Tricks of the trade: Coins of Gordian III from the Antioch Mint

One of the more awkward challenges of cataloguing a 3rd century coin hoard can be picking out which coins were minted at Antioch.  This is especially true for Gordian III (AD 238-244) Fortunately, in my job I have the luxury of being able to consult many a expert for tips, therefore I wish to share some of the tricks I have learnt for discerning Gordian III mints.

In the early part of Gordian III reign Rome and Antioch are minting the same designs that have only very marginal differences, therefore you have to look very closely to discriminate between them.  The coins of Antioch were not minted with quite so much finesse as at Rome and this can be seen from the way in which the lettering is clumsy, being a bit thicker and sometimes missing serifs.  Furthermore the portrait is not as good as at Rome either and has larger head.  These distinctions may not seem like much, and frankly they’re not huge differences but they are the few vital clues available to identify whether a coin is minted at Antioch or Rome if the design was used at both mints.  It takes time to notice this difference and in an ideal world I would love to provide a variety of sample photographs however I have currently have none available, those below are sourced from Nevertheless,  it always helps to be aware that portraits of Gordian with oddly proportioned heads are, generally speaking, of the Antioch mint

Rome mint coin of Gordian III,  image taken from

Rome mint coin of Gordian III, image taken from

Sometimes a design shared by Rome and Antioch may have a small but noticeable reverse difference.  One such example is with the FORTVNA REDVX issue.  When this coin is minted at Rome, the Fortuna’s seat has a wheel underneath it, however over at Antioch this aspect of the design has been omitted. In all other aspects it matches the Rome issue, however, for whatever reason, this difference does exist and offers a quick and easy way to identify where this issue was minted.

One of the most noticeable differences by far is on some of Gordian’s obverse.  One series of issues from Antioch feature a different type of armour on the bust and have no drapery.  This armour is easily identifiable as it occurs on the back of the shoulders as a series of dots and quite thankfully, does not appear on any of his coins from mint at Rome, therefore if you see this, you know you have a coin from Antioch.  However this only appears on the latter Antioch issues of his reign, his earlier issues are more complex.

An Antioch coin of Gordian III,   image taken from

An Antioch coin of Gordian III, image taken from

With the exception of the Fortuna Redux coins,  or those with the dotted armour,  identifying an Antioch mint for Gordian can be tricky: they’re not easy differences to spot,  I’ve only recently been made aware of such differences and am still learning to recognise them, however I hope this information will assist others with their attributions.

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