Wednesday, October 11, 2017

One Roman Pound, 333 gram Roman Bronze Weight with marks

Collections of ancient Roman items tend to grow at irregular rates. At least that has been the case for me. I started collecting scale weights recently as an extension of my interest in cast bronze (pre-money) from Central Italy. My last post showed a weight marked VI = half an As = 6 uncia. Today I "won" a one pound weight in an auction.
The description on this one was short and sweet:

ROMAN. Circa 4th century AD(?). Æ One Libra Weight (53x50mm, 332.92 g). Male bust surrounded by EX B M C S C / Crude engraved “L.” Two flat faces with beveled edge. Intact. Highly interesting and extremely rare with bust and legend.
https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=346156


A couple of recent purchases that were described in the next post. Top left is a lead weight. Top right is a bronze weight. Below is a lead shell that could have been a scale weight, a votive item or something else.

The one pound (As) weight arrived today! It is the one on the top left. A better pic of the man is below.

Clockwise from top left, center last
  • Bronze 332.4 gram scale weight, Roman, about one pound or one As
    • obverse = EX.BMC.SC, male head
    • reverse = L for one pound (As)
  • Lead 318 gram loom weight (Roman?), this is about a Roman pound or As
  • Bronze 48.6 gram Aes Rude with inscription +, note this is close to two uncia or one sextans
  • Lead 129.5 gram scale weight, Punic (?)
  • Bronze 154.4 gram scale weight, Roman, this is about one Semis or 6 Uncia or half an As 
    • obverse inscription = VNCIAS (top row), VI (bottom row), center dot inside circle
    • reverse = center dot inside circle
  • Lead 59 gram shell, might have been weight, votive item or something else. Many recent auctions call these votive items. This one (and several others) weigh about two uncia or one sextans




Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Weighty Post

Ancient Scale (and other) Weights
My wife wants to know why I am BUYING fishing weights! A short answer is: My coin collecting focus is Roman Republican coins. Most of these are silver denarii or struck bronze coins. I also have a nice group of cast bronze aes rude, bars and formed bronze from central Italy. An extension of my cast bronze collection is an interest in how did the Romans weigh (or portion) their cast bronze. Along this line of thought, I started reading about scales and collecting scale weights. I have several pieces that were certainly scale weights and others that may have been scale weights. Most of the may have been pieces are either cast bronze or lead. I do not have scale weights made from other materials yet: glass, stone and other metals.
The best of the best of this collection is a Roman bronze weight. I do not know what time period, but similar shaped weights were found in excavations at Pompeii. Shown below is this weight, a lead and a lead shell (the shell could be a weight or votive offering).


 Items from the top picture, clockwise from top right:
1. From the seller: I am sending you a picture of a very interesting weight we recently receive in consignment. It looks like a byzantine weight, but it has a Roman inscription  VNCIAS  VI. The weight is 155g. VNCIAS is the word for ounce, this is why i think this is really interesting.
A Roman pound is about 324 grams and had 12 ounces called uncia. The Romans used V for both letters U & V. This weight weighs close to the "official" weight of a Semis or 6 Uncias.
2. an Italic votive lead scallop-shell, 59 grams
3. Sardo-Punic lead weight, 130 grams 
Shown below are some Roman weights.
From a museum in Italy.

The Roman weights shown above and below are from a museum in Chester England.


The next two pics are weights from the Edward C. Streeter Collection of Weights and Measures Located at the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Yale University


Bruno Kisch was curator of the Streeter Collection at Yale when he wrote the book below. I have enjoyed the book and look here when I want to know a bit more about scale weights.

This summer I bought a group of small weights that were advertised as late Roman or Byzantine weights.

Clockwise from top left:
  1. N, 3.97 grams, 16.2 X 15.1 X 2 mm
  2. N, 4.32 grams, 13.7 X 10 X 4 mm
  3. four dots, 3.9 grams, 12.5 X 11.9 X 4 mm

I recently bought two lots of lead weights.
The first:
It was described as: Weight in pb to be catalogued. The 35 X 52 mm; over 250 grams (I am guessing that is the max of the seller's scale. I bought a heavier one to weigh the 388 gram bar I bought recently. I think this is a weaving loom weight.

