Underweight Perseus Tetradrachm

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by gsimonel, May 15, 2019.

  1. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    Please forgive the poor quality scans. A friend sent them to me with some questions that I am unable to answer, so I'm posing them here in the hopes that someone can give him some answers. The first coin was an underweight Athenian Owl that I wrote about in a separate thread. Here's the second coin:
    This is what he wrote about this coin:

    Perseus, son of Philip V, obv. Perseus diademed head right, beard worn, rev. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΠΕΡΣΕΩΣ, it has the monogram between the legs AN, and HP to the right, and is surely the coin of Perseus of Macedon, Wildwinds Mamroth 15. The outer ring of laurel wreath is missing as the coin is small, 22 mm, and weighs only 12.37 g, tetradrachms of Perseus like this weigh about 16.8 g.

    The patina and wear on this coin looks good, inscription is deep and clear.

    Here are the results of an (amateur) specific gravity test that he conducted:

    13.36g dry
    1.31 suspended weight
    10.19 sg
    .800 fine silver

    Tetradrachms of this kind at CNG weigh 16.8 g., but .800 fine silver is only a little low, while total weight is low. Wildwinds cites Mamroth 15 for the inscriptions. Or it is not authentic.

    Anyone have any ideas that I can share with him about why this coin is underweight?
    Justin Lee likes this.
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  3. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter


    Perseus?? Looks Ptolemaic to me and the weight is in line with later Ptolemaic tets.
  4. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Reverse legend is probably ΠΤΟΛEMAIOY BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ. Regnal year is to left (LIH); ΠA in right field.
  5. AussieCollector

    AussieCollector Moderator Moderator

    Is this not a late Ptolemaic tetradrachm? They are commonly found at low weights ~ 13g

    I measure SG as well, 10.19 is of decent silver purity and possibly/probably (I haven't looked it up) in line with late Ptolemaic tetradrachms.

    Did you account for your suspension apparatus?

    P.S - just had a quick look, and it appears late Ptolemaic tetradrachms did indeed have a lower purity, down to 80%
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
    Andres2 likes this.
  6. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    Looks Ptolemaic to me, too, but I've never seen a tetradrachm of Perseus, so I have no idea how to tell them apart. I'll ask my friend to double check the reverse legend and get back to me. I'll report back what he says.
  7. AussieCollector

    AussieCollector Moderator Moderator

    Also, no one has mentioned it yet, and I am certainly no expert, but I would question the authenticity of this coin. It's hard to be certain from the photo and I could be wrong, but it looks off.
    TIF likes this.
  8. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    AArgH! I uploaded the wrong photo. Here's the information about the OP coin:

    "This coin was bought 40 years ago or so; no records. I had attributed it to Ptolemy XII because of the information of Wildwinds where they cited Svoronos 1865. Then when I used my new scale on it, the specific gravity indicated that the silver content was .200. So I looked at Svoronos himself at #1865 and he says that his coin #1865 was issued by Cleopatra VII with Ptolemy I on the obverse, and Cleopatra's regnal year IH = year 18 = 34BC.

    OBV. Diademed head of Ptolemy I, right, dotted border

    REV. ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ, eagle with wings closed, ΙΙΗ to the left indicating the date (the first I is raised quite a bit and seems not to be part of the date mark; the raised I appears on other coins; Svoronos #1865 records this first raised I in his description of #1865); ΠΑ in right field.

    My coin is 24 mm, 13.69g dry weight, suspended weight is 1.48 +/- = 9.25 sg = .200 fine. Perhaps.

    Matthew Kreuzer, The Coinage System of Cleopatra VII ..., self-published 2004, but cited by many people, says the coins of Cleopatra dating to 34 BC show nice silver color, the net silver content is low and equal to a Roman Republic denarius = 3.70 g or so.

    If my suspended weight is off just a bit and it is not 1.48 but 1.46 = 9.37 sg = .300 fine silver, then my coin 13.69 x .300 = 4.10 g silver, which is quite high for a denarius.

    The coins of Cleopatra of 34 BC range from 11.77 g to 13.92. My coin falls in that range."

    I've to started a new thread with the photo of the Perseus coin:
  9. AussieCollector

    AussieCollector Moderator Moderator

  10. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

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