Featured Chicken & Waffles

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by TIF, Feb 16, 2019.

  1. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    TROAS, Dardanos
    c. 450-420 BCE
    AR obol; 9 mm, 0.56 gm
    Obv: cock standing left
    Rev: cross-hatch pattern
    Ref: Nomismata 3, 303; Demeester 98; SNG Ashmolean 1119 (all references unverified; I do not have copies of these reference books/catalogs)

    Clearly this is the ancient inspiration for a classic dish of the US South :D

    image source

    Obvious joke aside, there is a reason these coins caught my attention several years ago (took me a while to win one; they are rare). The reverse type-- this cross-hatching design-- seems to be found only on this type of coin. Who really cares, you say? Probably no one. However, it made me wonder a couple of things about incuse punches used for the reverse of so many archaic and early Hellenistic Greek coins.
    1. What is the purpose of having any design on these archaic geometric punches? Why not use a plain, unembellished punch?
    2. Why does this coin have cross-hatching instead of one of the more popular styles of geometric reverses?
    Before taking on the questions, here's an array of reverses with crude punches or simple geometric incuse designs (none are my coins):


    1. Kings of Lydia, EL trite, c. 630s-564/53 BCE. The first and most crude type of punch; no real design or geometry. The easiest to make but arguably not as effective in pushing metal into the obverse die.
    2. Ionia, Ephesos; Phanes, EL trite, c. 625-500 BCE. Similar to the Lydia trites, with two punches (or one punch joined together?). Crude and probably easy to make.
    3. Mysia, Cyzicus, c. 460-420 BCE, EL stater. Quadripartite incuse punch. Note the angles of each square; imagine what the die would look like. This would require more labor than simple lines.
    4. Thraco-Macedonian Tribes, AR stater, c. 490 BCE. This reverse is not as simple to make as it seems because the central design is really a punch-- I think it is a full die. Note that the field outside of the squares is flat and in plane with the "+" of the central design, so the flat outer fields must be an integral part of the reverse die.
    5. Macedon, Mende, c. 500-470 BCE, AR tetradrachm. "Mill-sail" pattern. I think the reverse die for this coin was also more than a simple punch. It would have incorporated the flat "fields", so the reverse was really a full die rather than a punch.
    6. Aegina stater, c. 380-360 BCE. "Skew pattern". Simple, but it arguably requires more skill than the "waffle" die because the engraver hand to exercise care and skill at the intersection of the shorter diagonal line.

    Of the six styles shown, I think only the first three are what I would consider a punch. The second three were reverse dies which had flat outer margins and raised central elements which created the incuse design. Making the latter types is much more complicated.

    Question 1: What is the purpose of having any design on the reverse punch?

    Perhaps the purpose of having some type of engraving on the reverse punch was to help keep the punch from skiving off the flan when it was struck and to keep the flan from flying off the striking platform if the strike was a glancing blow or off-center. The extra engraving would add grip. If this is the reason, and not considering later reverse dies which had more meaningful designs on the reverse (as an identifier, for political messages, for informational content), wouldn't it make sense to do the easiest type of engraving?

    Another possibility is simply that they (the issuing entity or designer) just wanted some sort of design but didn't think it was worth much effort, hence the initial use of simple designs.

    I like the first theory best. How about you? Or, perhaps this information has been hashed over and settled long ago and I just didn't do an effective search? :D

    Question 2: Why does this Dardanos obol have a crosshatch pattern?

    The easiest reverse die or punch design would be lines... straight lines, across the entire width of the reverse die. They can be created with a simple graver or a file. Easy-peasy. A few intersecting straight lines would provide good grip and could be engraved in the reverse punch in just a minute or two.

    When I first saw this type several years ago I thought "Aha! This is better than a punch. It is simple to make, will effectively move metal into the obverse even if struck a little off center, the reverse will never have to look off center, and it will prevent the flan from flying out if struck a little off-center. What a clever design!"

    All that is needed after casting the punch is a graver or a file and a straight edge. No great care or skill is needed-- just lay down the straight edge and gouge/file the lines. The punch could be any diameter. It could be large enough to effectively move the metal into the obverse die. The punch could even be larger than the coin, so centering wouldn't be an issue. The waffle pattern would cover the entire reverse and it wouldn't ever have to look off-center.

    "Yes," I thought, "that was very smart of them."

    Wait a sec, if it was such a great innovation, why was the waffle punch used for such a brief period in Dardanos? Why wasn't the style picked up by neighboring minds? Why are there only eleven of these waffle reverses in ACsearch??



    Maybe it was deemed ugly? Nah... there are other ugly reverses out there.

