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Early Coinage to 218 BCE


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Over a few hundred years, as the Roman Republic evolved from small town to small empire, its monetary system evolved from weighed bronze lumps (Aes Rude) to a bi-metallic, struck coinage. This album captures that period of intense development. By the early third century BCE, Rome began producing currency bars (Aes Signatum) which circulated as bullion, and heavy cast bronze coins (Aes Grave) which were subsequently issued in various series from circa 280 to 215 BCE. While the mint of Rome produced Aes Grave and Currency Bars, Italo-Greek cities to the south struck the first silver Didrachms and related bronze coins bearing the legend “ROMANO.” The Didrachm coinage was issued infrequently until circa 240 BCE, when the ROMANO inscriptions were replaced with ROMA and Didrachm production increased. Perhaps with the influx of silver from the Carthaginian’s indemnity following the First Punic War, Rome introduced the large issue of Quadrigati circa 225 BCE, though Quadrigatus production would eventually decentralize when the Second Punic War ensued.

17 files, last one added on Feb 17, 2019

Second Punic War (218-200 BCE)


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The immense financial pressure of defending Hannibal’s invasion of Italy, and subsequent successes, are reflected in periods of debasement, reform and renewal in the Republican coinage of the Second Punic War period. This album depicts the upheaval and rebirth. We see gradual reduction in the weight standard of the bronze coinage and debasement of the Quadrigatus silver coinage. The semilibral reduction in the bronze coinage occurs from 217-215 BCE and is soon followed by further weight reductions. Bronze overstrikes are common during this period as coinage of defeated regions are restruck by Rome (Roman overstruck on foreign) and as Rome reduced the weight standard of its bronze currency (Roman overstruck on Roman). Eventually, the monetary system is completely reformed with the introduction of the Denarius coinage of good silver, the Victoriatus coinage (of not such good silver!) and the so-called sextantal struck bronzes. This denarius system would continue with occasional changes for the next 450 years.

23 files, last one added on Mar 02, 2019

Second Century (199-100 BCE)


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During the second century BCE, we see Roman moneyers becoming progressively more independent, both in terms of type selection and messaging on the coinage. The office of moneyer was an important early rung on the Cursus Honorum - the imposed political path toward consulship and personal prestige.   Testing traditional constraints, moneyers gradually chose types and inscriptions to increase their name recognition and brand for future elected offices.  Early in the century we see standard types (Roma/Dioscuri or Bigati) paired with symbols, initials and abbreviated monograms.  By the close of the century, full names and creative devices (some focusing on a moneyer's illustrious ancestors) are common. This use of the coinage as a propaganda device would continue to expand in the next century.

19 files, last one added on Feb 04, 2019

Late Republic (99-49 BCE)


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By the first century BCE, the Republican coinage had fully-matured into a personal propaganda medium for politicians on the rise.  Many of these politicians sided with Marius or Sulla during their supremacy struggle, and the selection of coin types sometimes reflect those alliances.  The abilities of the mint were tested during the Social War crisis of 90 BCE, which required massive expenditure in coined money to put down.  By the close of this period, a new supremacy struggle echoing Marius and Sulla would emerge - that between Pompey and Caesar - which would plunge the Roman world into years of civil war and eventually end the Republic.

31 files, last one added on Mar 31, 2019

Imperatorial (49-27 BCE)


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This era of the Roman Republic is referred to as the "Imperatorial" period, because it is marked by the political and military struggle for supremacy among the premier generals ("imperator" in Latin).  It begins with Caesar crossing the Rubicon with his legion,  challenging and ultimately defeating Pompey.  In preparing for his next great military challenge against the Parthians, Caesar would produce coins bearing his own portrait and honors - the first Roman to do so - completing the evolution of personal propaganda on Republican coinage.  Caesar would be assassinated before his Parthian campaign could launch.  The next 20 years of Roman coinage depict and reflect the various protagonists and antagonists and their repective allies in the supremacy struggles among Caesarians, Republicans, Octavian and Antony.  Following the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium, Octavian (later known as Augustus) would at last emerge as undisputed master of Rome and the Mediterranean world . This marks the end of the Republican coinage, and the commencement of Imperial coinage.

