Monday, July 2, 2018

One Week's Pay for a Roman Soldier at Veii

My interest in Roman pre-money started when I read Rome paid soldiers for the first time at Veii about 400 BC, or a century before they started producing coins. A century earlier, Servius Tullius classified citizens by wealth.
If bronze ingots were used for money, how were they measured. It seems likely that steelyard scales would have been used. They are better for weighing heavy items than the double balance scale.
The following pics are from my display at the Texas Numismatic Association (TNA) meeting in June.
 The display shows one week's pay in the large pan of the steelyard scale = 21 Asses = 6900 grams = 15 US pounds. Rome did not produce coins in 400 BC. The pan includes some cast bars, cast cakes and Aes Rude pieces. 

Pages of plates from Haeberline, see pic and info on the book below, cover the bottom of the display are. Some pieces not needed to make 15 pounds of bronze are shown. 

This double pan balance holds half a day's pay or 1.5 Asses. The scale weights in the left pan weigh one As and one Semis (= S = VI VNCIA = 6 Roman ounces). 

Haeberline's book and plates.

Hab plate 21. This must be a blue state set of Aes Grave, the prows are pointing left and they weigh less. Prows pointing right weigh more.

Roman scale weights, the left one is 6 ounces and could be Republican, the right one has a portrait that looks like a LRB (late Roman Bronze, or 3rd centruy AD) to me.


I bought this Roman Steelyard scale as a lot of two pieces. The weight has a portrait that looks like LRB. The balance arm could be older or newer.
Several weights that could be used with a steelyard scale. I have the one in the lower right on the balance in the picture, but the scale is held by a second hanger to keep from having problems in the case. 


I tested my scale using windshield washer fluid before building the display.

A few more pics for good measure:
 http://www.vroma.org/images/raia_images/factory_utensils.jpg

The above pic from a Sands of Time email. 


another Haberline plate showing a Ramo Secco bar




Sunday, July 1, 2018

Barrel Shaped Bronze Scale Weight, 326 gram, with Silver Inlay

Barrel Shaped Bronze Scale Weight, 326 gram, with Silver Inlay
This weight is the largest of three scale weights I purchased recently. The seller's pic, Timeline Auctions, is below.  A similar 326 gram weight sold 3 months earlier and is the 2nd pic below. Both were advertised as Viking, but look a lot like Roman barrel weights. They have the right weight for a Roman pound or As.



Antiquities - Viking
Viking Large Weight with Inlay, 10th-12th century AD
A substantial bronze barrel-shaped weight with inlaid silver geometric motif. 
328 grams
33.3 mm tall
42.3 mm largest diameter
30 - 31 mm top and bottom (small) diameter
Condition Fine 
Provenance - From an old North Country collection; formed between 1970-2000.
Literature - See Weber, K. Byzantinische Münzgewichte: Materialkorpus für 1-Nomisma-Gewichte, Schwelm, 2009 for discussion.


I asked the seller why the weights were listed as Viking when they look a lot like Roman / Byzentine weights. He said:
The Viking weight was attributed as Viking as it was found from a Viking site/context. The Vikings regularly re-used Roman and Byzantine trade weights for their own purposes. 
I think my weight has a wolf design on part of the top. Below the design (wolf and twins?) is a horizontal line and letters. 
the top of my coin, you need a good imagination to see the wolf

I think the wolf looks a bit like this one.

Side view, this color looks about right. The two pics above had extra light to try to bring out the design.

Bottom view.

I have not decided if cleaning would improve my chances to see the design on my weight. I am inclined to leave it as is.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Roman Cupid Steelyard Weight

I have been interested in scales and scale weights for a while. I bought three weights in a recent auction. The best item is one in the form of Cupid. Note the chain is a thick braid formed loops crossed at 90 degree angles.



Antiquities - Roman
Roman Cupid Steelyard Weight
1st-2nd century AD
A bronze steelyard weight comprising a length of trichinopoly chain with hook finial, and a hollow-formed bust of Cupid with small lateral wings to the shoulders, styled hair, wreath to the neck, small nose and pellet eyes.
78.5 grams; the weight is about 65 grams and the chain is about 12 grams
57 mm wing tip to wing tip
60.5 mm tall
22.4 mm thick
150 chain length
17.5 mm S loop
Condition - Fine

Provenance - Property of a British gentleman; formerly in the private collection of Russian businessman Yuri Golubev (1942-2007), some of his collection was published in his book 'Symbols and Images'; acquired on the London art market 1990s-2007.

Literature - Cf. Simpson, G. Roman Weapons, Tools, Bronze Equipment and Brooches from Neuss-Novesiaum Excavations 1955-1972, BAR International Series 862, Oxford, 2000 plate 48 for type.
See pictures from the book by Simpson of a steelyard scale with a head of Bacchus below. Note the scale below is larger: weight 2160 grams (about 20X) and height 115 mm (about 2X), or over 20 times heavier for 2 times the size. This is due to lead filling. 







