Author Topic: Metal analysis  (Read 709 times)

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Online Figleaf

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Metal analysis
« on: November 05, 2019, 08:43:17 AM »
We live in interesting times. Ingenuous new equipment has enabled non-destructive metal analysis. New data are becoming available. They turn the science of numismatics around. The new data provide insight in purity. The course of inflation becomes clearer and that means we are starting to learn more about the consequences of the policies of the leaders we now know mainly for their military actions. We are learning more about how people lived.

In practical terms, studies of individual coins are giving way to better analysis of hoards. Collections of coins by type are succeeded by observations and measurements of coins spread out in museums and other (semi) public collections around the globe. As more and more coins are brought online with full data, statistical analysis can be widened and old assumptions questioned.

My aim for this thread is to collect some studies that rest on metal analysis of coins. Please feel free to contribute.

Peter
« Last Edit: November 05, 2019, 08:57:26 AM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Metal analysis
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2019, 08:50:57 AM »
Eeva Jonsson, Metal analyses of Viking-Age coins. In: Metal analyses of coins 2018:1. Stockholm Numismatic Institute

In the present study, the silver content of 155 Viking-Age coins was analyzed. The aim was to re-exam the traditional interpretations of the silver content of different coinages during the Viking Age, and to offer an overview on the subject. The main question is what level of silver purity was considered as fine silver in everyday transactions in the Northern Lands and what variation was tolerated? The second aim of the study was to find possible inconsistencies in the silver content.
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Metal analysis
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2019, 09:07:59 AM »
FIB-FESEM and EMPA results on Antoninianus silver coins for manufacturing and corrosion processes by María Teresa Doménech-Carbó, Francesca Di Turo, Noemí Montoya, Fiorenzo Catalli, Antonio Doménech-Carbó & Caterina De Vito.

A set of ancient Antoninianus silver coins, dating back between 249 and 274 A.D. and minted in Rome, Galliae, Orient and Ticinum, have been characterized (...)

The results revealed that, contrary to the extended belief, a complex Ag-Cu-Pb-Sn alloy was used. The use of alloys was common in the flourishing years of the Roman Empire. In the prosperous periods, Romans produced Ag-Cu alloys with relatively high silver content for the manufacture of both the external layers and inner nucleus of coins.

This study also revealed that, although surface silvering processes were applied in different periods of crisis under the reign of Antoninii, even during crisis, Romans produced Antoninianus of high quality. Moreover, a first attempt to improve the silvering procedure using Hg-Ag amalgam has been identified.
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Metal analysis
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2019, 09:07:31 AM »
Trial Metallurgical Analysis of a Silver Coin of Bengal Sultan: Explore through methods and Interpretation by Syed Ahsan et. al.

The paper is a report of experimentation with two methods of non-destructive analysis. The sample used is too small for any conclusions, but it shows the potential of the equipment used. Good for a first orientation in non-destructive metal analysis.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Metal analysis
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2019, 08:36:13 AM »
H. Gitler, M. Ponting and O. Tal, Metallurgical Analysis of Southern Palestinian Coins of the Persian Period, Israel Numismatic Research 3 (2008)

"By means of inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES), metallurgical analyses of southern Palestinian coins of the Persian period were performed. The main group of analyzed coins consists of dome-shaped quarter sheqels (“drachms”), which were struck from worn, recut and repolished obverse dies that based on their circulation were defined as Edomite. In addition, several Philistian coins were analyzed as a reference group. Our results suggest that much of the silver bullion used for striking the Edomite and Philistian coins originated in the Greek world, most probably from Athenian ‘owls’ and that Edomite coinage was probably produced by a central Philistian minting authority based on identical silver content."
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Metal analysis
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2019, 10:46:05 AM »
Here is a great analysis of using different non-destructive technologies on relatively modern coins that had become unreadable. Its conclusion that museums must maintain large collections is of course highly debatable, as it denies the importance of co-operation between museums as well as cooperation with large private data bases. Somewhat naively, the author enthuses that these technologies can also be used on other metallic items.

If, in the end, no respectable museum can go without this equipment, its price will fall, perhaps to the point where the technology can be made available to collectors. May that happen sooner, rather than later.

Peter

This thesis demonstrates the application of a number of analytical techniques on a selection of silver coins from the Western Australian Museum. Results of analysis are used to appraise the applicability of surface analytical techniques on samples that have corroded. Analysis has also been used to determine when, where and how coins too heavily corroded to visually identify were minted. Further, the importance of maintaining large collections and assemblages of objects in museum collections is demonstrated, and further applications of the techniques used are discussed.
Four hundred silver coins and a selection of silver artefacts were provided for analysis from the collection of the Western Australian Museum.

The coins and artefacts were recovered from the following shipwrecks; the Batavia wrecked 1629; the Vergulde Draeck, wrecked 1656; the Zuytdorp, wrecked 1712; the Rapid, wrecked 1811; and the Correio da Azia, wrecked 1816. All of the ships were wrecked off the coast of Western Australia. The coins represent 22 mints in Spain, Spanish America, the United Netherlands, Germany, and the Spanish Netherlands, and 19 European sovereign issuers from Spain, Saxony, the Holy Roman Empire, Denmark and Norway, the United Netherlands, Holstein Gottorp, and Saxe-Coburg Saxe-Eisenach. The coins were minted between 1560 and 1816.

This research gives new information about economic networks, including trade between the Americas, Europe and the Far East during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the height of the great maritime empires, and more specifically, the procurement, manufacture and trade of silver as a global commodity at this time. Further, the techniques used in this study are applicable to many other items of cultural heritage significance for future analysis.
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Online Figleaf

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Re: Metal analysis
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2019, 03:06:20 PM »
Here is an interesting paper in the same field as that of Eeva Jonsson above: Merkel, S., Hauptmann, A., Hilberg, V. and Lehmann, R., 2015 Isotopic analysis of silver from Hedeby and some nearby hoards In Viking Worlds. Things, spaces and movement, edited by M.H. Eriksen, U. Pedersen, B. Rundberget, I. Axelsen and H. Berg,  pp. 193-210. Oxbow, Oxford. While the Jonsson study concentrated on silver content standard, this one looks at the "elemental signature" of the metal used, finding a surprising absence of silver coming from the British isles in Viking coins. This would change the nature of Viking plundering, to put it crudely, from robbery to feed the folks back home to violent taxation.

Peter

Silver played an important role both as a material of status and as a medium for exchange in the Viking Age. Hedeby was at the frontier between the monetized kingdoms of the West and the hacksilver/bullion economy of Scandinavia and the Baltic. Fueled by the influx of newly mined and recycled silver from the Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe, mints were irregularly maintained at Hedeby and across Denmark in the 󰀹th–󰀱󰀱th centuries. A diachronic study was undertaken to examine the flow of silver as a raw material at Hedeby from the 󰀱󰀰th–󰀱󰀱th centuries with the use of elemental and lead isotope analysis. Sampling of coins was done by Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry, allowing for precise and accurate analyses with limited damage to the objects. e minting campaigns at Hedeby provide an excellent chronologic mirror to the changing sources of silver.
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.