30 files, last one added on Mar 02, 2019

 

5 albums on 1 page(s)

Last additions - Carausius's Gallery
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ROMAN REPUBLIC, Q. Pomponius Musa, AR Denarius - Crawford 410/33 viewsRome, The Republic.
Q. Pomponius Musa, mid-50s BCE
AR Denarius (3.58g; 19mm).
Rome Mint.

Obverse: Laureate head of Apollo(?), hair tied-up, facing right; tied scroll behind.

Reverse: Q. POMPONI – MVSA; Clio, muse of history, facing left and leaning on column, while reading open scroll.

References: Crawford 410/3; Sydenham 813; BMCRR 3610-11; Pomponia 11.

Provenance: Ex Heritage Auction 3072 (15 Jan 2019), Lot 35407; E.J. Haeberlin Collection [Cahn-Hess (17 Jul 1933) Lot 2490].

As the muse of history, Clio is typically depicted in ancient art with an open scroll or tablet.

Q. Pomponius Musa, who punned his name by depicting the Muses on a series of coins, is unknown except for his coins, which makes precise dating of the series difficult. For many years, scholars (including Crawford) dated the series to 66 BCE. However, the absence of any examples of the series in the large Mesagne hoard caused Hersh and Walker to bring down the date of the series to 56 BCE. Michael Harlan, retracting his reticence with the Mesagne dating, later proposed a date of 52 BCE.

There are two varieties of Musa denarii: the first depicts Apollo/Hercules Musarum (see my gallery example); the second, of which there are nine sub-varieties, depict Apollo and a Muse. The above coin is of the second variety.

Apollo is often depicted androgynously on ancient coins. The standard references consistently attribute the obverse heads on both varieties of Musa’s coins as Apollo; but the depictions are notably different between the Hercules and Muse varieties. On the Hercules variety, the deity’s hair is down and tied, and generally consistent with many depictions of Apollo on other Roman Republican coins (see, e.g., denarii of L. Calpurnius Piso and C. Calpurnius Piso). Comparatively, the head on the above Muse variety is considerably more feminine in appearance and laureate, though lacking earrings, necklaces or other feminine accents. Admittedly, this more feminine type head has also been attributed by scholars as Apollo on other coin types (see, e.g., denarii of P. Clodius and C. Considius). However, within the same series the different styled heads appear to depict different deities. Given the Muse emblems behind each head on the nine Muse types, it’s possible that the feminine heads do not represent Apollo, but the Muses themselves. Michael Harlan agrees with this interpretation in both editions of "Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins." More research on this issue is needed.
1 commentsCarausiusMar 31, 2019
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ROMAN REPUBLIC, Q. Pomponius Musa, AR Denarius - Crawford 410/45 viewsRome, The Republic.
Q. Pomponius Musa, mid-50s BCE
AR Denarius (3.96g; 18mm).
Rome Mint.

Obverse: Laureate head of Apollo(?), hair tied-up, facing right; scepter behind.

Reverse: MVSA - Q.POMPONI; Melpomene, muse of tragedy, facing left and holding club and theatrical mask.

References: Crawford 410/4; Sydenham 816; BMCRR 3615-16; Pomponia 14.

Provenance: Ex Fay Beth Wedig Collection [CNG eSale 439 (6 Mar 2019) Lot 442]; NAC 11 (29 Apr 1998), Lot 253.

Q. Pomponius Musa, who punned his name by depicting the Muses on a series of coins, is unknown except for his coins, which makes precise dating of the series difficult. For many years, scholars (including Crawford) dated the series to 66 BCE. However, the absence of any examples of the series in the large Mesagne hoard caused Hersh and Walker to bring down the date of the series to 56 BCE. Michael Harlan, retracting his reticence with the Mesagne dating, later proposed a date of 52 BCE.

There are two varieties of Musa denarii: the first depicts Apollo/Hercules Musarum (see my gallery example); the second, of which there are nine sub-varieties, depict Apollo and a Muse. The above coin is of the second variety.

