Tiger-rider from the Begteginid at Irbil, Gordian III As and a really ugly Antoninus Pius Sestertius

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Marsyas Mike, Jan 28, 2022.

  1. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    My favorite way to collect ancients is random acts of eBay. So I often find myself drifting into areas I've never heard of, let alone collected. So I'd thought I'd share my latest. After a ferocious bidding war (12 bids!) I managed to land this lot of three AEs for $12.50 (free shipping, no buyer's fees, no VAT).

    First up is a lion-rider AE dirham from Begteginid at Irbil - I had no idea what it was when I bid. But after digging into it a bit, I figured out the tiger part and the rest was pretty easy, actually (unless I got it all wrong!). These are not particularly scarce despite the Album "R" notation. My knowledge of the history behind it is virtually nil - I skimmed the Wikipedia article on Gökböri - an interesting ruler at an interesting time - it seems he was commander under Saladin, later an independent ruler of Irbil, a place and period of history about which I am woefully ignorant:


    Begteginid - Drachm Lion rider Lot Jan 2022 (0).jpg
    Begteginid at Irbil Æ Dirham
    Muzaffar al-Din Kokburi
    (aka Gokburi or Gokbori)
    AH 563-630 (1168-1233 A.D.)

    Lion-rider left, legend around / Four-line legend and date center, legend around.
    Album 1888.3 "R"; Wilkes 1289; Mitchner 1146-7.
    (8.84 grams / 26 x 24 mm)
    eBay Jan. 2022 Lot @ $4.17

    Sestertii in horrible condition are a weakness of mine, and this one is pretty bad. However, it was not one I had in my expanding horrible Antoninus Pius sestertius collection, so I was glad to get it. At first I thought I would not be able to attribute it (Salus was a common reverse type for AP), but I managed to piece it together (my reasoning noted below). It has been brutally stripped, yet with a few ugly globs of brown patina here and there; I suspect some bronze disease in its past, possibly some still active (I'll keep an eye on it):oops::

    Antoninus Pius - Sest. Salus seated lot Jan 2022 (0).jpg
    Antoninus Pius Æ Sestertius
    (144 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    [ANTONIN]VS AVG PIVS P P TR [P COS III], laureate head r. / [DES IIII S C], Salus seated l. feeding snake coiled round altar and resting left elbow on chair; by chair, rudder on globe
    RIC 751; C. 748 var. (see notes)
    (24.31 grams / 28 x 26 mm)
    eBay Jan. 2022 Lot @ $4.17
    Attribution Notes: Salus is resting arm on rudder (on globe), with obv./rev.
    legends different; the way obv. legend is split at PI VS indicates RIC 751:
    RIC 751: DES IIII (rudder)
    ...AVG PIVS P P TR P
    RIC 763: COS IIII (rudder)

    Finally, the whole reason I bid as aggressively as I did, was to land this little as of Gordian III - these are harder to find than the sestertii, so now I have two (my first one came via the generosity of @tenbobbit in 2020). At 11+grams it is a bit heavy for an as of this era, so I suppose it could be a starveling sestertius. Quite a bit of wear, but the color is terrific and I think the portrait charming (note to @DonnaML - Virtus is described as a female in some of the examples I found):

    Gordian III - As Virtus lot Jan 2022 (0).jpg
    Gordian III Æ As
    (240 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    IMP GORDIA[NVS PI]VS FEL AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right / VIRTVS A[VG] S [C], Virtus standing front, head left, holding branch and inverted spear, shield set on ground behind.
    RIC 293b; Cohen 391.
    (11.05 grams / 25 x 23 mm)
    eBay Jan. 2022 Lot @ $4.17

    Please share lion-riders (I couldn't find any others on Coin Talk), ugly AEs, new frontiers of collecting, eBay junk, or whatever. o_O

    P.S. After I posted this, I see my title calls it a tiger, not a lion. Not sure how to fix a title. Oops. :shame:
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  3. THCoins

    THCoins Well-Known Member

    Not only the Begteginids minted Lion rider coins. Here is a contemporary specimen minted under Ghorid Ruler Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad bin Sam from further east.
    It is not fully clear what the meaning of this pictography is. There may be a relation to local folklore tales. Another possibility is that these were meant as political propaganda.
    The Begtegenid had to guard their independence from neighboring dynasties, among which the Seljuks. At the time there had been several Seljuk rulers named "Arslan", lion in Turkish. So the underlying message might be that the Begtegenid ruler wanted to display that he could take the Seljuks for a ride.
    Sulla80, tenbobbit, Edessa and 2 others like this.
  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Cool!! The Gordian as alone made that lot worthwhile! You don't see middle bronzes from after the reign of Severus Alexander very often.
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  5. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    Is a lion without a rider close enough :p? I bought the coin or token pictured below a long time ago along with seven others that appear to be from a zodiac set. They were purchased as a set from a Leroy, NY dealer who was as ignorant as I about them. Is this a coin or token, old or new, original or a restrike o_O? The set was unusual, interesting & inexpensive, so I took a shot in the dark :rolleyes:.

