Ancient black signet with kings half-face

Discussion in 'Antique Discussion' started by Coins beads, Nov 8, 2019 at 9:21 AM.

  1. Coins beads

    Coins beads Member

    Good evening. I’d like to know the King’s name in this signet.
    I bought it from Afghanistan. B847D430-A854-4B4E-97E9-5AC9054800F7.jpeg 01A63047-937D-4854-A6F0-6B4471A38975.jpeg B14B349C-DC7B-437C-82B6-50F4190AEE0D.jpeg
     
  2. moreotherstuff

    moreotherstuff Izorizent

    Looks like a glass impression from an engraved gem. Idle guess would be Alexander the Great.
     
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  3. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

  4. Mat

    Mat Well-Known Member

    As the person seems to have long hair I would guess it is the goddess Athena.
     
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  5. Fid

    Fid Well-Known Member

    JMHO.
    fantasy piece showing a Gaul mercenary that fought for Rome.
     
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  6. Mat

    Mat Well-Known Member

    Fid, may I ask why a Gaul? I see not beard or moustache and the Attic helmet would be quite unusual, wouldn't it?
     
  7. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Mat is correct: it is the goddess Athena/Minerva. The braids, which you would see are tied beneath her chin if the image extended down farther, are definitive.

    It is an impression of an intaglio made into a blob of glass paste, meant to suggest a wax seal & has been given touches meant to suggest it is old. The gem it records may or may not be a genuinely old one, but this production is quite modern. Fake engraved gems & gem impressions have become quite an industry in some parts of the world. I hope you did not pay too much. :(
     
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  8. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

  9. Fid

    Fid Well-Known Member

    now I saw it, you're right.
     
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  10. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Not an unreasonable guess born of idleness. Alexander is on a number of Bactrian coins & many intaglios are copies of coin images. He's a general glyptic favorite:

    https://cameotimes.com/index.php/profiles-1/historical/alexander

    BTW. With the light behind, you can see it is black amethyst glass, which looks black except with strong light. Kovel's says it has been made since 1860, so, while glass does not rule out an antique, it does rule out an antiquity.
     
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  11. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    moreotherstuff and i need help like this.
  12. moreotherstuff

    moreotherstuff Izorizent

    Any Jewelry, Fid and Bronwen like this.
  13. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    The Poniatowski gems look so much like each other & so little like gems from the Classical period, it is hard to imagine, at a time when there were so many collectors/scholars/connoisseurs around, that anyone who had the chance to see even a handful of them together at the same time could have mistaken them as the products of antiquity. Not because Greek & Roman gem engravers weren't capable of producing work of such detail & quality, but because they rarely made anything so large, using stones so flawless, depicting some obscure bits from Classical authors, & then engraving their name right across the bottom. Think there had to have been some willful suspension of disbelief going on. The Met has a handful in storage:

    https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/202573

    There were so many other fakes meant to pass as genuine floating around, new work in the style of old & old stones with a bogus signature added, that the bottom fell out of the market without the help of Poniatowski. Some of this was perpetrated by the engravers themselves & some, perhaps even more, by unscrupulous dealers.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019 at 2:07 PM
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  14. moreotherstuff

    moreotherstuff Izorizent

    People see what they want to see. No one today can understand how the Han van Meergeren fakes of Vermeer gained acceptance, but they fooled the experts of the day.

    Perhaps it was seeing all the Poniatowski gems in one place at one time (the 1839 auction) that led to them being recognized as not archaic.
     
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  15. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    It's definitely true that the more of them you see, the more you appreciate them as a separate species, although quite wonderful in their own way. It was definitely the auction that finally blew the lid off.

    I have written about this elsewhere on the site, but I have my own pursuit of this sort going on. This amethyst of Achilles playing the kithara, with the name Pamphilos on it, vertically, in Greek, is a prized possession formerly of Louis XIV, now in the BnF, CdM:

    http://medaillesetantiques.bnf.fr/ws/catalogue/app/collection/record/ark:/12148/c33gbfkm9

    In a box in a bag in my living room is a little fob seal with a glass paste intaglio that is the same size as the amethyst. I have had one expert opinion, based on photos, that the paste is Roman glass, as I thought, although not a final verdict on whether or not it is an impression of the amethyst, as I also think, or just from a very accurate copy. It gets interesting if it is indeed a record of the gem from a time before it was given to Louis:

    Achilles synop 7.jpg

    Impressions of the amethyst & some other gems that copy it are shown in the Tassie collection:

    http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/gems/tassie/default.htm

    You can go to them by entering 9212-9217 in the box for searching by number. Some of the others also have the name Pamphilos cut into them, although they are clearly not exact copies.
     
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