Apollo is often depicted androgynously on ancient coins. The standard references consistently attribute the obverse heads on both varieties of Musa’s coins as Apollo; but the depictions are notably different between the Hercules and Muse varieties. On the Hercules variety, the deity’s hair is down and tied, and generally consistent with many depictions of Apollo on other Roman Republican coins (see, e.g., denarii of L. Calpurnius Piso and C. Calpurnius Piso). Comparatively, the head on the above Muse variety is considerably more feminine in appearance and laureate, though lacking earrings, necklaces or other feminine accents. Admittedly, this more feminine type head has also been attributed by scholars as Apollo on other coin types (see, e.g., denarii of P. Clodius and C. Considius). However, within the same series the different styled heads appear to depict different deities. Given the Muse emblems behind each head on the nine Muse types, it’s possible that the feminine heads do not represent Apollo, but the Muses themselves. Michael Harlan agrees with this interpretation in both editions of "Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins." More research on this issue is needed.

Melpomene, whose name actually means “songstress” was originally one of the muses of song, but her role changed to muse of tragic theater after the development of drama in classical Greece sometime in the sixth century BCE. She is generally depicted holding a club or knife and a tragic mask, which Greek actors wore on stage when performing dramatic plays.
2 commentsCarausiusMar 31, 2019
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ROMAN REPUBLIC, L. Piso Frugi, AR Denarius - Crawford 340/18 viewsRome, The Republic
L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi, 90 BCE.
AR Denarius (3.78g; 19mm)
Rome mint.

Obv: Laureate head of Apollo facing right; N (control mark) below chin.

Rev: Horseman galloping to right, holding whip; dolphin above; L·PISO·FRVG and ROMA below.

References: Crawford 340/1; Sydenham 658a; Hersh Class IV, Series 20.

Provenance: Ex Spink & Son Ltd; Mario Ratto Fixed Price List (Feb 1966) Lot 297.

Apparently overstruck with remnants of undertype visible on reverse.

L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi was moneyer in 90 BCE, during the time of the Social War. He later attained the office of Praetor in 74 BCE, but did not appear to distinguish himself further.

The Social War was a civil war between Rome and her Italian allies who had broken-away in a demand for citizenship rights. It was a time of massive coinage output by the Rome mints, likely to pay the costs associated with the conflict. As a result, Frugi’s coins are among the most common in the entire Roman Republican series. Crawford estimates 864 obverse and 1080 reverse dies were used to produce Frugi’s denarii. Both obverse and reverse dies bear control marks of varying complexity, and no control mark has more than one die. The earlier dies in the series which bear ROMA, either spelled-out (as on this coin) or in monogram, in the reverse exergue, are typically of finer style than the later dies without ROMA or monogram. For another fine-style example with ROMA in monogram form, see my gallery coin at: http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-146453

This type alludes to the annual 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.
2 commentsCarausiusMar 23, 2019
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ROMAN REPUBLIC, Semilibral Struck AE Quadrans (Crawford 39)0 viewsRome, The Republic.
Anonymous, Semilibral Reduction, 217-215 BCE.
AE Struck Quadrans (38.77g; 31mm).
Uncertain Italian Mint.

Obverse: Youthful head of Hercules in boarskin headdress, facing right; three pellets (mark of value=3 unciae) behind.

Reverse: Bull leaping right, snake below; three pellets (mark of value = 3 unciae) above; ROMA below.

Reference: Crawford 39/2; Sydenham 94; BMCRR (Romano-Campanian) 116.

Provenance: Ex SKA/Credit Suisse (Bern) 7 (27-29 Apr 1987), Lot 656; Dr. Busso Peus Auction 300 (28 Oct 1980), Lot 206.

This coin is part of a short-lived, semi-libral series, struck collateral to the standard prow types (Crawford 38) in 217-215 BC. The economic hardship on Rome imposed by Hannibal’s invasion led to a rapid decline in the weight of Roman bronze coins, resulting in the adoption of a semi-libral bronze standard (AE As of ½ Roman pound) and eventual elimination of cast coins. The Series 39 types and their relationship to contemporaneous Second Punic War events are interesting to ponder. Hercules is an important figure, appearing on two of the 10 available sides of the series. Likely this is a paradigm of Roman strength and heroism during the War. While Crawford attributes this series to the Rome mint, I believe the types and fabric of the coins are inconsistent with the contemporaneous, Crawford 38 prow types which are also attributed to Rome.

