appears to be a internal control in the minting process.  

On this coin of Olympia http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-114687 attributions frequently describe it as from an obverse die signed by Polykaon.  Most probably nonsense. No artist of this name is attested to in the historical record. Rather, Polykaon was one of the mythical rulers of the region and the PiO on the obverse is most probably an allusion to his role in Olympia. Certainly a mythical figure would have a problem signing the die!

Caution is required in in seeking to interpret these mint marks.
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JBF
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2019, 06:03:10 pm »

Still a cool gold coin, even if it is "dubious."  But, neck truncations are spots used for signatures
of artists and there are others for Sophytes.

Are there "other" signed coins of Olympia?  I can't think of any, but it is not my concentration,
if there are others then it would seem more probable that pi omicron is an artist's signature.
I don't know why the name Polykaon comes up if it is not one of a known artist.
Mythic figure Polykaon, maybe? artist Pol(?) maybe.

The Kleudoros is definitely a double signature of an artist (and probably, magistrate).

If you look at the pre-Athena drachms of Velia, (460-440??) you have a numerical sequence
(actually starting with the didrachms), although a few letters are missing and
the sequence ends with tau(??).  But, anyway, the letters are on the reverse,
except one, pi, is at the nape of the neck on the obverse, where artist signatures are often.

Of course, I don't need to say that the Greek letters are used as numbers, not necessarily
Milesian notation which is a semi decimal(??) system.  But this pi seems to be doing double
duty, both as a signature and as a number.  not double signature, but one doing double
duty.

My new question is, are there "stealth" signatures?  Or do signatures basically disappear
after Alexander in the East, and awhile later in the West?
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2019, 01:55:54 am »

Does it count if the emperor himself was the artist?


This coin shows the caligraphy/handwriting of emperor Huizong himself, so probably the biggest signature ever.  Smiley

https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=5075719
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2019, 06:21:26 am »

There are a couple of Lysimachus staters that seem to be signed.  Earlier in the West, several Thurium staters and a number of Tarentum staters seem to have signatures, though there is vigouous debate whether these are artistic signatures or belong to someone who was in someway responsible for minting--or indeed whether those need be separate offices.
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Altamura
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2019, 10:31:29 am »

As to the Sophytes coins:

The article by François de Callataÿ can be found here: https://www.persee.fr/doc/numi_0484-8942_2013_num_6_170_3204
He very clearly states "Or ce « statère de Sophytès » est assurément un faux moderne …" (this stater of Sophytes is certainly a modern fake).

In an article by Sushma Jansari, "The Sophytes Coins: from the Punjab to Bactria and back again", NC 178, 2018, she discusses the different interpretations on these Sophytes coins:
https://www.academia.edu/38183611/The_Sophytes_Coins_from_the_Punjab_to_Bactria_and_back_again
She has no clear and unique explanation but writes that the letters "... are more likely to be control marks.".

In my eyes these speculations about artist's signatures are in part numismatic romanticism. An unidentified enigmatic personality is much more interesting than a mere emission counter  Smiley.

Regards

Altamura
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JBF
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« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2019, 11:25:25 am »

Going back to the Mark Antony, do the Romans use a period like we use a period, as part of a abbreviation?

The Chinese example is very interesting for the history of coinage, but is not that relevant for the West, although it may show that a medium (coinage) once it achieves something (signatures), can go back to it (chronologically) in weird ways.  Signatures are something within numismatics bag of tricks, so to speak.  Of course, there is the question of whether there can even be a vague influence from West to East (or back).

I think there are definite examples of artist signature on coins, the 1909 s VDB US 1 cent piece, for example.  But, seriously, Altamura surely you wouldn't want to dismiss _all_ artist's signatures, for we do have examples where the artist specifically says 'Theodotus made me."? [Clazomenae?] Granted in scholarship and collectors there is a bit of a romantic blur that wants to attribute unknown letters (combinations) as a signature, but there others that are more definite, all the way up to certain (or almost certain).
But, I would agree that some "signatures" rely heavily on optimism, and when they are pointed out, they should be expressed as a "what if...."?

I have no reason to believe that the Sophytes AU Stater is anything than what experts say it is, a forgery.
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« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2019, 12:13:35 pm »

Ineresting discussion.
In Magna Graecia we see the same initials appearing at Velia, Thurii and Taras from the mid fifth century on (earlier at Syracuse). This to me seems far more likely to be an artists signature than some roaming magistrate.
And at Taras from the late 4th century on we have full or nearly full signatures on the obverse always under the horse while still retaining the various initials located in the fields (front and back), which lead me to believe that we have magistrate and artist respectively.

