Numismatic and History Discussions > Greek Coins

Gold Content of Samian Electrum types

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glebe:
In the White Gold Studies in Early Electrum Coinage Gitler et al report the results of XRF analysis of various electrum issues.

The very first example they give however has an interesting mistake. The authors call it a 1/3 stater and identify it with the smooth type Weidauer Series I, which is usually attributed (if rather uncertainly) to Ephesus.

However the coin in question weighs 4.32g and is evidently a ¼ stater from Samos. That is, it belongs to what is presumably the earliest group of Samian issues, predating the commoner pebbly types.

The real point here though is the high gold content of this coin (74%). which suggests that it was struck on raw electrum.

There is as well in this report a smooth stater from Samos (no. 36) with a weight of 17.44g and a gold content of 79%.

Other Samian types generally have a lower gold content and were presumably made from electrum watered down with silver – there are a number listed in the Gitler report with gold contents varying from 52 to 58%.

Ross G.

Altamura:

--- Quote from: glebe on October 14, 2021, 01:36:44 am ---... In the White Gold Studies in Early Electrum Coinage Gitler et al report the results of XRF analysis of various electrum issues. ...
--- End quote ---
Which can be seen here (not so difficult to find ;)):
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Haim-Gitler/publication/338676783_XRF_Analysis_of_Several_Groups_of_Electrum_Coins/links/611ce6640c2bfa282a514671/XRF-Analysis-of-Several-Groups-of-Electrum-Coins.pdf


--- Quote from: glebe on October 14, 2021, 01:36:44 am ---... However the coin in question weighs 4.32g and is evidently a ¼ stater from Samos. ...
--- End quote ---
For me this is not evident :). Do you have a reference showing that this coin is from Samos?


--- Quote from: glebe on October 14, 2021, 01:36:44 am ---... The real point here though is the high gold content of this coin (74%). which suggests that it was struck on raw electrum. ...
--- End quote ---
I don't think so. In the White Gold book there is an article by Nicholas Cahill, Jill Hari, Bülent Önay, Esra Dokumaci, "Depletion Gilding of Lydian Electrum Coins and the Sources of Lydian Gold", beginning on page 291 (and obviously not available online).
There they did an analysis of alluvial electrum from different spots around Sardis in Lydia. The result was that the samples hat a gold content of mostly more that 98% and thus had been nearly pure gold. The alloy for electrum coins had deliberately been mixed.

Regards

Altamura

glebe:

--- Quote from: glebe on October 14, 2021, 01:36:44 am ---... However the coin in question weighs 4.32g and is evidently a ¼ stater from Samos. ...
--- End quote ---
For me this is not evident :). Do you have a reference showing that this coin is from Samos?

No, but work it out for yourself - there are quite a number of unfigured electrum coins weighing c. 8.7 and 4.35 gm which can only be Euboic standard half and quarter staters from (it's reasonable to assume) Samos.

(There are also a number of similar 1/3 staters, which weigh c.5.8 gm as we would expect).


--- Quote from: glebe on October 14, 2021, 01:36:44 am ---... The real point here though is the high gold content of this coin (74%). which suggests that it was struck on raw electrum. ...
--- End quote ---
I don't think so. In the White Gold book there is an article by Nicholas Cahill, Jill Hari, Bülent Önay, Esra Dokumaci, "Depletion Gilding of Lydian Electrum Coins and the Sources of Lydian Gold", beginning on page 291 (and obviously not available online).
There they did an analysis of alluvial electrum from different spots around Sardis in Lydia. The result was that the samples hat a gold content of mostly more that 98% and thus had been nearly pure gold. The alloy for electrum coins had deliberately been mixed.

Regards

Altamura
[/quote]

Lydia is of course not Samos. For the full story see here:

https://www.glebecoins.org/electrum/index.html

Ross G.

Kevin D:
Triton X Lot 317, weighs 4.32 grams and is attributed as a 1/4 stater on the Samian-Euboic standard and might be a reverse punch match for the coin refered to in the Haim Gitler et al article in 'White Gold' (Forum rules prohibit links to commercial sites). The Triton Lot listing mentions that previously they had (in error) attributed some of these coins as trites.

Regarding the high gold content reported by Gitler, in addition to the possibilities of natural occuring electrum or depletion guilding accounting for this (as you both have mentioned), there is also the possibility of 'surface enrichment' occuring naturally over the centuries (XRF is a surface analysis).

Altamura:

--- Quote from: glebe on October 14, 2021, 05:40:12 pm ---... there are quite a number of unfigured electrum coins weighing c. 8.7 and 4.35 gm which can only be Euboic standard half and quarter staters from (it's reasonable to assume) Samos. ...
--- End quote ---
Thanks, that's the argument I was missing :).


--- Quote from: glebe on October 14, 2021, 05:40:12 pm ---... Lydia is of course not Samos. ...
--- End quote ---
Indeed it isn't, I knew that :).
But the research of the last two decades or so shows that the alloy of at least many electrum coinages is an artificial one. So it is not possible to conclude from te gold content of a coin that it has been made from natural electrum or an artificial alloy. (Apart from the fact that there is no "standard gold content" of natural electrum, this varies substancially depending on the find spot.)


--- Quote from: glebe on October 14, 2021, 05:40:12 pm ---... For the full story see here: ...
--- End quote ---
There I find "Recent measurements have partly answered that question, at least in the case of Samos, as two of the unfigured Samos types have yielded gold content figures of 72 and 78%, consistent with natural electrum."
Why are these percentages consistent with natural electrum? Are there finds and analyses of natural electrum from Samos showing that?


--- Quote from: Kevin D on October 14, 2021, 11:27:11 pm ---... Triton X Lot 317, weighs 4.32 grams and is attributed as a 1/4 stater on the Samian-Euboic standard and might be a reverse punch match for the coin refered to in the Haim Gitler et al article in 'White Gold' (Forum rules prohibit links to commercial sites). ...
--- End quote ---
Acsearch is not prohibited :) : https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=351055
and there are also third staters: https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=351054 (with an argumentation for the Samian-Euboic standard)  ,  https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=759073
But they are still filed under "uncertain" and not directly attributed to Samos.

Regards

Altamura

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