Frequent visitors to my gallery may notice that this coin is a duplicate of a coin already in my collection. Indeed, I recently chose to upgrade my original specimen (viewable here: http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-143993 ) with this companion. The type is difficult to find as well preserved as this specimen, so when I saw this coin, I snatched it up. For now, I’ll keep them both. The pair illustrates the general fabric of this series – well made, conical flans, likely produced in open moulds; flat fields (struck from flat-planed dies); and generally low relief.

CarausiusMar 02, 2019
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ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, L. Valerius Acisculus, AR Denarius - Crawford 474/1b9 viewsRome, The Republic.
L. Valerius Acisculus, 45 BCE.
AR Denarius (4.17g; 21mm).
Rome Mint.

Obverse: Filleted head of Apollo facing right; star above; pick-axe and ACISCVLVS behind; all within a wreath border.

Reverse: Europa riding bull to right with billowing veil; L VALERIVS in exergue.

References: Crawford 474/1b; HCRI 90a; Sydenham 998a; BMCRR 4102; Sear RCV I 469/2 (this coin illustrated); Banti 35/2 (this coin illustrated); Valeria 16.

Provenance: Ex Student and his Mentor Collection [NAC 83 (2015) Lot 442]; Credit de la Bourse (1995) Lot 1146; Munzen und Medaillen Liste 412 (1979), Lot 43; E.J. Haeberlin Collection [Cahn-Hess (17 Jul 1933) Lot 2800].

L. Valerius Acisculus issued an interesting series of types in 45 BCE. Not much is known about the moneyer except that he was also a Tribune of the Plebs. The pick-axe on obverse of these types is a punning allusion to the moneyer’s name, as the Latin word for pick-axe is “acisculus”. Scholars have long debated the meanings of the other devices, some going to great lengths to argue connections to the moneyer’s family. However, more recently, Crawford and Sear both concluded that the types, including the laurel wreath border on the obverse of this coin, likely allude to Julius Caesar’s military successes against Pompey and in the East.
2 commentsCarausiusMar 02, 2019
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ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, L. Valerius Acisculus, AR Denarius - Crawford 474/51 viewsRome, The Republic.
L. Valerius Acisculus, 45 BCE.
AR Denarius (4.17g; 22mm).
Rome Mint.

Obverse: Radiate, draped head of Sol facing right; pick-axe and ACISCVLVS behind

Reverse: Luna in biga galloping right; L. VALERIVS in exergue.

References: Crawford 474/5; HCRI 94; Sydenham 1002; BMCRR 4110; FFC 1171 (this coin illustrated); Valeria 20.

Provenance: Ex Jose Fernandez Molina Collection [Aureo & Calico Alba Longa Auction (7 Nov 2018) Lot 716]; NAC 18 (29 Mar 2000) Lot 337.

L. Valerius Acisculus issued an interesting series of types in 45 BCE. Not much is known about the moneyer except that he was also a Tribune of the Plebs. The pick-axe on obverse of these types is a punning allusion to the moneyer’s name, as the Latin word for pick-axe is “acisculus”. Scholars have long debated the meanings of the other devices, some going to great lengths to argue connections to the moneyer’s family. However, more recently, Crawford and Sear both concluded that the types likely allude to Julius Caesar’s military successes against Pompey and in the East. The obverse of this coin, in particular, is likely a nod to Caesar's eastern victories, with Sol's cult having a strong eastern following.

CarausiusMar 02, 2019
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ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, Octavian, AR Denarius13 viewsRome. The Imperators.
Octavian, 44-27 BCE.
AR Denarius (3.92g; 20mm).
Italian Mint, Summer 30-29 BCE.

Obverse: Octavian’s bare head, facing right.

Reverse: Roman Senate House; IMP CAESAR on architrave.

References: RIC 266; HCRI 421; BMCRR 4358; Julia 161.

Provenance: Ex Heritage Auction 3063 (16 Jan 2018) Lot 33381; Spink Num. Circ. Vol LXXVIII, No. 6 (June 1970), inv. #6871, pl. 11.

