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"Mule" Coins


"Mules" are not Parthian pack animals, but rather coins struck with mismatched sides; that is, the obverse is from one issue and the reverse from another. It is believed that these coins were the result of a rush at the mint to change coinage over from one type to another causing the mistake. Or perhaps as an expedient, the die from an earlier issue was substituted for the proper one. Mules are especially useful to numismatists as they can indicate the possible sequence of the coinage.

But who minted the coin? Either the obverse or reverse can be from the most recent ruler. When we know with certainty the order of rulers, the later ruler is assumed to have issued the coin. But it is almost impossible to decide who issued coins when we have contemporaneous rulers or the history and sequence of the kings is murky. To provide consistency on this web site, all "mule" coins are placed according to the Sellwood type of the obverse portrait.

Also shown are examples of "mules" of the same king -- a coin struck with the obverse of one type, and a reverse of another.


Mule #1

No image availableArsaces II (c. 211 - 191 B.C.) Mule
Click on image at left to see a Sellwood type 5.1 obverse with a type 6.1 reverse "mule"


Mule #2

No image availableVologases VI (c. A.D. 208 - 228) Mule
Click on the image at left to see the "mule" from CNG Auction 51 (15 Sept. 1999), Lot 646. The obverse displays the bust of Vologases IV while the reverse reads rtbnu MLK = king Artabanus


Mule #3

No image availableArtabanus IV (c. A.D. 216 - 224) Mule
Click on the image at left to see the "mule" with the obverse portrait of Artabanus IV while the reverse reads wlg$y MLK = king Vologases (where $ = sh)


Mule #4

ObversePhraates IV (c. 38 - 2 B.C.) Mule
Click on the image at left to see the "mule" of a Sellwood type 50.9 reverse on a type 51.25 tetradrachm


Mule #5

MuleArsaces I (c. 247 - 211 B.C.) / Arsaces II (c. 211 - 191 B.C.) Mule
Click on image at left to see a Sellwood type 4.1 obverse and an Arsaces II type 5.1 reverse "mule"


This page last updated 17 Apr 2008

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Online since 28 March 1998
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