Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Lesbos coins

Lesbos, also known as Emerald Island, counts 320 kilometers of coastline. It is quite forested, has 2 mountain peaks and 2 large gulfs. Separated by the Mytilini Strait, Turkey is less than 10 miles away. Modern tourism in Greece only started to take off in the 1950s. The Lesbos Tourism Company, T.E.L., was incorporated in 1956 with its head office in Mytilene.

The Greek coins in the design of the company's shares, suggests the company wanted to promote the rich ancient inheritance of the island. Having collected coins as a child, this share certificate immediately drew my attention. Were these ancient Greek coins genuine or not ?

Mytilene, the capital of the island since the Greek classical period, was famous for its production of electrum coins that were struck from the late 6th through mid 4th centuries BC. Electrum is a natural alloy of gold, silver and other metals (a good conductor of electricity), but it was also produced artificially. For coinage electrum was preferred above gold because it was harder and more durable, and because techniques for refining gold were not known every where in the ancient world. The city of Mytilene used electrum with a gold composition of about 43%.

Further research on the depicted coins did not yield a quick result. So I asked the help of two numismatic experts : Mrs Dane Kurth,, and Mr Doug Smith,

Both were so kind to share their findings: thank you !  This is what they came up with independently from each other:
The head of Apollo on the obverse and the lyre on the reverse are common types from Mytilene. They were made in silver and bronze with that design over a long period. Many varieties are known.
This AR Stater from Mytilene dates around 350-250 BC.

So far for the similarities. What about the differences ?

Dane  :
There are coins with 'MYTI' (upwards) combined with either some small symbol or a letter or monogram in the right field (like the M in the example of the certificate), but not with 'MYTIL'.

Doug :
I do suspect that the artist for the engraving thought it would be more clearly a coin of Mytilene if the letters were rearranged all in one line. The fact that I have not seen a coin exactly like that one does not mean it did not exist.

Conclusion! The coins on the certificate are clearly derived from real ancient Mytilene coins. The engraver changed the legend a little to emphasize the link with Lesbos, and if he didn’t ... , then he probably used the design of a real coin that is probably extremely rare.


related link :

Monday, July 26, 2010

60 % at 10 o'clock, or how can you name your scanned detail images ?

This detail map (click to enlarge) shows the railway line of the Kristianstad-Hessleholms railway company. It is a vignette on a 1906 share of the Kristianstad-Hessleholms Järnvägsaktiebolag. The railway company was founded in 1863 and nationalized in 1944.

I often scan details of certificates, but how do I name these images ? The scanned image of a whole certificate gets the same filename as the ID - identification number - of the certificate in my database. In this case, the certificate has an ID of 1405.  So, the image has 1405.jpg as its filename being the name of the certificates ID and the file type "jpg" in this case.  

Scanned image files of details on certificates also need a filename. This is how I do it. Just take a look at the example of the Swedish railway certificate.

  1. First, we need to position the vignette from a reference point.  I use the center of the certificate, which is at the crossing of the bisector lines. Now, imagine a clock in the center of the certificate.

  2. We position the vignette as a combination of a direction (an hour on the clock) and a distance of the center of the vignette from the center of the clock (0%) to the border (100%).
So, our detail image can be "positioned" at 10 o'clock - 60% . The filename of the resulting scan will be 1405_10_60.jpg, which is the outcome of the certificate ID, the hour position and the distance % and the file extension jpg.

Purists, can question this example and argue that 1405_1030_55.jpg is more accurate. However, it is an approach that has worked well for many years now, and, when ordering the files by filename in your file folder list, detail images get sorted along with the images of the whole certificate.

So, that's how I do it. I'd happy to learn from other approaches. In case you'd wonder, here is the whole certificate's image.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reference catalogue : Belgische Scheepvaartaandelen 1721-1989

I will occasionally briefly describe a reference book or catalogue in my postings.

  • Title : Belgische Scheepvaartaandelen 1721-1989
  • Authors : A. Steppe
  • ID: without publication number, published by Centrum voor Scriptophilie BVBA
  • Languages : English, introductions in Dutch and French
  • Number of pages : 88
  • Images : color, mostly 3 per page
  • Indexes : no indexes, but main ordering by company name
This catalogue includes shipping lines, shipyards, fishing and canal companies.

Reference catalogue : Belgian Tramways around the World

I will occasionally briefly describe a reference book or catalogue in my postings.

  • Title : Belgian tramways around the world
  • Authors : J.-L. De Beir
  • ID: without publication number, published by the Belgian Association for Scripophily
  • Languages : English, introductions also in French
  • Number of pages : 288
  • Images : color, frequently multiple per page
  • Indexes : no indexes, but main ordering by country, additional lists by company name, by date of creation and a list of unseen shares

Reference catalogue : Railways and Tramways in Spain and Portugal


front cover of the catalogue on shares and bonds of railway and tramway companies from  Spain and Portugal
  • Title : Reference catalogue of the bonds & shares of railway & tramway companies in Spain & Portugal
  • Authors : E. Boone, H. Shakespeare
  • ID: ISBN 90-9008705-2
  • Languages : English, introductions also in Spanish & Portuguese
  • Number of pages : 293
  • Images : black & white, almost on every page
  • Indexes : 1. on titles - Spain, 2. on titles - Portugal