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Volume 1, Issue 3
  ANCIENTS IN THE NEWS    By: Alfredo De La Fe (From various sources)

Table of Contents:

Ancient Coin Collectors Guild to Have Another Benefit Auction in August
Dave Surber of Wildwinds Passes Away
Sylvia Hurter Passes Away
Large Hoard of Byzantine Gold Coins Found in Israel
Important Roman Coin Hoard Found in UK - Reported to PAS
Admiral Balchin’s HMS Victory Discovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration

Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG) to Have Another Benefit Auction in August

I just heard that there are plans for a second ACCG benefit auction to be held sometime in August. (Details will be announced soon via the ACCG website) As we are all aware, the ACCG has been fighting for the our rights to collect coins from antiquity. Please contact Wayne Sayles if you have coins, books or other items which may be appropriate for the auction.

Keep an eye on the ACCG website for details.

Dave Surber of Wildwinds Passed Away

I was incredibly saddened to learn that Dave Surber passed away suddenly last Friday at the age of 49. Dave is probably best known by numismatists for his ancient coin attribution site Wildwinds.com.  His site has served as an introduction of sorts to many new collectors and experienced numismatists alike.

The notice can be found in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sylvia Hurter Passed Away (Taken from the Cultural Property Observer blog)

Sylvia Hurter, long associated with the numismatic department of Bank Leu, and a well known scholar, has passed away. She began work in the coin trade as Leo Mildenberg's secretary, then became his principal assistant, then took on herself the responsibilities of Leu coins.

Here is a write up about her latest work. It should give some idea about type of work dealer-scholars like Ms. Hurter have produced:

Hurter Sylvia Mani. Die Didrachmenprägung von Segesta mit einem Anhang der Hybriden, Teilstücke und Tetradrachmen sowie mit einem Überblick über die Bronzeprägung. Biel, 2008. 440 pp. (text in German; five page summary in English), 29 plates of coins illustrated. (G322) $135.

Segesta was founded by the Elymians, who, along with the Sicani and the Siceli, formed the indigenous pre-Greek population of Sicily. Located in the northwestern part of the island, it became a major city in the area and soon became involved in local trading difficulties with its neighbor, Selinos. These initial difficulties son became more widespread as Segesta began to form alliances, first with the Carthaginians, and then with Athens, who, prompted by Segesta’s pleas for assistance, engaged in the disastrous Sicilian expedition (415-413 BC). Until now, interested collectors and scholars of the silver issues of Segesta have had to rely on several different published collections, which are out-of-print and a challenge to acquire. Now, Sylvia Hurter, a well-known and respected numismatist, has brought together together the silver coinage of this city in Die Didrachmenprägung von Segesta mit einem Anhang der Hybriden, Teilstücke und Tetradrachmen sowie mit einem Überblick über die Bronzeprägung.As the title indicates, this book is primarily a catalog of the didrachms struck by the city of Segesta. Beginning with the first issue in 475/70 BC, long after its immediate neighbors had already been minting this denomination, this book traces this coinage through the following 80 years, when Segesta ceased minting didrachms in favor of tetradrachms.

The catalog, divided into four distinct periods, consists of a die study listing each obverse and reverse die pair, accompanied by a record of examples in major collections and auction catalogs. Perhaps most welcome among the appendices are additional die studies of Segesta’s silver fractions and tetradrachms, as well as a brief overview of the bronze issues of the fifth and fourth centuries BC. Other appendices cover known examples of local hybrids (dies of Segesta used with coin dies of its immediate neighbors), ancient imitations and fourrées, and modern fakes. A helpful and detailed introduction to the city and its coinage provides a useful supplement to the catolog (including a six-page summary in English), and an up-to-date bibliography and register of examples found in public and private collections, hoards, and auction catalogs and price lists offers further information for study. Although the text is in German, it is highly accessible to a non-German audience, and should not prevent the collector and scholar from adding this important specialized work to his library.


An important hoard of Late Roman bronze coins was discovered by Metal Detectorists in a South Devon field (United Kingdom).

An example of how the Portable Antiquities Scheme has been successful in bringing amateurs and scholars together in the pursuit of a better understanding of the past.  If the PAS did not exist and if Metal Detecting were illegal in the United Kingdom chances are that this significant find would not have been discovered.

The radical archaeologist movement has been working very hard to discredit the PAS and the role that mumismatists, collectors and Metal Detectorists can play in the pursuit of understanding of our collective cultural heritage and history. 

According to an article in the Herrald Express of South Devon:

The coins have been analysed by leading Roman coin expert Sam Woodhead, of the British Museum.

They were minted throughout the empire in France, Germany, Rome and Turkey.

Danielle Wooton, Devon archaeological finds officer, told the inquest: “There was a lot going on at the time these coins were hidden. The Empire was falling apart.

“The coins are a really late date and because of the find is very interesting.

“We think that the nearest Roman settlement was at Exeter and they would have been hidden where no one would find them.

“It is only because a metal detector has found them and recorded them in this way that we know and it is this type of record that is changing the way we think about archaeology in South Devon.” [Emphesis added]

For more information the article can be found at the following link:

roman coins newton abbot denbury.

Admiral Balchin’s HMS Victory Discovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX), has discovered the British warship HMS Victory which was lost at sea in 1744.

The HMS Victory sank during a storm in 1744 with at least 900 men aboard and it is believed that the ship had more than 4 tons of gold coins on board, which could be worth considerably more than the treasure Odyssey raised from a Spanish galleon in 2007 and which the Spanish government has been trying to claim.

According to the company press release:

“Odyssey has been cooperating closely with the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) on the project, and all activities at the site have been conducted in accordance with protocols agreed with MOD and Royal Navy officials. Terms of collaboration between Odyssey and the UK MOD on the project are currently being negotiated, and an agreement similar to the Sussex Partnering Agreement has been proposed.

“Finding this shipwreck has solved one of the greatest shipwreck mysteries in history. Having discovered it in deep water far from where history says it was lost has served to exonerate Admiral Balchin and his officers from the accusation of having let the ship run aground on the Casquets due to faulty navigation,” commented Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have worked closely with the MOD on this operation, and anticipate that we will continue the excellent cooperative relationship that we have enjoyed working together on the Sussex project. Fortunately, this shipwreck is not in waters claimed by any other country, so we do not expect any interference in further exploration of the site.””

Odyssey has compiled a fascinating archeological report which I find interesting, considering all of the negative publicity that has been generated against the company by certain groups within the archaeological community.  This paper, along with the others posted on their site, is an example of how private ventures can make a contribution to our understanding of the past.  Perhaps if these groups would put the interests of science ahead of their extremist views they would actually help advance our understanding of the past, increase funding for the sciences and serve the greater good.  

As it stands, the science (as with most sciences) of archeology is seriously underfunded and does not have the resources that a company like Odyssey can bring to the table.



Copyright notices: Article and text Copyright 2009 by David Hendin, photographs copyright respective owners.

Copyright 2008-2014 Alfredo De La Fé