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Parthicus Presents: Top 10 coins of 2023


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This year started off slowly for me, but by the end I managed to purchase some very nice coins. No "bucket list" pieces, but I ended up with some very historical and attractive coins. As usual, the order of the list is mostly random, except that the top slot is indeed my favorite of the year.

1. Sasanian Kingdom, Khusro III (631-2). AR drachm. One of the many short-lived claimants to teh Sasanian throne after the murder of Khusro II in 628, he controlled only the Khorasan region for a few months, and his coins are rare. Notice the beardless portrait- he was quite young (the scanty historical records don't say exactly how old). A rare coin from a turbulent period of history.


2. Crusaders in Antioch. Tancred (1104-1112), AE follis. (Photo borrowed from seller as it just arrived and I haven't photographed it yet.) On this specimen, you can clearly see that Tancred is wearing a turban. An attempt to ingratiate himself to the local population? Definitely an interesting piece.


3. Turco-Hephthalites. Vasu Deva (c.600-719), AR drachm. Not much historical information available, but I like the design (an interpretation of the Sasanian drachm) and the trilingual inscription. Plus, the tiny gold plug in the neck- this is apparently how the coins were made, perhaps as a guarantee of value?


4. Ghaznavids. mahmud (998-1030), dated 1028. AR dirham. Notable for the bilingual Arabic-Sanskrit inscription, the Sanskrit includes some key Islamic phrases and can be seen as an attempt to explain the Muslim religion to his newly-conquered Hindu subjects.


5. "Armenian-Sasanian". c.7th century CE? AR drachm. A Sasanian-imitative, probably struck in Armenia after the collapse of the Sasanian kingdom. Another coin where I mainly liked the design, and the history came second.


6. Ilkhans. Abu Sa'id (1316-1335). AR 6 dirhams. The Ilkhans (Mongols in Persia) tried out a number of innovative designs on their coins. On this one, I especially like the reverse use of Kufic Arabic script in a "square" format.


7. Roman Empire. Septimius Severus (193-211). AE sestertius. Yes, I do actually collect "classical" Greek and Roman coins sometimes. The reverse of the Emperor on horseback ties in nicely to the history of his military campaigns (including against Parthians), and on the obverse you can see he is wearing scale armor (lorica squamata).


8. Kushans. Wima Kadphises (c.113-127). AE drachm. While tetradrachms of this king and type are fairly common, the drachms are scarce, so I was happy to find this in a pick bin. The smooth, black patina is also very attractive in person, though I had trouble photographing it.


9. Parthians. Arsakes II (c.211-185 BCE). AE 16. Just a nice quality early Parthian bronze. The kind you see every day (not).


10. Arab-Sasanian. Salm ibn Ziyad (680-684). AR drachm. A scarce Arab-Sasanian drachm, from a governor whose loyalties proved flexible during a civil war.  

So, there's my Top 10 for 2023. Which were your favorites? Are there any that make you scratch your head at how anyone could like such a coin? Please comment below.


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