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Roman Coins in Reverse - a Chronological Gallery


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The rest of the writeups and full-size photos I've chosen to post for this time-period:

6.  I love the level of detail on the galley, down to the tiny but recognizable wolf's head ram.

Roman Republic, C. Fonteius, AR Denarius, 114-113 BCE. Obv. Laureate, Janiform head of the Dioscuri, control mark N under left chin [mark of value * (= 16) under right chin is worn off], one dot beneath head / Rev. Galley left with three rowers, gubernator (pilot) at stern, rudder beneath stern, apotropaic eye on side, three-pronged ram with wolf’s head above extending from prow, banners/streamers extending from stern, C • FONT above (N and T in monogram), ROMA below.  Crawford 290/1, RSC I Fonteia 1 (ill.), Sear RCV I 167 (ill.), Sydenham 555, BMCRR Italy 597-616. 20 mm., 3.90 g.  Ex Auctiones GmbH, eAuction 67, Lot 55, 15 March 2020; ex CNG Auction May 2012, Lot 293; ex Bruce R. Brace Collection.


* According to H.A. Seaby in RSC I (at p. 48), the Janiform head on the obverse relates to the origins of the Fonteia gens -- which claimed as its founder Fons or Fontus, supposedly the son of Janus -- and the galley on the reverse relates to the naval exploits of the moneyer’s ancestor P. Fonteius Capito, who was praetor in Sardinia in 169 BCE. Crawford disagrees. (See Vol. I at p. 305.) He states that there is no good evidence for the existence of Fontus, and that the Janiform head should instead be regarded as that of the Dioscuri, because the gens Fonteia came from Tusculum, the chief cult-center of the Dioscuri in Latium. Crawford also states that the reverse is “doubtless” an allusion to the transmarine origin of Telegonus (the son of Ulysses and Circe), who was the legendary founder of Tusculum. Sear agrees with Crawford.

Bruce R. Brace "was a scholar and by many considered to be a dean of Roman Numismatics in Canada. Coins from his extensive collection were sold by CNG in 2012 and 2013." https://www.vcoins.com/en/stores/an..._ex_bruce_r_brace_library/630746/Default.aspx . According to Google, he was the former General Chairman of the Canadian Numismatic Association, the recipient of their J.D. Ferguson Award in 1984, and the former honorary curator of the McMaster University Museum of Art coin collection, at least a portion of which is now known as the Bruce R. Brace Coin Collection.

7. I love this reverse for its historical significance, and agree with David Sear's estimation of the type. See fn.

Roman Republic, P. Nerva, AR Denarius, Rome Mint, 113-112 BCE. Obv: Bust of Roma left wearing crested helmet with feather or aigrette (instead of wing) and single-drop earring, holding shield (ornamented with image of horseman galloping) against left shoulder with left hand, and spear over right shoulder with right hand, crescent moon above, star (*) [= monogrammed XVI; mark of value] before; behind, ROMA upwards / Rev. Voting scene inside Comitium in Forum: one togate voter to left of pons [bridge/walkway to place for depositing ballot tablet] receives ballot from attendant below; another togate voter to right of pons drops ballot in cista (voting basket); two lines behind voting scene and bar near top of reverse (described as “screen” by Sear) mark off voting area (denoting the barrier dividing a given tribe’s enclosure [saepta] from those allotted to different tribes), with bar or screen surmounted by marker/tabella inscribed with the initial “P” (possibly representing a particular voting tribe); P • NERVA [NE ligate] across field beneath bar (or beneath top of screen per Sear). Crawford 292/1; BMCRR II Italy 526 (at p. 274); RSC I [Babelon] Licinia 7 (ill.); Sear RCV I 169 (ill.); Sydenham 548; Yarrow 4.40 at p. 195 (ill.) [Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021)]. 17.21 mm., 3.87 g., 7 h. David R. Sear Certificate of Authenticity,  May 2, 2013, No. 811CY/RR/A/CR (issued to Steve Peterson, noting “flan flaw on edge of reverse not affecting the type”).*  Purchased at JAZ Numismatics Auction # 186, Lot 4, June 2021; ex. J.B. DePew Collection; ex. Steve Peterson Collection; ex CNG Auction 295, Jan. 30, 2013, Lot 361; ex. Bruce R. Brace Collection.**