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JBF
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« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2019, 03:03:37 pm »

Phrygillos is one who is at several different mints, and he has several ways that he signs a coin, his name, his initial, and/or the bird that is a canting pun on his name, and sometimes more than one.  Charles Seltman talks about him, including a didrachm at Terina, a nomos from Thourioi. and I seem to remember something from Syracuse.

I got this weird picture in my head of what an itinerant magistrate would be like. Wink 

I know what you are talking about with Tarentum.  I don't know if they are artist's signatures, artist signatures tend to be integrated into the design, or discreetly next to it, the signatures on Tarentum are not that way, on the other hand, there are no integrated/discreet signatures for Tarentum and I don't know what else they would be.  So artist signature is plausible, but whether it is correct, I don't have enough information.


I have a slightly different question, but instead of starting a new thread I thought I would add it to this one.

Can you think of any examples where there is an artist with a signature on a coin, whose name is also found elsewhere??  (Assuming the signature is of an artist).  Or for that matter, a magistrate on a coin named elsewhere?  Either literary or inscriptions (besides coins)?  For that matter, I wonder if there is any mention of signatures that survive in the literary tradition??  (but don't necessarily survive in examples).

One artist I can think of is possibly Kimon, who amongst others did a Syracusan dekadrachm, and the name is mentioned with some embossing in Athenaeus of Naucratis (although the time of this work is not mentioned, and Athenaeus is, like, 3rd or 4th c. AD.)

I have a magistrate in mind, (Artemon of Abdera) but I will hold off explaining for now, to see if others can come up with some, or of course people can talk about signatures on coins in general, and I don't expect others to necessarily be as crazy as I am about obscure sources of Greek literature.
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Grant H
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« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2019, 03:28:27 pm »

Larissa obverse die signed by the engraver Simo,to left of neck,L-S Group 4,Head Type 20,dies O85/R7. EX CNG esale 356 lot 55
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JBF
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« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2019, 04:13:30 pm »

At about 7:30?  I have one, with the  GreeK_Sigma Greek_Iota Greek_Mu Greek_Omicron at about 2:00, but the reverse is o.c.  and graffiti in the large exergue.  It is nice to see a Larissa where the nose is not mussed up.  I like to think of SImo as an artist signature, but I have also heard otherwise.  David Sear _Greek Coins and their Values_ says that Simo is the tetrarch of Larissa 353-344.  The example SG 2124 he gives in his book has the signature underneath the belly of the horse, which does not show exceptional artistry like the 3/4 left facing obverse. This signature is probably something different from the two possibilities we have been discussing, 1) mint magistrate, and 2) artist (probably).  Also, if Sear is referring to the reign of this tetrarch, I assume that he has some other source, literary or inscription.

Another interesting question that inquiring minds might want to know.

What is the earliest coin that has the name of a ruler on it?
in a way I think of this Larissa as a transition to when rulers typically have their names, and their heads on the coins. 
btw, I mean the earliest besides early Electrum, which is something quite different.

[I don't show pictures in general, since I don't have a camera to take them or a smart phone]
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« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2019, 05:25:47 pm »

One of the earliest in mainland Greece ... http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-68421
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« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2019, 03:44:04 am »

What is the earliest coin that has the name of a ruler on it?

here some early examples, but maybe not the earliest



Kotys I (Circa 383-359 BC)

https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=5117268


Stasandros. (450 BC)

https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=1175187


The Edones. King Getas, c. 480-460 BC

https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=316192
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Grant H
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« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2019, 03:20:40 pm »

Larissa obverse die signed by the engraver Simo,above head,L-S Group 3,Head Type 9 O23/R2 ex CNG esale 339 lot 65
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« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2019, 05:53:20 pm »

Where?  I am not saying that it isn't signed, just where is it?  If the nose is the center, then what o'clock?

I am not sure whether "Simo" is the name in the nominative case, or there is if I remember correctly some dialects that drop the upsilon from the genitive singular.  So, perhaps "Simou" -> "Simo" for the genitive "of Simo".  nigma's coin is in the genitive. 

Looked up pi omicron in Seltman's book on Olympia, he says  Greek_Pi_2 Greek_Omicron is a magistrate.  However, the ANS refers to an acquisition of a stater (not hemidrachm) from the artist Polykaon, that is the same Olympiad as the hemidrachm.  no picture though.  Don't know if they are getting the full name from the coin's inscription, or from somewhere else.

The coin that had a magistrate whose name was also listed in a literary source is Artemon for a stater from Abdera.  Artemon (or another guy) is said to be Democritus of Abdera's father.
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Grant H
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« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2019, 09:23:00 am »

Tarentum both sides signed by the master engraver Kal
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« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2019, 11:43:37 am »

Larissa obverse die signed by meto left of neck down in small letters and faint off flan,Reverse die signed by AI under horse small and faint letters.same dies as CNG Triton 15 lot 229,Lorber early 42.1
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