Jump to content

Scarce Parthian drachm with possible die link


Recommended Posts


Parthian Kingdom. Traxiane mint. AR drachm (20 mm, 4.01 g). Orodes II (57- 38 BCE). Obverse: Diademed bust left, no star or crescent symbols in field, toque ends in pellet. Reverse: Seated archer right, mintmark T under bow, somewhat degraded Greek legend around. Sellwood 45.27. This coin: Pars Coins Auction 31, lot 104 (October 31, 2022).

(note: Next 1.5 paragraphs made with recycled post-consumer text)

Orodes II was a son of the Parthian king Phraates III (c.70-57 BCE). In 57 BCE, Orodes and his brother Mithradates (called Mithradates III in older references, now believed to be IV) conspired to kill their father and take over the throne. The two brothers seem to have shared power for a short while, but soon quarreled, and within a couple of years Orodes killed Mithradates to become sole ruler. Orodes had several fights with the Romans, most notably at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BCE where the Parthians wiped out a large Roman force led by the triumvir Crassus. In 38 BCE, his favorite son Pakoros was killed in battle in Roman Syria, forcing the distraught Orodes to choose a new heir. Unfortunately, the son he chose, Phraates IV, was quite bloodthirsty and promptly killed his father and other brothers to consolidate his grasp on power.

The portrait style on this coin is quite nice, but what most made me decide to buy it is the rare mintmark of T for Traxiane. Traxiane was the Parthian-era name for what was later called Khorasan, in northeastern Iran, and refers to the whole province rather than just one city. Traxiane is one of the rarest mintmarks for the 1st century BCE (only Aria seems to be rarer, in my experience) so I was quite happy to snag this coin.

However, I was even more excited to discover, while researching the coin, a possible die link. Compare this coin to one posted in CoinTalk by @Alwin in a thread discussing a previous coin of mine:

After careful comparison, I am convinced that both obverses were struck from the same die. My coin shows more detail on the clothing decorations, which is due to more of the design fitting on my coin's flan. There is a small die break on my coin's obverse, connecting the lower two diadem ends, that is not visible on Alwin's coin; this may mean that Alwin's coin was struck before the die break occurred, and mine was struck afterwards. I am less sure about the reverse: the two coins are indeed extremely similar on the reverse, but there seem to be a few minor differences. (On my coin the T mintmark has prominent dots at the end of both arms of the crossbar, while on Alwin's the right end does not have a dot. There are some other small apparent differences in the legend letters on the right side of the coins.) It seems unlikely to randomly stumble across a die linkage like this, but given that this coin issue is scarce, there were probably not a lot of different dies used to originally strike these coins, so the likelihood of finding a die linkage for any two randomly selected coins of the issue is increased. Please let me know what you think, and post any related coins you have.


Edited by Parthicus
Autocorrect turned "and mine" to "anemone"
  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congrats on the rarer-mint drachm, Parthicus. Good pickup. I suspect you've got a double die match to Alwin's. Although I'm just scanning up and down this page to compare the two, rather than taking the pics into Photoshop to properly compare side-by-side, it nevertheless seems to me that there are just too many correspondences between the reverses to be coincidental.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...