Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A Greek obol modified in antiquity

This tiny obol of ancient Kelenderis (8.5mm in diameter, 0.77g) has a form of ancient damage that I have not seen before. First, the reverse. There are three raised dots on the wing. I had originally thought they were a decorative and part of the die but now am starting to believe they are a counterstamp or banker's mark (or three counterstamps/marks?). The dots are nearly the same size as the decorative dots bordering the incuse square.

Directly opposite the three dots on the wing is the forehead and right eye which are a bit flattened. I believe it was flattened by the application of the dots.

There are extensive incuse dots within the mouth. It is possible the dots are always within a line of three. There are also clearly a line of dots below the chin on the left side.

A colleague believes there is tooling or bankers marks up in the hair and to the side of the head as well. I am less certain of this, it could just be something with corrosion although the coin is of excellent metal.

A typical example, without the marks, was sold as CNG e-auction 214, lot 203. I am very interested in hearing from other collectors and institutions owning Kelenderis coins carrying similar marks or with other coins from these dies. If any readers wish to inspect the coin in person I'll be at NYINC on Saturday.


Wolfgang Fischer-Bossert said...

The picture is too dark for a clear judgement. Nevertheless, the dots may well be a measure to prevent die-breaks to grow. Similar phenomena can be found in other areas of Greek (and Celtic) coinage.

David MacDonald said...

I believe you have a classic example of clashed dies, which occur when a die impresses part of its design on the other die because they were struck without a flan between them. Frequently on antoniniani of the third century one can see an incuse outline of the imperial portrait on the reverse because of this phenomenon. It is much rarer on early silver.

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