Saturday, April 29, 2017

Old Scale Weights

I had a great time at the 2017 NYINC. I am slow posting items from the show, but this is by far my favorite. Goldberg auctions had a set of Jewish scale weights, lot #1. I was able to look at them close up and all I can say is wow.
From the auction catalog.

My pictures of the same lot.

Includes the following:
1. Libra: 116.53g, no inscription.
2. 3/10 Libra: 83.4g, with inscription.
3. 8 Shekel: 91.35g. with inscription.
4. 4 Shekel: 43.3 9.4g. with inscription.
5. 2 Shekel: 22.7g, with inscription.
6. 1 Shekel: 11.0g. with inscription.
7 & 8. 1 Nezef (5/6 Shekel): 9.4g 2 pieces, each with inscription.
9. 1 Pim (2/3 Shekel): 8.4g with inscription.
10 & 11. 1 Beka (½ Shekel): 5.4g. with inscription and one without.
12. 8 Gerah: 4.3g. with inscription.
13. 7 Gerah: 4.1g. with inscription.
14. 6 Gerah: 3.0g. with inscription.
15. 5 Gerah. 2.9g. with inscription. 16. 3 Gerah: 2.0g. with inscription.

You can find more here:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

An interesting day watching an auction half a world away.

I had a fun morning watching ASTA DECENNALIA, Numismatica Tintinna's electronic auction #61 (Asta Elettronica 61). I picked up a few coins, passed on a few and made a couple of observations. 
Purchase #1 is a coin I have, twice, but this one is a fraction of the coin.
It is about 25% of a cast bronze Triens, TV-3 (not TV-3a). I guess that makes it a Uncia! The seller's description in Italian and my translation to English:
Repubblica Romana.
Frazione di Triente (fraction of a triens, I will call it an Uncia)
fulmine (thunderbolt) \ delfino (dolphin).
TV 3a  
Peso 30,71 gr.
TV lists two weight classes of this coin. The first 105 to 140 grams and the second is 80 to 107 grams. I think the piece looks like a quarter of the coin. That would put it mid-way in the heavier group. I will see how the coin looks on the two I have of this series.

Anonymous Æ Aes Grave Triens (or 1/3 of am As); the coin was cast in Rome (according to Crawford, Thurlow & Vecchi and Rutter) or Campania (according to Sydenham), the period of minting ranges from circa 289 BC for heavier coins to about 245 BC for lighter coins. The obverse has a thunderbolt and four pellets. The reverse has a Dolphin swimming right and below are four pellets. T&V comment that the thunderbolt is an attribute of Jupiter, the chief god of the Romans and the dolphin is an attribute of Neptune. The coin weighs 94.91 grams and has a diameter of 49 mm. A small piece of the coin is missing. The reverse is at 10:00 relative to the obverse. The coin was graded VF with a light brownish ‘Tiber’ patina and came from a private German collection. Attributions for the coin:
·         Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage - 14/3 – Crawford gives the 14 series As a weight standard of 322 grams for this series. Three times 95 = 285, which is a bit below the weight standard, but well above the 267 gram average for the 85 examples of Cr 35/1 I found.  
·         Thurlow & Vecchi, Italian Cast Coinage – 3a - The weight of the coin places it in the later period by T&V and thus the “a”.
·         The coin is not in Grueber, Coins of the Roman Republic in the British Museum. It is listed in BMC Italy and is on the British Museum web site.
·         Sydenham, Aes Grave – 38; Coinage of the Roman Republic – 10
·         Sear – 538
·         Rutter, HN Italy 270
·         ICC 27
·         Haeberlin pp. 95-97, 1-160 pl. 39, 6-14
Similar to above but 96 grams vs 95 grams. This one has more of the original casting and much lower features.

I picked up a couple of struck Asses. Both are relatively light weight, at 24 & 29 grams, or less than the part of the cast piece above.

This anonymous struck bronze is 29 grams and 31 mm. I assume it is anonymous instead of having the symbols worn off. The seller called it a Cr-56/2 and I will say the same until I have it in hand. I probably would not buy this one by itself, but I had one coming already, so why not. It will be a good show and tell coin.

