Another Interesting Trajan Tridrachm of Phoenicia, Tyre

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by robinjojo, Oct 14, 2020.

  1. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    This is the second tridrachm I have purchased this year. What I find unusual with this coin is that it is a smaller cousin of the tetradrachm with the Tyche and swimming river god reverse.

    This is a crude coin, and it would not win any beauty contests. There's a major flan lamination on obverse, to the point where the metal split actually elevates part of Trajan's head. Beneath that point earthen material was deposited over the centuries, providing a natural bonding agent, thus keeping the leading edge from getting bent or breaking off. Additionally, there are two flan flaws on the reverse.

    On the plus side, the reverse has a nice depiction of Tyche and the river god doing some laps (perhaps she is his coach). Also, portrait of Trajan, lamination notwithstanding, is nice.

    So, here is the coin. I would like to get your opinions on it, and any references for this type. I have been unable to locate anything on the Internet.

    Roman Empire, 110/11 AD
    Phoenicia, Tyre
    Obverse: Trajan facing right
    Reverse: Tyche, seated, river god swimming below
    9.8 grams
    24 mm (widest point), 6 h.

    D-Camera Trajan, tridrachm, Phoenicia, Tyre, 110-11 AD, 9.8 g,. 10-14-20.jpg
    +VGO.DVCKS, cmezner, ominus1 and 10 others like this.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I think it's a low weight tetradrachm. I could be wrong though. It's a common reverse for a tetradrachm of him.
    +VGO.DVCKS and cmezner like this.
  4. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    You might be right, but the flan weighs 9.8 grams, and I don't see any signs of filing or clipping.

    What's the weight range of his tetradrachms? Most of the example that I see online or at auction appear to be around 13 to 14 grams or so.

    At 9.8 grams, this coin's weight is well below that range.

    Also, the dies appear to be smaller, compared to the tetradrachms, but that could be an illusion, one of many that I have.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  5. singig

    singig Well-Known Member

    Nice coin !
    you are right , I was able to find only tetradrachms between 24 - 27 mm / 13 -15.1 grams. On the RPC online they have around 250 specimens , all are tetradrachms , all are above 13 grams.
    +VGO.DVCKS, cmezner and robinjojo like this.
  6. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    robinjojo, Tridrachms & didrachms were struck in the reign of Trajan, however the tridrachms listed by McAlee are all of the Melqart-Hercules type. He does illustrate 8 examples of your coin type but they are listed as tetradrachms. The average weight for tridrachms in Trajan's reign is 10.68 gm, so your coin is even light for a tridrachm. Didrachms average 7.21 gm. There was a debasement in his coinage in AD 109, & your coin type is AD 109 or later. The overall quality after debasement deteriorated, & your coin shows this.
    +VGO.DVCKS and robinjojo like this.
  7. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you, Al.

    So, would it be appropriate to classify this coin as a tridrachm, or a tridarachm wanna be?

    The debasing makes sense regarding the lamination. If the metal is too brittle due to debasement, I can see how it could shatter when struck. Also I suspect that the flan was not annealed properly before striking.

    Thanks again.
  8. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    I would label the coin AR Tridrachm weight: 9.8 gm, 24 mm, 6 h. There is a lot of controversy exactly were these coins were made with most experts leaning towards Tyre, Phoenicia. We know that Tyre manufactured coins for other cities. The top coin pictured below appears to be a product of the pre-debasement period, & the bottom coin is post debasement period like your coin. I sold both of these coins at a Heritage auction 12 years ago.

    Trajan slab.jpg Trajan AR Tetradrachm.jpg
    McAlee 455a obv..jpg Trajan Tet., Ex Tom Cederlind (2).jpg
  9. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    I was considering labeling my coin as a debased tetradrachm, due to the tetradrachm reverse design, but since the weight is significantly below the tetradrachm range, and closer to that of a tridrachm, I'll go with the tridrachm designation.

    I would assume that were the coin weighed by a merchant or trader in ancient times, they would consider it a tridrachm; even back then I am sure people were loath to over-value such a coin.

    Thank you.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  10. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Well look at all the flan flaws
    I wish @Barry Murphy would weigh in his opinion on this. I still think it's a lightweight tetradrachm & I would label it so if it was mine.
    DonnaML and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  11. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    Just a light weight tetradrachm. There are no Tyre mint Tridrachms, just tets and a small issue of didrachms under Trajan.

    Barry Murphy
  12. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    What's going on in the right field of the reverse, the spot that looks like a large C in the field? Also there are some breaks in the silvering on the obverse in front of Trajan's face. This is possibly a fourre. If you want to send it to me I can do a specific gravity on it for you.

    Barry Murphy
    robinjojo, singig and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  13. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    That "C" on the reverse is a rather deep pit, probably a flaw, given the debased metal and poor refining.

    When I first looked at the coin, fourre crossed my mind, but the lamination on the obverse, when the metal separated during striking, I believe, does not show signs of a copper core, nor do I see any indications elsewhere on the coin. There is a little green deposit in the reverse pit, but I would attribute it deposition of oxides, or the leaching of copper oxide from the alloyed silver. I just don't see any tell-tale breaks that would indicate silver plating and a copper core beneath.

    Now, having said this I would be happy to send you the coin for a SG test, however, if the silver has been debased, say to .750, then the SG test would likely be below what is expected for silver or alloyed silver of a higher level.

    Please send me your mailing address through a CT conversation.

    Thank you for your help and expertise with this challenging coinage of Trajan.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2020
  14. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    I took a couple of snaps of my Trajan tetradrachm from Tyre, with the Tyche reverse, purchased in June 2019.

    This example weighs 14.3 grams and it has quite an oblong flan (27.5 mm at the widest point).

    D-Camera Trajan, tetradrachm, Phoenicia, Tyre, 103-11 AD,  Prieur 1498, 14.3 g,. 10-14-20.jpg

    The date for this coin is 103-111 AD. It does show some flan stress or flaws on the obverse, on Trajan's bust. Could this be another debased coin?

    Also, compare the dies with the first coin that I posted. The dies used for the first example are noticeably smaller, as if they were designed for a tridrachm or even a didrachm.

    To make the comparison easier, here is the first coin posted.


  15. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    For comparison, here is an image I got online of a Trajan fourre tetradrachm RSC 53 type, weighing 9.87 grams.


    Given the feedback so far, I am now thinking that the first coin posted is a debased tetradrachm, possibly approaching billon in composition.

    Is it possible for a coin to have a debased silver core (billon) with silver plating? Would the Tyre mint ever produce such an item?
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2020
    Edessa and Bing like this.
  16. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    robinjojo, I've never read anything about the Tyre mint plating over a billon core, & it really sounds impractical considering the huge output from that mint. In regards to Barry Murphy's comment "There are no Tyre mint Tridrachms," Michel Prieur does illustrate a number of Tridrachms in his book in the chapter on Tyre coinage, see the passages I photographed below.


    Richard McAlee also lists & illustrates a number of Tridrachms in his book on the Coinage of Roman Antioch, see photos below. He also reiterates the exact manufacture of these coins has yet to be proven. All these Tridrachms are rare to Extremely Rare.

    Edessa and robinjojo like this.
  17. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you, Al.

    I guess that I'm back to tridrachm with this coin.

    There are notable differences between the dies used for the tetradrachm, so I suspect the intent was to produce a tridrachm. It would be difficult to question the mint employees at this point, so this is the best conclusion, it seems to me.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page