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Nero Tetradrachm Question

 
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 Posted 12/26/2018  11:40 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add Cusickjm to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hello all!

I'm brand new here, and pretty new to the realm of ancient coin collecting. I've always been a fan of Roman history, and since I'm also a musician, Nero has always been of a particular interest to me. (Plus, the dude was kind of nuts! So that's cool!) So as my first Roman Coin purchase, I got this Nero Tetradrachm. I'm pretty excited about it, but don't really know if I got a good deal or overpaid. I know it's silver, and weighs around 14.4 grams. It also looks to me to be roughly in good-ish shape, since the ridges are still fairly clear. (I do realize, however that since the corners have been cropped some of the lettering is no longer there, and that will obviously lower the value.) Any thoughts on how much it might be worth? Or even some ways I can start to decipher worth of an ancient coin on my own?

Also, I was doing some research on methods of cleaning up these ancient coins. Is this something I should do? Any thoughts would be incredibly valued! Thanks!




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217 Posts
 Posted 12/27/2018  12:58 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Matt2727 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good detail, but the corrosion detracts from eye appeal. A dealer would sell in the $100-200 range, I think.

Ancient coins are tough to price, but generally Ebay completed listings and current dealer prices are how I value mine. Vcoins too, but those prices can be a little high sometimes.
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 Posted 12/27/2018  01:41 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Cusickjm to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for this. I only paid $67 for this one, so I figured I got a pretty good deal on it. If the corrosion is the main detraction, then do you think I should go ahead and clean that up? Would that increase the value even more then? And any idea by how much? Thanks again!
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 Posted 12/27/2018  03:55 am  Show Profile   Check echizento's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add echizento to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
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 Posted 12/27/2018  04:33 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Kushanshah to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I would not recommend cleaning the coin. You are much more likely to ruin it than to improve it. Virtually all ancient coins have already been cleaned to some extent by the time they reach collectors. I tend to assume that whoever cleaned the coin before it came into my hands probably knew what they were doing and stopped where they did for good reason. I would, however, check the coin periodically just to be certain that the light green patches are not growing. Depending on the alloy, some form of active corrosion may be a possibility.

If you want to learn to clean coins, I will suggest buying a group of cheap uncleaneds on ebay and experimenting with them first. Better to ruin a $1 coin than a $67 coin!
Edited by Kushanshah
12/27/2018 04:40 am
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 Posted 12/27/2018  06:54 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ben to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply


Cleaning silver is relatively easy and is much less likely to end in disaster than cleaning bronze, but this coin does not require much cleaning; the silver oxides are often considered a good indicator of authenticity and age. To remove the green stuff, grab a wooden toothpick, blunt it on something hard, and very carefully work in tiny circle to remove the green. If it is hard, leave it be. If it is very powdery, you might have a different issue. In my opinion, it isn't worth doing, the coin looks good as it is. If you do enough reading (ignoring anything that includes acid or electrolysis) and you are confident that you know what you are doing, then you would be able to improve it.

As for authenticity, you have a hard one to call here, because this issue is extensively counterfeited. In fact, a very common fake of Nero is this exact issue, with these exact year markings:



Yours doesn't match that. But unfortunately, it a die match to this tetradrachm for sale on Vcoins:



Of course, a single set of dies would have been used to make thousands of coins and finding a die match does not mean the coin is fake. A trustworthy seller certainly seems to think his is real. But with an issue such as this...well, I wouldn't risk it. The fabric of your coin is not a perfect match, so if it is a copy, it must have been struck. In fact, the fabric doesn't raise any alarm bells, it does look authentic.

I'll let the others weigh in on the matter. But don't be disheartened! Fakes are out there, but so are literally hundreds of thousands of authentic coins. In fact, if you are willing to hop over a city or two, a tetradrachm of Nero from Alexandria is very affordable, though not as impressive or scarce. They can be had for $30, if you are willing to wait on shipping from the middle East.

As for the legends and how to read them, it takes a while to pick up. You might find it easier to learn the latin titles and abbreviations rather than starting with this one - the inscription on this is in Greek. Because some of the legend is off the flan, you need to find the rest from a reference source. The easiest source, though it is not exhaustive, is Wildwinds. If you know the emperor, you can go on google and search for their wildwinds page (i.e. google Nero Wildwinds and take the first link). The page has many types listed for the emperor and you need to find the correct one, which can be done with the readable fragment of the legend or by searching by what is depicted. For this, I went down to the Antioch section as I could tell it is from Antioch and found a transcription of the legend there (in proper greek it is ΝΕΡΩΝOΣ ΚΑΙΣΑΡ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟΣ). Ill let you try to figure out what each part of that means. If the coin is listed there, it also comes with a reference number and can tell you what the date mark means (this one, H/IP, means Nero 8, Caesar 110, which is 61/62AD apparently).
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 Posted 12/29/2018  01:23 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add AlRashid to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Ben

