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

1 -

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Anonymous Semilibral Quartuncis, Struck Rome, 217 to 215 BC, Cr 38/8

Anonymous Semilibral Quartuncis, Struck

Rome, 217 to 215 BC, Cr 38/8

Roman Republican AE, Anonymous, Semilibral, Quartuncis, Struck
Rome 217 to 215 BC
Obv – helmeted head of Roma, R, wearing an Attic helmet with peaked visor, wearing ear ring of one drop
Rev – Prow right, above ROMA, note the structure above deck on this boat is at about a 30 degree angle. At first I thought it might be double struck, but that is the design. I guess the Romans wanted rain to flow off the front of the pilot house.
3.24 grams; 15.4 X 16.1X 0.24 mm; 9h
Crawford – 38/8, this group is based on an As of 128 grams. 128 / 48 = 2.67
BMCRR – Rome 169, Grueber notes that D’Ailly of the British Museum was the first to recognize this denomination. Babelon and Mommsen did not have this denomination. BMCRR lists 16 examples with a weight range of 1.88 to 4.28 grams, Avg Wt = 3.01 g, St Dev = 0.71; Avg Dia = 16.0.
Sydenham – 88 or 110, Syd calls the obverse Bellona, the Roman War Goddess, and gives a weight range of 4.3 to 2 grams for #88 and 4.3 to 1.9 grams for #110. Syd says the only difference in 88 & 110 is weight.
Sear – 624, Sear comments the QU is the smallest RR denomination and was issued only briefly during the Semilibral period, 217 to 215 BC. With declines in RR bronze coin weights, the denomination ceased, never to be resumed.
Albert die Munzen der Romischen Republik – #110, This book arrived this week. I will have to use Google translate until I learn more German!
·         Obv - Romakopf mit attischem Helm; in German
·         Obv - Roma head with Attic helmet; translated to English
·         Rev – Prow right, in ex ROMA 
RBW – 110

This coin is one of 8 I bought at a coin show yesterday that were in old envelopes. Ex. an old hoard from off the Italian Coast; Elsen 37, 12/17/94, #227. Seven of the eight were RR bronze coins and one Spanish AE Semis.

I found over 100 examples of this coin on line, but stopped entering data at 62:

Weight 3.24
Weight - max 4.28
Weight - min 1.88
Weight - avg 2.95
Weight - st dev 0.53
Number 62
Diameter - max 16.1 2.4 mm thick
Diameter - min 15.4
Diameter - max  17.78
Diameter - min 14.00
Diameter - avg 15.57
Diam - st dev 0.82

It is interesting that the 3 major catalogers identify the obverse differently: 
Grueber - Roma in Athenian helmet
Sydenham - Bellona, Roman war goddess
Crawford - Roma in Attic helmet
Sear - Roma in crested Attic helmet

I found another Cr 38/8 with similar patina in LAC Auction 43, lot 164; May 21, 2014.

If anyone has information on this hoard, please let me know. I did not see the hoard from off the Italian Coast mentioned in Crawford's RR Coin Hoards.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Cast Sextans and Quadrans from the 5th to 4th century BC

A couple of interesting cast pieces arrived recently:

This cast bar is about the size of a Sextans or 1/6 th of a Roman pound. I have seen them called Aes Rude (that is how this one was advertised), Aes Formatum (or a cast bar with no features) and a currency bar (Italo Vecchi, Italian Cast Coinage). I like the term Aes Formatum best. 
The bar is 30 mm wide X 38 mm long X 7 mm thick and weighs 53.3 grams. It was attributed to Latium or Campania in the 5th or 4th century BC.
There was a lot of variation in the weights of cast coins. I feel comfortable saying this bar at 53.3 grams was about the size of an older Sextans. For comparison with other bronze pieces, see below.
From top left, clockwise:
Broken bronze knife, 49.5 grams
Cast bar with lines, 37.7 grams
Sextans, TV 40, 38.5 grams
Small Ramo Secco bar piece, 48.8 grams - note this is a side view
"New" bar, 53.3 grams

a piece of a bronze ax that is about the size of a Quadrans (the one on the left)
This piece weighs 80.8 grams and is 59 mm long.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Aes Formatum Palm Tree, Triangular Bar and Tear Drop Shapes

Aes Formatum Palm Tree, Triangular Bar and Tear Drop Shapes
Two interesting cast bronze pieces arrived this week. The top photo shows them next to the Currency Bar I described below.
 Ramo Secco Bar (826 grams)
Palm Shaped cast plate (29.3 grams)
Triangular Bar (14.9 grams)

The palm shaped bronze piece was described as an Aes Formatum from Central Italy (Etruria or Lazio) produced in the 6th to 4th centuries BC. I found five examples on line of sales, including mine. I did not find any in reference books for Roman Republican coins or Italian Cast bronze (Crawford, RRC; Gruber, BMCRR (or BMC on line); Sydenham, AG or CRR; Sear; Thurlow & Vecci, ICC&AG; Vecci, ICC; Haberline, AG; Garrucci, LMDIA; Kircheriano, AG; Alteri, AGL; etc. I did not find any offered by NAC or CNG.

L, mm
W, mm
T, mm
Wt, gr
Price $








Hammer price in euro


 I found two more in a blog

The seller had enough information to identify this one from Central Italy (Etruria or Lazio) to the 6th to 4th century BC. I do not find a reference book (or web site) with this piece.
The seller's description:
Aes Formatum. Siglos VI-IV a.C. ETRURIA o LAZIO. Anv.: Elemento en forma de palmera. 29,34 grs. AE. Ø 65x24 mm. Pátina marrón. (Pequeñas concreciones oscuras). MBC.

The seller's description:
Celtiberian, Copper Ingot, Centuries BC-AD PREMONEDAS IN HISPANIA. Anv .: Ingot triangular. 14.92 grams. AE. Ø 35x12 mm. Dark patina. AB-P.34. MBC.
I found more examples sales of this type of bronze online and examples in one book:
Garrucci – Table VI #5 & #6

This tear drop shaped piece was described as an Aes Formatum from Central Italy (Etruria or Lazio) produced in the 6th to 4th centuries BC. I found four examples on line of sales, including mine. I did not find any in reference books for Roman Republican coins, but I did find an example in Vecchi, Italian Cast Coinage. 
Vecci, ICC – pg 90, #6

The seller's description:
AES Formatum 49 mm . long. VI- IV centuries B.C. ETRURIA or LAZIO . 48.10 grams. AE . Green patina . I. Vecchi Nummorum auctioned by 1999. Auctiones similar piece of different dimensions. EBC .
Soler y Llach Auction International S.A.