Sunday, December 29, 2013

Aes Grave Triens, Thunderbolt & Dolphin, Crawford 14/3

Anonymous Æ Aes Grave Triens
Thunderbolt / Dolphin – Cr 14/3
289 - 245 BC

Anonymous Æ Aes Grave Triens (= 4/12 or 1/3 of an 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

Country Roman
Type or era Roman Republican
Coin type AES Grave Triens
Mint   Rome
Issued by Anon Cr 14.3  
Issued by anonymous
Title of issuer
Mint Date, BC -289  -289 to -245
Weight, grams 94.90 this coin
Weight - max 124.82
Weight - min 71.36
Weight - avg 98.270
Weight - st dev 11.784
Number 45 examples found
Diameter - max 49 this coin
Diameter - min to be measured
Diameter - max  52.0
Diameter - min 43.0
Diameter - avg 47.818
Diameter - st dev 2.500
Metal AE
Serrated N
Cr  14/3
Sear: #, VF, EF 538
RSC: #, VF, EF
CRR / AG 10 38
Orientation 10
Purchased from,
Roma Numismatics
Purchase date 12/28/2013
Currency  Pound
Excahange rate 1.65
Grade VF
Centering well centered
Strike cast, some surface irregularities as expected for cast coin, objects not well formed
Flan flaws
Style not the sharpest example I found, but features can be seen
Patination light brown, "Tiber" patina
Damage small piece missing, adjustment to weight?
Obverse Thunderbolt
Reverse Dolphin
Obverse Thunderbolt, 4 dots
Reverse Dolphon, 4 dots
Examples Haeberline 160

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The movie, The Bishop's Wife, mentions an ancient coin. According to the actors, the coin is either Jewish (a widow's mite) or Roman Imperatorial (issued by Julius Caesar). Watch the clip, read below, and see how you'd attribute the coin.

PROFESSOR: Raising money for the new cathedral, huh?
JULIA: It's slow work, Professor. And you? How's your book coming?
PROFESSOR: Oh, splendidly. Greatest history of Rome since Gibbon's.
JULIA: I wish it weren't so late. The cathedral committee's meeting with Henry. I really should be there.
PROFESSOR: Well, one of these days, we'll have time for a nice talk again. Oh, here. Here, for Henry's cathedral fund.
JULIA: This coin?
PROFESSOR: It has very little value, I'm afraid. Just an old Roman coin. I picked it up years ago in Italy.
JULIA: Oh, it's a wonderful contribution.
PROFESSOR: Nonsense. Might be called the widow's mite, only I'm not a widow. (CONCERNED) Julia? What's the matter?


DUDLEY: Even when you had this coin to inspire you?
JULIA: Why, that's the coin you gave to Henry, Professor.
DUDLEY: Yes, I borrowed it from Henry's desk.
PROFESSOR: You wasted your time. It's worthless.
DUDLEY: Oh, on the contrary. This coin is one of the rarest of all antiquities. Only one hundred of these coins were minted by Julius Caesar, two thousand years ago. That was when Cleopatra visited Rome. Presumably, these coins were used to pay her hotel bill.
PROFESSOR: Why, that's amazing.
DUDLEY: Nobody knew about it, except Caesar's wife and she had the coins destroyed. But this one she overlooked. It's an unwritten chapter in history. And you, Professor, will write it.

I think Dudley is off by a couple of centuries. It looks like Trajan to me. I need an Imperial coin expert to do the attribution.
Merry Christmas to all and best wishes for the new year.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Anonymous Asse, V, Cr 87/1???

Anonymous Asse
Cr 56/2 or is it Cr 87/1, V
211 to 210 BC

I purchased a coin from Artemide Aste in their auction 24.1E. - Collezione J. Baptiste; Lot 56; Serie anonima sestantale. Asse, dopo il 211 a.C.    Cr. 56/2. AE. g. 32.56  mm. 33.00   Forato MB.
Translating the coin description from Italian to English is easy, just use Google Translate.
·         Collezione -> collection
·         Serie -> Series
·         anonima -> anonymous
·         sestantale -> sestantale, for this one it is good to know that the Sextantial series of Roman Republican Bronze coins refers to an Asse with a “standard” weight of 20 – 40 grams.
·         Asse -> Ass -> As, a large bronze coin that dropped in weight from 275 grams to about 20 grams over two centuries. The largest weight drop was during the 2nd Carthaginian War.
·         AE -> bronze
·         dopo il 211 a.C. -> after 211 A.C, mint date
·         Cr. 56/2 -> attribution references Roman Republican Coinage by Crawford, catalogue # 56.2.
·         Forato -> drilled 
·         MB -> almost fine (this seems like an over grade)
That was simple enough. The coin has a hole drilled in it. But… the origin of Forato is neat.

