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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 1230. Estimate $1500. 
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004. 
Sold For $1300. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

CELTIC ENGLAND. Cantiaci (Cantii in Kent). Circa 50-20 BC. AR Unit (1.23 gm). Handlebars type. Pair of ‘handlebar’ motifs, small ‘smiley’ face between / Prancing horse left; chain of pellets above horse, and rings in field. Hobbs -; Van Arsdell -; SCBC -; BNJ 1992, "Coin Register," 189. CCI 97.0990. EF, dark toned. Extremely rare, only four others recorded. ($1500)

From the Paul Leggetter Collection. Ex Dix Noonan Webb (4 October 2001) lot 125; found near Angmering, West Sussex, circa 1977.

Dr. P. de Jersey says: "Four examples of this type are recorded in the Celtic Coin Index, all from the same pair of dies, and all probably from East Sussex. We have a motif of facing animals ­ if they are animals ­ on the obverse. But what exactly are they? Possibly snakes, or perhaps legless horses; horses on British Celtic coins do occasionally lose their limbs in favour of the symmetry and attractiveness of the design. The horse on the reverse is more reassuringly solid, but it too has problems with its legs, which appear to be facing the opposite way to its body…the style of the neck and the mane are slightly more familiar, bearing some resemblance to the mainstream Atrebatic issues with the triple-tailed horse, and there perhaps is a further clue to the origins of this type: most likely produced somewhere on the boundaries of the Atrebates, the Regni and the Cantiaci, perhaps by a minor ruler with limited resources at his disposal, some time in the later first century BC." Another extraordinary feature of this most unusual coin is the little round head or human skull concealed on the obverse. It has two mouths; so when you turn it upside down, you get a second face from the same head. There are some stylistic similarities between this coin and some of the Dobunni signed silver units. Note Van Arsdell 1085-1 and 1110-1. Although the horse does not have the typical Dobunni triple tail, there is a suggestion of a further devolved human face in the "handlebar" motif, and this coin was found in West Sussex, bordering on Dobunnic territory further west.