Ugly but Rare Trajan Drachm?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by SeptimusT, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    I saw this on eBay, generically described as a 'Roman Alexandrian Drachm' or some such. Not recognizing the reverse, and seeing that it was pretty cheap, I bought it. It came with a tag from Littleton, giving a generic description of Alexandria and Trajan. It's hard to photograph due to the wear, but shows up better in hand. To my eyes it looks to be this coin, RPC 4411, which shows three specimens in museum collections. I wasn't able to find any on WildWinds or recent sales, although I don't have full access to CoinArchives or ACSearch.

    Trajan Drachm.png

    It's rough, but am I correct in assuming this is probably a pretty rare issue?
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  3. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Yes, it does look like the reverse is a bovine biga pulling a basket thingy :)

    Emmett assigns it his highest rarity ranking, 5. While that ranking isn't the end-all (some Emmett 5 rarities can be readily found in the market, and some lower-ranked rarities can be almost impossible to find), your coin doesn't seem to be common in the marketplace. I see none in ACsearch. Calling your coin rare does not appear to be hyperbole :)

    This Trajan reverse type is only known for his thirteenth regnal year, so it's a good bet yours is from year thirteen.
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  4. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Emmett's catalog number for the type is 541; Geissen number is 535.
    SeptimusT likes this.
  5. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    Well, that’s very interesting and exciting! Shame it’s pretty worn and somewhat overcleaned, but none of the other photographed ones look too great, either. One wonders how it wound up being sold by Littleton.
  6. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    While I don't disagree with TIF's ID it would be nice if we could see part of the date year 13 LIΓ in the field. Emmett also list an equally rare one with a Sarapis bust somewhere on the reverse and LIB but I have no idea where that bust was located. To be really rare it is always nice to be able to ID the coin. Collectors of Alexandrian have to get used to the fact that there are coins that are barely readable and also the best one known. Recently there have been large lot sales of coins in lower grades that included unique coins in horrid condition. Emmett says R5 means 1-2 known so lets say he was off a bit and your coin makes it 3 or even 5. When you find an illustration of the same type or same die in better condition you might be able to deduct what is lost on your coin. I believe the RPC link is the same reverse but I still see no date or Serapis so I guess that means you have the worst of three known......or so. That is still a keeper. There are thousands of worse drachms. Enjoy it.
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  7. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    I believe this is an example of the variety with a Serapis bust. If mine were one of these, I think it would still be visible:

    I only see one photo of the one I believe matches mine with a visible date, but I agree it’s the worst of those pictured. Still pretty cool, and I have indeed noticed that Alexandrian coins tend to be quite rough.
    zumbly likes this.
  8. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Just a guy making his way in the universe

    Worn, but still a nice coin @SeptimusT particularly due to the rarity.
  9. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Good point, Doug. We can't say with certainty if it is Emmett 541 (no Serapis head) or Emmett 540 (with Serapis head; known for year 12; also R5). With some work I can imagine a vague something above the oxen on Septimus's coin, which is where the head would be. The OP coin and the RPC coin are not reverse die matches so that doesn't help.

    Still a cool pickup :)
    dougsmit likes this.
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