*David Sear describes this issue as “[o]ne of the most celebrated types of the entire Republican coinage,” depicting “the actual voting process in the political assembly of the Roman People in the Comitium, where citizens voted on business presented to them by magistrates. The area occupied by the Comitium was consecrated ground, like a temple, and was located in front of the Senate House [Curia] in the forum.” Sear RCV I at p. 105; see also Sear Certificate; Jones, John Melville, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby, London, 1990), entry for “Comitium” at p. 64: “From coire, ‘go together,’ the name of the area on the edge of the Forum at Rome which was used as a place of public assembly and where elections took place (the plural, comitia, was used as the name of the assemblies which were held there). A denarius of 113-[11]2 BC [this issue] shows a voting scened in the Comitium, with a voter crossing a narrow walkway, the pons, to cast his vote without being observed.” See also the Sear Certificate, explaining that “[t]he pons was a bridge in the Comitium which voters had to cross in order to cast their ballots and it kept them from any potential interference”; Crawford p. 307 (“it is not clear what the purpose of the pons was if not to isolate the voters”).

 The standard view of the “P” on the marker or tablet surmounting the barrier or screen is that it represents the initial of a particular voting tribe. See Crawford Vol. I p. 307. For a different opinion, see E.E. Clain-Stefanelli, Life in Republican Rome on its Coinage (1999) at p. 16: “above to the right is a tablet inscribed with a P (provoco -- I appeal),” referring to the right of appeal in criminal proceedings; accord BMCRR II Italy p. 275 n. 2. Prof. Yarrow has yet a still different opinion: see Sec. 4.41 of her book at pp. 193-194, stating that electoral ballots as depicted on the Republican coinage (as opposed to ballots in criminal proceedings) “seem[] to be hinged-like representations of wax-writing tablets; one side of the tablet is inscribed with a P and the other has the initials (or space for the initials) of the candidate [citing, inter alia, the illustration of this coin at Fig. 4.40]. The P may resolve as pro, in the sense of a vote ‘for’ or ‘in support of’ the named candidate.” (This explanation may account for the fact that on less worn examples, the open “P” on the rectangular tablet or marker seems to be to the far left, with the remainder blank.)

The moneyer is “presumably” Publius Licinius Nerva, Praetor in Sicily (i.e., its governor] in 104/103 BCE at the time of the Second Servile War. See Crawford I. p. 306; Sear Certificate; BMCRR II Italy p. 274 n. 2. The Sear Certificate states that “[t]he reason for Nerva’s selection of this type is not easy to establish, though it may refer back to a measure concerning enfranchisement carried by an ancestor of the moneyer’s as well as being a more contemporary reference to the Marian law of 119 BC by which the width of the pons was narrowed.” Crawford prefers the Marian explanation; see Vol I p. 307.

** See previous for fn. re Bruce R. Brace.

8.  Because it's a triga!

Roman Republic, T. Ma[n]l [= T. Manlius, T. Mallius, or T. Maloleius], Ap. Cl. [= Ap. Claudius Pulcher or Ap. Claudius Nero], and Q. Vr. [= Quintus Urbinius or a reference to the first two moneyers as Quaestores Urbani), 111-110 BCE (Crawford) or 105-100 BCE (Mattingly, Lockyear, and Yarrow]. Obv. Head of Roma right, wearing winged helmet and two-drop earring, with hair beneath helmet tied in back; behind Roma’s head, quadrangular shape with circle inside it/ Rev. Victory in triga right, holding reins in both hands; horses cantering with third horse turning head back to first two; in exergue, T•M[AN]L(or M[A]L) [all ligate]•AP•CL•Q•VR [VR ligate]. Crawford 299/1b, BMCRR Vol. I 1293 [ill. Vol. II Pl. XXX No. 23], RSC I Claudia 3, Sear RCV I 176 (leg. var.), RBW Collection (2014) Nos. 1141-1142 at p. 236. 17 mm., 4.02 g.*


*Identity of Moneyers: The identities of the first (T•M[AN]L or M[A]L) and third (Q•VR) moneyers named on this coin (the first and second moneyers named on another variety, Crawford 299/1a, which is identical except for a reverse legend reading AP•CL•T•M[AN]L(or M[A]L)•Q•VR) -- i.e., with the first two names switched) are “quite uncertain” (Sear RCV I at p. 106), and even the identification of AP•CL has been questioned. 

