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Research Coins: Electronic Auction

432, Lot: 267. Estimate $500.
Sold for $800. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Moneyer issues of Imperatorial Rome. Lollius Palicanus. 45 BC. AR Denarius (18mm, 3.82 g, 1h). Rome mint. Diademed head of Libertas right / View of Rostra in the Roman Forum, ornamented with ships’ beaks and surmounted by subsellium (tribune’s bench). Crawford 473/1; CRI 86; Sydenham 960; Lollia 2; Type as RBW 1652. Good VF, light iridescent toning.

From the Andrew McCabe Collection. Ex Randy Haviland Collection (Gemini X, 13 January 2013), lot 245; Cederlind BBS 130 (30 March 2004), lot 149; ($1250); ArsAntiqva London IV (11 October 2003), lot 397 (€400).

The items under the Rostra or speaking platform in the Forum are ship's rams (rostra) captured at Antium on the river Astura in 338 BC against the combined Latin armies of Antium, Lanuvium, Aricia, and Velitrae. The Astura is a pretty modest river, Smith (1867) describing it as “an obscure stream”. We should perhaps rethink the conventional view of these rostra as Quinquereme or Dreadnought-sized battering rams. The ships involved in a fight on “an obscure stream” in the early days of the Roman Republic were probably modest boats, their trophy rams small enough to assemble under an ordinary wooden platform. Of course, the Rome of the 40s BC and later was turning into marble, wanting to display its past marvels on coins such as this. [Andrew McCabe]