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Are potin Alexandria Tetradrachms or Carausius Ants ever found with significant silvering?


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I believe some Alexandrian tetradrachms do have "surface enrichment" of some kind. Not sure how it was achieved, if it was a layer of silver added or if they leeched out surface copper before striking or something else.

Here's a Gordian III of mine with silvery surfaces: 

CONSERVATORI-Gordian_III_Helios_Tetradra

 

It's easier to see in video, especially when tilted against the lighting: 

 

Edited by Curtis JJ
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I’ve posted this one several times and can confirm that SOME later tetradrachms were silvered. I don’t know when silvering was done or how common it was but this particular coin was, without a doubt, silvered in antiquity.

AurelianEmmett3924.jpg.de2fcc37a42d111ae2bb7ce57a93d49e.jpg
AurelianTetMacro.JPG.dc229cb9e576ee2ba6f666dae9b01655.JPG

Aurelian - Alexandria - Year 5

Emmett 3923.5, Milne 4419, and Dattari 547

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At one time i owned this coin.

Billon Tetradrachm of Valerian I Alexandria Mint 256-257 AD Obv Bust right laureate draped and cuirassed Rv Eagle standing left head reverted. Emmett 5223 10.2 grms 

Xalexvaleriant1.jpg.1a5baade6c2947e0e34ab4d1273e26dd.jpg

 

THIS IS NO LONGER MY COIN I bout this coin back in 1973 I was always a little puzzled about the silvering on the obverse but I always felt that the silvering on the reverse was legit. 

 

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I did have at one time a Carausius Antoninianus with a reasonable amount of silvering. 

Silver washed Antoninianus of Carausius Uncertain mint 286-293 AD Obv Bust right radiate draped and cuirassed, Rv Laetitia standing left holding wreath and rudder RIC 822 24 mm 4.30 grms 

Xcarausius4a.jpg.be7d47df441b494204917abd569deddf.jpg

 

 

THIS IS NO LONGER MY COIN. This coin was very unusual for the amount of silvering still evident on the coin though again the silvering on the reverse appeared to be in better shape. I bought this coin from a local dealer who had gotten the coin as a part of  a collection that was dug up by a metal detectorist. I cannot say in truth that I have seen any other specimens with this level of silvering. 

 

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I have never seen an Alexandrian tetradrachm from after the mid Second Century AD with any visible silvering. Actually, right from the start of these issues the silver content always seemed to be an amalgam of some silver and copper, that is the entire coin was an alloy of silver and copper (and possibly tin or lead) melted together into a grayish appearance coin which after Commodus looks pretty much like a kind of bronze. This would prove to be an interesting study and I wonder if anyone (Harl?) has done one on the composition of the metal within and throughout the core metal of these coins as opposed to their surface appearance, as there clearly has been on the Third Century increasingly debased double denarius coins. I suspect that any  late tetras from Alexandria with what appears to be silvering is something done outside the mint and possibly quite recently for not well informed tourists.  It is also interesting to compare the Alexandria tetradrachm with the contemporary Antioch and other Eastern mint versions of the tetradrachm. They, too, were undergoing the debasement process but having started out with more silver in the First Century AD they retained a silverish appearance, again as an amalgam rather than plating, until their discontinuance mid Third century. A worthy study for someone who would like to do some graduate work in ancient numismatic archaeology. I'll be posting pictorial example in about 20 minutes. And here they are. On the obverse images, from the left, a tetradrachm of Nero, Alexandria mint, middle is a Nero tetra from Antioch, and on the top right an Alexandrian tetra of Vespasian. The two Alexandrians are each about 16.5 % silver but the tetra from Antioch is ca. 80% silver. The second or bottom row of the obverse coins are tetradrachms of ca, 250 AD. Again bottom, from the left an Alexandrian of Trajan Decius, an  Antioch tetra of Philip the Arab and on the right an Alexandrian of Gallienus from ca, 260 AD. The second set are their reverses. The Decius coin is ca, 7.5 %  silver, the Gallienus is about 4%. Neither has a silvery appearance. The Antioch tetra of Phillip is 12% silver and it still has a somewhat silvery appearance. Most of these observations come from the Kenneth Harl Book, Coins in the Roman Economy, one that I heartily recommend for those interested in the fabric of Roman coinage. Bottom line for me is that the Alexandrian tetradrachms lost any appearance of being silver by the start of the Third Century, AD, whereas the Antioch tetras retained enough silver in them to give a kind of silvery image, but using an amalgam of silver, not plating, like the Roman mints double denarii chose  to do. Four % silver as an amalgam is invisible silver whereas as plating a la the Roman mint coins gave them a silvery appearance, for a while, anyway.

