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Some Greek and Roman overstrikes in the ANS Collection

Some Greek and Roman overstrikes in the ANS Collection

By The American Numismatic Society
While perusing the ever-surprising Richard B. Witchonke Collection at the ANS for its forthcoming published catalog, I had the big fortune to study a few overstruck coins with reasonably singular features. This post represents a compendious undertake at describing at least region of the importance of these specimens .
In his Overstruck Greek Coins, David MacDonald defines overstruck coins as “ coins that have been ‘ recoined ’ by striking them with modern and different dies, whether by the master mint authority or by a different one, without having the original invention wholly removed beforehand. ” Overstriking was normally preferred to recoining when limits in time or in the size of the neologism that needed to be produced made the expenses and the labor to melt and produce raw flans impracticable. Overstriking was done for a variety show of reasons, ranging from eminently economic ones to ( possibly ) ideological. Overstruck coins are frankincense a herculean to investigate the complexities of mint circulation and production in the ancientness. Their historical importance has not escaped the attention of the scientific community and the necessity of a more taxonomic catalogue has lead to the universe of Greek Overstrikes Database ( GOD ), a hush ongoing undertaking under the scientific commission of the aforesaid D. MacDonald and François de Callataÿ. Of run, overstriking was not limited to the greek universe. Roman overstrikes have been studied a early as the mid- nineteenth hundred by the likes of Pierre Philippe Bourlier d ’ Ailly, Max Bahrfeldt, Ettore Gabrici, Charles Hersch, Rudi Thomsen, and Michael Crawford. much more recently, Clive Stannard and Suzanne Frey-Kupper used overstrikes to study the circulation and product patterns of Central italian mints and Andrew McCabe analyzed the Roman over Roman overstrikes on bronze and silver coins of the second and first hundred BC .
While several factors are normally at act, the necessity of altering the area of circulation of a certain neologism could be the chief factor leading to overstriking in some cases, as shown by the Y. Touratsoglou and by the same MacDonald for the bronze civic neologism of Macedonia in the course of the second base century BC. The necessity of broadening the circulation area and relieving local shortages of small change could besides be the explanation for Fig. 1, an obviously roman sextans struck over a Neapolitan bronze coin. In a approaching newspaper, Stannard convincingly attributes this coin to the newly discovered Second Punic War mint of Minturnae. Through overstrikes like the one presented in Fig. 1 the mint of Minturnae was “ adapting ” Neapolitan neologism to a larger circulation radius by adding on it Roman types. While the weight unit of these pseudo-Roman issues differed from the official Roman production, the types on them made them their respect immediately recognizable to users.

Another factor leading to overstriking was wear. In like cases unofficial coins could be overstruck on disused coins, as in the case of a Dacian imitation of a denarius strike over a fluidram from Apollonia ( SNG Cop. 387 ) ( Figs. 2–3) This coin, an imitation from Dacia of a denarius issued by L. Flaminius Chilo in 109/8 BC, shows on the obverse part of the caption [ API ] ΣΤΩΝ of the undertype. The vestigia of the name of the magistrate allow for the dating of the overstruck Apollonian fluidram, which is dated to the early second base century BC. The reverse of the coin intelligibly shows partially of the undertype [ ] ΝΟΣ. A combination of all the factors mentioned above ( wear, meagerness of local anesthetic coinages, and therefore revision of the original circulation area ) could explain the massive presence of foreign and disused coins as undertypes for the bronze coins produced in the Roman world, as shown by Stannard and Frey-Kupper in a late article .
A change in the weight standard adopted by the issue mint was besides another reason leading to overstrikes, as illustrated by Fig. 4. This coin, a triental sextans ( RRC 41/9 ) struck over a semilibral uncia ( RRC 38/6 ) is dated to the years 215–212 BC and shows how the sudden decreases in weight criterion that took place in the course of the Second Punic War could produce overstruck coins in massive amounts. besides, silver coins were probably to be overstruck if they differed from the weight standard adopted in the area they were circulating. Coins of similar weight standards were easier to overstrike, but there besides was less need to do so. On the early hand, coins of heavier weight standard were reduced to a lighter weight standard by trimming the flan and then overstruck.

This is the case of Fig. 5. This coin, a cistophorus from Ephesus dated to 140–139 BC, has been struck over a macedonian tetradrachm of First Meris ( Fig. 6 ), issued after 168 BC, as suggested by the thunderbolt hush visible on the invert. This specimen has been included in a 2011 AJN article by de Callataÿ. Since the introduction of the shrink standard cistophoric tetradrachm under the king Eumenes II, the Attalid kingdom became a close currency area ( on substantiated objections to this bespeak of see see this article by Andrew Meadows ). Silver coins on different standards thus needed to be trimmed and overstruck in rate to circulate freely. This overstruck mint opens a window over the complex monetary and political interactions in the Mediterranean in the second one-half of the second century BC. In delaware Callataÿ ’ s words, “ at the end of the Attalid district, tetradrachms coming from the Northern Aegean area were chosen intentionally to issue some specific batches of cistophoric tetradrachms. This was not a random march, since there is no rationality to believe that coins from the First Macedonian Meris or Thasos were particularly coarse at the edge of the asian Province. [ … ] The interview is : which power organized this motion of neologism ? To my mind, the solution points in the Roman direction, even with Asia Minor still technically under Attalid principle. ”
The convergence of Eastern Mediterranean monetary systems under Roman district is besides shown by other two very interesting overstrikes. In Fig. 7, a silver tetradrachm from Thasus, dated to 90–75 BC, is struck over a macedonian tetradrachm issued under the Roman quaestor Aesillas. conversely, in Fig. 8 a macedonian tetradrachm of Aesillas is struck over a Thasian one. The reciprocal overstrikes of Thasian and macedonian tetradrachms shows that these two coinages were roughly ontemporary, but besides that in the course of the first century BC the monetary systems of the Eastern provinces of Roman Empire became increasingly integrated.

Another identical interest case of overstrike is represented by Figs. 9–10. The first of these coins, issued by the Roman quaestor Gaius Publilius either after 168 BC either after 148 BC, is clearly struck over a Silenus/ D ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΩΝ issue. Given the high number of similarly overstruck coins, D. Macdonald suggested that the Silenus/ D ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΩΝ issues, characterized by the absence of the head of Rome on the obverse were issued after 148 BC, twenty years after the ones issued under Gaius Publilius, to highlight the independence of Macedonia, a Roman province by then. however, the overstruck coins presented in Fig. 10 hint otherwise. While the undertype is not clearly recognizable, the letters still visible on the overrule suggest that this Silenus/ D ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΩΝ coin was struck over a specimen issued by the Roman quaestors, even if it not clear whether Fulcinnius or Publilius. This overstruck mint this invalidates the chronology proposed by Macdonald and suggests that the coinages issued by the Roman quaestors and the Silenus/ D ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΩΝ one were most likely contemporary, even if it is not clear whether they should be dated to 168 or 148 BC .
last, overstrikes could shed some easy on the finance of armies. The ones presented here ( Figs. 11–12 ), Roman quadrantes struck respectively over Iero II ’ sulfur and Carthage bronze coins, are a clear up reading of the hasted production of Roman neologism in Sicily in the class of the Second Punic War. The most probable explanation for such haste was of course the necessity of paying the armies fighting at the time in the island .
In conclusion, the overstruck coins are crucial heuristic tools to better understand ancient monetary systems. In the specific, the ones included in the Richard B. Witschonke Collection at the American Numismatic Society deliver in same cases unique characteristics which make them even more valuable to the historian and the numismatist .

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Category : Economy

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