A Comment on the importance of Provenance with a good Provenance

"Far too little attention has hitherto been bestowed upon the provenance of ancient coins. The intervention of the coin dealer between the finder and the purchaser is often quite sufficient to obscure or obliterate entirely all evidence of provenance. Coin collectors have also been too often oblivious of the scientific importance of placing on record the sources of their acquisitions."

Numismatic Chronicle 1906, page 3

This quote was written nearly 110 years ago and the comment is as timely now as it was then. I maintain the provenance of each and every item I acquire whether a pedestrian example of a common coin or a more important example, and on some pieces have even reconstructed the provenance when possible (cf. Bar Kochba Zuz for example or CSE 514 both of which were sold without provenance). 

When it comes to selling these coins one day each will be provided at a minimum with the source of my acquisition, and more information if possible as some dealers are kind and conscientious enough to provide the info when asked. 

Obviously, I cannot control what a future caretaker does with this information but it will be provided and perhaps those who have a concern for posterity will continue the chain of transmissions that began with some of these coins as far back as the early 19th century (cf. Aurangzeb or the Tragilos piece from the Weber Collection as such examples).

GREECE/Seleucid; Seleucus II Callinicus BCE 246-226

AE 17 mm, 3.44 g, 12h, Sardes mint, before c. 242 BCE

SC 660.5a
WSM 1661
HSC 345

O:  hd of Athena r. in crested Attic helmet dotted border

R: BAΣIΛEΩΣ on r., ΣEΛEYKOY on l., Apollo stg l., testing arrow and resting l. hand on grounded bow. Primary controls outer l and secondary outer r.

Ex: D. Alighieri Collection

GREECE/Seleucid; Seleucus I Nikator BCE 312-281

AE 13 mm, 2.41 g, 12h, Susa mint?, late 280’s BCE

SC 192 type
HSC 107

O: winged hd of Medusa r.

R: BAΣIΛEΩΣ above, ΣEΛEYKOY below, bull butting r.

Ex: D. Alighieri Collection


USA/Barber Quarter CE 1892-1916, a buried single find

AR Quarter Dollar (24mm, 5.8g) 3,480,450 mintage Philadelphia mint 1915

KM #114

In 1984, I was helping a friend remove a stump from his backyard and while washing off some of the roots that had been about 2-4"(5-10cm) below grade so we could remove them, I noticed a glint in the sunshine. We stopped our work momentarily and washed off what turned out to be a 1915 quarter that based upon wear likely circulated for some time before being lost at the base of his old oak. The property where the coin was found had a house on it that dated from 1848 so it was possibly lost by someone who lived there in the late 1920's or 30's perhaps. My friend told me to keep the piece and I've had it these thirty years as a memento from that day and the oldest coin I've found on purpose or by accident in the USA. The patina is much nicer in hand and is as found.

Saudi Arabia/King Khaled خالد بن عبد العزيز CE 1975-1982

CuNi (30mm. 10g) 100 Halala/1 Rial AH 1396/CE 1976 mintage 250,000

KM  #52   

O: crossed swords and palm tree at center, above Khaled bin 'Abdul'aziz as-Sa'ud. below: Malik al-Mamlakah al-'Arabiyyah as-Sa'udiyyah

R: legend avove inscription in circle dividing value. above: ma'ah halalah center circle riyal wahid


Bi. Drachm; 15mm, 2.1 g, 3h, Taxila mint

O: BAΣIΛEΩΣ BAΣIΛEΩN MEΓAΛOY/AZOY; King mounted on horse r holding whip, Kharoshthi letter “bu” at right field.

R: Zeus stg l, holding Nike aloft in outstretched r hand, holding scepter in l., Nike holding a diadem, monogram at l, Kharoshthi ltr “stra” r. topped with Greek B, Kharoshthi legend around  maharajasa rajarajasa mahatasa/Ayasa

INDIA/Kushans; Vima Kadphises c. first quarter of 2nd Century CE (likely before CE 127)

AE 28 mm (Tetradrachm or unit), 16.4 g, 11h

Göbl 762 type

O: King stg facing sacrificing at fire altar at left, club and tamgha in right field and axehd shafted trident in left field. [BACIΛEYC BACIΛEWN CW]THP MEΓAC OOHMO KA[ΔΦICHC]

R: Shiva stg facing holding trident and deerskin, bull Nandi stg behind to right. Kharoshti legend; Maharajasa rajadirajasa sarvaloga isvarasa mahisvarasa Vima Kathphishasa tratara

INDIA/Kushans; Huvishka c. CE 155-190

AE 25mm (Tetradrachm or unit), 15.14 g, 12h

Göbl 881 type

O: King riding elephant to right, holding elephant goad. Bactrian legend around:
“King of Kings Huvishka Kushan”

R: Athsho, God of metals and fire stg l. Bactrian legend to right, tamgha in field to left.

