The Dr. William F. Blank Collection of British Celtic Coinage
CELTIC, Atrebates & Regni. Uninscribed.
|Sale: CNG 81, Lot: 1317. Estimate $500.
Closing Date: Wednesday, 20 May 2009.
Sold For $605. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
Circa 75-30 BC. Pale AV Stater (5.60 g, 1h). Westerham type. Struck circa 75-60 BC. Devolved head of Apollo right / Celtic horse left; block of pellets above, crescent above pellet below, [zigzag pattern in exergue]. Bean A2; cf. Van Arsdell 200-1 and 202-1; SCBC 21. VF, lightly toned.
From the Dr. William F. Blank Collection. Ex Mack Collection (not in Glendining sale).
Continental coinage began to circulate in Britain during the middle of the second century BC and, toward the end of the century, the Cantii struck local coins in Kent, heavily influenced by the issues of their Gallic neighbors to the south. As the people on both sides of the Channel were closely related and in frequent contact, it follows that the Gallic coins would serve as prototypes for these early British issues. Following the issue of early coins cast from potin and which carried little or no intrinsic value, coins were struck in gold circa 70 BC, with silver being introduced shortly thereafter.
Trade with the Romans increased toward the middle of the first century BC, and Britain served as an important source of slaves, tin, and hunting dogs. Familiarity with Roman coins apparently increased further by the first quarter of the first century AD, with Roman Republican and Imperial coinage acting as prototypes for local issues. Denarii of L. Hosidius Geta and Tiberius can be seen as the prototypes for the Atrebates & Regni issue (lot 1335 below) and the ‘Corieltauvi’ coins (lots 1373-5 below).
By the reign of Claudius in AD 40, the Catuvellauni had expanded their kingdom, threatening the Atrebates who were loyal to the Romans. Claudius organized an invasion and, three years later in AD 43, succeeded in defeating the rebellious tribes, establishing a new capital at Camulodunum. During the reign of Nero, Roman expansion into Britain continued, but an uprising by Boudicca, queen of the Iceni (lots 1386-7 below), refocused efforts in south-east Britain. With the suppression of this rebellion in AD 61, it is likely that Celtic coinage in Britain was effectively ended, leaving Roman coins as the only official medium of exchange for the next 300 years.
Owing not only to the volume of coinage lying undiscovered just below the surface but also to the popularity of the metal detecting hobby, the recovery of Celtic coins within Britain has given rise to the Celtic Coin Index (CCI). This registry, begun in 1961, contains important information about each coin, including attribution, a description, and any known provenance. The number of records in this database has nearly tripled within the past 20 years (from 12,000 to 32,000) and is easily accessible online (www.celticcoins.ca), thus providing both the scholar and the collector with an invaluable asset.
Although other areas of ancient history are supplemented through numismatics, coinage serves a truly fundamental source of information for Celtic studies, adding to the collecting appeal of the series. The history and culture of the British Celts were collected and passed on through the oral tradition of the Druids, who formed the priestly class in Celtic societies. However, none of this oral tradition has survived, and coins now provide us with much of the detail which we can glean from Celtic history, art, and culture.
The designs often feature abstract artistry and craftsmanship as well as a combination of zoological and religious imagery. Geometric patterns, such as pellets, annulets, and lines, flora and fauna, such as horses, leaves, and grain ears, and representations of deities, such as Apollo, all add to the mystique and intrigue of these coins. In addition to the attraction of these designs, Celtic issues from Britain are often far less expensive than their Greek and Roman counterparts, allowing the collector of even modest means the chance to enjoy everything which the coinage has to offer.