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Ian Fenn's Blog

25 Nov 2016

1664 Zwolle half shilling/5 Sols/Luigino

Coins-World | Ian Fenn

At least 3 years ago, probably closer to five I developed an interest in a,mostly, forgotten series of coins that are often referred to outside of the USA as Luigino. "Luigino" is an Italian diminutive for the French 5 sols piece. The coin in the mid 17th century became popular for trade with the Ottoman Levant, and was imitated by a number of different producers in Europe. The series is cataloged in a French/Italian language reference by Maurice Cammerano "Corpus Luiginorum". With this series of coins, like many others the successful variants are easy to find and cheaply purchased. The failures of course are rare and , in relative terms expensive. One very rare example ( and likely a failure) is from the Netherlands. Cammarano lists Zwolle mint in the Netherlands as producing a Luigino in 1662. A Dutch language reference D Purma "Handboek van de Nederlandse Provinciale Muntslag 1573 -1806, Deel II" lists two striking dates for the same coin (described as a halve Schelling) 1662 and 1664. I obtained an aF examp[le of the 1662 strike for around US$800.00 a few years back and have kept my eye out for a 1664 strike ever since. In communications with other collectors I was told that Cammarano, didn't believe the 1664 existed. It was stated to me that his research had not identified any sales of a 1664 date. I likewise started researching auction records and also found no records of a sale of the 1664 coin. Discussing it with a fellow ANA member at a summer seminar a couple of years ago the suggestion was made, to me, that perhaps the 1664 strike was just a re-striking of the 1662. It was an attractive idea as it explained the absence of sale records for 1664 while not casting doubt on Purma's research. A few weeks ago all that changed. Heritage Auctions ( Europe) put their latest auction on line and in that auction was a rough example of the 1664 strike. Of course I had to bid and, unsure as to whether I would be able to bid live, I submitted an absentee bid online well in advance. It was clear before the Auction that there was only one other collector who was interested in the coin. Before the online bidding closed and the live auction began the other bidder and I took the coins pre-bids up to €1200.00. I was able to log on and participate, unnecessarily, in the live auction. I, with no further bidding, became the owner of the first confirmed 21st century sale of the 1664 strike. I say 21st century because Heritage auctions, as is now common in European coin sales listed the coins provenance. The coin had resided in a collection since it was last sold in April 1975 ( Schulman's Amsterdam). I am now hunting that 1975 Auction Catalog, I suspect I missed finding the coin in Auction records because I failed to search under the Dutch designation of "halve schelling". All up with postage and BP I paid US$1600.00 for a coin that for me had taken on a mythological status. With only two interested bidders the coin might not appreciate further in value and perhaps might depreciate over time... For me the important thing is I finally have proof the coin exists, and have the pleasure of it residing in my collection. The coin is about the same size as a nickel.Edit(11/29/2016): An update. Cammarano states the Reverse of the coin bears St George and the Dragon. I had never questioned that attribution. I posted the find on a Closed face book group for the Royal Numismatic Society of New Zealand and a member of that group took one look at the reverse and asked if it were St Michael ( the archangel) I responded stating I thought it was St Gerorge but that person then posted pictures of medals and coins that bore St Michael and the visual evidence was hard( I would say impossible) to deny. I then scanned through Purma's book looking at Zwolle mint coins from the same period. A number of coins had St Michael, as attributed by Purma, in the Coat of Arms for , I assume, Zwolle on them. Of course now it seems obvious: St George is never portrayed with wings, so it is clear that the reverse bears the image of St Michael attacking Satan. If you look at the "dragon" you can see it has arms and legs as well as serpent features. I had been so focused on the story behind the coin that I had omitted to look at the story on the coin.

