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Six Owls

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  • Six Owls

    This was discussed elsewhere, and the person who found the six Owls illustrated below, in response to my query, said it was fine to post this here to try to obtain additional opinions. The problem is, We never got any kind of closure on this ... or even comment from the person who may have been closest to it.

    Closure would be helpful for two reasons: 1) To know with more assurance whether this die pair is modern or ancient in the event coins like this show up on the market in the future, and 2) as feedback for authenticity detection in general. Owls, including imitative Owls, are among the areas I specialize in, finding them fascinating, and I'm always eager to learn more. Here's the background:

    These six coins were all sold fairly recently by CNG. They were described as Eastern Owls and attributed to Peter van Alfen's 2002 AJN article "The 'Owls' from the 1989 Syria Hoard with a review of Pre-Macedonian Coinage in Egypt," pl. 9, 3. That coin, however, doesn't share a die with these six, which all share among themselves the same obverse as well as reverse die, and the van Alfen coin differs stylistically from these six as well, particularly Athena's eye.

    The first four coins below also share what appears to be the same post-strike markings, most notably the dark toning on Athena's forehead. The last two share what appears to be the same simulated wear around Athena's eye and at the base of her jaw just above her neck.

    The coins of this type that van Alfen illustrates are described as Buttery/Flament Style M (after T.V. Buttrey and Christophe Flament, who earlier studied and documented this same style of Eastern imitative Owls). But unlike these six CNG coins, none of nine Buttery/Flament Style M Eastern Owls, all from the same hoard, share an obverse or a reverse die.

    The Buttery/Flament Style M coins published by van Alfen have tightly controlled weights, from 17.09g to 16.82g. These six CNG die-matched coins have loosely controlled weights, from a very heavy 17.54g to a very light 16.12g.

    Imitative issues of Owls as well as many other coin types are as interesting as they're tricky. Because of their design and often fabric anomalies compared with official coins, it's easier for modern copyists to fool others with them, since any anomalies in die work and planchet preparation can be written off, more easily anyway, as the work of ancient copyists. Expert surface examination can help here.

    Finding many coins from the same die pair (or mold) like this and seeing some of the coins post-processed the same way ... in my view ... is about as convincing as you can get short of finding the modern die or mold from which they were made.

    So, agree, disagree? Definitely modern, or is there any possibility that these could be ancient?

    Here they are. You can enlarge these in your browser if you like.