The dealer called this one SAX (Cr 180), but I think I see C.SAX (Cr 173). I can tell better with the coin in hand, but it may be so worn that 100% ID is not possible. This was another low priced coin that I bought because I already had one in the auction to share postage.
Roman Republican struck As
C·SAX, Rome 169 to 158 BC
Obv - Janus head, above, I
Rev. Prow r.; above, C·SAX ligate and before, I. Below ROMA. 
Æ 33mm., 24g. Weight standard based on as of 31.5 grams.
Cr 173/1
BMCRR Rome 642
Babelon Clovia 6. 
Sydenham 360

This is the coin I wanted most in the auction, and I won it! It is a Sextans struck over a Syracuse Poseidon / Trident bronze coin. I have examples of the over and under types, but a pic on file of the over-type only. The under-type pic below is from ACR. This coin's weight is heavier than most of the Sextans I found on line. There are several examples of over-struck coins in this series, including one I have that is shown at the bottom. It has a different combination of sides. 
The obverse of the top coin has two dots, bot no dots on the reverse. This coin looks like the celator took extra effort to show the coin was a two dotter, see expanded pic.
Lot 1032
Repubblica Romana - Serie 'spiga di grano e KA'. ca 207-206 a.C. Sestante. Ribattuto. AE.
D/ Poseidone - Mercurio e ulteriore ribattitura da identificare.
R/ Tridente - Prua a destra sopra spiga di grano, davanti KA. Sotto ROMA.
Syd. 310d.
Cr. 69/6a. 6b …
Crawford assigns letters by what is before the prow:
·         KA = a
·         IC = b
·         C = c
Peso gr 8,63. 
Diametro mm. 22,5. BB-BB+.
Interessanti ribattiture. Buon esemplare per la tipologia. Patina verde.

The under-type is shown above thanks to a pic from Art Coins Roma.
Poseidone / Tridente
Sicily, Hieron II (275-215), Bronze, Syracuse, c. 275-215 BC; AE (g 6,52; mm 20; h 11); Diademed head of Poseidon l., dotted border, Rv. IEP-ΩNOΣ, ornamented trident; at sides dolphins, below, AΠ. Linear border. CNS II 194 R1 2; SNG Copenhagen 844; SNG ANS 964. 

Roman Republican struck Sextans
Corn-ear and KA series Sextans circa Sicily circa 207-206
Obv - Head of Mercury right; above, two pellets.
Rev - Prow right; above, corn- ear and before, KA ligate. Below, ROMA.
Crawford 69/6a.
Sydenham 310d.
Black patina, flan crack otherwise very fine; Æ 20mm., 4.38g; Ex I. Vecchi sale 3, 1996, #180

This one is called a quadrans over-strike. I am not sure who is on the obverse.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Another Weight on a Roman Republican Coin, C.PISO.L.F.FRVGI Cr 408/1, 67 BC


Cr 408/1, 67 BC

I bought this coin on line: Asta Numismatica 37E by Artemide Aste. I was interested in some cast bronze pieces, and won one of them that I will post later. I like Roman Republican coins and was only partially watching the auction when this coin appeared on the screen. I am a sucker for cast bronze pieces. I especially like plumb bobs, see my post on March 1, 2015. The symbol looked a lot like a Roman level, see pic below thanks to Plumb Bob Wolf ( I did not have much time to bid on the coin, so I passed on discretion  and made a couple of bids. The other guy (I suppose it could have been a gal) stopped bidding and I won!!! I was not sure of the symbol, but it is a bit like the level. Charles Hersh wrote an excellent article on this coin series: Coinage of C. Calburnius Piso L. F. Frugi, in Numismatic Chronicles 1976. In that article he identifies the symbol as a pendulum. 

I modified the seller's description and the one by Hersh - 

Roman Republican Denarius, 67 BC, C. Calpurnius L.f. Frugi. AR. 
Obv. Head of Apollo right, hair bound with fillet (see info below on fillet); behind, anchor (per vendor) or pendelum (Hersh) or level (Gene). 
Rev. Horseman galloping right, holding palm branch; below, C PISO L F FRV/ uncertain symbol silphium seed.
Cr. 408/1B.
BMCRR – Rome 3654 to 3815
RSC – Calpurnia 24 - 29
Syd. 851/H.
Cf. Banti 268/4. 
C A Hersh, Coinage of C. Calburnius Piso L. F. Frugi, Numismatic Chronicles 1976 - #214; O-228, Apollo head wearing a taenia headband, right, behind die mark - pendelum; R-2044, rider wearing no hat, carries palm branch, below, legend – C.PISO.L.F.FRV, in ex – control mark – silphium seed.

