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The plot thickens! Third reverse type discovered for "Album hoard" type Gadhaiya


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Over the past 2.5 years, Stephen Album has sold approximately 800-900 Gadhaiya coins of an unpublished type, mostly in lots of 100-120. I managed to win 3 lots containing some 340ish coins, and discovered that all the coins were struck by only 2 obverse and 2 reverse dies.

The prototype:



Obverse die I, Reverse A - The obverse is oriented correctly and is reasonably accurate, and the reverse is simplified and chunky, but gets the major details right. About 40% of the hoard was struck with these dies.



Obverse I reverse B - Same obverse die but the reverse is more finely engraved, but also more sloppy- the bowl of the fire altar is tilted with crooked lines and it looks like the dot standing in for the Pillar is slipping out on the right side. These are by far the rarest, with only about 10 specimens.



Then comes obverse die II with reverse A- a sloppily engraved mess with the portrait facing left instead of right - unique among all of Indo Sassanian coinage! These were slightly less than 25% of the hoard


And finally II/B - these were about 35% of the hoard



Then, a few weeks ago I spotted a lot of about 30 coins from this hoard on eBay and bought them because I thought I saw some coins that were off centered enough to show some of the extremities of the die. After receiving them in hand late last week, they are in fact a new reverse die C!





Each were 7-8 of the 30 coins I bought. Reverse die C I'm still trying to make sense of, but I did my best to orient it for the photos - I'm seeing two lines each for both the bowl and base of the fire altar, a single faint line on the left side for the attendants arms, and the rest is just a confused sea of dots. There are also 2 small dots visible at about 10:00 on the II/C coin that helped me identify these as all being the same die.

This entire emission is very unusual and I think was an illicit operation by a few individuals with at least 2 preparing dies. Diameters are fairly consistent at 14-16mm but every coin is a different thickness with weights ranging from barely over 3g to nearly 7g. The coins also have an "edged" look to the flan and many have heavy file marks, but some have edge cracks and many are double struck, so these clearly were not cast. My theory about their production:

- Flans were probably cast in trees with hand-carved dimples for each, owing to the dramatic difference in thickness. They probably traced around an authentic Gadhaiya and then just guessed at how deep to make it.

- After casting, they were transferred and struck while still soft. They likely started out with one set of dies and then a different individual carved a second set, not realizing that the design had to be reversed. At some point perhaps reverse A wore out or broke, and the reverse C was made to replace it?

- When the coins were finished, it appears that the marks from casting were filed off, as file marks are seen on the devices as well as the edge.

The concern has crossed my mind that these could potentially be modern forgeries, but all signs point to a highly inexpert and completely manual manufacture. Fake gadhaiyas exist, but they are always machine-made and identical, because the profit margin is far too small to warrant hand-striking.

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