The coin celebrates the dedication of the Curia Julia, a new meeting house for the Roman Senate, construction of which was commenced under Julius Caesar and completed by Octavian circa 29 BCE. Julius Caesar was assassinated at the Theater of Pompey where the Senate was meeting while construction of this new Senate house was underway. It is both ironic and politically astute that Octavian should commemorate this new Senate house on a coin, given that his hold on power made the Senate effectively irrelevant. The structure still stands today, having been restored through the imperial period and later converted to a church.
2 commentsCarausiusFeb 17, 2019
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ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, Octavian, AR Denarius - Crawford 538/114 viewsRome. The Imperators.
Octavian, 44-27 BCE.
AR Denarius (3.79g; 20mm).
Italian Mint, Summer 37 BCE.

Obverse: IMP CAESAR-DIVI·F·III·VIR·ITER R·P·C; Octavian’s bare head, bearded and facing right.

Reverse: COS·ITER·ET·TER·DESIG; Simpulum, aspergillum, jug and lituus.

References: Crawford 538/1; Sydenham 1334; HCRI 312; BMCRR (Gaul) 116.

Provenance: Ex Ernst Ploil Collection [NAC 101 (24 Oct 2017), Lot 41]; Peus 386 (26 Apr 2006), Lot 663; Astarte 5 (1999), Lot 703.

The obverse inscription records the renewal of the second triumvirate in 37 BCE.
4 commentsCarausiusFeb 17, 2019
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ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, Brutus, AR Denarius - Crawford 502/210 viewsRome. The Imperators.
Brutus, 44-42 BCE.
AR Denarius (3.76g; 17mm).
Military Mint, Spring-Summer 42 BCE.

Obverse: L·SESTI - PRO·Q; Veiled and draped bust of Libertas, facing right.

Reverse: Q·CAEPIO·BRVTVS·PRO·COS; Tripod with axe on left and simpulum on right.

References: Crawford 502/2; HCRI 201; Syd 1290; BMCRR East 41; Junia 37; Sestia 2.

Provenance: Ex Alan J. Harlan Collection [Triton XXII (9 Jan 2019), Lot 951]; Kunker 288 (13 Mar 2017) Lot 314; Theodor Prowe Collection [Hess (20 May 1912) Lot 933].

Marcus Junius Brutus was posthumously adopted by his maternal uncle, Quintus Servilius Caepio. Afterward, Brutus sometimes used the name Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, which both honored his uncle and advertised his maternal descent from Gaius Servilius Structus Ahala. Ahala was a Roman Republican hero who had killed someone with regal aspirations. In his early political career, Brutus issued coins with the portrait of Ahala on one side (see Crawford 433/2; http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-144687). Following the assassination of Caesar, Brutus resurrected his use of the name Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, as on this coin, again alluding to this Servilian connection in his family tree. Combined with the bust of Liberty on the obverse of this coin, the message is clear: that the assassins were liberators from monarchy in the old Republican tradition of their ancestors. The reverse shows the symbols of Brutus’ membership in the college of priests.

This example comes from the collection of Theodor Prowe of Moscow, one of the great collections of the early 20th century, which was auctioned in three separate 1912 sales by Bruder Egger (Greek) and Hess (Roman).
2 commentsCarausiusFeb 17, 2019
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ROMAN REPUBLIC - Didrachm - Crawford 25/111 viewsRome. The Republic.
Anonymous, 241-235 BCE.
AR Didrachm (6.62g; 19mm).
Rome Mint.

Obverse: Helmeted head of beardless Mars with crested Corinthian helmet decorated with gryphon, facing right.

Reverse: Bridled horse head facing right; sickle to left; ROMA below.

References: Crawford 25/1; Sydenham 24; BMCRR (Romano-Campanian) 57.

Provenance: Ex Ed Waddell inventory #7484 (c. 1985).

