Parion
Hemidrachms

 

 

Parion archaic hemidrachms are fascinating small silver coins minted c. 480 BC in Mysia, Asia Minor, and represented in David Sear's Greek Coins and Their Values as Sear Greek 3918, among other references. They depict on the obverse the snake-haired Medusa, often with her tongue visibly and rudely sticking out, and on the reverse an incuse punch used in the minting process of the earliest coins. They're the most frequently seen Medusa/Gorgoneion coins on eBay as well as the most affordable on the market today.

I believe most of these coins sold today aren't official Parion archaic hemidrachms but Thracian imitations of them, though none are labeled as such. This is based on three sources. Stavri Topalov in his 2003 book Ancient Thrace: Contributions to the Study of the Early Thracian Tribal Coinage and Its Relations to the Coinage of the Odrysians and the Odyrsian Kingdom During 6th-4th Century B.C. writes that he believes these are Thracian coins. (Topalov oversteps this by contending that the classically designed coins are Thracian as well.) Dmitre Genov of Ancient Auction House, which sells more of these coins on eBay than any other dealer, believes the imitatives are Thracian. And David Sear, who looked at two such coins I sent him, said in a phone conversation that he believed they were ancient imitative issues.

Harlan J. Berk in one of its recent catalogs selling these coins argued that they were official Greek coins because of their numbers. But a large output in ancient times, and voluminous findings in the Balkans today, isn't a convincing reason for them to be Greek. The Thracians produced a huge quantity of coins of different types in ancient times, with huge numbers of them being dug up in recent times in Bulgaria, Romania, and northeastern Greece.

What follows are a series of coins that run the gamut from official Parion archaic hemidrachms to slightly barbarized tribal imitatives to heavily barbarized tribal imitatives to modern forgeries. The image sizes on screen are in proportion to the actual sizes of the respective coins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Official Parion archaic hemidrachm (3.4g). High relief. Carefully engraved. Obtained from a top European auction house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thracian early imitative Parion archaic hemidrachm (3.2g). Low relief. Less carefully engraved. Overlarge nose. Obtained from a volume eBay dealer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thracian early imitative Parion archaic hemidrachm (2.6g). Similar to "Parion 2." Borrowed from a widely respected numismatist, who had bought it from a top U.S. auction firm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thracian middle imitative Parion archaic hemidrachm (1.3g). Part of a hoard of these that came to market in London in 2006. Worn obverse die. Scyphate (cup-shaped) flan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thracian middle imitative Parion archaic hemidrachm (1.6g). Part of a hoard of these that came to market in London in 2006. Crude styling of obverse paired with careful styling of reverse. Scyphate (cup-shaped) flan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thracian middle imitative Parion archaic hemidrachm (1.5g). Part of a hoard of these that came to market in London in 2006. Crude styling of obverse paired with careful styling of reverse. Scyphate (cup-shaped) flan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thracian middle imitative Parion archaic hemidrachm (1.5g). Part of a hoard of these that came to market in London in 2006. Crude styling of obverse paired with careful styling of reverse. Scyphate (cup-shaped) flan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thracian middle imitative Parion archaic hemidrachm (1.9g). Part of a hoard of these that came to market in London in 2006. Crude styling of obverse paired with careful styling of reverse. Scyphate (cup-shaped) flan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thracian late imitative Parion archaic hemidrachm (1.7g). Part of a hoard of these that came to market in London in 2006. Worn obverse die, partly worn reverse die. Scyphate (cup-shaped) flan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modern counterfeit Parion archaic hemidrachm (3.0g). Very low relief. Obverse device (Medusa) blends into the edge of the coin, without a border separating them. Artificial toning accentuates the coin's details. Obtained from a suspicious eBay seller from Canada, who has sold these and continues to sell these in large numbers. Condemned as probable modern fake by David Sear and four of five dealers I showed the piece to at a major national coin show. Ed Snible sent one of these to Dr. Paul Keyser, who measured its specific gravity at 10.147 +/- 0.005, compared to silver's specific gravity of 10.4-10.6, which suggests that these fakes are characterized by casting bubbles, a silver alloy, or both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modern counterfeit Parion archaic hemidrachm (3.2g). Similar to "Parion 4" but with less blatant artificial toning. Obtained from a volume dealer at a major national coin show. Condemned as probable modern fake by David Sear. Interestingly, the above two fakes appear as a near die match to a coin portrayed as authentic in SNG Delepierre (2527), published in 1983.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other pages of mine on coins copying Athens, Alexander the Great, Lysimachos, Parion, Thasos, Constantine the Great, and other coins can be found at my site on Ancient Imitative Coinage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medusa Coins

Medusa Background

Selected Medusa Coins

Medusa Coin Catalog

Apollonia Pontika Drachms

"New York Hoard" Forgeries

Parion Hemidrachms

Other Pseudonumia

More Info

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Oldest Coins

 Athenian Owls

Alexander the Great Coins

Medusa Coins

Thracian Tetradrachms

House of Constantine

Draped Bust Coins

Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles

Coin sites:
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Glomming: Coin Connoisseurship
Bogos: Counterfeit Coins
Pre-coins

© 2014 Reid Goldsborough

Note: Any of the items illustrated on these pages that are in my possession are stored off site.