A Weird Hadrian from Alexandria

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by SeptimusT, Oct 25, 2020.

  1. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    I love quirky coins. I also love Roman Egypt. That meant that I had to have this unique specimen, even if I'm not sure what to make of it. It's a drachm of Hadrian that has been filed to have a serrated edge. Based on the patina, this appears to have happened in antiquity, and would have likely taken some amount of work, judging by the depth of the scratches left on Hadrian's bust by a few slips on the file. Why? You tell me. And if you have a similar coin, please share!

    Modified Alexandria Hadrian.jpg
    Alexandrian drachm of Hadrian; modified
    : ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙ - ΤΡΑΙ ΑΔΡΙΑ ϹƐΒ; laureate draped and cuirassed bust of Hadrian, r., seen from rear
    Reverse: L IE; Alexandria, head bowed, standing, r.; to r., Emperor (Hadrian), laureate-headed, wearing toga, standing facing, head l., holding sceptre
    Struck AD 130/1, 17g, 34mm; RPC III 5777

    If I'm not imagining it, it also appears to have a small graffito, which I wasn't able to really capture in the same image as the overall coin, on two of the serrations reading T Φι (or perhaps it was there before and was cut apart by the serrations):


    Similar modifications seem to show up over large spans of time and in different cultures; there's no shortage of Roman examples (see a bunch of them posted on FORVM), but they also show up in Qing Dynasty China, Central Asia, and early modern Britain. This is, to my knowledge, the only Alexandrian coin with such modification.

    Explanations range from creating cutting tools, toys, gaming tokens, decorations, or even combs. The possibility of a votive significance also crossed my mind. It may be that there isn't a single explanation for these, beyond noting that people do weird things with coins.
    eparch, Sulla80, Edessa and 14 others like this.
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  3. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    I believe I have seen other examples on drachms, (never noticed marks on the flanges though). A person could make an excellent collection of these done in antiquity. Most junk boxes have a few coins damaged centuries or millenia ago that most collectors ignore. It would be a fascinating specialty. Just like counterstamped large cents, I find the idea an excellent one to pursue, but I have too many subcollections as it is.
    SeptimusT likes this.
  4. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Very cool! I haven't seen an Alexandrian drachm modified in this fashion before. I don't have any theories, but have two similar-ish items from very different periods, one a 4th century Aelia Flaccilla AE2 and another a Byzantine anonymous class F follis from the 11th century.

    BYZANTINE AE Thing 3996.jpg
    AE 'Thing' (Anonymous Class F Follis cut into a 12-pointed star for use as a gaming token?). 4.35g, 22.8mm. Constantinople mint, AD 1059-1067. Sear Byzantine 1856. O: Christ seated on throne without back, raising right hand in benediction. R: IS XS / bASILE / bASIL, cross below.

    Aelia Flaccilla - AE2 Cut Gaming Token 3736.jpg
    AE2 (modified for use in ancient times, possibly as a gaming token?). 4.1g, 21.6mm. Antioch mint, circa AD 383-386. RIC IX Antioch 62. O: AEL FLACCILLA AVG, diademed and draped bust right. R: SALVS REI-PVBLICAE, Empress standing left, holding scroll; ANTЄ in exergue.
    Edessa, SeptimusT, Shea19 and 4 others like this.
  5. Broucheion

    Broucheion Supporter! Supporter

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  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Basileus Megalos

    Weird coin, but cool.
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  7. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

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  8. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    Bizarre, but very cool.
    SeptimusT likes this.
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