This didrachm series is the first Roman silver coinage to bear the inscription ROMA, a change from the earlier ROMANO inscriptions. The early ROMANO inscriptions may have been either an abbreviation of the genitive plural ROMANORVM (“of the Romans”) or dative ROMANO (“by the Romans”) either of which would be similar grammar to Greek coin inscriptions. The move to the nominative case ROMA, may have been a simple shift to Roman/Latin usage consistent with the coinage taking on a more “Roman” character, as minting activity had moved from southern Italy to Rome many years before. The sickle symbol on the reverse, as well as common devices across denominations, links this didrachm issue to contemporaneous Roman bronze coinage also bearing the sickle. This marks the first time in the emerging Roman coinage that a clear-intentioned, bi-metallic series emission can be established.
3 commentsCarausiusFeb 17, 2019
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ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, Antony Legion II Denarius12 viewsRome. The Imperators.
Marcus Antonius, 44-31 BCE.
AR Denarius (3.64g; 17mm).
Military Mint traveling with Antony, 32-1 BCE.

Obverse: ANT AVG III VIR R P C; galley facing right.

Reverse: LEG II; Aquilia between two standards.

References: Crawford 544/14; Sydenham 1216; HCRI 349; BMCRR East 190-92; Antonia 105.

Provenance: Ex Pat Coyle Coll. [Goldberg Auction 69 (29 May 2012) Lot 3471]; NAC 40 (16 May 2007), Lot 624.

Produced by Antony in the lead-up to his final defeat at Actium by Octavian’s navy (commanded by Agrippa), the legionary series was a huge issue that recognized 23 legions under Antony’s command. These coins would continue to circulate throughout the Empire for several centuries after Antony’s loss, partly because their notoriously debased silver discouraged hoarding. Forty examples of the LEG II variety appeared in the 1905 Delos hoard of 604 Antony Legionary denarii, making it one of the most common varieties of the series.

The Legio II was likely a legion that was disbanded after Actium.
2 commentsCarausiusFeb 05, 2019
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ROMAN REPUBLIC, M. Marcius, AR Denarius - Crawford 245/17 viewsRome, The Republic.
M. Marcius, 134 BCE.
AR Denarius (3.95g; 19mm).
Rome Mint.

Obverse: Helmeted head of Roma facing right; modius behind; * below chin.

Reverse: Victory in biga galloping right; two wheat ears and M-MAR-C below; RO-MA in exergue.

References: Crawford 245/1; Sydenham 500; BMCRR 1008-13; Marcia 8.

One of the moneyer’s ancestors was an aedile in charge grain distribution to the Roman people, and the modius and wheat ears refer to this family connection.
1 commentsCarausiusFeb 04, 2019
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ROMAN REPUBLIC, Prawn Series, AR Denarius - Crawford 156/19 viewsRome. The Republic.
Anonymous Prawn Series, 179-169 BCE.
AR Denarius (3.87g; 19mm).
Rome Mint.

Obverse: Helmeted head of Roma facing right; behind, X.

Reverse: Luna in biga galloping right; prawn below horses; in exergue, ROMA in linear frame.

References: Crawford 156/1; Sydenham 343; BMCRR 585.

Provenance: Ex Frederick S. Knobloch Collection [Stack's, 3-4 May 1978, Lot 97].
2 commentsCarausiusFeb 04, 2019
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ROMAN REPUBLIC, P. Maenius Antias, AR Denarius - Crawford 249/17 viewsRome, The Republic.
P. Maenius M.f. Antias, 132 BCE.
AR Denarius (3.88g; 19mm).
Rome Mint.

Obverse: Helmeted head of Roma facing right; * behind.

Reverse: Victory in quadriga galloping right; P. MAE ANT below; ROMA in exergue.

References: Crawford 249/1; Sydenham 492; BMCRR 988-90; Maenia 7.

Provenance: Ex Stack's Auction, 14-15 June 1971, Lot 109.

The reverse refers to the moneyer’s ancestor, C. Maenius, consul in 338 BCE, who had a victory over the Latins near Antium and received the surname Antias or Antiaticus. Antium was a Volscian city that was in revolt at the time. The rams of the ships of Antium were taken by Rome and used to adorn the Rostrum in the Roman Forum.

CarausiusJan 09, 2019
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ROMAN REPUBLIC, Q. Cassius Longinus, AR Denarius - Crawford 428/324 viewsRome, The Republic.
Q. Cassius Longinus, 55 BCE.
AR Denarius (3.91g; 19mm).
Rome Mint.