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27 Feb 2016

Encapsulation New Zealand style

Coins-World | Ian Fenn

In 2004, when the coin this blog is focused on was issued, I was regularly buying NCLT from New Zealand( New Zealand post). When I saw this coin and its method of encapsulation I had to have it.The coin is a 40 gram silver dollar sized gold piece of 22 Kt gold. It is in a traditional Maori treasure box called a Wakahuia. When I received the advertisement for the coin I jumped at the chance to own such an unusual type of NCLT. I submitted my order with credit card details and waited and waited. What I and many other weren't aware of was NZ post had underestimated demand for the 300 coins( for an expensive NZ$1500 in 2004) on the official issue date they had had only had 150 struck and the wooden boxes were taking longer than anticipated. It took them nearly 4 further months to fulfill my order. The delay was such that I was almost going to cancel my order for the coin when I received the latest NZ catalog. That catalog had the coin valued at NZ$500.00 more than the issue price. Behind the production was negotiations with the Ngati Whakaue sub tribe to whom Pukaki, the person the carving represents, was a venerated ancestor. There is much more behind the story; but with indigenous peoples rights and the chance of offending through my ignorance I will not venture here to tell the full story as I understand it. What I can report is that 30 of the 300 coins were given to the tribe and a further 75(or so), unlikely to ever come to market again, were also purchased by tribe members. This of course means the coin will remain a rarity. It is certainly one I treasure. I prefer this form of encapsulation but I don't see PCGS or NGC adopting the method.

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19 Dec 2015

The first Russian additions to my collection

Coins-World | Ian Fenn

Noble Auctions in Sydney Australia had an auction over the period 17 -19 November I was interested in one lot which I won. The lot consisted of two low grade( but still collectible) ducats that Nobles had identified as from the Netherlands. I had recently become aware that Russian produced imitations of Netherlands Ducats in the late 18th century and again in the 19th century. I wanted to add examples of the Russian strikes to my collection. The two ducats in the Auction were dated 1840 and 1849. Both dates are good candidates for the Russian strikes. In particular. Russia produced Ducats dated 1849 from that year through to 1867. The Dutch only produced around 13000-14000 ducats in 1849 so my bet was that the coin would be Russian. The coins finally arrived last week and for me the fun part of collecting began. The task was to identify whether the coins were Russian or Dutch. I posted questions on facebook, and two separate coin forums. Very quickly some kind person sent me scans from a reference with identification information. That information confirmed the 1840 was Russian and suggested to my inexperienced eye that the 1849 was Dutch. However I didn't quite trust myself so I emailed another expert in Poland who came back a couple of days later with a very simple check for the 1849 strike. That information confirmed what I had originally thought before I received the coins: the 1849 is Russian. the quick check look at the third photo. A dutch 1849 strike will have the thumb covering all the arrows, as you can see on my coin the thumb, what you can see of it, only covers five arrows. However for me I am still not finished I need to have solid documented evidence so currently I am hunting down these two Jnl editions. If any one has copies I would greatly appreciate getting scans of the relevant sections( the ANA LIbrary does not appear to have these dates):Journal Of The Russian Numismatic Society - issue Number 8, September 1982Journal Of The Russian Numismatic Society - issue Number 66, Summer 1998

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04 Nov 2015

The costliest ugly coin in my collection

Coins-World | Ian Fenn

This entry follows on from Coinsbygary's blog entry of 11 Oct 2015 (Exception clauses in my collection). I don't have many encapsulated coins in my collection and I suspect my latest acquisition,the subject of this blog might struggle to be locked away in plastic "coin-prison" However for me it was the best I could afford with a low four figure price. Had it been a mint state example the price would be closer to five figures. At this point I anticipate some of you are taking another look at the photo. Yes it does look like a Dutch Lion thaler (leeuwendaalder). But this 1600 example isn't dutch!

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01 Nov 2015

Venetian Puzzle

Coins-World | Ian Fenn

I have been extending my collecting interest. Venice is now in my sights and I have attached a photo pf my latest acquisition a Venetian Grosso of Giovanni Soranzo(1312 -1328). When I start in a new area of interest I explore the history, political, Social, economic and the numismatic. Venice is an intriguing City a bastion of capital based democracy surrounded by an Ocean of Feudalism and that republixs story makes for a great numismatic legacy.As part of the research I have been wading through Norwich's 'a history of Venice" one paragraph has me really intrigued:Page 179 "........in retaliation the Venetian Domenico Schiavo......penetrated into the inner harbour of Genoa with three galleys and, as a final insult, actually minted some Venetian coins there before retiring"The coins aren't identified and neither is the date reported. From the general context I assume the incident occurred in the 1290's perhaps the 1280's. Perhaps the coins were ducats that seems a good bet . Its an intriguing incident that I would love to know more about. Does any one have any information to add to the story?

