Monday, March 29, 2021

An early and heavy semuncia of Hatria

 H AΣ Hatria Semuncia


PICENUM, HATRIA, AE semuncia, vers 280 av. J.-C.

Obverse - H

Reverse - AΣ

H. pl. 76, 17-19;

Sydenham, Aes Grave, 193;

T.V. 187.

CGC Huntarian, Picenium, Hartia #3

18.03 grams; equivalent As = 20 X 18 = 360 grams, see note below

28.7 X 27.3 mm

3 H, see note below

Patine verte.

Beau à Très Beau

Fine - Very Fine


1.  Roman Republican bronze coins were based on an As of 327 grams that was divided into 12 ounces, VNCIA. Hatria based their bronze coins on 10 units to the As. A semuncia is half an ounce. 

2.  Most of my Aes Grave, cast bronze coins, have a die rotation of 12 o'clock. This is the only coin I have that has a rotation of 3 o'clock.

Purchased from Jean Elsen & ses Fils S.A.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Cast Bronze Money from the Roman Republic and Central Italy

 The attached talk is one I gave to the ANA 

Cast Bronze Money from the Roman Republic and Central Italy

Rome was founded in 753 BC and started producing coins in about 300 BC. Cast bronze in several forms was used for money in Republican Rome and Central Italy before coins were struck from gold, silver, or bronze. This talk will cover some reasons for the use of money. Cast bronze in several forms will be shown - irregularly formed as rude, cast bars and other shapes, and finally cast bronze coins. Some of the important books on the subject will be discussed and shown.

ANA eLearning Academy - Cast Bronze Money from the Roman Republic and Central Italy - YouTube 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Shells and Knucklebones in Cast Bronze

Apulia, Luceria Biunx

TV284, 220 BC

Apulia, Luceria Biunx circa 217-212, Æ Aes Grave

Obv - Scallop-shell

Rev - Knucklebone; above, two pellets and below, L

Very Fine, Nice green patina, both obverse and reverse have excellent details, I have not seen a shell this well formed. The two dots are weak. The L is often missing, but is well formed on this coin. With grade inflation, I do not see why this coin isn’t at least gVF.

·       According to M Crawford and I Vecchi, cast coins were produced from 280 to 210 BC. The Shell / Knucklebone coins are from two date ranges. The older series is dated 269 – 225 BC and weighs 47 – 80 grams. The newer series is dated 220 BC and weighs 15 – 24 grams. This coin is on the smaller side on the second series.

15.52 grams

25.6 mm

Haeberlin pl. 71.

Sydenham AG 141.

Thurlow-Vecchi 284.

ICC 348.

Historia Numorum Italy 677d.

I have a few of this style coin. It is fairly common and inexpensive. 

the seller's pic

examples from two date ranges and sizes

Knucklebone coins and Knucklebones

Shells and Coins with Shells

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Obol Female Astralagoi Male head Cilicia TARSOS 389 – 375 BC


Obol Female Astralagoi Male head

Cilicia TARSOS 389 – 375 BC

Cilicia, TARSOS (389-375 a.C.) AR Obol

Obv - Female kneeling left, tossing astralagoi (Knucklebone)

Rev - Male head right.

0.63 gr

9.4 mm

Die axis 7

This statue shows two girls tossing astralagoi
A silver knucklebone from my collection.

You can see a size comparison of an Obol vs a Roman Imperial bronze coin.

another girl throwing knucklebones on a coin

astralagoi were on Roman Republican cast coins like the one above

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Cast Bronze Money in Republican Rome and Central Italy

 I am working on a talk about RR cast bronze money. I took a few pictures of my collection for the talk.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

An interesting Roman bronze stamp with MCP

 Roman bronze stamp - MCP

How often do you run across an item in an auction that "has your name on it"? A recent Timeline Auctions had an interesting lot - Roman Mason's Plumb Bob and Tool Collection​ A collection of five bronze implements comprising: three mason's plumb bobs or line weights (seller's words); a pair of dividers; a punch stamp with 'MCP'. 56 grams total, 2.1-11.4cm (the seller must have added the item lengths to get to 11.4 cm or 114 mm)!

The 3 letters in the stamp are the first ones in my last name - McPherson! The punch and plumb bobs are small, the total weight is 56 grams. The weights are more like charms for a neclace or braclet than plumb bobs. They could have been for coin scales which are small. Provenance - Ex North London gentleman; formerly in an important European private collection formed between 1980 and 2000. Timeline Auction, 9/2/2020; LOT 0849

5.4 grams; 2.5 mm dia X 15.5 mm long; has 5 mm hanging loop

3.3 grams; 2.5 mm dia X 14.5 mm long

5.0 grams; 3.4 mm dia X 8.2 mm long

The stamp is more interesting. My guess is the letters are a Roman name and could have been used to mark coins or other metal items. I have not seen coins with this letter combination. You can read a bit more about Roman names here: 

20.4 grams; 18.1 mm X 8.2 mm X 2.8 mm

The divider is:

20 grams and has 42.9 mm & 42.8 mm arms

I have a few small shell pendants in my Roman cast bronze collection.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Ancient Spanish Coins

I bought a small bronze Semis in 2018. It took a while to attribute the coin and find a book with the coin. By the time the book arrived, I forgot this post.  
This is the 5th one from Spain and means I now I have a collection. Shown below are two denarii, one semis and two Scipio bronze coins.

top left - Spain, Bolskan (Osca) AR Denarius. Circa 150-100 BC. Bearded head right; Iberian bon behind / Warrior, holding spear, on horseback right. 

top right - Iberia, Ikalesken; Mid 2nd century BC AR denarius. Obv - Male head right; Rev - Horseman, holding shield, helmet and cloak (chlamys); riding left, second horse beside; in ex - Iberian legend IKALESKEN. The cloak and helmet of the rider are similar to the Dioscurii on RR coins. There are three small dots above the rider's helmet.  

center - this coin was incorrectly sold as: Ancient Roman Republican Coin - L. Sempronius Pitio - Galley Semis 148 BC. Obv: laureate head of Saturn right, S behind head. Rev: L dot SEMP above prow right, S to right, ROMA below. Craw. 216/3; Syd. 403a; Babelon Sempronia 5; Sear 858. the coin is really:
an official Spanish civic issue from Carteia - Saturn / prow bronze from Spain. Probably about 100 BC (Cited from:

bottom L & R - SPAIN, Carthago Nova. Roman Occupation. Æ Unit. Struck after 209 BC. Bare-head left (Scipio Africanus?) / Horse standing right; palm tree behind. 

This was my original post. You can compare the coin below with a similar RR coin.
I bought an interesting coin in a recent auction. It is not a common coin, but that is not unusual for small denomination RR bronzes. An added point of interest for this coin is that it might be Spanish imitation. Some pics of my coin (it is not here yet) and the best pic I noticed on line are below. Lettering on the coin is not like other coins of L.Semp.Pitio I have seen online. What do you think?
Nov 2018 auction

Dec 2015 auction, same coin