Here’s an ancient overstrike of mine with an interesting backstory:
tetradrachm, 8 - 12 AD
The coin is overstruck on a joint-issue tetradrachm of Vonones’ brother and mother, Phraataces and Musa, who together had murdered Vonones’ father. That undertype is shown here, courtesy of Parthia.com:
Musa was a Roman concubine who was given by Augustus to the Parthian King Phraates IV during a period in which the empires weren’t warring. She and her (and Phraates’) son Phraataces poisoned Phraates, then married each other (yes, mother and son married each other) and took over the Parthian throne as co-rulers from 2 BC until being overthrown by the Parthian nobility in 4 AD. During their joint reign mother/son/husband/wife issued coins that show both of their images. Extant unaltered tetradrachms, as seen above, are very rare.
Now, prior to claiming the Parthian throne, Vonones, who was a brother of Phraataces, had been captive in Rome as part of a treaty the Romans made with their father Phraates IV. Around 6 AD Augustus sent Vonones to Parthia to be king. Things did not go well: “…the refined, or effeminate, habits that he had acquired in Rome soon disgusted his subjects (and) he showed a marked distaste for such typically Parthian occupations as hunting and riding.” (Wroth) He ended up battling against another member of the Arsacid clan, Artabanus II, for the rulership. Eventually Artabanus won out and had Vonones murdered.
But while he was claimant to the throne, Vonones issued coins that had his name spelled out in Greek (a very unusual thing for a Parthian ruler to do...their personal names rarely appeared on coinage), along with the legend translating as “conqueror of Artabanus” – commemorating a temporary victory over his rival.
Many of Vonones’ tetradrachms are overstruck on the tets that his brother Phraataces struck with his mother/wife Musa. While this may have been done for expediency given how quickly Vonones became immersed in the political power struggle with Artabanus, it seems to me that overstriking coins of his father’s murderers may have brought some sense of satisfaction for Vonones.
Rarely is the Phraataces/Musa undertype clearly visible on Vonones I tets, and indeed I own another one where the undertype is hard to make out. But on the coin here the profile of Phaataces is easy to see on the reverse: