Coin, Calabria, Didrachm
ca. 280-272 BC - Tarentum - AU(55-58) - Silver - HGC:1-886
Youth on horseback to right, crowning horse that raises right foreleg.
Taras astride dolphin to left, holding Nike who crowns him in right hand and shield and two spears in left, waves below.
Striking coin, covered with a splendid and bewitching patina with iridescent tones.
AP monogram in upper left field.
- Composition: Silver
- Diameter: 19.5
- Denomination: Didrachm
- Mint name: Tarentum
- Product type: Coin
- Year: ca. 280-272 BC
- Greece province: Calabria
- Patina: iridescent toning
- HGC: 1-886
Silver can fall into your pocket but also falls between copper and gold in group 11 of the periodic table. Three metals frequently used to mint coins. There are two good reasons for using silver: it is a precious metal and oxidizes little upon contact with air. Two advantages not to be taken for granted.
Here is thus a metal that won’t vanish into thin air.
It’s chemical symbol Ag is derived from the Latin word for silver (argentum), compare Ancient Greek ἄργυρος (árgyros). Silver has a white, shiny appearance and, to add a little bit of esotericism or polytheism to the mix, is traditionally dedicated to the Moon or the goddess Artemis (Diana to the Romans).
As a precious metal, just like gold, silver is used to mint coins with an intrinsic value, meaning their value is constituted by the material of which they are made. It should be noted that small quantities of other metals are frequently added to silver to make it harder, as it is naturally very malleable (you can’t have everything) and thus wears away rapidly.
The first silver coins probably date back to the end of the 7th century BC and were struck on the Greek island of Aegina. These little beauties can be recognized by the turtle featured on the reverse.
The patina of silver ranges from gray to black.
The millesimal fineness (or alloy) of a coin indicates the exact proportion (in parts per thousand) of silver included in the composition. We thus speak, for example, of 999‰ silver or 999 parts of silver per 1 part of other metals. This measure is important for investment coins such as bullion. In France, it was expressed in carats until 1995.
An “AU(55-58)” quality
As in numismatics, it is important that the state of conservation of an item be carefully evaluated before it is offered to a discerning collector with a keen eye.
This initially obscure acronym comprising two words describing the state of conservation is explained clearly here:
This means – more prosaically – that the coin has been in circulation but sufficiently little that its original beauty is preserved almost in its entirety. The wear is barely visible and any other defect can only be identified with a magnifying glass or a particularly keen eye. The number (55-58) indicates that between three quarters and almost all of the original luster remains.