Click on image to view the variations.

          Ardashir I, a king of Persis, defeats the Parthian king Artabanos IV and two years later is crowed as the first Sasanian King in 226 AD. His son Shapure I, expands the border to include all modern Iran and parts of Iraq, Pakistan, Afganisthan, Turkhistan, Uzbekistan and Gulf Coast of the Arabian peninsula. The Sasanians remained the most powerful empire in the ancient near east. 400 years of war with Rome, Kushans, Chinonite and Hephthalites (Huna) take its toll and in the mid of 7th century the Arabs overun the Sasanians in 651 AD, replacing Zoroastrianism with Islam.

          Sasanian coins are an important primary source for the history, economics and religion of this dynasty. From the beginning, the image of the king with his elaborate crown appears on the obverse and a Zoroastrian fire altar is shown on the reverse. The crown incorporate a variety of symbols, such as the star and moon crescent, which are associated with the Zoroastrian religion and idea of kingship. Inscriptions which are in Pahlavi (Middle Persian), give the king's name, and his religious affiliation as a worshipper of Ahuramazda, the Zoroastrian Wise Lord.

          The coinage exists in gold, silver, copper and bronze. The gold coins seem to be scarce. The gold pieces, like the Kushan and Gupta gold coinage in India, are struck to the standard of the reduced Roman Aurei. The gold and most of the copper coins are thick in fabric, and of moderate diameter. The silver piece are nearly all extraordinarily thin and broad.

          With the small numbers of gold coins, and their often special typology, one can safely assume that the Sasanian gold coinage was used for ceremonial purposes, as a kind of honorary gifts to the grandees of the empire, also used in foreign trade, and was not intended to meet the demands of monetary circulation, making them very rare today. Silver and copper coins were used as main currency and were circulated even in neighbouring regions. The gold coins struct by Shapur II were more numerous than those of other rulers.

The following article from NGC

Deceptive Countefeit: The Electrotype | NGC

Posted on 5/1/2007

Skip Fazzari explains how to spot the insidious electrotype counterfeit coin.

Skip Fazzari, NCS Authenticator and Senior Conservator

One of the most difficult types of counterfeit coins to detect with the naked eye is the electrotype. Since some of these fakes can look quite good even under low magnification, it is important to be diligent. Once you have been fooled by one of these coins, in addition to a close microscopic exmination, you may want to start checking the weight and specific gravity of your important coins.

An electrotype is a copy of a coin made using a process similar to electroplating. Usally, the counterfeiter makes a copy of the genuine coin that he can work with so as not to ruin the original. There are several ways to do this. While modern fakes probably use spark erosion techniques to make their models, most electrotypes we see at the grading services were produced many years ago when a simple wax impression of a genuine coin was sufficient as a starting point. The wax model is coated with a metallic powders such as graphite or copper and then it is electroplated. This process allows a thin layer of metal to be built up on the surface of the model. When the coating becomes thick enough, it's separated from the wax form leaving a hallow shell bearing the details of one side of the original coin. A second shell is made of the coin's other side in the same way. Finally the two halves are joined together and the hallow center is filled with metal to give the electrotype the "feel" of a solid coin.

Most of the electrotypes I have encountered over the years have been copper coins, chiefly Large cents, Half cents, and Colonials. In some instances, the base metal interior of an electrotype can be seen as its outer shell becomes worn. This is one instance that detecting electrotype fake can be done with the naked eye but your findings should be confirmed by other tests because toning, especially on silver coins, can mimic this effect. Usually, collectors and dealers who have access to a balance may confirm that a coin is an electrotype by taking its weight and specific gravity, which are offen out of tolerance to that of a genuine coin. But here again, there are rare exemptions to this, so be careful and have important coin check by NGC.

There are several other diagnostics to look for if you suspect that a coin may be an electrotype. Perhaps the first thing to look for is evidence of a seam around the edge of the coin where the two halves were joined together. This will usally appear as a very thin, dark line running through the center of the edge. The micrograph show such a seam. In some cases, the faker will try to eradicate this seam or at least make it less noticeable by filing or burnishing its edge. When a model is produced from the original coin, a wax impression in the example above, some of the sharp detail of the coin is lost during the transfer process. This may give the relief of an electrotype, especially its legend and date, a rounded, bloated look when compared to that of a genuine coin. Additionally, any defects that were created in the mold during the transfer process to make the electrotype and any contact marks or scratches on the original coin used as a model may appear on the fake if not "touch-up" by the faker.

This article previously featured in Numismatic News.