    Mughal India (4).jpg
    Mughal India, AR Coin or Token: 10.70 gm, 21.35 mm, 6 h.
  6. THCoins

    THCoins Well-Known Member

    @Al Kowsky : your specimen pretends to be a Jahangir Leo Zodiac rupee. It is a later jewellers copy however. But also these are collectible.
  7. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    That's a great-looking lioness! Very collectible indeed.
  8. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thanks, RC. It does seem that after Commodus, the as and dupondius becomes a lot scarcer. Inflation, ancient Roman style! (Though we still have our pennies).
  9. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    THCoins, Thanks for the info :happy:. My gut feeling was they were phantasies :D. I've seen period coins of Jahangir & they sell for jaw-dropping prices :jawdrop:.
  10. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    Mike, I think the group cost me $25, about $3 each :D. The comments I've had on the tokens were worth more than $25 :smuggrin:.
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  11. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    I do like a "figure out what this is" challenge....a "lion-rider AE dirham from Begteginid at Irbil" is sufficiently obscure to be fun.
    Here's one I picked up - it looked old and unfamiliar. I have not yet found another one that looks exactly like this one, but I think my attribution is close enough.
    Brahamani Empire 15th Century.jpg
    Bahmani Sultanate, Ala ud Din Ahmad Shah II (AH 838-862/1435-1457 AD), copper 1/2 Gani (7.88g, 19mm)
    Obv: abu 'l muzaffar
    Rev: ahmad shah bin ahmad shah al-bahamani
    Edessa and Marsyas Mike like this.
  12. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    Yes, Goron & Goenka p. 301, BH78. Dated 83[8] or 83[9].

    [edit] Legends in full per G/G: al-wathiq bi-ta'yid al-malik lalah [sic] abu'l muzaffar // ahmad shah bin ahmad shah bahmanshah.
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  13. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Thanks, @dltsrq! when not shoveling blizzard snow, its a good day in the NE US to stay inside and read by a fireplace.
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  14. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    A very handsome coin - and I like the ones that make you work to figure them out.

    Along the same lines, I got these two in another small eBay lot. They are pretty cruddy, but they provided a lot of entertainment value since I had little idea of what they were. It turns out they are both from Damascus, though centuries apart (if I got my attributions right; I make a lot of mistakes:oops:):

    _Damascus - Octavian & Umyaad lot Jan 2022 (0).jpg
    Octavian Æ 18 (Semis)
    CY 283 (30/29 B.C.)
    Syria, Coele-Syria, Damascus

    Bare head right / [Δ]ΑΜΑΣΚΗΝΩ[Ν], Tyche seated left on rock, extending arm
    & holding cornucopia, river-god at feet, L ΓΠ/Σ (date, retrograde)
    in left field, all within wreath.
    RPC 4786; SNG München 1010.
    (8.33 grams / 18 x 17 mm)
    eBay Jan. 2022 Lot @ $2.55
    Attribution Notes:
    Reverse legends obscured by wear and patina, so visible parts hard to discern (a little clearer in hand than in photo). RPC notes "the date is always retrograde."
    Other references:
    De Saulcy 1; DCA 500; AMC 1479; Lindgren III 1252.

    Umayyad Caliphate Æ Fals
    Anonymous regional coinage
    Damascus (Dimashq) Mint
    AH 102 (AD 720/1)

    lâ ilaha | illâ llâh | wahdahu, in a double circle with 5 annulets / bi-dimashq دمشق (Damascus) | sanat thanatayn | wa mi'a within laurel wreath
    Album 174; Walker 839.
    (2.86 grams / 17 x 16 mm)
    eBay Jan. 2022 Lot @ $2.55

    Lots of shoveling earlier in the week, now it is just cold. So yeah, good day to fiddle around with coins.
    Sulla80 likes this.
  15. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    Kökburi is an interesting character. The dynastic founder was Kökburi's father, Zain al-Din 'Ali Kütschük, who was appointed atabeg of Mosul in 1146 and later established autonomous rule over a small region centered on Irbil. The Turkic title Atabeg (ata "father" + beg "prince") meant something like "proxy-father" or "prince-tutor", a noble charged with the guardianship and education of young princes when they were sent as provincial governors. Often these atabegs became the defacto rulers of the provinces assigned to their charges. The title atabeg was hereditary, so that once an individual had performed this function, the title (and the defacto power) continued down through the family. The dynastic name Begteginid derives from Beg-Tegin, a commander in the Seljuk army, the father of Kütschük and the grandfather of Kökburi. Kökburi died childless, bringing the short-lived dynasty of he Begteginids to an end. In an unusual act, Kökburi bequeathed his kingdom to the 'Abbasid caliph al-Mustansir (1226-1242), whose temporal rule was otherwise rather limited.

    The reverse center cites the 'Abbasid caliph al-Nasir (1180-1225) as "commander of the faithful" in typical fashion. Kökburi' is styled malik al-amra ("king of the commanders") and muzaffar al-din ("triumphant in the faith"). The name كوكبوري (Kukburi) can be read in the left half of the last line. On the obverse, duriba bi-Arbil ("struck at Irbil") is plain enough just below the lion-rider. Above the rider, not so plain, is the date written out in words.

    The BM catalogue (1877) spells the name "Kook-booree", complete with hyphen :)
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2022
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