Sasanian dirham with only a little silver

Started by Pellinore, September 25, 2021, 11:47:54 PM

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I just bought this coin, there is also a large picture on Zeno: Z 280187. A Sasanian drachm of a rarely found king, Ardashir II (379-383 AD), but clearly silvered and then worn. It's not a silver drachm. To me, it looks real enough, though. Now I wonder what it is: a contemporary imitation, or is it official?

The style's not 'off', it's maybe a bit like the Eastern Sasanian coinage of Shapur II, who was Ardashir II's predecessor.
The text on the obverse looks o.k., though it's not quite clear on the picture. Even the weight is right.
As for types, I checked Schindel's SNS Paris Berlin Wien and also SNS Usbekistan. The SNS nor Göbl or Karlsson specifically mention silvered coins for Ardashir II.

On this picture, the silver is rather clear. More on the obverse, less on the reverse. So I'm curious if you know more about this! Can you help?

-- Paul


Congratulations. Highly interesting coin.

I don't think you need to worry about the silver. The Romans were able to drive silver to the surface in low grade silver coins, so it is quite likely the Sasanians could do it also. The advantage of using this technique is that when the coin is new, it looks like good silver. This is the sort of coin top researchers would be looking at. The disadvantage of the technique is that the silver wears off quickly. This is the sort of coin auctioneers get their clammy hands on. Same thing, but slightly more worn.

The position of the hole suggests that the reverse with fire altar and attendants was meant to be shown. This is also the side where the nail or drill went in. The spikes on the edge of the hole on the obverse were smoothened. In principle, it is possible that the coin was worn as an amulet or personal jewellery. However, in that case I would expect that the reverse would have shown more silver than the obverse, rubbing against the clothes. Now that the opposite is true, it is more likely that it was nailed onto an object as a sign of religious protection, e.g. a stone coffin. In that case, the obverse would have been relatively protected, while the reverse could have been fingered and was more open to the elements. This would also mean that the spikes were not hammered down, but flattened by the object it was hammered on.

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