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ROMAN REPUBLIC, C. Piso Frugi, AR Denarius
Rome. The Republic.
Caius Calpurnius Piso Frugi, 61-59 BCE
AR Denarius (3.98g; 18mm).
Rome Mint.

Obverse: Head of Apollo facing right, hair tied with fillet or taenia; eagle head (control mark), behind.

Reverse: Horse and rider galloping right; C PISO L F FRV, below; grain ear in exergue.

References: Crawford 408/1b; Sydenham 841d; Hersh O-252/R-2060; Banti 196 (this coin illustrated); Calpurnia 24.

Provenance: Ex JD Collection [NAC 78 (26 May 2014) Lot 447]; ex A. Galerie des Monnaies Geneva (Nov 1976), No. 33.

Caius Piso Frugi, was the son of Lucius Piso Frugi who produced a huge coinage during the Social War in 90 BCE. Caius was son-in-law to Cicero, marrying Cicero’s daughter Tullia in 63 BCE. He was quaestor in 58 BCE, during which time he fought hard for repeal of Cicero’s exile. He died in 57 BCE, just before Cicero returned to Rome. Cicero thought very highly of him.

Crawford dated Caius’ coinage to 67 BCE, the year of his engagement to Tullia. The near mint state condition of Caius’ coins in the Mesagne Hoard caused Hersh and Walker to bring down the date of Caius’ mint magistracy toward the close of the hoard material, circa 61 BCE. In “Roman Republican Moneyers and Their Coins” (2nd ed.), Michael Harlan suggests a slightly later date of 59 BCE, which would be the latest possible date for the series given the hard dates of Caius’ quaestorship in 58 and death in 57.

With his coinage, Caius reissued the coin types of his father which allude to the celebration of the Ludi Apollinares instituted by Frugi's ancestor during the Second Punic War. These games were held at the Circus Maximus in July of each year and lasted 8 or 9 days, consisting of horse racing and performances.

While his father’s 90 BCE coinage was hurriedly and sloppily produced due to wartime exigency (dies were often used to the brink of destruction), Caius’ coinage was considerably well made – struck in high relief and good style. Reverse dies were convex – resulting in characteristic “cupped” reverses – to fully-strike the high relief obverses. Obverses are in two varieties: the first, with Apollo’s hair bound with a fillet or taenia; the second with his hair laureate. Hersh (1976) knew of 204 obverse dies. Laureate dies are considerably fewer than fillet/taenia dies. The reverses are quite varied, depicting the horsemen wearing various caps or capless and carrying whip, torch, palm or nothing. Hersh knew of 232 reverse dies. Obverse and reverse dies bear a series of control marks consisting of symbols, letters, Greek and Roman numbers and fractional signs. The obverse/reverse die links in the series are very random within the estimated three workshops, and are considered evidence for the “die box” method of die management by the mint officials.
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Album name:Carausius / Late Republic (99-49 BCE)
File Size:87 KB
Date added:Jul 06, 2018
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