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.