    If the purpose of the reverse punch design was to provide grip, preventing the flan from being ejected from the striking platform, maybe it worked too well! Maybe all those little interstices caused the just-struck flan to stick to the punch. That would certainly be annoying and would slow down production.

    If the problem with the waffle was the flan sticking to the punch, I'd expect to find a high percentage of brockages. I guess with such a low extant population of the type, finding even one might be hard. I'll keep searching though.

    I was going to test this but really shouldn't spend time making such a punch, plus I need a sturdier striking platform, plus my Hammer of Hephaestus was a hurricane victim. Maybe someday I'll give it a try.


    Hey, congrats... you made it to the end of my ramblings :D.

    Ancient coins... where sometimes so little is known that you are free to make up your own theories. What fun! :)

    Comments and theories welcome, or as usual, whatever floats your boat.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
    Sulla80, Alegandron, eparch and 53 others like this.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    Neat looking coin. I like real waffles with fresh raspberries and whipping cream:)
    Legomaster1 and TIF like this.
  4. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Well-Known Member

    Very instructive research TIF. I’m not in ancient greek at all, but with a write-up like this one, I’m telling myself maybe one day......
    arizonarobin, 7Calbrey and TIF like this.
  5. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    TIF likes this.
  6. Kasia

    Kasia Got my learning hat on

    It's a good thing I already had dinner.
    JeffC and TIF like this.
  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    LOL! I love it!
    TIF likes this.
  8. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    That's so cool, thank you Tiff.
    TIF likes this.
  9. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Enviable coin and research! And not to mention delicious. :hungry: Glad you found yourself such a nice example, too. Coinstalking mode: On!
  10. Theodosius

    Theodosius Fine Style Seeker

    I think you are correct about the grip and the ease of production of the dies. Could it be that by the time this innovation was discovered most cities were opting for more intricate reverse designs? I have not done a survey of when most cities switched to full reverses but 450-420 BCE sounds about right (arm chair internet poster to lazy to google it).

  11. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random guy on the internet

    I love chicken and waffles! I tried to get some yesterday, but yesterday was the one time the food truck did not come to campus. :mad:

    This very plausible

    Looking at the 11 you posted, 3 were struck with broken reverse dies (2 from the same reverse die). I would think that is significant.
  12. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Terrific little coin in great condition, congrats TIF.
    genXmetalfan and TIF like this.
  13. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random guy on the internet

    Random pictures of waffles I took in Europe:

    AD4F7389-D756-4FA6-8DB4-383AE1DF4CBA.jpeg 97CAD70C-9EEC-4224-B2DB-64BD3CDB3DD0.jpeg B6407BFB-DD5C-42B3-BBA5-350F5B273173.jpeg

    In Belgium, they have waffle trucks! Hands down best waffle I have ever had!

    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
  14. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I intended to look for die links but hadn't done so yet. Now I see that of the 11 coins posted, two are the same coin (both from 2012 listings) and another two are reverse die matches (the linear die break). I'll take a closer look in the morning when my eyes and brain are fresh.

    Before posting the thread I started looking for a die matches to my coin and quickly realized how challenging it is to die-match such a reverse. The obverses will be difficult to assess as well because of the generally low condition of all examples.

    Excellent point!
    arizonarobin likes this.
  15. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus

    TIF and TypeCoin971793 like this.
  16. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random guy on the internet

    Do you think the design could have induced early die failure and was abandoned shortly thereafter?
  17. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    Bill Bowerman used to make shoe bottoms for his runners using his wife's waffle maker. He said the design was so basic yet perfect for how it would grip the ground. I wonder if this same theory maintains when it comes to ancients finding aesthetically pleasing designs that hold the flan in place?
    PS, LOVE the coin and the thread idea!!!!
    Simply hilarious
  18. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    Though you would think a simple X would be enough to hold the metal in place...in theory anyway :)
    CollageMaker Plus_2018129183522957.png

    Attached Files:

  19. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Great addition @TIF
    TIF likes this.
  20. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    That may be the case-- all of those little lines and indentions may have served as stress risers.

    Also, I may be wrong about the other benefits of the waffle punch. I thought it would more efficiently move metal into the obverse die but look at the eleven specimens... only one has a really nice strike. I don't think wear is responsible for the weak appearance of most of them. The obverse dies also look rather worn. I wonder what happened to the rest of this issue? Melted down and reused?

    Excellent anecdote :D

    It seems like it would be adequate and the abundant quadripartite reverses are more or less that idea.
  21. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    When I see such a thread title from @TIF, I know I'm in for a treat. And this is no exception!

    Nice write-up and neat 'chicken and waffle' coin. I've never seen one before.
    Paul M., arizonarobin and TIF like this.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page