The following lot fro the Chris Rudd collection is a big one at 1.7 Kg. I do not have it in hand, so can not speak individual pieces yet.

MEDIEVAL WEIGHT GROUP
12th-15th century AD
LOT 039
A mixed group of lead weights including barrel-shaped, discoid and biconvex. 1.7 kg total, 22-50mm (1 - 2").
Condition - Fine condition.
Provenance
The Chris Rudd collection, Norfolk, UK; formed since the 1970s; collection number DM4,8 and 9; found near Downham Market, Norfolk, UK.
Footnotes
Chris Rudd has collected ancient coins and antiquities since the 1940s. As an amateur archaeologist he found many himself at Badbury Rings, Dorset, 1952-53. He also dug at Hod Hill with Professor Sir Ian Richmond and at Wroxeter with Dame Kathleen Kenyon and Dr Graham Webster. Today he is best known as a Celtic coin dealer. His catalogues have been described as ‘an important research source’ by Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe and ‘treasure houses of delight’ by Dr Anne Ross. Coins and artefacts associated with Chris Rudd – as a collector, dealer and valuer – can be seen in The British Museum and other museums. This collection was formed since the 1970s.


 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Not coins, but interesting

A partial eclipse last week was a chance to see something neat. We watched through strong glasses and in the shadows under our trees. I post some of the pics below so a friend (but not coin collector) can see them here. I think the slivers of light look like birds or bats. They change direction as the eclipse progresses.





Wednesday, August 9, 2017

EID MAR Denarius!

I saw the coin at auction last year, but could not push the bid button. When I saw it in person, I decided that an EDI-MAR place holder coin is a pretty good thing!

EID.MAR Denarius
Contemporary Forgery of Cr 508/3
43 – 42 BC, Traveling mint in northern Greece

Marcus Junius Brutus (BRVT IMP) with Lucius Plaetorius Caestianus (L.PLAET.CEST, moneyer)
Silver denarius, probably an ancient forgery, original struck at mint moving with Brutus in Northern Greece  in 43-42 B.C.
Obverse –Bare head of Brutus to right; B[RV]T IMP above and right, clockwise; left and below L.PLAET.CEST
Reverse –Pileus between two daggers; below EID.MAR = Eidibus Martiis = Ides of March = March 15, 44 BC.

Flan cuts and some gouges, weakly struck on top of the head, through attempting piercing, edge filed in places, otherwise nearly fine and very rare.

3.17 grams, 18.1 mm  

References:
  •          Cr – 508/3, dies = 30 / 33
  •          BMCRR – East 68 – 70
  •          Syd – 1301
  •          RSC – Brutus 15
  •          Bab – Junia 52, Plaetoria 13
  •          Sear – 1439
  •          Sear CRI – 216 – “Arguably the most famous of all the coin types of ancient Rome, The Eidbus Martiis coinage of Brutus – probably his final issue before Philippi – is an unashamed celebration of the very act of tyrannicide.”
  •          RBW -
  •          Cahn, EIDibus MARtiis, Q.Tic. 18, 1989, (dies not listed)  
  •       Roman History by Cassius Dio; Cassius was born in 155 AD and died in 235 AD. Dio published a Roman History (Ῥωμαϊκὴ Ἱστορία, Historia Romana), in 80 books, after twenty-two years of research and labor. The books cover a period of approximately 1,400 years, beginning with the tales from Roman mythology of the arrival of the legendary Aeneas in Italy (c. 1200 BC) and the founding of Rome by his descendant Romulus (753 BC); as well as the historic events of the republican and imperial eras through 229 AD. - Book 47, Paragraph 25, line 3 1  Note 1 – from Wikipedia

PP 25 lines:
1.  Now as soon as Brutus learned of the attempt of Mark Antony and of the killing of Antony's brother, he feared that some other insurrection might take place in Macedonia during his absence, and immediately hastened to Europe. On the way he took charge of the territory which had belonged to Sadalus, who had died childless and had left it to the Romans,
2.  and he also invaded the country of the Bessi, in the hope that he might at one and the same time punish them for the mischief they were doing and invest himself with the title and dignity of imperator, thinking that he should thus carry on his war against Caesar and Antony more easily. He accomplished both objects chiefly by the aid of a certain prince named Rhascyporis. And after going thence into Macedonia and making himself master of everything there, he withdrew again into Asia.
3.  In addition to these activities Brutus stamped upon the coins which were being minted his own likeness and a cap12 and two daggers, indicating by this and by the inscription that he and Cassius had liberated the fatherland.
Note 12 - The cap of liberty, given to slaves at the time of their manumission. 

·        Ex Noble Numismatics, Sale 113, Lot 4774, 22–25 Nov 2016; Sydney, Austrailia; Ex Dr. Adrian Carr Collection and purchased in 2001.

·        I found 41 examples, including this coin, on line. The average condition was high, probably because the coins were from auctions. The average weight was 3.47 grams with a St. Dev. = 0.3 grams. None of the coins weighed over 4.0 grams. Most of the coins lighter than mine were holed or plated. Most of the coins did not report die axis, but all but two reported a die axis of 12.

From the Noble's description:
Various communications by Dr. Carr are indicated and expanded below.
It is thought to be a contemporary forgery ie., at the time of Brutus. The coin was definitely a struck coin and not cast and has the weight and silver composition of other military pieces of the time of Brutus. Mapping shows the same alignment of the coin's obverse as a specimen recorded in Foss' book with the prominent epiglottis and thinner neck. This specimen is not from any dies noted by Cahn. The reverse has an interesting map in as much as the dagger on the right is slightly higher than that on the left which is unlike almost all illustrated by Cahn. It needs to be remembered that other military issue coins of the time show the work of some apprentice engravers with mistakes and variations in the dies. The coin was sold to Dr. Carr by its original owner as genuine.
Communication between the original seller and the agent for the coin states; 'the coin from which you bought from my consignor came from a very large collection from Alberta Canada in 1947 and had included many fabulous Roman and Greek rarities including a Carthage Decadrachm for which I bought the coin for $22,000 several years ago. Several Roman coins of Pertinax and P. Niger were in there as well, I own both of them. With the Eid Mar coin, unless I can positively 100% identify it as genuine I cannot sell as genuine.' David Sear said the following: 'The style of the portrait is certainly curious and seems to differ markedly from that of other published specimens. The piece definitely looks ancient, but I wonder whether it might be some type of 'contemporary forgery' struck unofficially in Imperatorial times in imitation of the regular issue. The rather caricaturish-nature of the features look to be somewhat more reminiscent of some of the early triumviral portraits of Antony and Octavian, so perhaps the coin may have been produced in the West by Republican sympathizers.'
The 'Eid Mar' denarius, one of the most famous rarities of all ancient coins, was struck in the summer of 42 BC at a mint moving with Brutus's army in Greece. The date (Eid[ibus] Mar[tiis]) takes on the character of a symbolic watchword, while the pileus represents liberty regained and the daggers are the messengers of the deed. 

The seller's pics:


A couple more of my pics:




a


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cast Bronze Pieces of One to Five Roman Pounds

A couple of nice sized cast bronze pieces arrived this month. One is massive = 1443 grams. The other is only large = about 300 grams.I have a second piece that is about the size of the smaller one = 375 grams.

One Quarter of a Circular Shaped Bronze Ingot
The piece weighs 1443 grams, or about 5 roman pounds.
The seller had four cast bronze pieces. This was my favorite of the group. The broken ax looked interesting, and did not sell, but this chewed up my budget for the month.
The vendor's description - 
AES PREMONETALE. Aes Formatum. 
A Quarter of a large circular cake-shaped bronze ingot. Central Italy, 6th-4th century BC., RRR
Cf. Garrucci, TAV III, 4 and 5, from the Cere hoard (of about the same shape and weight). 
1443 g
152 x 97 x 39 m
Untouched earthy green patina. EF. 
This very rare and fascinating example has the weight of an Aes Signatum or Five Roman Pounds and probably represents a quincussis.

Garrucci, page 3; five pieces are shown on plate III.
I translated the text from Garrucci:
first I broke the Italian into sections to help google translate group the words - 
· Di piu perche vi si vede chiaramente come il metallo si e aperta la via intorno intorno per un fondo che doveva percio essere mobile.
· Il primo pezzo due libbre e once due
· once due
· il secondo due libbre once otto
· il terzo libbre quattro once otto e mezzo
· mezzo
· otto
· il quarto libbre quattro once tre
· il quinto libbre quattro once otto e mezzo

The English, tho I am not sure of all the translations are right. - 
· Most of all, as you can see clearly how the metal opened up the street around for a base that had to be mobile.
· The first piece two pounds and two ounces
· Once two
· The second two pounds eight ounces
· The third pound four times eight and a half
· half
· eight
· The fourth pound four times three
· The fifth pound four times eight and a half


Roman Republic or Central Italian, Aes Formatum
Latium, Anonymous, VIII-IV century BC
Parte di pane o torta quadrilateral (part of a larger plate).
Haeberlin tav.II n.7.
BB; 388 grams; 54 mm X 52 mm 24.9 mm

The older piece is shown below with two Ramo Secco bars and an unmarked bar.
top left, 744 grams - top right, 375 grams
bottom left, 854 grams - bottom right, 892 grams
Note the seams are obvious on the three bars, but not on the broken plates.

Roman Republic, Aes Rude, Central Italy
9th to 5th century BC
375 grams, 60 X 55 X 22 mm
Patina verde

I will attach a few side views of the smaller pieces later. You can see the flat spot where the molten metal must have hit a "wall" and stopped flowing. The rest of the sides are brittle fractures where the flat plate was broken. I think I can see what looks like a chisel mark that helped start the breaks. The new piece looks like it has a sand bottom and cooling metal "smooth" top. 

I took some pictures today of the three pieces. The top pic shows "smooth" parts of the bronze plate where I think it stopped flowing when it hit a wall. The second picture shows jagged, brittle fracture. The next picture shows the two partial plates. The right one is my most recent. I had to buy a larger scale. 



375 grams                388 grams

1442 grams for the cake on left

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

An exceptional example of a common RR coin, L.SAVF, Lucius Saufeius, 152 BC

L.SAVF
Lucius Saufeius, 152 BC

I fell in love with this coin when I saw it several weeks ago. I was not looking to upgrade a coin I bought in 2011. I had to wait extra time while the MOU between the US and Italy went into effect, but eventually received the coin. In 2011, I did not have a coin dated around 150 BC, so this one was a nice addition to my collection. The new one looks almost perfect from the dealer’s photos. I assume it will that good when it arrives.
I noted recently that I am buying more cast bronze and less silver coins. This one not a change in direction as much as really liking the coin.
My "new" coin.


My "old" coin.

Roman Republican Silver Denarius, 152 BC, Rome
L.SAVF – Lucius Saufeius
Obverse – Head of Roma R wearing a winged helmet decorated with a gryphon’s head; wearing ear rings with 3 drops, middle one is long and others are pellets; wearing necklace; hair in 3 locks; X behind head
Reverse – Victory, naked to hips, driving biga, horses galloping (or prancing), whip in R hand and reins in L hand, L.SAVF below (archaic style L), (VF in monogram), ROMA in partial linear frame at bottom of coin. 
The border for ROMA has been described several ways:
·         On tablet (although I do not think this coin series has a tablet like the early coins)
·         In exergue
·         In linear frame
·         In linear frame in exergue
·         On raised tablet, in exergue
I think there are two main styles here. Most coins have a partial linear frame (a box with two or three sides). I have seen none with a 4th side or a line below ROMA. Small flans or off center strikes cut off some or all of the two side lines. A few coins have just a long exergue line.

The Saufeia gens appears to be from Praeneste and is not mentioned before 100 BC. This moneyer issued silver (denarius) and bronze coins (As, Semis, Triens, Quadrans & Sextans).

