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Research Coins: Electronic Auction


Enigmatic Crawford 482/1

432, Lot: 271. Estimate $500.
Sold for $2000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

The Triumvirs. Octavian. Spring 43 BC. AR Denarius (17.5mm, 3.44 g, 12h). Military mint traveling with Octavian in Italy or Cisalpine Gaul. Head of Venus (with features of Apollo) right, wearing fillet, her hair collected into a knot behind / Trophy of Gallic arms, chariot at base on left, a shield, two spears and carnyx on right; CAeÍAr[CAESAR] upward to left, [IMP] downward to right. Crawford 482/1; CRI 130; Sydenham 1016; RSC 15; Type as RBW 1696. Fine, toned, banker’s marks on obverse, marks and scratches, flatly struck. Very rare.

From the Andrew McCabe Collection, purchased from Silenos Coins, 2003.

Considered by Crawford as the last denarius minted by Julius Caesar, the Gallic chariot under the trophy is the key to identifying this as RRC 482. An enigmatic type with no find evidence, it has never been clear whether this was an issue of Julius Caesar or the first issue of Octavian, but Michael Crawford considers it a very late issue of the Dictator, RRC p. 94: “No. 482. The titulature on this extremely rare issue resembles that on no. 480/-5 [Julius Caesar, the first issues with Mettius, Buca and Macer]; there is no evidence for where it was struck”; RRC p. 736: “for the chariot, which forms part of the trophy on no. 482, compare the chariot on no. 448/2” [the Vercingetorix issue being explicitly linked to Caesar' victories]. David Sear considers it a first issue of Octavian, but with no positive evidence – he acknowledges that CAESAR IMP matches the RRC 480 types, but finds difficulty in understanding why a Caesar type minted in early 44 BC would allude to his victories in Gaul. That one anomalous die is titled C.CAESAR IMP (see coin illustrated in Arma et Nummi) rather than CAESAR IMP, does not help Crawford linking the coin to the RRC 480 series. Bahrfeldt and Woytek go with this being Caesarian due the types. Bahrfeldt suggests a date just after the Gallic wars, and a mint location in Sicily, as with the Allienus denarius; Alföldi in 1971 SMB also discusses this. In my view, Crawford's dating to 44 BC breaks down once the titles don't exactly match the RRC 480 series. Absent that, given the obverse and trophy type are close to those on RRC 452 and RRC 468, and especially considering the chariot, I would have to agree with Bahrfeldt and place this type in 49 or 48 BC as a campaign issue. Exceedingly rare, with no examples seen at major auctions between the Ryan sale in 1952 and the Lanz example in 2007. [Andrew McCabe]