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Research Coins: Electronic Auction

380, Lot: 421. Estimate $150.
Sold for $90. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

IONIA, Ephesus(?). L. Sempronius Atratinus(?). Quaestor, circa 42-39 BC. AR Tetradrachm (24mm, 12.48 g, 5h). Cistophoric type. Cista mystica with serpent; all within ivy wreath / Two serpents entwined around bow and bowcase; above, ATPA monogram; Q to left, lit torch to right. W. E. Metcalf, “A Note on the Later Republican Cistophori,” SNR 88 (2009), pp. 205–8; Stumpf 2 (M. Antonius, c. 113/2); SNG von Aulock 1867. VF, areas of flat strike.

From the RBW Collection.

The identification of the magistrate, date of issue, and mint of this issue is still uncertain. Metcalf’s analysis of the monogram is the most convincing, but the identification of the actual individual named is still unknown. The absence of any of these issues from hoards is the most perplexing, but Metcalf thinks this phoenomenon establishes a terminus post quem for the coins, suggesting a date after 41 BC due to their absence from the large Halicarnassus Hoard. Such a date, if correct, makes a connection to Atratinus more attractive. As for the mint, Metcalf’s identification of obverse die links between the coins with lit torch and serpent-entwined thyrsus strongly suggests a single mint for their issue. Previous numismatists identified the mint as either Pergamum or Ephesus, based on these symbols, and while Metcalf agrees either candidate is possible, he notes that their style does not match other cistophori from these cities, so a third location is more likely.