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Newp: A "Spiked" Sicilian Sestertius


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Over in the "airview" slab thread I detailed the process of cracking open one of NGCs new airview slabs so it's time that I discuss the coin I cracked out of that slab. I spotted this tiny silver sestertius on vcoins last week and one small detail instantly told me I needed to buy it and that was the "spike" on the back of the helmet. Why? That spike is a unique feature on just one series of coins that includes denarii, quinarii and sestertii: Crawford 68 from Sicily. A tiny fraction of the denarii and quinarii of this series bear a corn-ear mintmark on the reverse and really only a handful (on the order of 10) of coins are known in each denomination with the mintmark, though the non mintmarked denarii and quinarii are at best, scarce. The sestertii only come without the mintmark and like the mintmarked larger denominations are known in only about 10 examples.


On top of the overall rarity of the type, as a Roman Republic collector the sestertius denomination in general is a difficult denomination to collect because only a single issue for this denomination, the very large Rome mint Crawford 44/7, is common. All others are so rare that the number of the common 44/7s that one sees on the market in a year generally exceeds all other types of sestertii combined, so for me it's exciting to be able to add any new sestertius but especially one from Sicily, an important theater of the Second Punic War that I have at least one example of most other denominations for from quadrigatus down through semuncia.


Roman Republic AR Sestertius(12.7mm, 1.12g, 11h), Anonymous(Uninscribed sibling of Corn-ear series), 211-208 B.C., Sicilian mint. Helmeted head of Roma right with "spike" on rear of helmet; behind, IIS / The Dioscuri galloping right; below, ROMA in linear frame. Crawford 68/3; Russo RBW 284; Sydenham -

Ex Greco Roman Ancient Coins, Vcoins, 25 May 2023, ex Stack's May 2023 World Collectors Choice Online Auction, lot 71065

Formerly slabbed by NGC Ancients, 6626721-001, Choice XF


And for comparison a couple of types discussed in the text above are illustrated below both from my collection:

First a rare Crawford 68/1a denarius with corn-ear mintmark. For an idea of rarity, when I picked this up in 2020, to my knowledge it was the first example to have appeared on the market in a decade. Note the prominent spike on the back of the helmet, a feature it has in common with my new sestertius:


Roman Republic AR Denarius(4.35g, 11h), Corn-ear series, 211-208 B.C., Sicilian mint. Helmeted head of Roma right with "spike" on rear of helmet; behind, X / The Dioscuri galloping right; below, corn-ear(wheat ear); ROMA in linear frame. Crawford 68/1a


And a common Rome mint Crawford 44/7 sestertius in uncommonly good condition. Crawford 44 comprises several small subgroups so there are many styles in addition to this one:


Roman Republic AR Sestertius(12.75 mm, 1.14 g, 2h). Anonymous, first anonymous denarius coinage series. Circa 211 B.C. Rome mint. Helmeted head of Roma right; behind, IIS. Border of dots / Dioscuri galloping right; in linear frame, ROMA. Line border. Crawford 44/7; Sydenham 142; RSC 4; Russo RBW 176-177.

Purchased from Apollo Numismatics(Merrill Gibson) via VCoins, 1/1/2016


As always, feel free to share anything relevant 

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1 hour ago, SteveJBrinkman said:

Jordan, yours is a rare coin.  Crawford lists only a single obverse and reverse die.  Schaefer identifies 3 obverse and 3 reverse dies.  Your example is among the finest, and an excellent addition to your collection.

Thanks Steve! I am very happy with it and was shocked to find an example at all, let alone one in decent condition after several years of looking.

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