Featured Coin

A Trihemiobol of Corinth

When a coin was struck, the great force of the hammer resulted in significant changes in the metal structure of the coin. Besides the obvious imparting of a design to what had been a featureless disk, the blow compressed the surface of the metal and placed an unnatural strain on the coin. In time, now over 2000 years, the metal of some coins has adjusted in reaction to this strain and returned to a more natural state for the metal. This is most often seen in coins with rather pure silver like the early Greek issues. The form of these changes varies greatly from coin to coin. Sometimes all or part of the surface of the coin will show crystals that form a pattern straight columns restricted to one area of the coin or, as is the case with this coin, a swirling network of interlocking design over the entire surface.

Corinth, Silver Trihemiobol (1 1/2 obols), 500-431 BC, 9mm diameter, .5 g
Pegasus / Gorgon head

I am not a metallurgist and regret that I can not explain to you the forces that are at play inside the structure of this coin that have produced the reticulated pattern of the surface. Note that the surface is reticulated with continuous high ridges separated by short (dark) recesses rather than scratched which would show continuous (dark) recesses.

Pegasus, on this coin, is shown with curly wings flying left. The gorgon head is shown with protruding tongue. While the listings of this coin in catalogs mention a legend of 'Q' (the initial letter in 'Corinth') on the obverse and magistrate initials on the reverse, none are visible on this coin.

The crystallization of coins can, in some cases, result in the breaking of the coin. Sometimes the condition is restricted to the surface but sometimes the center of the coin is weakened. Care in handling these coins is recommended.

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(c) 1997 Doug Smith