My example of a bronze weight that could have been used on a Roman level.

Silphium seed on Cyrene coin thanks to Wikilinks.

I do not know how many folks know what a fillet is, but I had to google the term and found two definitions. The one the fits the coin is:

Best Selling Baby Taenia Bowknot Head Wear, from

The one that is probably not right, but looks right is:
The vet web site thinks a Taenia is a tape worm.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Re-purposed Roman Republican bronze coins

Two interesting RR bronze coins arrived today. They show two ways the Romans arrived at similar denominations, maybe. One is a cut As and the other a Semis.

The right coin -
Caps of the Dioscuri Æ  Cut As
Photo from Roma Numismatics Ltd. 

Caps of the Dioscuri Æ As. Rome, 169-158 BC.
Obv - Laureate head of Janus; above l.
Rev - Prow right; above caps of the Dioscuri; before l; [ROMA] below.
Crawford 181/1.
10.19g, 31mm.
Good Fine.

The left coin above is shown below with the best example I could find on line.
Q. Caecilius Metellus Æ Semis 
Photo from Roma Numismatics Ltd
Photo from ACR

Q. Caecilius Metellus Æ Semis. Rome, AD 130.
Obv - Laureate head of Saturn right; S behind
Rev - Prow of galley right; [Q•METE] above, S before, ROMA in exergue.
Crawford 256/2a.
4.55 g, 2h. I measure 22.3 to 23.5 mm to outside edges.
Good Fine.
I think the seller was conservative when they graded this coin gF. Most of the details that were on the coin when struck are still there. The flan was thin and low weight. I found 21 examples on line and in books and their average weight was 7.7 grams. There was not enough to fill some of the higher points of the die. It looks like a re-purposed coin that was hammered into a thinner round shape and then struck. Another possibility is the Semis was struck on Triens or Quadrans flan.
The following is information I normally store on a spreadsheet on some of my RR coins. It compares my coin to others.

Weight, grams 4.54    
Weight - max   10.4    
Weight - min    4.54, the next lightest coin was 6.1 gr
Weight - avg    7.7      
Weight - st dev 1.3      
Number           21       
Diameter - max            23.5    
Diameter - min 22.3    
Diameter - max            24.0    
Diameter - min 19.0    
Diameter - avg 21.9    
Dia  st dev       1.3      
Cr                    256 / 2a          
BMCRR           Rome 1056  - 1059
Sear:                877     
Bab                  Caecilia 22      
CRR                 510     
NMWar            362 – 363
Grade, me        VF, not much wear                             
Grade, seller    gF, probably right, not much to look at           
Centering         Well centered  
Strike   good strike, but thin flan so high points missing         
Flan flaws        thin, low weight flan   
Style    average, meaning not too exciting
Patination         brown                                     
Damage           none, but uneven tone giving less desirable eye appeal                       

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ramo Secco bar

I have been interested in cast bronze from Rome and central Italy for a while. I have several cast coins, bars and odd shaped items. This week I picked up a second RS bar. The following pics are from the seller.  My bar is in the last two pictures. It will be interesting to compare this bar to one I bought earlier this year (pics at bottom).
 2238 grams

 1084 grams

 893 grams

 my bar
Compare the British Museum description to the ones I bought.

Dec 2016 purchase - see pictures directly above
AE Ramo Secco. Central Italy, Aemilia (?), late 6th to 4th century BC. Vecchi ICC, 3.2. TV AS 1. Haeberlin pl. 7, 6. AE. g. 893.00 RR. C. mm. 88 x 67 x 32. Very rare. Heavy dark-green patina with minor earthen-brown highlights. The Ramo Secco cast ingots are found predominantly in Emilia, hence the attribution to his region. Always found in fragments, they generally weigh from 500 grams to 2000 grams.