Monte Forato is a mountain (1,230 m) in the Alpi Apuane, in Tuscany, central Italy. It is formed by two peaks of similar altitude, connected by a natural arch which has given the group its name (meaning "Holed Mountain" in Italian). The hole, nearly circular in shape, has a height of c. 12 m, while the arch itself is some 8 m thick. The arch can be seen from both Versilia and Garfagnana valleys at the two sides of the Monte Forato. Looking from some spots, the arch creates an effect of double sunset (or dawn, like on 22 June from Volegno), when the sun falls between the arch, soon reappearing for a short while in the hole below.
Crawford 87/1 ?????
The attribution seemed ok and the story about Mt. Forato seemed interesting until the coin arrived. I looked at the coin and took some pictures. I could see a lot more detail on the coin than I could on the auction picture. The Janus head picture I took shows a lot more detail. The reverse also shows something, maybe. Just to the right of the beak of the prow is what looks to me like \, or half of a V. I have been able to find only a few Cr 87/1 pictures on line. The best pic I found was a coin offered by NAC and it is shown below. The Janus head could be similar, but the reverse is not the same. I have seen so few coins that it is hard to decide if the line is half of a V, with the other half off the flan, or just an imperfection on the coin's surface. The weight is about right for Cr 87/1. My coin weighs 32.6 grams and would weigh more without the hole. Crawford gives the weight standard for 87/1 of 40.5 grams and notes the average weight of five coins known to him was 36 grams. Cr 56/2 has a higher weight standard of 53 grams, but starts with a high weight that drops to the standard for 87/1 = 40.5.
My coin.


NAC coin 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Roman Republican AR Denarius
Anonymous [Crescent] Cr 137/1
Ca. 194-190 B.C.
 Mint - Rome

The first description is from the auction company, Triskeles, with a few changes. My thoughts are below.

Anonymous [Crescent]. Ca. 194-190 B.C. AR denarius (20 mm, 3.60 g, 10 h). Rome. Helmeted head of Roma right; behind, X / the Dioscuri riding right; above, crescent; below ROMA in in linear frame. Crawford 137/1; Grueber 575; Sydenham 314; RSC 20i. Lightly toned. Pleasing very fine.

A duplicate from the RBW Collection of Roman Republican Coins. Purchased privately from Richard Schaeffer in 1992.

Country Roman
Type or era Republican
Coin type Denarius
Mint   Rome
Issued by Cresent 
Issued by Anonymous Cresent
Title of issuer moneyer
Mint Date -194  -194 to -190
Weight 3.59
Weight - max 4.04 4.73
Weight - min 3.21 3.68
Weight - avg 3.71 4.00
Weight - st dev 0.21 0.27
Number 18 19
Diameter - max 19.8 18
Diameter - min 19.23
Diameter - max  20.7 20.3
Diameter - min 17.0 18.0
Diameter - avg 19.3 19.3
Diameter - st dev 1.147 0.890
Metal Ar
Serrated N
Crawford # 137.1 57.2
BMCRR 575 431
Sear: # 39 Sear does not list Cr 137.1 39
RSC: # 20i 20i
CRR 314  219, 265
NMWar 149
NMCr 32 33
Orientation 10
Purchased from,,,
Purchase date 10.3.13
Price  $157.20
Currency  $
Excahange rate
Grade VF
Grade VF
Centering Obv is 5% off center, but flan is large enough that all features are on coin, including border. Rev is 9% off center and the end of theDioscuri capes are off flan as is part of lineborder,about 60% of line border is on flan.
Strike well struck, dies on obv & rev show some wear and flow lines, faces on Dioscuri are not complete, reins and lances are well formed
Flan flaws none
Style Roma visor is peaked which is later than 211, A is version with cross from center of right line to center of base. This series is one of the last to use a V shape for the cross.
Patination light toning with traces of earlier and darker toning near features.
Damage none
Obverse Roma
Reverse Dioscuri Crescent
Obverse head of Roma R, wearing winged helmet with visor in 3 pieces and peaked, decorated with gryphon, I shaped ear ring, bead necklace, hair tied and falling in 3 locks, behind mark of value = X
Reverse Dioscuri on horseback charging R, each holds spear and wears chlamys, cuirass and pileus; surmounted by stars, above crescent, below in linear frame ROMA. This issue has the three archaic forms of A.
Obverse dies 30 60
Reverse dies 37 75
No VCoins
Coin Arch
V Cat
The anonymous Roma / Dioscuri with crescent silver denarii were probably issued by more than one moneyer. Crawford assigns two numbers: #57.2 is dated 207BC, has a die estimate of 60/75, a wt std of 4.4 g, an avg of 4.03  for 25 coins and was assigned to Rome;  #137.1 is dated 194 - 190 BC, has a die estimate of 30/37, a wt std of 3.9 g, an avg of 3.81  for 16 coins and was assigned to Rome. Grueber assigns two number series: #431 - 435 are in period II, have a wt range of 3.56 - 4.34 and was assigned to Rome;  #575 - 578 are in period III , have a wt range of 3.3 - 3.8 g, and was assigned to Rome. Sydenham assigned three #s: 219, 265 & 314. The British Museum on line gives examples of the two series of crescent denarii. I have difficulty telling one from the other. The ear ring on Roma in the older type seems to have more than one piece, and the Dioscuri's horses seem to be rearing more. The only "definite" difference is the average weight of the earlier series is heavier. The weight ranges overlap significantly.

The first two coins are attributed as Cr 57/2 and the second two are 137/1 by the British Museum on line. You can compare more of these issues at the BM web site