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07 Oct 2015

The first dollar,

Coins-World | Ian Fenn

Last week I received a OMG-thats-so-cheap purchase; an enlarging lens a Schneider Kreuznach APO-Componon HM 4/45 to be exact. Its not that I don't have enough lenses for photographing coins. At the moment I am selling off some un-necessary lenses and this new purchase has sped up the process. 45 mm is not usually a good lens for coins, and even before I received it in the post I was wondering if I had made a mistake. The one thing that was reassuring is the HM designation. HM stands for High modulation, marketing speak for high resolution. the lenses I am getting rid of are low resolution and my camera, a 42MP, has really shown those lenses up. The new lens, theoretically, should cope with a 120 MP camera( if one existed). I have had fun playing with the lens but the 45mm F4 is a weak point. With such a short focusing distance getting the coin illuminated nicely is a challenge. After a lot of playing around I found how to best use the lens and last night imaged two, in my opinion, important world coins.The first is a Joachimsthaler Guildengroschen circa 1520. This is the coin the gave us the word Dollar. The coins name was a bit long and it had three nicknames back in the 16th century; Shlickeiner ( named after the Count of Schlick who issued the coin in Bohemia), Joachimer (After the name of the valley the mine and mint were located in ( St Joachims Valley)) and Thaler ( meaning from the Valley). It was Thaler that was ultimately translated into "dollar" I have been doing some research and realize that it could be argued that Guildengroschen is best translated as "Silver Ducat". Guilden being the German word for Ducat at that time. Actually this coin wasnt the first Guildengroschen the Honor goes to the Hall mint of Tirol which produced the first "Silver Ducat" in 1486( if my memory serves me well)The Circa 1520 Schlick Thalers were the very first issues of the counts of Schlick the second coin( the photo of which shows the lens has its limitations) is the last coin issued by that family it was issued under the reign of Maria Theresa so the reverse is that of one of her thalers.

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14 Sep 2015

Connections

Coins-World | Ian Fenn

I used to love watching, when I could catch it, the late 1990s early 2000's James Burke Documentary "Connections". A, I assume, British programme it may not be familiar to Americans. I didn't see it that often but recently found it on you tube. I hadn't realized I had probably missed 80% of all episodes. The format of each episode was to lead up to one particular invention (the undeclared subject of the episode) discovery by linking a whole lot of seemingly unrelated inventions and discoveries. It was interesting; at least I found it so, even when the links seemed to be a bit forced. What I found particularly useful was the different frames of reference that were applied. Too often we become so used to one way of looking at the world, or our hobby, that we fail to see another way of looking at it.

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23 May 2015

The Coinage of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Italian Somalia.

Coins-World | Ian Fenn

This blog post is part book review and part ramble about two conversation pieces in my collection. Very soon after developing my main collecting interesting I found to understand the central coin of my collection I had to understand the coinage of Ethiopia. I have a number of books on Ethiopia, its history; both social and economic, in my small personal library. All are useful but, from a collecting perspective, there is one book that is a must own for Ethiopian Coinage: Dennis Gill's "The Coinage of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Italian Somalia" Self-published 1991, ISBN 0 9627503 0 1. This book is, as far as I know the only numismatic book covering Modern (predominantly 19th and 20th century) Ethiopia coins. If you're a foreign coin collector it's a book well worth looking out for. I went hunting for this book, and ended up paying more than was necessary for it. From memory I paid US$200.00. When I got the book I really appreciated the original authors invoice being included showing I had paid ten times the original sale price. Soon after purchasing it (about 8 years ago) another collector told me I could have written to the author and got it considerably cheaper. I have no idea if that is still possible; Dennis Gill in the book lists his address as follows:

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15 Dec 2014

Coin with an unconfirmed story.

Coins-World | Ian Fenn

I am sharing this story in the hope someone will read it and recall something that will confirm or disprove what I am writing here. It may be that ANA members can provide the evidence to confirm this possible story.

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