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Saturday, June 4, 2011

An uncleaned Theodosius II (402-450) ... what?! Mystery coin or dummy blogger?

A couple of days ago I opened a jar of coins soaking in water. They'd been in there about a month since their last chekup. I rubbed them all with my thumbs before putting them on "the drying towel."

This coin clearly looked like it was silver or had silver on it. Okay, I've got a Theodosius II light miliarensis -- or at least a fourée.

So I check my Sear RSC v4 and no such silver coin existed. I searched wildwinds (everyone ignores the top line of my Christmas list: Roman Imperial Coinage, vols 1-10, 1927-1981, London: Spink; I should probably just get Sear's RCV). No such coin.

The "Facing Bust" obverse is evidently the RIC volume 10 #100 variety (the Rx is too encrustred to be certain, but seems so as well).

The facing bust. Bronze, yes. Gold, yes. Silver, no.

What could this be? Perhaps the obverse bust is diademed right, rather than facing and there is my mistake. Was there ever a ruler named Smeodosium? Is it a lead test-strike? Stolen dies, mule? Barbarous imitation? Modern manipulation of some sort?

What should I do? If it's a cull, should I just leave it in the low-grade uncleaned water bottle til July to find out real slow without destroying a possibly silvered coin (is that possible)? Should I soak it in vinegar til noon to find out real quick whether it's silver, silvered, bronze, or plutonium?


  1. It's a bronze (and should clean up well with care). What you're seeing is - I think - chemical deposition of a microns-thin layer of tin. I've seen this happen when cleaning bronzes with electrolysis. If this is the case that sheen should have faded away by now. Did it?

  2. Ras, a couple other peole whose views I respect highly have commented. Doug Smith just said AE3, but Sear wrote and said that these issues from Cyzicus were often silvered. That it is. I'll updated with a new post. What's weird is that it doesn't look like an official "silver wash" but an actual fourree with a silver (or tin) foil wrap. If not for a break in the foil, I'd have thought it solid AR (would need a specific gravity test, but yeah, it cleaned up 95% silvered). I'll post the update. Very interesting about tin deposits... How does that happen? Fused with a neighboring piece of metal?