Beasts from the Valerian-Gallienus dynasty

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Pellinore, May 19, 2019.

  1. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    Being a bit under the weather, I thought this grey Sunday to be best suited for putting the wins from the N.M.McQ. Holmes collection into my system. They are not beauties, none of them, but beasts: interesting rarities.

    This one has a pedigree of decades. It came with three labels, one of this CNG auction, one from the Kerry Wetterstrom collection sale of 1990. I can't say if the other label is from before or after that, maybe one of you knows more about this. It says Joel D. Coen Inc., and I understand he was a great numismatic mogul of the 1970s and 1980s.

    Pedigree Gall ct.jpg

    3308 Gall drachm ct.jpg

    It's a rare drachm of Alexandria, issued by Gallienus in his 12th year of reign. Third century Alexandrian coins are almost always tetradrachms, rarely drachms.

    Obv. Laureate and cuirassed bust right. Rev. Homonoia standing left, right hand raised, holding double cornucopia; L IB (date) to left, palm frond to right. 27.5 mm, 12.37 gr. Köln –; Dattari (Savio) 5293; K&G 90.85; Emmett 3844.12 (R3). Flan flaw.
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  3. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Nice! I'd love to get one of these later Alexandrian drachms eventually.

    Here are two actual beasts from that auction that I couldn't resist adding to my zoo.

    Gallienus - ex Holmes Zoo Criocamp 3536.jpg
    AE Antoninianus. 3.35g, 22.1mm. Rome mint, 8th officina, 10th issue, AD 267-268. 'Zoo' series. MIR 36, 741b; RIC V (sole reign) 242; Wolkow 21a8 (R); Cunetio 1389. O: GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head right. R: MERCVRIO CONS AVG, Criocamp to right; H in exergue.
    Ex N. M. McQ. Holmes Collection; ex Rauch Sommerauktion 2010 (13 September 2010), lot 1208

    Gallienus - ex Holmes Zoo Bull 3537.jpg
    AE Antoninianus. 3.41g, 22.7mm. Rome mint, 11th officina, 10th issue, AD 267-268. 'Zoo' series. MIR 36, 749b; RIC V (sole reign) 285; Wolkow 28a11 (R);Cunetio 1404. O: GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head right. R: SOLI CONS AVG, bull standing right; XI in exergue.
    Ex N. M. McQ. Holmes Collection (bought from Baldwin's, 1990)
  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That's a lovely coin. The only reason you call it a beast is because of the flan chip. As you well-know* this arises from the fact that the chamfered flans were cast en chapelet, that is, using open or closed molds in which a number of mold hollows were connected by channels. When the metal cooled and hardened, these channels remained as sprue or runners, which were broken off either before or after striking. Removal in this case took some of the flan with it.

    I think this sort of thing is interesting, even though it may not be aesthetically pleasing. And with rare coins, such as this, we can't be condition cranks or we'd have no rarities in our collections at all! And it's great to have such a known provenance, too!

    *I'm writing for the benefit of new collectors who may be unaware of the process.

    Oooh! Those are some of the more difficult issues in the zoo series to acquire! Score!!!
  5. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I'm not sure that is the case with Roman Egyptian flans. I'd expect to see more sprue remnants even if each individual flan was "machined" to remove the sprue, and those just aren't out there. Perhaps these were poured into individual molds without interconnections between flans.
    Pellinore likes this.
  6. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you! I called it a beast because most of the coins I bought from this catalogue are in the first place historically interesting, not esthetically. Coins like this drachm were possibly minted for a festivity. Drachms of Gallienus only exist for the year 12, and only in four reverse varieties: Eagle, Irene (= personification of Peace), Homonoia and Nike. They might have been given out to people attending festive games.
    It is rare and because of the damage I could win it. But the portrait is nice.
    Roman Collector and TIF like this.
  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    You're much more familiar with these issues than I am, of course. What is going on with the flan on this one?

    Bing likes this.
  8. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I don't know-- a defect depression prior to pouring the flan... if the flans are made by pouring molten metal into individual impressions in sand (or other medium)?

    When I think of flan molds connected by channels, and how the resulting flan and coin look, there are frequently seen flat areas where the sprue was chiseled off or prominent areas where the sprue was incompletely removed. Those features just aren't present on these drachms.

    What I do see however is occasional evidence of overfilling of an open-faced poured flan. If the flans were created by pressing the chamfered "obverse" into sand, and then the metal poured into these individual depressions, overfilling would cause excess metal to flow out in a thin layer on what will be the drachm's reverse. This is best seen on high grade examples because that thin rim of metal would be prone to wear.

    Here are some examples where I can imagine that happening:

    From CNG's archives:


    From Schick on Vcoins:


    From CNG's archives:



    I'm just speculating and don't have any resources which bear this out. Or, perhaps I have read it somewhere and forgot the source :D.
    Chris B, chrsmat71, Bing and 2 others like this.
  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for your detailed explanation. I wonder what's going on in the case of @Pellinore 's coin -- maybe it got nipped by the tongs when taking the flan out of the annealing furnace.
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  10. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    It's a thick and heavy coin, that depression must have been made with a lot of force.
  11. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    (edited: replied about a different coin)

    Pellinore's coin does look like the "bite" was made sometime after striking. Perhaps there was a flan flaw with or without later corrosion, leading to a bite-shaped defect. I wonder if Kerry Wetterstrom has some ideas about it. He's an Alexandrian expert and former owner of this coin. Perhaps you could write to him-- he's with CNG now at the Lancaster office.
    Pellinore and Roman Collector like this.
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