Τετάρτη, 6 Ιανουαρίου 2016

Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. Triton XIX Sessions 1 & 2

The Republicans. Brutus. Late summer-autumn 42 BC. AV Aureus (19.5mm, 8.01 g, 12h). Military mint traveling with Brutus and Cassius in western Asia Minor or northern Greece. P. Servilius Casca Longus, moneyer. Bare head of Brutus right, wearing short beard; BRVTVS behind, IMP before; all within laurel wreath / A combined army and naval trophy, consisting of a cuirass, a crested helmet on the top, a curved sword and two crossed spears on the left arm, and an oval shield with incurved sides on the right, set on a post made from a tree trunk; at base, two prows, two shields, and a rudder; on left, between the two spears, the letter L (= Libertas or Lycia); CASCA on left, LONGVS on right. Crawford 507/1b (same obv. die as illustration); CRI 211; Bahrfeldt 65b; Calicó 56; Sydenham 1297 (same obv. die as illustration); Kestner –; BMCRR East 62 (same obv. die); CNR 7 = Hess-Leu 1961, lot 14 (same dies); Junia 46 and Servilia 37; Kent & Hirmer 99 (same obv. die). EF, peripheral marks in field on obverse. A superb high relief portrait, boldly struck from fresh dies. Undoubtedly the finest portrait of Brutus in gold with needle-sharp facial details. Very rare, one of 17 examples known of this issue (of which eight are in museums).


This issue is among the many late Republican coins that have direct connections to historical events. It is thought to have been struck in the late summer or autumn of 42 BCE at a military mint travelling with Brutus and Cassius in western Asia Minor or northern Greece. True to his Republican ideals, Brutus eschewed the use of his own portrait when he began coining jointly with Cassius early in 42 BC, but in the final months before Philippi he adopted the method of his adversaries, and placed his own portrait on his coins. The goal, no doubt, was to encourage personal loyalty -- to rally support behind Brutus as the descendant of the very founder of the Republic -- as the decisive battle against the combined force of Antony and Octavian approached. The trophy on the reverse combines elements of land and sea victories, and is thought to celebrate the military victories of Brutus in Lycia and Thrace, along with the heroic naval feats of Cassius in resistance to the Rhodians. The tiny L on the reverse may represent either Libertas, a primary ideal of the tyrannicides, or Lycia, where Brutus had a military victory, but there is little evidence beyond speculation. Publius Servilius Casca Longus, the moneyer, was one of the Senatorial conspirators against Julius Caesar, and was among those who plunged their daggers into the dictator on the Ides of March in 44 BCE.

This brief issue, known from a total of 17 coins, was produced from two obverse dies and four reverse dies (it is likely that the Vatican piece was struck with either reverse die c or d). Obverse die (A) is known from just three examples. Reverse die (a) was originally engraved without the L (noted as a1 below), but was soon modified by the addition of the L (noted as a2 below), which appears on all three subsequent reverse dies. This suggests that the L has special significance, and its omission at the beginning may have been a mistake of the engraver. Reverse die (a) was then replaced with reverse die (b), first paired with obverse die (A), and then also obverse die (B). On all known examples, obverse die (A) exhibits practically no die wear. Nevertheless, judging from the lack of wear on reverse die (b) on all the examples in which it was paired with obverse die (B), it is apparent that obverse die (A) was retired after a short life. A possible explanation could be that both obverse dies were used in parallel, and that reverse die (b) was used for both, but the lack of further reverse dies paired with obverse die (A) suggests that this was not the case; that the obverse dies were used sequentially. In any event, obverse die (B) was then used with both subsequent reverse dies, (c) and (d), and exhibits gradual die wear throughout, which allows the sequence to be revealed. The complete corpus is as follows:

1. A/a1 (no L) a. 8.08 g – Paris [Bahrfeldt 65a.1; Cohen 14; Babelon Junia 45 and Servilia 36 (ill. Calicó 57)]

2. A/a2 (with L) a. 8.07 g – NAC 86, 23; Goldberg 59, 2416; Millennia Coll. (Goldberg 46), 75; Walter Coll. (Stack's [with Berk], Nov. 1990), 7; NFA XXII , 23; Leu 22, 184; Biaggi Coll. 40 [ill. Calicó 56]
b. 8.03 g – Ex Vienna [Bahrfeldt 65b.4 (current location unknown, cast at KHM]

3. A/b a. 8.12 g – NAC 73, 236; Spink Geneva/Galerie des Monnaies (Feb. 1977), 460; MMAG XVII, 324; Coin Galleries (Oct. 1955), 843

4. B/b a. 8.01 g – Triton XIX, lot 421 = Triton XII, 526 (the present example)
b. 8.00 g – Coll. ESR (Hess-Leu, Mar. 1961), 14; A. Hess (Apr. 1955), 66 [ill. CNR 7]
c. 8.09 g – Vienna [Bahrfeldt 65b.3 (ill. Lahusen p. 107, 6 – obv. only)]

5. B/c a. 7.99 g – Berlin; Ponton d'Amécourt (Rollin & Feuardent, Apr. 1887), 25; de Quelen (Rollin & Feuardent, May 1888), 499 [Bahrfeldt 65b.6 (ill. Bahrfeldt p. 67)]
b. 7.37 g – Walter Coll. (Stack's, Nov. 1990), 8; NFA XX, 61; Vierordt Coll. (Schulman, Mar. 1923), 503; Prowe Coll. (A. Hess, May 1912), 941; J. Hirsch XIV, 842 [Bahrfeldt 65b.8]

6. B/? a. 7.90 g – Vatican [Bahrfeldt 65b.7 (ill. Lahusen p. 107, 3 – obv. only)] – obv. die wear similar to B/c pairings.

7. B/d a. 7.99 g – BM [BMCRR East 62; Bahrfeldt 65b.5 (ill. CNR 7/1; Crawford 507/1b; Sydenham 1297; Kraay & Hirmer 99)]
b. 7.60 g – B. Feirstein Coll. (NAC 45), 40
c. 8.11 g – Milan 2152 [ill. N. Vismara & R. Martini, Le monete del museo civico di Legnano (Guida all'esposizione) (Milan,1988), p. 123, 56]
d. 8.05 g – NAC 34, 3; Mazzini Coll., 14
e. 8.06 g – NGSA 4, 143; Leu 52, 148; Hunt I (Sotheby's New York, June 1990), 118; Vinchon (Dec. 1975), 192 [ill. CRI 211; Sear RCV 1430]
f. 8.00 g – Piancastelli Coll., 162

Unseen 7.87 g – Madrid [Bahrfeldt 65a.2]
Question about this auction? Contact Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

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