Numismatic and History Discussions > Roman Provincial Coins

Egypt Alexandria drachm Lucius Verus

(1/2) > >>

Hi Board! I have recently become interested in the coins of Roman Egypt. In particular, bronze fractions and drachmas. I know that with my financial constraints it is not possible to collect an impressive collection of Alexandria coinage, but sometimes I find something cheaper, so I buy more. Recently, this coin came to me. It looks rare if I identified it correctly:

Egypt, Alexandria. daters. Lucius Verus, 161-169 Drachm circa 163-164 (year 4), Æ 30 mm., 16.67 g. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust r. Rev. Poseidon standing with foot on rock, L., holding dolphin and trident; in field, L-Δ. RPC Temp. 15482.3. Datatari-Savio Pl. 202, 9499 Is the identification correct? Is it a drachma or a hemidrachma as some auctions refer to coins of similar weight as hemidrachms. I will be grateful for the comments of the experts.


I think in hand this is an impressive coin.  +++

--- Quote from: Robert on August 30, 2023, 10:17:08 am --- Is the identification correct?

--- End quote ---

If you remove "this coin", yes.

Thank you Shanxi, already corrected.


Curtis JJ:

--- Quote from: Robert on August 30, 2023, 10:17:08 am ---some auctions refer to coins of similar weight as hemidrachms.
--- End quote ---

RPC 15482's examples for this type are 21-24g and 33-34mm. Yours is smaller at 16.67g and 30mm, so I can see why it might be taken for a Hemidrachm. But I don't think the Alexandria mint used the same design on both Drachm and Hemidrachm, especially for the same year. Which would suggest yours is also a Drachm. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong about that.)

I believe most references & dealers use five or six denominations for Alexandrian bronzes: Drachm, Hemidrachm, Diobol, Obol, and/or one or two smaller units (which gets tricky). (Emmett [2001] uses AE Drachm, Hemidrachm, Diobol, Obol, Dichalkon. RPC doesn't seem to label the AE denominations, but does label the Tetradrachms as such.)

The earliest explanation I've seen is Milne's (1927, Introduction, p. xvii): the largest Alexandrian copper is the equivalent of Roman Imperial Sestertius, which is 1/4 of a Denarius. Since the Alexandrian Tetradrachm is the equivalent of the Imperial Denarius, Milne says, the big Alexandrian AE must be a "Drachm." (I.e., Four Imperial Sestertii = One Imperial Denarius, so Four Alexandrian Drachms = One Alexandrian Tetradrachm.)

The older references (e.g., Dattari 1901, Feuardent 1870) don't seem to give denominations at all, just metal and diameter, which is apparently how RPC still does it for AEs. I can understand the approach. The weights are variable and there aren't denomination marks, so sometimes it can be unclear if a 17g coin was more like a 24g Drachm or 12g Hemidrachm, and in many cases (some types known from only 1 or a few specs.) there's not enough information to take a strong position.

Curtis JJ thank you very much for your valuable comment. For now, I'll stick with the term "drachma" for my coin. I wonder if there are any written sources that mention the names of some denominations in Roman Egypt.




[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version