First: It is obvious on close examination that the monogram for the first moneyer (on my variety of this coin) includes not only an “ML” but also an “A,” all ligate. It is conceivable that the monogram also includes an “N,” coinciding with the first three arms of the “M.” Thus, as Crawford explains at Vol. I p. 313, scholars have variously proposed a T. Mallius (see, e.g., Babelon and H. Grueber, BMCRR I at p. 199 n. 1), a T. Maloleius, and a T. Manlius as the identity of this moneyer. Crawford prefers the last of the three, and “identif[ies] the moneyer with T. Manlius Mancius, Tr. Pl. [Tribune of the plebeians] 107.” Id.  Both RSC I (in its 1978 3rd edition, at p. 31) and Sear RCV I (at p. 106) follow Crawford’s identification.  (See Harold B. Mattingly, “Roman Republican Coinage ca. 150-90 B.C.,” in From Coins to History (2004), pp. 199-226 at p. 207.) 

Second: Grueber followed Babelon (vol. i p. 345) in identifying the second moneyer, “Ap. Cl.,” as the Appius Claudius Pulcher who was “the military tribune of B.C. 87, and the interrex of B.C. 77, who defended Rome against M. Aemilius Lepidus” (BMCRR I at p. 199 n. 1) -- rejecting Mommsen’s identification of this moneyer with the Appius Claudius Pulcher who was “praetor B.C. 89, having previously held the office of curule aedile, consul B.C. 79, and proconsul in Macedonia B.C. 76, where he died” (id.), and was the father of the notorious  Publius Clodius Pulcher. However, almost all the modern authorities agree with Crawford (see Vol. I p. 313) in adopting Mommsen’s view that that this moneyer was “presumably Ap. Claudius Pulcher, Pr. 89 and Cos. 79.” The one exception appears to be Mattingly, who suggests that “Ap. Cl. is more likely to be a Nero than a Pulcher at this time.” (Harold B. Mattingly, “Roman Republican Coinage ca. 150-90 B.C.” (originally published in 1998) in From Coins to History (2004), pp. 199-226 at p. 207.) But he does not explain his reasoning, and the only Appius Claudius Neros I have been able to find lived either a great deal earlier (a praetor in 195 BCE; see https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Claudia_gens) or considerably later (according to some sources, a child of Tiberius Claudius Nero) than the period of this moneyer. 

Furthermore, if the Appius Claudius Pulcher who was Consul in 79 BCE was not one of the moneyers for this coin, then the fact that the only other Roman Republican coin ever to depict a triga was also issued in 79 BCE (see discussion below) would have to have been a complete coincidence, which appears unlikely. See Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021), Section 2.1.1 n. 26 at p. 219.

 Third: In BMCRR, Grueber adopts the early theory of Theodor Mommsen and Ernest Babelon (contra J. Eckhel) that the third name on both varieties of this issue -- “Q•VR” -- was not the name of a third moneyer, forming a triumvirate of the mint, but should be read as quaestores urbani, “showing that Appius Claudius and Titus Mallius (sic) issued these coins in virtue of that office and not as ordinary moneyers. That this interpretation is the more probable one is shown by the fact that the names of Appius Claudius and Titus Mallius are interchanged in the legends, but the title Q•VR is always placed after them.” (BMCRR I p. 199 n. 1.) (The Quaestores Urbani, among other things, were “entrusted with the custody of the public money, with the receipt of tributes and imposts, and with expenditure of the state revenue.” See https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Quaestores Urbani.)

