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

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Athena Steelyard Weight from Paul Bessey Collection


My Byzantine Empress steelyard weight was lonely, so I bought her a companion.

Roman, 3rd-4th century AD*., a very large and heavy, looped bronze figural steelyard weight in the form of Athena / Minerva**. She wears tall crested helmet and a gorgon head Aegis***, see notes below. Nice facial features show wear but are still easily discernible as are the detailed garments she wears which are evident all around the lower portion of this impressive weight. Rich dark brown and emerald green patina throughout. 

12.6 pounds

9-1/2 " tall, including 1" loop at top of weight

4-1/2 " wide at shoulders

3-1/2 " deep from Aegis to back

base dimensions are 4.5 X 3.5 ". 

Lot 71 of Michael Malter Auction Feb 13, 2011; Encino, CA, USA 


* - 5th to 8th centuries AD. Anne McClanan in Representations of Early Byzantine Empresses gives a later date.

** - Minerva was the Roman name for the Greek goddess Athena. Most of their attributes (Powers, clothing, ets.) are the same. Weights from Western Roman Empire are called Minerva. Norbert Franken in AEQUIPOMDIA places statues like this in group CB. 

*** - The Aegis of Athena with the Gorgon Head

Athena's Aegis with the gorgon head in the middle from the west pediment of the archaic temple of Apollo at Eretria.

Parian Marble, circa 520-500 BCE.


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Minerva Bull Aes Grave Fraction Crawford 37, 225 BC

Minerva Bull aes grave Asses are not common. I found only 3 in sales for the last 20 years on acsearch. Crawford lists lists three symbols above the bull on this coin in Roman Republican Coinage: #37/1a, b, c = L, I, Caduceus. Aes Grave by E. J. Haeberlin has 23 examples of which 2 are fragments.

Seller's (Numismatic Studio Tintinna of Campani Massimo) pics.

My pics plus some colorful knitting by my wife.

Pics of the coin from Garrucci.

Pics of the coin from Haeberlin. 

Roman Republic
Aes Grave fragment of an As from the Miverva Bull series 225 BC, mint uncertain
Obv – Head of Minerva, facing, wearing helmet with three crests, hair cascading to shoulders
Rev – Bull standing to right (only parts of the back two legs are showing); In Ex RO[MA]; this fragment does not show the marks above the bull: L, I or a caduceus. Grueber and earlier authors are not sure if the L stands for a town (Luceria) or one pound (Libra).   
37.1 X 29.2 X 10.2 mm
43.22 grams
BB +, Light Brown / Green patina
Crawford 37/1a, b or c Crawford lists three symbols above the bull.
Grueber Italy AG 1 or 2
Sydenham RRC – 138 & 139
Sydenham AG – 34 & 35
Haberline – pg 141 – 143, 23 examples including 2 fragments; plates 55 – 56
Garrucci - pg 17; plate XXXII # 4 & 5
Vecci ICC – 72 or 73
T&V – 43 or 43a
HNI – 331

rrd data
Hab data
Weight - max
Weight - min
Weight - avg
Weight - st dev

Diameter - max

Diameter - min

Diameter - max

Diameter - min

Diameter - avg

Flan flaws
broken flan
light greenish brown
broken flan

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Two Ounce Bronze Barrel Weight - is the inscription V or C

A recent purchase is a 2 ounce bronze weight with an inscription. The inscription is either V or C. I suspect the weight had other inscriptions, but environmental damage, over cleaning and a layer of laquer added after cleaning keeps me from seeing other letters.

Roman two ounce bronze commercial weight with some of the original silver inlay. The size is correct for a 2 ounce weight (52.0 g; 22.9 X 17.1 mm). I can see what looks like a V. The rest of the inscription, if there was one, is missing. Based on the weights shown below, I would expect a legend that includes 2 to 4 of the letters: VNCIA (VN, VNCI, etc.) and a Roman number 2 – II.

The seller calls the inscription a C. Bruno Kisch in Scales and Weights, describes weights from the Temple of Castor in Rome. The temple housed sets of standard weights. They had inscriptions: CASTO, CAST, CAS, CA, etc. The letter on my weight could be a C, but it looks more like a V to me.

The pictures below were taken with different cameras and light sources in an attempt to see an inscription. I could not see any more in hand with a loop. 
Computer microscope

Nikon P900 camera 

Seller’s pic
Pictures of I, II, III and IV VNCIA weights are below.

2 VN weight from Brit Museum

3 VNCI weight, rrd collection

6 VNCIA weight, rrd collection

Two 2 ounce weights from CNG

Two 1 ounce weights from rrd collection

Five 2 ounce weights from rrd collection.