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Tooled Drusus sestertius?

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Here I have found a very nice, but very expensive sestertius of NERO CLAUDIUS DRUSUS. For me it looks like the hair on the obverse and some parts of the reverse are tooled. Am I right with that? What is your opinion?

Best regards

Hi Jochen,

  For me this coin has been smoothed a bit (neck, for instance), but no tooling is obvious; all the surfaces look sane, including the hair or legends. Note nevertheless that the obv. fields are not completely flat, as they should; this can come from a bit oxidized surface, that has been smoothed, and the smoothing can never be completely perfect ;)

Jérôme 8)

Mark Farrell:

I'm agreeing with Jerome. When I think tooling, I look to see if an attempt has been made to "recover" detail from the high points. For example, see the area of hair above and to the left of the ear. It is a natural high point and is worn accordingly. The fact that the rest of the hair is clearly defined can be explained because there was less contact with the environment (fingers, cloth, etc.)

Likewise on the reverse with the figure in the chair, the left arm and leg (high points) seem softer in detail, thus worn, as does the ball (whatever it is) below the chair.

I cannot tell if the neck has been smoothed, but the fields in obv at least look a touch smoothed. See the pitting on the outside of the obv legend, from about 8 to 11 o'clock? If I compare it to some pitting in front of the face, there is a difference that could be accounted by smoothing.

But hell, lots of big bronzes are smoothed, and this one is very lovely.


Thanks for sharing your opinions. But what I fear is that the hair on the obverse was recut, and so some parts of the weapons on the reverse too! II think so because these parts are much sharper as the other parts of the coin. Is that possible?


Mark Farrell:

I'm hoping, as I'm sure you are, that Curtis or someone who's handled thousands of these will chime in.

But to address your concerns... Could the hair have been touched up? Yes, certainly. The reason I don't think it has been is because higher points of the obv have natural wear and no evidence of tooling. Tooling would be necessary in order to recover detail on the bust, but it is questionable how much wear the hair closer to the field would have experienced, being so much lower than the rest of the bust.

I can imagine that the weapons on the reverse are sort of in a protected zone formed by the curule chair and the legend, both of which are probably significantly higher than the shield and spears, which seem fairly low relief. This coin seems to be very high relief, so that could account for the unnaturally clear hair and weapons.

At least that seems logical to me, but I'm stepping aside now for experts on these bronzes to weigh in. I hesitated offering an opinion, but so it goes.



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