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Fourrée Coins

The following coins are unusual in that they are made of base metal plated with silver or gold. The authenticity of these coins is in doubt; the plated coins may be genuine, contemporary counterfeits or modern forgeries.

These could be genuine copper or bronze coins plated by the royal mint in ancient times to meet a legitimate governmental purpose, but this is contraindicated by the very small number known to exist. More likely, these coins are genuine base metal coins illicitly plated by contemporary counterfeiters to dupe unsuspecting  people. In more modern times forgers may have plated genuine ancient base metal coins to fool collectors.

Speaking of the closely related Seleucid coinage, Arthur Houghton once held that some some Seleucid fourrées may have been official issues,1 but on the basis of close examination of more than a hundred and thirty known examples, now believes that none were struck by official mints. A single plated coin of a small north Syrian mint operating under Antiochus VIII is die-linked to full silver coins of the same type, but Houghton says this can be explained by a stolen die.2 If true for Seleucid coins from the mint at Seleucia-on-the-Tigris, it probably holds true for Parthian coins from the same mint.

The below fourrées are presented to help you understand and identify these very interesting Parthian coins. Please leave your comments on the feedback page where you can post a public message or send private e-mail on this topic.

____________________
Notes:
1. Houghton, Arthur. "Syria and the East" (1986), p. 182.
2. --------. Personal correspondence, April 2003.


Fourrée #1

smit_p4mith1_small.jpgMithradates I (c. 171 - 138 B.C.)
Click the coin image at left to see a type 10 fourrée drachm of Mithradates I


Fourrée #2

No image availableArtabanus II (c. A.D. 10 - 38)
AR over AE, fourrée tetradrachm, 7.78 g, 25.0 mm
Mint/ Seleucia, ΔΛΤ 23/24 A.D.
Obv/bust of king, left, diademed; hair three less formal rows; medium, squared beard; border of dots. Legend: (above) ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ, (in ex.) [Ε]ΥΕΡΓΕΤΟ[Υ]
Rev/ king seated left on throne with low back, receiving a palm from Tyche standing right; between the two a male figure kneeling right offers a diadem to the king; the distinctive headdress of Tyche seems to be lacking; date in the field center, month off flan; legend: (right) ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩ[Σ?], (left) (up) ΑΡΣΑΚΟΥ
Prov/ Seleucia archaeological dig
- BMC Parthia p. 147-148, 11/19; pl.XXV, 3 (Artabanus III)
- McDowell CST type 82, pp. 68-69, 115-116

McDowell Type 82 illustrates 10 coins of Artabanus II overstruck on an earlier issue of Artabanus. One these, this example, is a tetradrachm fourrée, a genuine ancient coin found found at the Seleucia archaeological dig, but may represent a contemporary attempt at falsification, since a Parthian fourrée is so rarely mentioned in the literature.


Fourrée #3

No image availableVardanes I (c. A.D. 40 - 47)
AR over AE, fourrée tetradrachm, 10.21 g, 26.4 mm
Mint/ Seleucia, ΔΝΤ 43/44 A.D.
Obv/bust of king, left, diademed; hair four formal rows; short beard; border of dots. Legend: (above) ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩ[Σ], ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩ[Ν] (left) ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ [Φ]ΙΛΕΛΛΗΝ[ΟΣ]
Rev/ king seated right on throne with a back, receiving a palm from Tyche standing left; head of Tyche seems to be bare; a cornucopia is held in the left arm; date in the field center, month off flan; legend: (right) ΑΡΣΑΚ[ΟΥ] ΕΥΕΡΓΕΤΟ[Υ] (ex) ΔΙΚΑΙΟΥ
Prov/ Seleucia archaeological dig
- BMC p. 153-156, 1-23; pl.XXVI, 1 (Artabanus III)
- McDowell CST type 87, p. 70, 117

McDowell Type 87 illustrates 6 coins of Vardanes I of which one (not specified if it is the fourrée) is overstruck on a year 42/43 coin, but the earlier issue cannot be identified. One these, this example, is a tetradrachm fourrée, a genuine ancient coin found found at the Seleucia archaeological dig, but may represent a contemporary attempt at falsification. Another coin in this group appears to be base metal.


Fourrée #4

No image availableVologases IV (c. A.D. 147 - 191)
AR over AE, fourrée tetradrachm, 8.06 g, 25.4 mm
Mint/ Seleucia, ΘΠΥ 178/179 A.D., [ΑΠΕ]ΛΛΙΟΥ the 9th month
Obv/bust of king, left, diademed; helmet with long curved flaps; long beard squared at the bottom; border of dots; legend: (above) ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩ[Σ] ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩ[Ν] (left) ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ [Φ]ΙΛΕΛΛΗΝ[ΟΣ]
Rev/ king seated right on throne with a high back, receiving a diadem from Tyche standing right holding scepter in left hand; date in the field center, month off flan; legend: (right) ΑΡΣΑΚ[ΟΥ ΕΥΕΡΓΕΤΟ[Υ] (ex) ΔΙΚΑΙΟΥ
Prov/ Seleucia archaeological dig
- BMC p. 224-228, 1-34; pl.XXXIV, 1-3 (Vologases III)
- McDowell CST type 116, p. 84, 128 (Vologases III)

McDowell Type 116 illustrates 11 coins of Vologases IV. One these, this example, is a tetradrachm fourrée, a genuine ancient coin found found at the Seleucia archaeological dig, but may represent a contemporary attempt at falsification.


Fourrée #5

tillya2-72_small.jpg (78x75 -- 1593 bytes)Gotarzes I (c. 95 - 90 B.C.)
Click on the coin image at left to see the gold coin, possibly fourrée, from Tillya-tepe (Afghanistan) that is similar to a Sellwood type 33.7 drachm


Fourrée #6

No image availableMithradates II (?) (c. 123 - 88 B.C.)
AR over AE, fourrée drachm, 3.370 g, die axis=12 h
Mint/ Ecbatana, undated
Obv/bust of king, left, wearing tiara
Rev/ king (?) standing in front of pyre
Note/ I have not inspected this coin. From the brief ANS description, it is probably a coin of Sasanian king Ardashir I, whose early coins bore a portrait wearing a tiara similar to that of Mithradates II
Location/ American Numismatic Society
- ANS 1994.59.1
- not in Sellwood


Fourrée #7

PDC 5798Orodes I (c. 90 - 80 B.C.)
AR over AE, fourrée drachm
Mint/ Ecbatana, undated
Obv/ bust left with medium beard wearing tiara (type undetermined)
Rev/ beardless archer seated right on throne; in right hand bow; Greek inscription. Unusual as it bears monogram 29 under the bow
Photo/ by permission Rian Thum 
- Sellwood 31 type but fourrée


This page last updated 24 Sep 2012

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