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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 3 & 4, Lot: 1402. Estimate CHF150. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 May 2011. 
Sold For CHF1600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THESSALY, Thessalian League. Claudius. 41-54. Assarion (Bronze, 21mm, 6.33 g 12), Antigonos, 45/6-54. ΘΕΣΣΑΛU-Ν ΣΕΒΑΣΤΗUΝ Bare head of Claudius to left. Rev. ΑΝΤΙΓΟΝΟΥ ΣΤΡΑΤΗΓΟΥ (but Ρ retrograde) Asklepios standing facing, head to right, holding long staff entwined with a snake with his left hand; to right, monogram of Antigonou. Burrer Emission 1, Serie 3, Gruppe 2/Serie 4 var. = obverse A23/reverse -. RPC I 1437. Brown patina. Nearly extremely fine.

In his study, Burrer was able to divide the coins of RPC 1437 into two groups by size: one of diassaria and the other of assaria. This coin utilizes an obverse die (Burrer’s A23) that was clearly meant for the smaller assaria, but the reverse die, unknown to Burrer, was clearly meant for the larger coins. An interesting curiosity showing what is, presumably, an ancient mint worker’s mistake.
A note from BCD: Admittedly we are here dealing with exactly the same type of coin in two sizes. But it would be unreasonable to expect the average man in the (muddy) Thessalian street to differentiate between them, especially as the differences are nor very clear-cut due to size and weight fluctuations. What probably happened is that the minting authorities decided, for some reason, to reduce the size and weight of the coin while the issue was still in production. Another scenario could be that a supplementary quantity was requested from the fiscal authorities in charge of the operation but there was not enough metal to produce the required amount of coins. The result was a reduction in the size of the reverse type and also of the weight. It is interesting to note though that the size of the emperor’s portrait was not reduced.