I also have a Nero antioch tetradrachm and always wonder about its authenticity as some collectors also warned me about this series fakes. Do you think mine is authentic? Have you seen its copy or die match anywhere for sale before? I really appreciate your help. its weight is 14.15 gram


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 Posted 12/29/2018  05:46 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ben to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Sorry AlRashid, but just looking at the fabric leads me to think it has been cast - too much chatter in the fields, washed out details in 'protected' areas, like the panel of dots on the bust's neck, or in the feathers of the eagle. It could be environmental damage, which would make sense if it is billon. That being said, I was not able to find a die match. How's the edge?
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 Posted 12/29/2018  08:46 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add AlRashid to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks so much Ben. I found a similar fabric on CMG history:

https://cNGCoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=331273

The edge of coin is solid no dashing lines no cracks except one small one and it is not uniform in thickness. The seller also offered similar fabric coins for sale which makes me also suspect . It seems his coins are made very similarly what do you think? Thanks a lot for opinion.


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 Posted 12/29/2018  10:29 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ben to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
In this case, I'd say it is a positive thing for him to have more like that. They probably come from the same source. The encrustations are a good sign; potentially, the surfaces are the result of the removal of the original patina, revealing corroded surfaces, with these black marks not being removed in the process (but would also reveal porous surfaces). Bad surfaces are especially common in later tetradrachms. The sunken retrograde Z and the OP on the second coin is an effect that is quite commonly seen on sestertii, a curious side effect sometimes seen from regular corrosion, but wouldn't occur in the casting process unless tooling was applied. I couldn't find die matches for either of them, which is also a good sign.
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 Posted 12/29/2018  10:39 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add AlRashid to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thans Ben your analysis is so valuable for me I really appreciate it. I also forgot to menion I did XRF on this coin and showed below results. Any thoughts on the XRF ? is the silver content correct for the series?

Ag 91%
Pb 0.60 %
Au 0.70 %
rest was copper.

As these are not high end coin I doubt forger would have melted ancient coin to trick XRF . Do you agree?

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 Posted 12/29/2018  10:57 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ben to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The silver content is much too high for the series, unfortunately. It seems to me like you have a coin cast in sterling silver (925). Per this paper (https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/clas..._article.pdf), this series of Nero tetradrachms from Antioch have a consistent silver content of around 70%, with a gold content of closer to 0.2-0.5%.
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 Posted 12/29/2018  11:21 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add AlRashid to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Ben

That was a great article thanks so much for posting it. I noticed coin 21 A27 in list has very similar content for siver and gold with mine and is also antioch mint from claudius which is close to nero time. so could it be that they melted some claudius coin in antioch mint and used it to mint nero coins? I'm just speculating
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 Posted 12/29/2018  11:39 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ben to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Well, a lot of coins were reconstituted over time. Most commonly orichalcum coinage as the mines had run dry. But it seems the metallurgists were quite serious about silver content in Antioch, given the consistency seen compared to the early empire days. It seems to be suggested that old issues were withdrawn to provide consistency when the second phase of Nero tetradrachms (like yours) were released. It should also be considered that they wouldnt melt down a single coin; they would have to do the coins in batches. Your coin is dated 109, so the second year of the second phase, by which time earlier tetradrachms were already withdrawn. The only Claudius coin they examined was a didrachm and reportedly these are very rare (probably low issuance, given their silver content, or perhaps the withdrawal process was much more stringent for these). I expect that all the second phase Nero tetradrachms were produced in 700 silver by design - including more silver in a coin would of course cost the mint money.

The conclusion of the paper is very interesting because it gives an idea of why a new series was issued at this time in a higher fineness than earlier imperial tetradrachms. Tyre still used its old high quality tetradrachms which had 4/3rds the silver content of the new imperial tetradrachms. The author suggests that the old imperials coins would have therefore been tariffed at 3 drachms, but by raising the silver content slightly and simultaneously withdrawing the Tyrian tetradrachms, new Nero tetradrachms could be tariffed at 4 drachms, even though they contain much less silver than the Tyrian coinage.
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 Posted 12/29/2018  11:48 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add AlRashid to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
OK thanks I also read below:

A pattern seems to be emerging for the finenesses. At
97% fine the Tyrian silver is unique among the
coinages examined here. Of the other coins, most fall
into two groups: one at approximately 70% fine, the
other at about 50% fine. Those coins that do not fit
with this model appear to have suffered depletion of
copper as a result of fire damage and/or harsh
chemical cleaning.


so it seems the article suggests that corrosion or harsh cleaning could affect the results. it does seem these coins have been chemically cleaned to remove the encrustations. what do you think about this?

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