A second weight was listed as an Iron Age Celtic Steelyard Weight with Bust. This weight fits inside the Cupid weight.





Antiquities - Celtic Iron Age
Iron Age Celtic Steelyard Weight with Bust
1st century BC-1st century AD
A bronze weight with discoid base, shank formed as a crude male bust with loop above.
16 grams
21.6 mm tall, including loop
18.4 X 19.3 mm base diameter, not quite circular
The head is 10.7 mm wide and 12.3 mm from tip of nose to back of head
Condition - Fine
Provenance - Property of a British gentleman; formerly in the private collection of Russian businessman Yuri Golubev (1942-2007), some of his collection was published in his book 'Symbols and Images'; acquired by auction on 16 October 2006; accompanied by a copy of the listing.

A few of the other weights are shown below.
The top left lead weight could be a fishing sinker, scale weight, plumb bob, loom weight or something else. My guess is loom weight.
The top middle, acorn shaped weight Acorn Weight is 46 X 15 mm and weighs 29 grams. It could be a plumb bob or steelyard scale weight. like the one below found near Cyprus.

The upper right weight has a geometric pattern, weighs 300+ grams and is 37 mm tall by 39 mm diameter. It has a bronze shell and lead filling.
The lower right weight has what looks like a portrait of a LRB (Late Roman Bronze coin). It weighs 380 grams and is 74 X 34 X 22 mm.

I think the middle lead piece is a scale weight, but could be a votive offering.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

SpGr to estimate the gold content of electrum

Brutium Punic 3/8th Shekel
216 – 211 BC




I made some home SpGr estimates and conclude my coin is probably electrum! The % gold was taken from a conversion table in Jenkins & Lewis, Carthaginian Gold and Electrum Coins, pg 63. I made 5 series of weight measurements. First I measured the coin dry. Next I used Teflon dental floss to tie the coin on a string. I filled a small cup with water, placed the cup on my scale and zeroed the scale. I then held the coin in the cup, under water, without letting it touch the sides. To “confirm” my test, I tested one buffalo nickel, two Roman Republican denarii and one silver nugget.

SpGr = Wt of coin in air / Wt of coin in water




My results:


Coin
SpGr
% Gold
Wt, air
Wt, water
Bruttium Punic 3/8th shekel, test 1
11.95
27.0
2.51
0.210
Bruttium Punic 3/8th shekel, test 2
11.41
17.2
2.51
0.220
Bruttium Punic 3/8th shekel, test 3
10.96
9.0
2.52
0.230
Bruttium Punic 3/8th shekel, test 4
11.38
16.6
2.56
0.225
Bruttium Punic 3/8th shekel, test 5
12.05
28.5
2.53
0.210
Buffalo Nickel
8.68
4.86
0.560
Denarius, MN.CORDIVS RVFVS, Cr 463/1; #1
9.97
3.79
0.380
Denarius, MN.CORDIVS RVFVS, Cr 463/1; #2
10.20
3.62
0.355
Silver nugget
10.12
6.88
0.680



SpGr
% Gold
Wt, air
Wt, water
11.95
27.0
2.51
0.210
11.41
17.2
2.51
0.220
10.96
9.0
2.52
0.230
11.38
16.6
2.56
0.225
12.05
28.5
2.53
0.210
8.68

4.86
0.560
9.97

3.79
0.380
10.20

3.62
0.355
10.12

6.88
0.680


 Note that the test is sensitive to the weight in water measurement. This may below where my scale gives good results. I think the results are good enough to say my coin is electrum. 

Metal
SpGr
gold
19.32
silver
10.49
Copper
8.96
Lead
11.34
Electrum
12.17


The description below is from the previous post with a few changes. 

BRUTTIUM, Carthaginian occupation. Circa 216-211 BC. EL 3/8 Shekel

Based on one letter at 12 on obverse, may be struck over another coin???
Obv - Janiform female heads, wearing wreaths of grain
Rev - Zeus, holding thunderbolt in right hand, scepter in left, standing in quadriga right, driven by Nike, who holds reins.
2.5 g
14.7 X 15.9 mm
12 h
F, light gray / yellow tone, well worn or poorly struck. Rare.

References (note I have the first 4 books, I do not see the coin in Crawford): Two links with more info are below.
Jenkins & Lewis, Carthaginian Gold and Electrum Coins, Group XVI, numbers 487 - 493 (Capua)
1.  J&L mention 47 coins tabulated by Bahrfeldt in Die romische Goldmunzpragung.
2.  SpGr for the 8 coins in Group XVI ranges from 11.99 to 12.34. One coin was mentioned in an addenda that was SpGr = 11.92 and 27%. (Somewhere I read, but can not find now, that the %gold            dropped into the teens late in the war)
HN Italy 2013
Grueber, BMCRR – Romano Campanian Coinage, Half Stater, No 145 – 149
Sear Greek Coins, Vol 1 Europe, 287

SNG Copenhagen 357
Robinson, Punic p. 40 (Capua)
SNG ANS 146 (Capua)