an episode from the history of “cleaning” coins…

[Machine/Human translation]



… correspondence of our meritorious partner Mr. Giuseppe Scalco, of Rome, a well known restorer of ancient coins, … some passages that may interest collectors and coin restorers…

“The main basis of any work is being skilled in the art and applying it afterwards to any undertaking. For example, I applied it in the hard stone engraving and in the work carried out I did not come in last place.

“I was lucky to know the numismatist Dr. Tommaso Capo, who, well appreciating my attitude, wanted to start cleaning the coins, sure (he told me) of the useful and complete success.

“This is the principle. You will know well that the hard engraving for the execution technique has no bearing on the cleaning of the coins; yet I found, by means of my reaction wheel [??], excellent support, and today, after years of experience, I can assure you that I have an effective means which, together with the burin, another indispensable work tool, is extremely successful. As you can see, I don’t have any secrets.

“Indeed, at first sight it would seem easy to carry out, yet difficulties arise such that solving them requires having many requirements, that is, art, lightness of hand in using the burin, an eye accustomed to minute things, attitude and limitless patience.

“Frankly, I declare myself satisfied with the result obtained, and more and more satisfied with having people who highlight its importance. 

“In these years of work I have counted thousands of coins brought back to life again and I hope to increase more and more the number.

Educating myself on Black-Jewish Relations

I don’t know much. Knowing one doesn’t know is part of the struggles, right?!  I do know it has a long history and it’s tied up in White supremacy and US patterns of oppression.

In my little corner of the US (the greater NYC area) this has been made more frought by the recent NJ City shootings.  On my campus the Africana Studies and Judaic Studies department came together to lead our response.  And I’m grateful for that.

So what am I reading and thinking about in my efforts at self education and contextualization:

A CNN article on how Fake Twitter Accounts have been attempting to breed animosity.

An introductory essay intended to be part of a curriculum program by the Jewish Women’s Archive.

I’m ordering this edited volume.  Older, but seems a good collection of essays and set on a number of syllabi (one cool 1999 syllabi) I’ve seen on this topic.

Salzman, Jack, and Cornel West. 1997. Struggles in the promised land: towards a history of Black-Jewish relations in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press.

Goodreads link

Another book I’ve read parts of and which I want to spend more time with:

Goldstein, Eric L. 2006. The price of whiteness: Jews, race, and American identity. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Goodreads link

Haaretz has a whole tag of article both news and opinion on Jews and Blacks

I was particularly struck by this opinion piece: “Tempted to Compare anti-Semitism With Anti-black Racism? Just Don’t”

A 2017 NPR article with historical retrospective

I’m concerned this self education program doesn’t have enough Black voices on it.  I need to think about how to fix that…

Further suggestions for reading welcome.

Bactrian 2nd Cent BCE Contract mentioning Struck Coinage and Scythians



I was doing some syllabus work and ended up reading this article (just fascinating and also lots of ethics issues about source of objects!)

I’m posting hear with some pretty coins so I can find it again the next time I teach Bactria or Scythia and use in my lecture.

Antimachos I tetradrachm.




Antimachos II tetradrachm.


Bronzes because elephants are nice and those with bells on are even nicer.



Copenhagen unpublished (?) overstrikes

Not that exciting as it is a well known type of over strike from Crawford (RRC 63/6 over Sardo-Punic Tanit / Bull and Star type), but still it made my boring grading and photo-editing date that much more awesome and fun.

Capture4Capture2 (2)CaptureCapture2Capture3

Example of undertype but very different die.


Crawford’s table:


Of all the previously documented overstrikes by FAR my favorite is Berlin, just HILARIOUS.

I can’t tell the under type of this one. Can you?



Amphora and Spearhead Bars (again)

One of the worrying things about RRC [12/2] is that the amphora doesn’t look much like any ancient amphora and the spearhead (esp. the notches on two of the specimens).  So today as I look at images on an old blog post, I realized how damn similar the two sides were in design.

Let me try to show you what I see in a series of photo shopped images of the BM specimen:




There is a weird logic of near visual parallels on these bars:





shield inside/outside

This design is playing the same visual game.  It makes sense within the general design motifs of early Roman coins, e.g. the Apollo l./Apollo r. series.

I also think it probably made carving molds easier.  You impress the basic outline and then just carve in the details to make it look a little sharper.

Related Posts:

On Amphora symbolism

On spearheads