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5612664.

Anonymous. 211-208 BC. AV 60 Asses (14mm, 3.35 g, 5h). Rome mint. Bearded head of Mars right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet; mark of value to left / Eagle standing right on thunderbolt, with wings spread; ROMA below. Crawford 44/2; Sydenham 226; Bahrfeldt 4a; Biaggi 3; BMCRR Rome 185-6; Kestner 285-6; RBW 160–1. In NGC encapsulation 4938385-042, graded Ch AU, Strike: 5/5, Surface: 4/5.


Ex Hess-Divo 298 (22 October 2003), lot 1098.

The Roman Republic’s earliest large-scale issue of gold coins was part of the massive overhaul of Rome’s coinage system circa 211 BC, at the height of the Second Punic War against Carthage. A whole new system of coinage replaced the old one based on the silver didrachm, or quadrigatus, and clumsy cast Aes Grave. At the top end of the value scale, three gold coin denominations were now issued, all marked with their value in copper asses. All gold coins bore the same design: A helmeted head of Mars on the obverse, and an eagle standing on a thunderbolt on the reverse (the eagle represented Jupiter and was one of the identifying standards carried into battle by the legions). These included a gold 60-as piece, weighing about 3.4 grams, marked with a ↓X (VI times X); a 40-as piece (XXXX), and a 20-as piece (XX). A comparison of the weights of values of the precious metal denominations indicates the relative ratio of silver to gold at this time was about 12 to one. The gold for this considerable issue likely came from Rome’s capture and sack of Syracuse in 212 BC. Unlike the accompanying silver denarius and bronze denominations that were introduced during this reform, the gold issues were discontinued after a few years, and Rome would not resume any coinage in gold for another century and a half.