IMG_2394tetras obv.jpg

tetras rev.jpg

Edited by kevikens
Adding pix.
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3 hours ago, kevikens said:

I have never seen an Alexandrian tetradrachm from after the mid Second Century AD with any visible silvering. Actually, right from the start of these issues the silver content always seemed to be an amalgam of some silver and copper, that is the entire coin was an alloy of silver and copper (and possibly tin or lead) melted together into a grayish appearance coin which after Commodus looks pretty much like a kind of bronze. This would prove to be an interesting study and I wonder if anyone (Harl?) has done one on the composition of the metal within and throughout the core metal of these coins as opposed to their surface appearance, as there clearly has been on the Third Century increasingly debased double denarius coins. I suspect that any  late tetras from Alexandria with what appears to be silvering is something done outside the mint and possibly quite recently for not well informed tourists.  It is also interesting to compare the Alexandria tetradrachm with the contemporary Antioch and other Eastern mint versions of the tetradrachm. They, too, were undergoing the debasement process but having started out with more silver in the First Century AD they retained a silverish appearance, again as an amalgam rather than plating, until their discontinuance mid Third century. A worthy study for someone who would like to do some graduate work in ancient numismatic archaeology. I'll be posting pictorial example in about 20 minutes. And here they are. On the obverse images, from the left, a tetradrachm of Nero, Alexandria mint, middle is a Nero tetra from Antioch, and on the top right an Alexandrian tetra of Vespasian. The two Alexandrians are each about 16.5 % silver but the tetra from Antioch is ca. 80% silver. The second or bottom row of the obverse coins are tetradrachms of ca, 250 AD. Again bottom, from the left an Alexandrian of Trajan Decius, an  Antioch tetra of Philip the Arab and on the right an Alexandrian of Gallienus from ca, 260 AD. The second set are their reverses. The Decius coin is ca, 7.5 %  silver, the Gallienus is about 4%. Neither has a silvery appearance. The Antioch tetra of Phillip is 12% silver and it still has a somewhat silvery appearance. Most of these observations come from the Kenneth Harl Book, Coins in the Roman Economy, one that I heartily recommend for those interested in the fabric of Roman coinage. Bottom line for me is that the Alexandrian tetradrachms lost any appearance of being silver by the start of the Third Century, AD, whereas the Antioch tetras retained enough silver in them to give a kind of silvery image, but using an amalgam of silver, not plating, like the Roman mints double denarii chose  to do. Four % silver as an amalgam is invisible silver whereas as plating a la the Roman mint coins gave them a silvery appearance, for a while, anyway.

IMG_2394tetras obv.jpg

tetras rev.jpg

@kevikens did you see my partially silvered Aurelian example above? I’ve given this coin a close look and the silvering is clearly ancient as it’s under dirt, encrustations and mineralization. Silvering on these late tetradrachms is a rarity to see. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

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I did see it. It may have acquired a coating of silver oxide from being stored, for centuries, within a hoard of silver coins. I would have to see other examples, several, to determine if it was applied at the mint and in ancient times.

 

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One other point. What may appear as traces of silver on some of these Alexandrine coins may be traces of potin which under the right conditions can be mistaken for silver, one reason why potin came to be used on these coins, to give them a deceptive silverish appearance. I don't claim that late plating was never done on Alexandrine tetras. Indeed, I have one from Alexandria, but it is of Ptolemy I circa 300 BC and the plating was obvious. Sorry to appear skeptical about this and I will do some more research on plating rather than using an amalgam low silver alloy as the method of debasement for late Alexandrine tetradrachms.

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Hi All,

Mid 2nd century Alexandrian tets with silvering do exist but they are hard to find, and of course you'll pay extra for the nicer ones. Witness two from my collection below. Julia Mamea and Maximinus Thrax.

image.png.a77ee6fd2b593320eb85629e73cc2223.png

 

image.png.7b5265a5ddab65578836f7e255f6489b.png

 

- Broucheion

Edited by Broucheion
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