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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 9, Lot: 31. Estimate CHF350. 
Closing Date: Monday, 20 October 2014. 
Sold For CHF2000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

CELTIC, Lower Danube. Uncertain tribe. later 1st c BC - 1st c AD. Denarius/Drachm (Silver, 19mm, 4.47 g 12). Beardless male head to right, his hair perhaps bound with a fillet or a taenia, in field to right and left, zig-zag pattern with pellets; to right, in front of mouth, five-pointed star; border of dots. Rev. Nude male (or female?) figure raising both hands and standing on (or sliding off) horse moving to left; in field to left and lower right, barbarized inscription; below horse, large pellet; border of dots. Apparently unpublished and unknown. Extremely rare. A curious and extraordinary coin. Toned with some minor corrosion and basically as found. Extremely fine.

From a European collection.

This coin, acquired around more than a decade ago, was simply identified as an imitation denarius, which of course it is, but without any note taken of how unusual it was! Apparently no other imitation is known that is in any way like this one (I would like to thank P. Davis for his erudite comments about it). Stylistically - and it does have a style! - its curious types have a vague affinity to the well-known imitations of Thasos (though not to the totally abstract late ones); exactly what Roman Republican denarii were copied to produce the types on this coin is equally uncertain. The easiest identification might be those of C. Calpurnius Piso L. f. Frugi as Crawford 408/1b, Sydenham 869-874: the use of a simple fillet (if there really is one) on the obverse bust is basically only paralleled by them; but these types do lack any inscription on their obverses and the patterns on this piece show that it had one. Another factor is that the rider on this coin is very unlike any of those on the denarii of C. Piso Frugi; it is, however quite similar to Octavian’s denarii of 43 and 41 BC (Crawford 490/1 and 518/2, Sydenham 1317-1318. Other curious factors about this coin are its heavy weight (paralleled by others, including heavier ones, cited by Davis) and by the way the flan is much larger than the die, which gives this piece a rather medallic look.