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Uhhhh... Did I just accidentally buy a Republic denarius of Q. Pomponius Rufus?

Harry G

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Hi all!

I recently bought a few lots of coins from a lower-end auction house on Biddr (mostly to sell again on eBay but with a few keepers), and they arrived today!

One of the lots I had bought was a group of 10 Roman silver coins (mostly lower grade denarii).



The picture only seems to show 9 coins, but there is a 10th coin



And here is that coin!


Unfortunately, the coin is very damaged, with a fragile and crystallized flan. However, I think I am correct in my attribution of Q. Pomponius Rufus (Crawford 398/1), and I cannot find any similar coins with an eagle on the reverse with VII below. This coin also appears to have a banker's mark on the obverse (above his neck). It's a shame - apart from the damage, the coin is in mediocre shape!

Sold examples vary wildly in price, but most (whole) ones I've seen go for between £450 - £20,000. Due to the condition of mine, it isn't even close to the lower end (although Roma sold a fourree example in 2016 for around £160 which might be about right). It was certainly a nice surprise to discover this unpictured from a group lot! I only decided to research it because it looked interesting (and would otherwise be listed on eBay as an "Unresearched Roman Republic Denarius" right now)

CNG describes the coin type as being struck by "One of the rarest moneyers of Roman Republican denarii. Apart from his coins, nothing is known about him. Curiously, this reverse type may have served as the model for the later gold staters of the dynast Coson."

Is my attribution correct? I know almost nothing about coins from the Roman Republic, and don't want to get my hopes up.


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Your attribution is certainly correct. It's quite a nice and very surprising find in an unattributed group lot, damage notwithstanding. It's definitely a very scarce type, but not really the major rarity dealers generally claim it to be. I think that perception ultimately derives from the £1300 price given the type in RSC I, which is indeed one of the highest prices in the entire book. I've long suspected though that that valuation is a simple typo, the intended estimate being 130!

It's worth noting also that the reverse of this type is unquestionably the prototype for the reverse of the Koson gold staters.

Here's my not particularly nice example, bought decades ago from Münzen und Medaillen. Even then, the condition didn't really fit my collecting strategy, but I was seduced by the damnable £1300 into thinking I'd never have another chance!


Edited by Phil Davis
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