Obverse: Bonus Eventus or Genius of the Roman People head facing right; scepter behind.

Reverse: Eagle on thunderbolt, facing right; lituus to left; jug to right; Q CASSIVS below.

References: Crawford 428/3; Sydenham 916; BMCRR 3868; Cassia 7.

Provenance: Ex Fernandez Collection [Aureo & Calico Alba Longa Auction (7 Nov 2018) Lot 227].

The identity of the head on the obverse is in doubt. Crawford interprets the obverse as Genius of the Roman People and the reverse an allusion to imperium. Michael Harlan theorizes that the head is Bonus Eventus and that it ties to symbols of the augurate on the reverse. Augurs, after all, want to predict good outcomes. Harlan's interpretation doesn’t fully explain the scepter on the obverse, which is not a typical characteristic of Bonus Eventus.
3 commentsCarausiusJan 07, 2019
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ROMAN REPUBLIC, L. Cornelius Sulla, AR Denarius - Crawford 359/212 viewsRome, The Republic.
L. Cornelius Sulla, 84-83 BCE.
AR Denarius (3.88g; 21mm).
Military Mint.

Obverse: L·SVLLA; diademed head of Venus facing right; before, Cupid holding palm to left.

Reverse: IMPER – ITERV; two trophies with jug and lituus between them.

References: Crawford 359/2; Sydenham 761a; BMCRR East 3; Cornelia 30.

Provenance: Ex Nomisma 58 (6 Nov 2018) Lot 76.

These coins were struck in the east, just before Sulla’s march on Rome. The fabric and style of these coins are certainly different from other Roman Republican denarii of the era, more eastern than Roman. Perhaps not obvious from my photo, the obverse is struck in very high relief and the reverse has pronounced cupping (from a convex reverse die, which more efficiently drives the metal into the high relief obverse die). The obverse honors Venus, whom Sulla considered his protectress. The jug and lituus on the reverse are suggestive of the office of Augur, but Crawford did not think Sulla was an Augur at the time these coins were produced. The implements may refer to an ancestor of Sulla that was an Augur, or, as Crawford surmises, to Sulla’s imperium. The trophies on the reverse refer to Sulla’s victories in the east against Mithradates. Two trophies were also used by Sulla in an issue of tetradrachms in the Athenian “New Style” form.

Sulla’s seizure of dictatorial power following his march on Rome (leading an army that was loyal to him, rather than to the state) became a paradigm for Roman political struggles thereafter. Julius Caesar would initiate similar consequences when he crossed the Rubicon at the head of his army 30+ years later. Unlike Sulla, Caesar showed no interest in resigning his power. Also unlike Sulla, Caesar would strike coins bearing his own likeness. Sulla’s portrait did not appear on a Roman coin until 25 years after Sulla’s death (See, Crawford 434/1).
1 commentsCarausiusJan 07, 2019

Random files - Carausius's Gallery
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ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, Antony Legion III Denarius21 viewsRome, The Imperators.
Mark Antony, 31 BCE.
Mint travelling with Antony.
AR Denarius (3.69g; 18mm).

Obv: ANT AVG III VIR R P C; Galley right.

Rev: LEG III; Aquilia between two standards.

Reference: Crawford 544/15; HCRI 350; Syd 1217; Viereck, Die Römische Flotte (1975), p. 292 (this coin illustrated).

Provenance: ex CNG Classical Numismatic Review (Jul 2017); ex Triton IV (5 Dec 2000), Lot 432; ex Sternberg XII (18 Nov 1982), Lot 512; ex H.D.L. Viereck Collection (bef. 1975).

Produced by Antony in the lead-up to his final defeat at Actium by Octavian’s navy (commanded by Agrippa), the legionary series was a huge issue that recognized 23 legions under Antony’s command. These coins would continue to circulate throughout the Empire for several centuries after Antony’s loss, partly because their notoriously debased silver discouraged hoarding.
2 commentsCarausius
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ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, Julius Caesar, AR Denarius44 viewsRome. The Imperators.
Julius Caesar, 47-6 BCE.
AR Denarius (3.87g; 18mm).
Military Mint in North Africa.

