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Rare Labienus Denarius (Dies Obv. A/Rev. 3)

432, Lot: 278. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $7500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

The Republicans. Labienus. Early 40 BC. AR Denarius (18mm, 3.66 g, 5h). Uncertain mint in Syria or southeastern Asia Minor. Bare head right; Q • [L]ABIENVS PARTHICVS • IMP around / Horse standing right on ground line, wearing saddle with quiver attached and bridle. Crawford 524/2; Hersh 3 (dies OA/R3); CRI 341; Sydenham 1357; RSC 2; BMCRR East 132; Type as RBW 1809. VF, toned, crystallized metal that has broken into five pieces and has been glued back together with a piece in the center missing. Extremely rare.

From the Andrew McCabe Collection, purchased privately in 2009.

Charles Hersh, “The Coinage of Quintus Labienus Parthicus”, in SNR 59 (1980) is the standard reference work for this coinage and is openly available ( This coin combines obverse die A with reverse die 3. This is a known combination with accessible examples in Berlin ( and Haeberlin 2900. The obverse die match can most easily be seen on the letters IMP, which are very close to the hairline at the back of the head, this being the only die where this occurs. One then easily sees that all other details match. On the reverse, the unusual narrow, pointed horse’s head and its angle to horizontal, the various angles in the horse’s tail, and the left extension of the exergual line about one millimeter from the rearmost hooves are starting points for the match; the specific matching pattern of large and small dots, for example, between 9 and 10pm on the reverse are also confirming. The restoration follows the principles of archaeological reconstruction in that the breaks are left clearly visible. A slight misalignment occurred in resetting the piece with [Q.L... / righthand exergual line], which is offset a fraction of a millimeter due to the thickness of cement used. Of unquestionable authenticity. Despite the breaks, this coin is not very worn and the details of the portrait, and of the Parthian light cavalry horse with bridle and saddle to which is attached a bow-case and quiver, rival some of the best known examples. Compare, for example, the reverse detailing on this coin to the Berlin specimen, see link above. The historical background to the coinage of Labienus is well known among numismatists. Thus, I thought it better to focus on technical aspects in this note. [Andrew McCabe]