Numismatic and History Discussions > Greek Coins

Provenance chain for a Tarentine Half Shekel


Steve Moulding:
Hi everyone. I've recently begun looking at provenance chains - known and unknown - for Greek coins of Italy and Sicily.  I wanted to share a neat one I just came across. The coin came from the 1921 Pozzi sale and I think it then reappeared in 1925 and again in 1927. It's from Tarentum and was struck during Hannibal's occupation 212-209.

I'm going to try attaching a comparison picture but I'm not sure it's going to work (first time trying)...if it doesn't I might need help!  It's hard to conclude it's the same coin from this picture, but the weights and device positions appear to match and looking at full resolution one can find the same flaws.

The coin is Pozzi lot 146 (105 Francs). It looks like it soon reappeared in Ars Classica X 1925, as Lot 50 (80 Francs) but the Pozzi provenance wasn't mentioned. Two years later we see it in the Moss Sale, Glendining 1927 as lot 527 (2 pounds 12 shillings). Neither Pozzi or Ars Classica X provenances are mentioned in the Glendining catalog.

I think for the lower value coins like this, catalogs would get very cluttered if they mentioned every provenance, so it's understandable. Still, it's a nice coin from a turbulent time and it's fun to put together the story of where it went after Pozzi.  I'm curious to see where it's going to appear next!  :)

Jay GT4:
Good detective work!

Steve Moulding:
Thank you Jay!

Tracing the sales that the coins came from, and where they later went, is detective work for sure. I'm just starting but I already see 60 cases where a Greek (Italy/Sicily) lot from Pozzi reappeared soon after (1923-1934). 42 times the Pozzi provenance was noted in the later catalogs, but in 18 cases it wasn't.


Mark Fox:
Dear Steve, Jay, and Board,

Not only is Steve's work great for restoring provenances, but also for correcting them!  Very soon after he publicized his semi-secret undertakings on Forvm, I found a familiar looking Sestus coin in "ARS_1923_06_18":

Without trying to draw too much attention to the auction house that later sadly fumbled the provenance when the coin was sold by them in 2007 (see the second photo), the bronze (22mm, 8.54 g, 11h) currently resides in the ANS with the mistaken provenance still intact.  The full citation in question given by the auction house was "From the Christopher Morcom Collection. Ex Prof. S. Pozzi Collection (Naville-Ars Classica I, 14 March 1921), lot 1544."   

Lot 1544 in the ARS Pozzi Collection catalog is an Athenian owl! 
So, if I understand the 1923 catalog correctly, the ANS Sestus coin could possibly be a British Museum duplicate (I was told that a Sestian group was sold in the 1920s), or is perhaps from a less celebrated source.

Thank you, Steve, for making this casual research moment possible!   

Best regards,

Mark Fox

Steve Moulding:
Hi Mark and thank you so much for the kind comments.

That's a great example of how an incorrect provenance can propagate.

Mistakes can happen when cataloguing...we're all human, and I'm sure many times they're caught at the time (catalog errata) or found later. But sometimes they do go unnoticed and unchecked and can appear in multiple later sales if the error is not fixed. A few years ago I found, offered online by a major dealer, an expensive signed Syracuse tetradrachm that was from a completely different Jacob Hirsch sale than the one noted in the dealer's lot description. The lot number was correct. The coin had already gone through two important US sales with the incorrect provenance. The dealer did fix their listing.

Sometimes errors are seen in the older sale listings too. For example,
Pozzi Lot 147 (Lucanie | Hercalee)
was noted as being ex Hirsch XIX Lot 467 (that lot was an Arcadian Obol).
It's actually Hirsch XX Lot 46.

So for that Pozzi lot, both the provenance sale and lot number were wrong, a rare double error.



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