Obverse: Diademed head of Venus facing right, wearing necklace.

Reverse: Aeneas walking left, carrying his aged father, Anchises on his shoulder and the palladium in his right hand; CAESAR in right field.

References: Crawford 458/1; HCRI 55; BMCRR (East) 31-5; Julia 10.

Provenance: Ex Stöcklin Collection [Nomos 14 (17 May 2017) Lot 275]; ex E. J. Haeberlin Collection [Cahn-Hess (17 Jul 1933), Lot 2663].

Struck in Africa near the end of Caesar’s civil war struggle with Pompey, the coin advertises the mythical roots of the Julia gens descent from Venus and Anchises. The obverse depicts the goddess, Venus, while the reverse shows Aeneas carrying his aged father, Anchises, from Troy. Sear thought that among Caesar’s coinage, this issue was second in size only to the "elephant" coinage, and Crawford estimated 390 obverse dies and 433 reverse dies.
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ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, Antony Legion VI Denarius28 viewsRome, The Imperators
Mint traveling with Antony, ca. 31 BC
AR Denarius

Obv: ANT AVG III VIR R P C; Galley right.

Rev: LEG VI; Aquilia between two standards.

Reference: Crawford 544/19; HCRI 356

Provenance: ex CNG 103 (Sep 2016) Lot 664; ex Kirk Davis FPL 37 (Jan 2002), No. 45.

Produced by Antony in the lead-up to his final defeat at Actium by Octavian’s navy (commanded by Agrippa), the legionary series was a huge issue that recognized 23 legions under Antony’s command. These coins would continue to circulate throughout the Empire for several centuries after Antony’s loss, partly because their notoriously debased silver discouraged hoarding.

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ROMAN REPUBLIC, Q. Pomponius Musa, AR Denarius - Crawford 410/33 viewsRome, The Republic.
Q. Pomponius Musa, mid-50s BCE
AR Denarius (3.58g; 19mm).
Rome Mint.

Obverse: Laureate head of Apollo(?), hair tied-up, facing right; tied scroll behind.

Reverse: Q. POMPONI – MVSA; Clio, muse of history, facing left and leaning on column, while reading open scroll.

References: Crawford 410/3; Sydenham 813; BMCRR 3610-11; Pomponia 11.

Provenance: Ex Heritage Auction 3072 (15 Jan 2019), Lot 35407; E.J. Haeberlin Collection [Cahn-Hess (17 Jul 1933) Lot 2490].

As the muse of history, Clio is typically depicted in ancient art with an open scroll or tablet.

Q. Pomponius Musa, who punned his name by depicting the Muses on a series of coins, is unknown except for his coins, which makes precise dating of the series difficult. For many years, scholars (including Crawford) dated the series to 66 BCE. However, the absence of any examples of the series in the large Mesagne hoard caused Hersh and Walker to bring down the date of the series to 56 BCE. Michael Harlan, retracting his reticence with the Mesagne dating, later proposed a date of 52 BCE.

There are two varieties of Musa denarii: the first depicts Apollo/Hercules Musarum (see my gallery example); the second, of which there are nine sub-varieties, depict Apollo and a Muse. The above coin is of the second variety.

Apollo is often depicted androgynously on ancient coins. The standard references consistently attribute the obverse heads on both varieties of Musa’s coins as Apollo; but the depictions are notably different between the Hercules and Muse varieties. On the Hercules variety, the deity’s hair is down and tied, and generally consistent with many depictions of Apollo on other Roman Republican coins (see, e.g., denarii of L. Calpurnius Piso and C. Calpurnius Piso). Comparatively, the head on the above Muse variety is considerably more feminine in appearance and laureate, though lacking earrings, necklaces or other feminine accents. Admittedly, this more feminine type head has also been attributed by scholars as Apollo on other coin types (see, e.g., denarii of P. Clodius and C. Considius). However, within the same series the different styled heads appear to depict different deities. Given the Muse emblems behind each head on the nine Muse types, it’s possible that the feminine heads do not represent Apollo, but the Muses themselves. Michael Harlan agrees with this interpretation in both editions of "Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins." More research on this issue is needed.
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