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The weird flan of Caesar's coin


Troyden
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So there's this coin. It's the famous Caesar's lifetime portrait denarius, sometimes called flamboyantly (yet incorrectly) "the coin that killed Caesar". But there's something weird about it. I mean it's shape. The flan is elongated, it looks almost like an egg. Definitely out of proportions typical to a Republican denarius.

I have little doubts as to its authenticity. I've bought the coin from a good seller and further traced its provenience to a reputable auction house which sold it a few years back. So what's the reason for this bizarre shape? Was there some production flaw when the flan was cast or maybe it somehow got deformed after minting?

image.thumb.png.3799febd7f2a1b4e62ff06760904a64a.png

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The odd flan shape and uncentred strike are what makes every ancient hammered coin unique and unlike modern coins, it often detracts from the value (although I think you're safe with this one). Not every coin you find will be fully centred and on an even, round flan. I'm not sure how they prepared the metal for the early denarii, but some of the later 2d and 3d century AD sestertii are noticeably rectangular in their flans, and I read somewhere that the coin blanks were cut from a bronze (orichalum?) bar, giving them this consistent shape. I'd actually be more suspicious of a coin with too round a flan and too even a strike - those are hallmarks of modern coins, not ancient ones...

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The coins that killed JC all seem to be wonky.

Here's my first that I sold:

IMG_2674(1).PNG.be81f4b7cd8a318ae8b0d1c1bee25161.PNG

And the "upgrade"

1894365478_2332875_1636126460.l-removebg-preview(2).png.4a6619b6f93b64b033c62a61e36b780d.png

Though, will point out that these three are all on the lower end of the price spectrum. So take the comment about the flans with a grain of salt. 

I'd like to see some of these coins well centered... if antibes has one🤓

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@Troyden I don't really have an answer to your flan question...but wow! That is a beautiful coin!

 

I'd love to add a Julius Caesar "DICT PERPETVO" denarius to my collection some time. Along with about a hundred other coins. 😄 

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7 hours ago, Ryro said:

The coins that killed JC all seem to be wonky.

Here's my first that I sold:

IMG_2674(1).PNG.be81f4b7cd8a318ae8b0d1c1bee25161.PNG

And the "upgrade"

1894365478_2332875_1636126460.l-removebg-preview(2).png.4a6619b6f93b64b033c62a61e36b780d.png

Though, will point out that these three are all on the lower end of the price spectrum. So take the comment about the flans with a grain of salt. 

I'd like to see some of these coins well centered... if antibes has one🤓

Indeed they are wonky. I admitt, I saw only museum-grade specimens before purchase which perhaps influenced my perception. 

Those coins look produced in haste, which may have influenced quality.

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Rome mint coins of this era often have imperfect flans. Elongated flans are common as are bumps from the flan making process as you can see around the neck on the denarius of L Hostilius Saserna below

clodius.jpeg.f50cacdc514abc95a84aeaaf3a2095c4.jpeg

pansa.png.82b5e9bf766b2837b36a5441f6fcbe9f.png

saserna.jpeg.01bfc8727b80a1b17bd667ae62e57ee0.jpeg

 

Edited by red_spork
fix images
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3 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

I've found that the slightly later portrait issues, like yours, tend to have oblong flans, whereas the earlier ones are better rounded, like this one:

image.thumb.jpeg.dc4d668677a8aacfa5b08b2b6dec8cc0.jpeg

Increasing haste in production as the prospective invasion of Parthia neared?

 

That would indeed explain it. Especially considering that under Caesar the Roman mint was still an old Republican ad-hoc creation headed by politicians, rather than professional civil-service institution it became under Augustus. It's quite possible that it had problems with fulfilling massive orders for the planned Parthian campaign.

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The appeal to me is the irregularity and for example I don't think I have a single Marc Antony Legates denarius on a round flan. This one is typical, all are ovloid.

image.png.f3ca0a50a1c3dab9e58a5e2ff5c04b96.png

The irony of the following coin is that it depicts the tools of the moneyer and yet is far from a great example to demonstrate minting skills.

 

image.png.2f5cd89580f27211296d22114cb3f972.pngimage.png.4c2f4ba5a7c565569b983ec9fbb36000.png

T. Carisius. Silver Denarius (3.89 g), 46 BC. Rome. MONETA behind, draped bust of Juno Moneta right. Reverse: T CARISIVS, coining tools: tongs, anvil with garlanded die above, and hammer; all within wreath tied at the top. Crawford 464/2; HCRI 70; Sydenham 982a;

I have to say @Troyden that your coin is great and something on my bucket list as are the others. I agree with @Romismatist as a result of learning the hard way, "perfect" coins arouse my suspicion.

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10 hours ago, Dafydd said:

The appeal to me is the irregularity and for example I don't think I have a single Marc Antony Legates denarius on a round flan. This one is typical, all are ovloid.

image.png.f3ca0a50a1c3dab9e58a5e2ff5c04b96.png

The irony of the following coin is that it depicts the tools of the moneyer and yet is far from a great example to demonstrate minting skills.

 

image.png.2f5cd89580f27211296d22114cb3f972.pngimage.png.4c2f4ba5a7c565569b983ec9fbb36000.png

T. Carisius. Silver Denarius (3.89 g), 46 BC. Rome. MONETA behind, draped bust of Juno Moneta right. Reverse: T CARISIVS, coining tools: tongs, anvil with garlanded die above, and hammer; all within wreath tied at the top. Crawford 464/2; HCRI 70; Sydenham 982a;

I have to say @Troyden that your coin is great and something on my bucket list as are the others. I agree with @Romismatist as a result of learning the hard way, "perfect" coins arouse my suspicion.

Marc Antony's legionnary denarii were also minted in haste for wartime expenses, so this might be the common denominator. 

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