British Museum
'Ramo secco' bar, c. 6th-4th century BC. The name derives from the design of a 'dry branch'. Such bars are found principally in northern central Italy. An early date is suggested by the discovery of one piece in a stratum of an excavation near Gela in Sicily which has been dated by the pottery finds to the 6th century BC.

May 2016 - see pictures below
Roman Republican Ramo Secco Currency Bar (Aes Signatum)
CENTRAL ITALY, Emilia(?): 6th to 4th century BC
Fragment of a bronze ingot, on both sides branch with no leaves.
AE. 826 grams; Length = 62 mm, Width = 77 mm, Height = 36 mm
Thurlow-Vecchi AS1.
Vecchi – 3.1
HNI – pg 45 – highly ferruginous bars made apparently from 6th century in southern Etruria, Emilia and occasionally Sicily.
Grueber – lists 2 bars, but not RS
Cr – lists bars, but not RS
Syd AG – not in Sydenham
Haberline – pg 10 – 19; plates 4 – 6
Garrucci – Table VII, IX & X

Bar Number
Weight, grams
Length, mm
Width, mm
Thick, mm

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A cut denarius

I received an interesting cut denarius this week. I have not had a chance to ID the coin, but a first pass guess in one of the many Cr53s.
The coin details:
Weight = 1.63 grams
Diameter = 18 mm
The weight of the original coin is low at 3.2 to 3.6 grams depending on how close to half of the coin is here.
The silver coin was cut. Less than half of the edge is irregular. The bronze coins were broken. None of the half asses show cut marks.

 The cut coin fits in well with my half ass collection.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

My 5 Favorite Coins

I attended a meeting of ancient coin collectors last week. It was interesting seeing what others collect and some of the stories that went with the coins. For example:

  • The obverse and reverse of this coin shows the silphium plant and seed. The plant was known for its medicinal properties, including contraception. (1). The reverse shows something much like modern day valentine heart. 
  • I won this coin by bidding from a helicopter flying over Brazil.
  • This silver sixpence was worn in my grandmother's shoe on her wedding day.
My favorite five:
The large piece is a Ramo Secco bar

Julia Domna (Augusta, 193-217).

Moesia Inferior, Marcianopolis.
Æ Triassarion
Obv - Draped bust r. R

 (23mm, 8.78g, 7h). / The Three Graces standing—the outer two facing, with heads turned inward, the middle with back facing and with arm around other two. H&J, Marcianopolis; cf. Varbanov 887. Good Fine
The coin above is my most recent purchase. The one in the group of five is an older coin from the Mark Stahl collection offered by CNG several years ago.

Roman Republic Silver Denarius, Rome, 42 BC
C. Vibius Varo
Obv - Helmeted bust of Minerva r., wearing aegis
Rev - Hercules standing facing, holding club in r. hand and lion-skin over l. arm; on r. C. VIBIVS; on l. VARVS.
Cr – 494/38
BMCRR – 4303
Syd – 1140
Bab – Vibia 26
Coin from John Quincy Adams collection.

C. Caecilius Metellus Caprarius. AR Denarius, 125 BC.

Obv. Head of Roma right, wearing Phrygian helmet; below chin, X and behind, ROMA.
Rev. Jupiter, crowned by Victory flying right, in biga of elephants left, holding thunderbolt in left hand and reins in right; in exergue: C. METELLVS.
Cr. 269/1.
B. 14.
4.01 grams, 18.0 mm
R. Insignificant hairline flan cracks, otherwise good EF. Perfectly centred and struck on excellent metal, from fresh exceptional dies, work of a skilled master-engraver. A masterpiece in miniature, lustrous and lightly toned.

M. Volteius M.f. AR Denarius 78 BC.

Silver denarius; 3.77 grams; 19.50 mm; Well struck on a broad flan. Brilliant, superb and lightly toned. EF.
Obv. Head of Bacchus (or Liber) right, wearing ivy-wreath, and long hair in locks.
Rev. Ceres in biga of snakes right, holding torch in each hand; behind, plumb-bob. In exergue, M. VOLTEI. M.F.

Cr. 385/3.
Grueber 3160
RSC/Bab – Volteia 3
Syd – 776

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