A Very "Silvery" Alexandrian Tetradrachm of Claudius II Gothicus

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Curtis, Jun 10, 2023.

  1. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    I just received a fun selection of Claudius II Gothicus Tetradrachms from Egypt, Alexandria, struck in 269/270 CE (Year 2).

    One has an exceptionally "silvery" appearance. You hardly ever see Alexandrian Tetradrachms this late that look like anything other than copper/bronze, though they're usually described as "potin."

    I'm not sure if it's actually silver at the surface, or maybe tin or zinc. But this one has a "lucky" edge chip which appears to reveal a darker, ordinary copper core. I should probably try to get a better edge photo:

    Kellner 11 Triptych WH.jpg

    Expandable Thumbnails for "normal" ones (all from the "AK Collection" & illustrated in W. Kellner's [2009] Alexandria.)
    Kellner 12 Plate e.jpg Kellner 13 Plate e.jpg Kellner 17 Plate e.jpg

    The "silvery" one, as illustrated in Kellner:

    Kellner 11 Plate e.jpg

    Anyone seen one like this before?

    Or know any references on the surface enrichment, silver content, or flan production relevant to this period (mid/late 3rd century Alexandrian)? I think I've seen some earlier Alexandrian Tetradrachms cut in half for research (maybe in Butcher & Ponting's research), revealing a distinct layer of silver over a copper core, but I'm not sure where...
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic


    I had the same issue with this Gallienus tetradrachm. I bought solely because it had an odd silver look too it.

    Keith Emmett had to narrow the date down for me & type as a whole.

    He was stumped as to why it was silver looking too but did say it probably wasn't silver but a mix of other low-value metals.

    Gallienus (253 - 268 A.D.)
    Egypt, Alexandria
    Billon Tetradrachm
    O:ΑΥΤ Κ Π ΛΙΚ ΓΑΛΛΙΗΝΟC CΕΒ. Laureate, and cuirassed bust right.
    R: Homonoia standing left, holding double cornucopia and raising hand; palm in right field, to left, date ΛΙΔ
    Dattari 3816
  4. BusterLuke

    BusterLuke New Member

    Very nice. I have a couple of chunky Tretradrachms myself and all I can say regarding the edges is that they are deliberately rough looking, apparently due to being cast in sand and also as some very early anti-fraud measure.

    Mine are not shiny, but apparently are potin (or billon) which by my understanding could be one of many alloy types, sometimes containing a very small amount of silver.
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  5. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    That's a fascinating Gallienus! Thanks for sharing it. I would definitely have bought that one too if I had the chance.

    That sounds likely about the other low-value metals. It would be really interesting if someone ever XRF'ed the surface of these. I was planning to mention this coin to Emmett, too.
  6. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    That's a great coin! I would have tried to pick that one up if I'd noticed it too!

    I have this Aurelian that was for certain silvered in ancient times. Over the years, I've posted it several times and many people have tried to explain it away because tetradrachms of the late third century were not silvered most say. Well... they were!

  7. Broucheion

    Broucheion Well-Known Member

    Hi All,

    That’s what they looked like when newly minted. It’s always a great joy to get them in this state. The silver soon rubbed off after a little circulation. Congratulations.

    - Broucheion
  8. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I have a Valerian I with silvering, too.

    Valerian I (253 - 260 A.D.)
    Egypt, Alexandria
    Billon Tetradrachm
    O: A K Π ΛI OVAΛEPIANOC EV EVC, Laureate and cuirassed bust right
    R: Tyche seated left, holding rudder and cornucopia; L Δ (Year 4, 256/7 A.D.) to upper left.
    Köln 2867; Dattari (Savio) 5174; K&G 88.28; Emmett 3721.4.
  9. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    Virtually all of the late Alexandrian Roman provincial tetradrachms from the mid to late 3rd century and early 4th century AD that I have seen are dark, rough coins. The OP coin seems to have most of the sliver wash present, which is quite unusual, a very nice coin indeed.

    My latest "silver" tetradrachm from this period was issued by Gallienus. I think this coin is actually another example of virtually all of the silver wash still preserved, either that or the flan is composed of lower grade silver (high grade billon?).

    Gallienus, tetradrachm, 253-268 AD, Alexandria, RY 14 (266/67 AD). Sol reverse.
    10.22 grams

    D-Camera Gallienus Tet;  253-268 AD, Alexandria, RY 14 266-267 AD, 10.22g HJB 7-2021 9-18-21.jpg
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  10. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    Wow @robinjojo -- that's one fantastic Gallienus Tetradrachm! All of them posted are great coins. I do remember seeing @Orange Julius 's Aurelian before -- those close up photos are really interesting.

    Speaking of reasons I'm jealous of the robinjojo Gallienus, I have Alexandrian tetradrachms from a few other rulers with that same Helios reverse, so I kinda sleep-walked into a mini-sub-collection of them. My Gordian III has a bit of extra "silveryness" even for its earlier era (still often Billon, not fully Potin yet!), but it still outshone by Gallienus & Helios!

  11. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    this Gallienus / Helios 4Dr is gorgeous !

    I have one, I like its so Alexandrian style very much, but unfortunately there is not the lightest trace of silvering on it...

    gallienus alexandria.jpg
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  12. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

    Very interesting. Some great coins and photography displayed on this thread!
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  13. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    That's a very choice coin! Wonderful style.
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