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Research Coins: Electronic Auction

 
4320246
432, Lot: 246. Estimate $75.
Sold for $70. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Anonymous. Circa 91 BC. Æ Semis (21.5mm, 6.21 g, 2h). Contemporary Italian imitation. Uncertain mint. Laureate head of Saturn right; [S] (mark of value) to left / Prow of galley right; S (mark of value) above, ROMA below. Crawford 339/2 var.; Sydenham –; RBW –. VF, brown surfaces with touches of green.


From the Andrew McCabe Collection. Ex Thersites Collection (Roma Numismatics E-Sale 30, 29 October 2016), lot 375.

Well struck and complete, but nevertheless likely imitative. Ripolles and Witschonke documented the Spanish struck anonymous prow semisses in Essays Burnett, 2015. No coins of this style or anything like it appear in the Ripolles-Witschonke study, yet I am equally sure from my work on anonymous bronzes that this coin is not a regular Rome mint issue. The late second century BC issues – RRC 272 - have their own distinctive styles, always with a run of waves underneath the prow. The early first century issues – RRC 339 and 350B – also always have their distinctive Rome mint style with Greek key patterns and dotted oar boxes along the side of the ship, and complex superstructures. The engravers of Rome's official coinage generally knew what the ships looked like. I would encourage collectors to acquire a book on ancient ship design that cover the changes in ships – and the parallel changes in coin design – over the centuries. This coin is also dissimilar to the small change types associated with Campania – see various Clive Stannard publications. In my view, we need to look eastward to find the origin of this coin, to the Adriatic provinces of Umbria and Picenum: Arminium, Hatria etc. I hope to study these non-Spanish and non-Campanian imitations at some point. [Andrew McCabe]