Reverse Brockages of the Gallic Empire

Striking coins by hand requires a great deal of coordination and skill on the part of every member of the minting team. Most coins testify that these workers were good at their craft. Occasionally, however, problems did occur. Very early in the life of this site we showed examples of mint errors known as brockages. Once, also long ago, we showed a very rare combination, the fourree brockage. Brockages occur when the freshly struck coin failed to fall from the die and remained in place when the next coin was struck. This second coin received the impression of the coin rather than the die producing a negative incuse of the previous coin. These are usually the result of a coin sticking to the upper (reverse) so most brockages show an incuse of the obverse in place of the normal reverse. Few are as clear as the Republican denarius shown here.

Even more scarce are brockages of the reverse. For this to happen with the usual minting techniques would be almost impossible since the mint worker would certainly see a coin left on the anvil die and would not place the second blank on top of it. A few issues were produced with the reverse on the anvil (mostly in the later Antonine period) and other issues may have used paired pincher dies which could be struck with either side up. This was probably the situation with the week's very strange group of Featured coins.

Tetricus I (???) - Bronze antoninianus - 270-273 AD - 20mm, 1.7g
Obverse almost obliterated / PAX AVG - Peace standing left holding branch & staff

Our Featured Coin earned its place by being the messiest of the group shown here. It is unusual as an example of what results when the lingering coin starts to fall out of the die but does not clear the area completely. The obverse is a mixture of a strike of the normal obverse die and the reverse of the previous coin. All that shows of the proper obverse legend (IMP C TETRICVS PF AVG) is AVG. The incuse reverse figure (oriented as is the arrow) occupies most of the flan. Obviously the extra thickness of the intervening coin required an uneven strike even to produce this light impression of the AVG. Another possible answer for this coin is that the AVG is a remnant of a coin being overstruck but I tend to accept the AVG as belonging to the current obverse die. The PAX AVG reverse was also used by Victorinus but I have attributed this coin to Tetricus based on style. If you disagree, please e-mail me.

Four more examples of this rare error are also from this same period. They are (left to right): Gallienus? / FORTVNA AVG; Tetricus I / HILARITAS AVGG; Tetricus II / SPES AVGG and Tetricus I? / COMES AVG. Again I would be very interested if you disagree with these. Certainly these errors were the result of the hurried conditions that must have existed at the mint forced to produce millions of these low value coins. Huge hoards of the coins of this period exist today and most are poorly struck. Few, however, can approach these in ugliness.

Mint errors are an area neglected by many collectors of Ancient coins. Since most ancient coins were imperfectly centered or slightly faulty in some manner, to be a collectable oddity a coin must be truly strange. Since they throw a light on the techniques of coin production, brockages are most popular among collectors. Other commonly seen errors are die breaks, multiple strikes and clashed dies. A collection of errors and oddities can be an interesting specialty.

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(c) 1998 Doug Smith