INDIA/Kushans; Vasudeva c. CE 195-225

AE 23mm (Copper Unit/Tetradrachm) 8.86 g, c. CE 200-225

Göbl 1004 type

O: Crowned diad king stg facing nimbate, holding trident and sacrificings at altar to left.
Second trident above altar, Bactrian legend around: “King of Kings Bazodeo Kushan” nandipada in r. field.

R: two armed Shiva stg facing holding trident and diadem, bull Nandi stg l behind, Bactrian legend left but not legible on this example. Tamgha at right.


2,000 Fatimid Dinars and fractions found in sea off of Qesarya, Israel, click NYT link to read

NYT Article link

For more info, please click this link for an archaeological perspective

ISLAMIC/Seljuq of Rum; Kaykhushru II (غياث الدين كيخسرو بن كيقباد) CE 1236-1245

AR Dirham; 22 mm, 2.93 g, 12h, Sivas mint, AH 639/CE 1241-1242

Album 1218

O: الامام المستنصربالله اميرالمؤمنين
al-Imam al-Mustansir billah Amir al-Mu’minin, sun face, lion and stars
“the Imam al-Mustansir billah, Commander of the Faithful” Mustansir ruled from CE 1226-1242.
R: السلطان \ الاعظم \ كيخشرو \ بن كيقبد
 in field as-Sultan/al-a’zam/Kaykhushraw/bin Kayqubad
“The Greatest Sultan Kaykhushraw b. Kayqubad”
ضرب هذا الدرهم \ سوس في \ سنة تسع \ وثلثين و ستمائة
Around outside of square duriba hadha’d-dirham/ Siwas fi/sana tis’a/wa-thalathin wa-sittamia’a
“This dirham was struck at Sivas in the year 639”

For information on the Sun & Lion depiction please refer to the following web page:

accessed from http://kids.britannica.com/eb/art-677/Rum-Seljuq-sultanate 18 Feb 2015


RUSSIA/Peter I, "the Great" CE 1689-1725

AR Denga ("wire money") 10mm, 0.28g, c. CE 1698-1722

For info on the full inscription please refer to http://www.calgarycoin.com/reference/peterwiremoney/peterwiremoney.htm

The name "PET[R]" can easily be read in the third line.

The full inscription states in English "Tsar and Great Prince Petr Alekseevich of all the Russias"
(Tsar i Velikii Knyaz' Petr Alekseevich V'sey Rossii)

RUSSIA/Three Five Kopeck pieces of Catherine II CE 1762-1796

all large coppers 40-42mm in diameter and each exceeds 50 g in weight. and about 4-5mm in thickness.
each was minted at the Yekaterinberg mint designated by the mm of EM on the obs. and has the accompanying denomination inscribed as ПЯТЬ КОПѢЕКЬ under the imperial eagle. 
The initials of Catherine appear in the center of a wreath with the date of the coin to the right and left.

1769 42mm C 59.3

1777 42 mm C 59.3

1780 40mm C 59.3

according to the dealer who sold these pieces, they came from a hoard found outside St. Petersburg but no further details were provided as to the date of the find or that it consisted of anything other than 5k pieces.


Five Centenionali of Theodosius I CE 379-395

All Obs inscribed DN THEODO-SIVS PF AVG unless otherwise described

All Rev inscribed CONCOR-DIA AVGGG unless otherwise described

AE 18 mm, 2.6 g, 6h, Nicomedia mint c. CE 379-383

CHK 2366
RIC IX 31b (S)
RCV 20527

O:  diad draped cuir bust r
R:  Constantinopolis turreted, std facing  hd r, holding scepter and cornucopiae with rt foot on prow

Palms in field to right and left

mm in ex. SMNΓ

AE 18 mm, 2.39 g, 11 h, Constantinople mint, c. CE 379-383

CHK 2128 v
RIC IX 57d
RCV 20531

O: as previous
R: as previous except Constantinopolis is helmeted.

O in left field

mm in ex. CONSA

AE 18 mm, 2.48 g, 6 h, Constantinople mint, c. CE 379-383

CHK 2128 v
RIC IX 57d
RCV 20531

O: as previous
R: as previous except Constantinopolis is helmeted.

O in left field

mm in ex. CONSB

AE 16 x 19 mm, 2.83 g, 6 h, Alexandria mint, c. CE 379-383

CHK 2872-2873
RIC IX 11 (S)
RCV 20535

O: as previous
R: as previous except Constantinopolis is helmeted.

mm in ex. ALEΓ

AE 17 mm, 2.6 g, 5 h, NM, c. CE 379-383
RCV 20529-20535var

R: as previous except Constantinopolis is helmeted.

mm in ex. indeterminate


Cilician Armenia/Hetoum I CE 1226-1270

AE Kardez 26 mm, 4.01 g, Sis mint

CCA 1365 type    

 Hetoum King of the Armenians, rider on horseback to the right

 Struck in the City of Sis, large cross in center with stars in each quadrant


ROMAN Provincial; Moesia Inferior; Nicopolis ad Istrum, Septimius Severus CE 193-211--depiction of Aesculapius

AE "Assarion" 17 mm, 1.97g, 12h 

AMNG 1382 variety ICTPΩ

O: [------CEYH]POC, laur. hd rt.
R: NIKOΠOΛIT ΠPOC ICTP, Aesculapius stg facing hd left holding caduceus

ROMAN/Gordian III CE 238-244 Fortuna Redux with anchor?

