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Attractive Early Pedigreed Aes Grave

CNG 91, Lot: 809. Estimate $750.
Sold for $8000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Anonymous. Circa 230 BC. Æ Aes Grave As (62mm, 282.25 g, 12h). Libral standard. Rome mint. Head of Roma right, wearing Phrygian cap; – (mark of value) behind / Wheel of six spokes; | (mark of value) between upper spokes. Crawford 24/3; Thurlow & Vecchi 31; Haeberlin pl. 24, 4-10; HN Italy 326. Good VF, attractive green patina, some earthen deposits.

Ex RBW Collection; Numismatica Ars Classica 5 (25 February 1992), lot 199.

Bronze was, from very early times, the traditional medium of exchange for the peoples of central Italy. Economically and culturally, the region was very backward when compared with the highly developed societies of the Greek colonies in the south. Initially, the population of this area, including the Romans, made do with irregular lumps of bronze, known as Aes Rude, for their currency requirements. These bore no official mark guaranteeing their value and all transactions would have required the use of scales. Eventually, toward the close of the 4th century BC, a somewhat more sophisticated currency came into being in central Italy with the production of cast bronze bars with designs on both sides. These large and cumbersome pieces are known today by the term Aes Signatum. Later still, probably around 280 BC, cast bronze coinage on circular flans (Aes Grave) was introduced and gradually superseded the bars as the 3rd century progressed, the transition being complete by about the time of the end of the First Punic War (241 BC). Aes Grave was produced in a range of denominations, initially from the As (weighing approximately 324 grams or one Roman pound) down to its twenty-fourth part, the Semuncia. Occasionally, multiples of the As were issued and as inflation took its toll in the final phase of the cast bronze coinage, the lowest denominations ceased to be issued.