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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Extremely Rare Double Dinar of Ardaxšīr (Ardashir) I

Triton XXII, Lot: 481. Estimate $100000.
Sold for $110000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SASANIAN KINGS. Ardaxšīr (Ardashir) I. AD 223/4-240. AV Double Dinar (28mm, 14.99 g, 3h). Mint C ("Ctesiphon"). Phase 3, circa AD 233/4-238/9. mzdysn bgy ’rthštr MRK’n MRK’ ’yr’n MNW ctry MN yzd’ in Pahlavi, bust right, wearing diadem (type R) and close-fitting headdress with korymbos and no earflaps / NWR’ ZY in Pahlavi to left, ’rthštr in Pahlavi to right, fire altar (flames 1) with diadems (type R). SNS type IIIa(4a)/3a and pl. 8, A14 var. = Göbl pl. 1, 9 var. = Paruck pl. 11, 34 var. = De Morgan pl. 45, 9 var. = Alram 670 var. = BM Inv. 1887, 1201.27 var. (pellet behind korymbos); otherwise, unpublished. Good VF, minor deposits in obverse devices, hint of die rust. Extremely rare, apparently the second known.

Between AD 233/4 and AD 238/9, Ardaxšīr (Ardashir) I, now undisputed ruler, instituted from his capital at Ctesiphon a new series of coinage, which featured him wearing close-fitting headdress with korymbos and proclaiming him as “king of kings of Iran, descended from the gods. While the majority of this new series consisted of silver drachms and fractions, Ardaxšīr also issued gold coins for the first time. A dinar, its fraction, and a double dinar were all struck in limited quantities. This gold is unusual for, except for the issue of Andragoras and the controversial Parthian and Persis gold issues, these coins were the first to be struck by the the Persians since the time of the Achaemenids. To some extent, the dinar and its fraction would eventually come to serve the same function for the Sasanians that it did with other contemporary states, in transacting large scale payments. However, like other regional states that issued such coinage, gold coins, especially larger denominations such as this double dinar provided opportunities for the ruler to enhance his power and prestige by presenting these coins as gifts to special friends and worthy subjects (see, for example, the gold dekadrachms of Amyntas or the double dinars of Vima Kadphises). Eventually, the presentation pieces might be recalled by the issuing authority, hence the extreme rarity of these larger gold denominations, such as this coin.