AR Antoninianus, 26 mm, 4.02 g, 6h, Antioch Mint CE 243-244
slightly double struck obs on oversized flan,  

RCV 8613
RSC 98a
RIC 210

R: FORTVNA REDVX, Fortuna std l, holding cornucopia in her left arm and an anchor with her right hand. 

It should be noted that what has been described in all the sources related to this particular depiction is that Fortuna is holding a rudder as she had been depicted in the past. In this particular coin it is clear that she is holding what appears to be an anchor. A Seleucid style anchor at that. Maybe due to the fact that the Emperor and his army relieved Antioch from a Persian threat, the anchor symbol so long associated with the history of the region was utilized at this time to specify that the returning good fortune is specifically Antioch's?

Note the detail on the rudder as depicted in this photo obtained from the net of a denarius of Geta. Either the celator was just taking a short cut in his depiction or in fact he was depicting an old symbol familiar to the region. 


A Small Selection of the Votive issue of Julian II CE 361-363

All inscriptions are as described here:
O: DN FL CL IVLIANVS PF AVG, helmeted cuir., diad., bust left with shield and spear
R: VOT/X/MVLT/XX within a wreath, mm in ex. 

AE 3; 19mm, 3.05 g, 12h, Siscia mint c. CE 362-363

RIC 421  mm appears to be palm branch then officina mark followed by SISC with a dot, though the initial portion is obscured. 

RCV 19171

AE 3, 19 mm, 2.68 g, 11h, Sirmium mint c. 362-363


RIC 108, RCV 19172

AE 3; 20 mm, 2.96 g, 12h, Constantinople mint c. 362-363

mm branches on either side CONSPA

RIC 166 (Scarce), RCV 19176

AE 3; 20 mm, 3.29 g, 11h, Heraclea mint c. CE 362-363

No Spear variety****


RIC 106, RCV 19174

AE 3; 19 mm, 2.66 g, 11h, Antioch mint c. CE 362-363


RIC 219 (Rare), RCV 19181

AE 3; 20 mm, 3.57 g, 5h, Antioch mint c. CE 362-363

mm branches on either side of SMANTΓ

RIC 221 (Rare), RCV 19182

Map accessed from: http://ancientcoinsforeducation.org/gallery2/v/Historical+Background/Ancient+Maps/MintsRom+Imp+Map.jpg.html 
on 7 Feb 2015

ISLAMIC/India; Malwa Sultanate; 1401-1531

Two examples of square Fulus minted between 1500-1531 by the last members of the Khilji Dynasty.

 Nasir ud-Din Shah CE 1500-1511

AE Square Fals, 18 mm (4mm thick), 10.61 g, 9 h, NM dated AH 914/CE 1508-1509

Goron-Goenka M140 v.

O: Nasir Shah al-Khilji/bin Ghiyath Shah
R: as-Sultan bin as-Sultan 914

Mahmud Shah II CE 1511-1531

AE Square Fals, 12mm (3mm thick), 4.08 g, 9h, NM, ND

O: Mahmud Shah al-Khilji/bin[-----]
R: as-Sultan bin as-Sultan


BRITAIN; Tudor; Mary CE 1553-1558

I have been reading Peter Ackroyd's TUDORS, the second volume of his history of Britain. The first volume FOUNDATION was a quick and interesting read and I certainly enjoyed his inclusion of important social history info that placed the recitation of royal and noble facts in proper perspective. TUDORS is dominated by a discussion of the Reformation for the first 300 pages. I am only now entering the early Elizabethan period in the text. If you can get past the beheadings and the burnings and the disputes about religious minutia it's a good read.

Here are two pieces related to "Bloody Mary" from her short reign:

AR Groat, 24 mm, 1.81 g, 3h  London, CE 1553-1554

SCBC 2492
N. 1960

Pomegranate privy mark

O: MARIA D G ANG FRA Z HIB REGINA   crowned bust left

R: VERITAS TEMPORIS FILIA   long cross fourchee over royal shield

AR cut Groat,  22 x 12mm, 0.87g, 9h,  London, CE 1554-1558

SCBC 2508
N. 1973

Lis privy mark

O: PHILIP Z [MARIA D G REX ET R]EGI  crowned bust of Mary left
R: POSVI[MVS DEVM ADIV]TO NOS   cross fourchee over royal shield

from the patina it appears that this piece was cut at sometime in the past. It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has encountered similar cut groats, particularly from a time when half groats were being minted (though considering their respective catalogue prices, there may have been a shortage of half groats that caused groats to be cut for smaller change.)