Ancient people expected each and every silver coin to contain metal equal to the the full value of the denomination. A fourree or silver plated coin did not meet this requirement and, therefore, was to be avoided. One way to be certain that a coin was not plated was to cut the surface in search of underlying copper. Some of these cuts were little more than scratches and some completely cut the coin in half. This silver stater of Tarsos (time of satrap Arsames - 334-333 BC) was severely tested and found to be solid silver.
Test cut coins are considered seriously faulted by collectors. The cuts were made with little concern for the design so many beautiful coins were ruined by this practice. However, test cutting was a normal fact of life in the ancient economy; some issues are very regularly found with cuts. These coins should not be considered faulted to the same extent that are coins damaged by corrosion, amateur cleaning or the overzealous shovels of metal detectorists. Certainly it is appropriate that cut coins sell for less than perfect specimens but they remain collectable examples of their types.
The coin shown on this page is severely cut but the placement fortunately missed the major design elements. Had the cut crossed the face of Athena or the body of Baal, the coin would be much less beautiful. It is hard to imagine where this coin could be cut so severely that would do less damage to the numismatic value of the piece.
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© 1997 Doug Smith