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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton V, Lot: 80. Estimate $500. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 16 January 2002. 
Sold For $520. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

BRUTTIUM, The Brettii . Circa 211-208 BC. Æ Reduced Sextans (15.93 gm). Helmeted head of Ares left; griffin on helmet, thunderbolt below / BRETTIWN, Hera Hoplosmia advancing right, holding shield and spear; flying owl right. Scheu 40; SNG ANS 97-99; Boutin, "Catalogue des Monnaies Grecques...Collection Pozzi," 694 = Virzi pl. 3, 111 (this coin); SNG Copenhagen 1640; Laffaille -. Near EF, brown patina, well centered. ($500)

Ex Tom Virzi Collection (Bank Leu Auktion 6, 8 May 1973), lot 19; Pozzi Collection.

The coinage of the Brettii is particularly impressive in its complexity and has been thoroughly studied in modern times by F. Scheu, "The earliest coins of the Bruttians," NumChron 1955, pg. 101-112 and "The bronze coins of the Bruttians," NumChron 1961, pg. 51-66. These excellent studies followed the traditional dating of the material to the First Punic War period (264-241). It was H. Pfeiler, "Die Münzprägung der Brettier," JNG 16, 1964, 7-50, who correctly placed the series to the Second Punic War (218-201) when the Brettii supported Hannibal in the hope of regaining their independence and half the Sila Forest which had been seized by Rome for their support of Pyrrhus. Finally, E. Arslan, "Monetazione aurea ed argentea dei Brettii," Glaux 4, 1989, produced a die study of the gold and silver series which confirmed the Second Punic War as the period of issue, mostly attributed to the mints of Kroton and Lokri.

The bronze series is a fascinating example of a military coinage both compatible with the theoretical triental-bronze reduction introduced by Rome in about 215 and the double-litra and litra bronze coinage of Syracuse under Hieron II (cf. SNG ANS 909-963 for dilitrae and SNG ANS 964-977). The Brettii went over to Hannibal after the devastating defeat of Rome at Cannae in 216, but by 213 were themselves defeated by Rome and ceased to exist as a political entity.