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The case of the missing tongs

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  • The case of the missing tongs

    Here is a classic coin from the Roman Republic moneyer T Carisius Denarius. 46 BC. This is the only depiction of Roman mint tools.
    In this coin, the tongs seem to have gone missing. Many moneta members think this is the result of a filled die - something like a brockage where the tongs on the previous coin were accidentally picked up by the die during the strike, blocking that image out on subsequent strikes. One moneta member suggested that there wasn't enough metal to fill the high point on the head and the tongs creating a "ghosting" effect - common on some modern coins.

    The coin image:

    CNG coin with tong

    What actually caused the missing tongs???

    What actually caused the missing tongs???


  • #2
    I think the members of Moneta have it exactly right. My own opinion is that this is most likely from a filled die--not from a piece of a previous coin sticking in the die, but more likely a bit of dirt or grease. This is very common even on modern coins--you'll occasionally find coins in your change with letters missing due to filled dies.

    An uneven strike or "ghosting effect" is also quite possible, although it's a bit difficult to be sure. The missing tong is on the coin just opposite the highest part of the portrait on the obverse, which could certainly cause the tong not to be struck up, particularly in this die alignment.

    Best wishes,