Cr – 204/1, Crawford estimates 117 obverse and 146 reverse dies => a common RR denarius.
BMCRR – 835 Gruber notes the two examples in his book have different ear rings: #835 (and mine) has ear rings with a longer center droplet, #834 has similar sized droplets.
Sear – 83
RSC/Bab – Saufeia 1
Syd – 384
RBW – 874
Albert – 874
NMW – 235 – 237
NMCr – 44 – 45

I compared the size and weight of other coins in my books on the internet. The results:
Weight = 3.7 grams, my coin #1
Weight = 3.8 grams, my coin #2
Weight - max 4.32
Weight - min 3.15
Weight - avg 3.83
Weight - st dev 0.22
Number 108 Note - found 106 in books and two sites & stopped looking
Diameter - 18.27 mm, my coin #1
Diameter - 17.1 mm, my coin #2
Diameter - max 20.0
Diameter - min 16.0
Diameter - avg 17.6
Diameter - st dev 0.75

Grade, vendor - SPL+
Grade, mine - EF, plus comments below
Centering - Well centered on flan that is only slightly larger than the die.
Strike - well struck from new dies
Flan flaws - none
Style - good style, plenty of fine details
Patination - light toning
Damage - none  

Monday, June 5, 2017

Cr 18/4, A Cast Bronze Pig X 2 Coin, some help needed

First the question / help request -

An interesting, and a bit troubling, piece of information on the first coin below is the die axis. I looked at other examples of this coin series (Cr 18/1 - 6) on line. All but two of the examples I found have a die axis of 12. That is rotate the coin when holding it at 6 and 12 and the obverse and reverse are the same. My coin is one of the two with a die axis of 6. You can tell on most cast coins because they are not round, or are missing a piece. 
Should I worry about the coin being a fake?
Or, should I call it an almost unique example? (The other coin of this series with a 6 die axis was a pig / pig coin also.)

 

An interesting cast bronze quadrans arrived last week. It is from the second series of cast coins issued by Rome in about 270 BC. The weight basis for the series was the as equaled a Roman pound = 334 grams. The coins listed by Haeberline, 163 of them, averaged 84 grams => or an as of 336 grams. 
The vendor's description:
République romaine - Quadran (280-269 av. J.-C.)
A/ Cochon à droite trois globules en dessous. (ie - pig R, 3 dots below)
R/ Cochon à gauche trois globules en dessous. (ie - pig L, 3 dots below)
TTB (I agree it is VF)
Crawford - 18.4
Sear - 545 
TV - 11
Ae ; 69.36 gr ; 40 mm
I add the following references:
Sydenham AG - 46
Sydenham - 18, Note that the sale catalog of his collection listed 3 examples.
HNI - 282
RBW - 21
Haberline - pg 87 - 88; Table 36
Garrucci - Table XXXIV #4
SNG Cop 432 (this was listed on an old tag sent with the coin)


The Sextans & Uncia from the same series - 


Thanks to Red Spork for answering the following question - 
The old tag mentions C. BURGAN, 03-07-92, 530. This sounds like an auction from 1992. Can anyone scan the coin's description and pic from the '92 catalog?

With respect to C. Burgan, my library notes indicate that he was an auctioneer/dealer out of Paris whose published lists span the years 1978-2009 and include both fixed price lists and auctions and he likely had a retail operation as well. 3-7-92 likely refers to auction 30, held on July 3, 1992. 

"When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It" - Yogi Berra

I was a big Yankees fan growing up. I collected baseball cards (now mostly gone), watched baseball on Saturday's and rooted for the Yankees. I did not remember rooting for Yogi then, but a bit later I remember him being quoted for interesting sayings. "When you come to a Fork in the Road, Take It," applies to my Roman Republican coin collection. I have many silver coins, thus my blog name. But it became harder to find modestly prices coins when I go outside of the 211 BC to 46 BC period. I could go for cast bronze or Imepritorial coins. I decided on the older pieces. I say pieces because that means much of my collection is cast bronze. Some pieces are cast bronze coins, some are cast bars and some are of varied shapes. 

A good portion of my collection.

Some Aes Rude pieces.

A Shell / Caedus Sextans and a piece of one. The piece is relatively heavier => from an earlier series.

Clockwise from top left: an unmarked bar, a piece of a plate and two ramo secco bar pieces.

Several pieces of cast bronze and lead. 

I have enjoyed the fork I took. I still look for silver coins, but they are on the top of my bid list less often.