Crawford rejects this view (see Vol. I p. 313), adopting the even earlier theory of Joseph Eckhel (Doctrina Numorum Veterum, Vol. III, p. 250 {Vienna 1796]), cited at BMCRR I p. 199 n. 1, that “Q•VR” signifies a third moneyer named Quintus Urbinius: 

“The consistent recurrence of the letters Q•VR at the end of the legend provides no evidence for the resolution of Q(uaestores) Ur(bani), contra Th. Mommsen [citation omitted]; on one contemporary bronze issue struck by three moneyers (no. 285/3-7b) the name of Cn. Domitius appears consistently on the obverse, the names of Q. Curtius and M. Silanus consistently on the reverse; on two contemporary silver issues (nos. 283 and 284) one moneyer out of three fails to appear at the head of the list. Against Mommsen’s interpretation may be urged the fact that only one Quaestor Urbanus seems to have been in charge of the Aerarium [“The Exchequer or Public Treasury; the place where the annual revenues of the republic were deposited,” see https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Aerarium] at any one time, at any rate down to Sulla [citations omitted]. The letters Q•VR at the end of the legend on this issue should be regarded as representing a name and the whole issue should be regarded as struck by three moneyers.” Therefore, “the third moneyer is presumably a Q. Urbinius, not otherwise unknown, perhaps the father of C. Urbinius, Q[uaestor]. 74.”  Id. 

Moreover, given that the depiction of a triga on the reverse -- the first such depiction on a Roman Republican coin; see below -- may plausibly be interpreted as symbolizing the three moneyers named on the coin, that interpretation would not be possible if the coin was struck by only two moneyers.

Dating of Issue: In 1904, Grueber dated this issue to 91 BCE (see BMCRR I pp. 199-200 & n. 1.)  But all the more recent authorities have assigned the issue to a date at least a decade earlier. Crawford dates the issue (No. 299/1a-1b) to 110 or 109 BCE (see Vol. I p. 312), based on artistic grounds as well as its inclusion in the El Centenillo hoard (see id. p. 68). However, the current scholarship  -- although largely ignored by dealers -- appears to concur, based on an intensive analysis of more recent hoard evidence, that the issue should properly be moved forward to the 105-100 BCE period.

See, first, Harold B. Mattingly, “Roman Republican Coinage ca. 150-90 B.C.” (originally published in 1998) in From Coins to History (2004), pp. 199-226 at pp. 200 (calling Crawford’s reliance on the El Centanillo hoard “rather unsatisfactory”), 203 Table 1 (showing the issue’s frequency in, e.g., the Imola and Idanha hoards), 206 Table 2 (grouping this issue with Crawford issues in the 308-318 number range), 207. Kris Lockyear of University College London (responsible for the “Coin Hoards of the Roman Republic Online” [CHRR] database; see http://numismatics.org/chrr/)  is in agreement. See K. Lockyear, “Mind the Gap! Roman Republican coin hoards from Italy and Iberia at the end of the second century BC,” Numismatic Chronicle 178 (2018), pp. 123-164 at p. 13, Table 5 & Fig. 7 (relying on a “multivariate statistical analysis” to confirm Mattingly’s conclusions, at least for this issue, and, as a result, grouping Crawford 299/1 with Crawford 308, 316-323, and 327-330). See also Yarrow, supra, Section 2.1.1 n. 26 at p. 219, citing Lockyear 2018 as demonstrating that “299/1 is likely later in the relative chronology of the coin sequence than previously thought.”  

Quadrangular Device behind Roma’s head on Obverse: The various catalogs all note the presence of a quadrangular shape or device on the obverse behind Roma’s head; a few also note that this device contains a circle inside it. Sear RCV I at p. 106; see also BMCRR I at p. 199. No such circle is visible inside the quadrangular device in the dealer’s photo of my coin. However, this close-up photo does appear to show a small circle inside the quadrangle, near the top -- as well what looks like a faint image of a second circle near the bottom. Note that the quadrangle itself is not fully closed; it is not clear whether the device was originally intended to be open or simply looks that way because of the strike and/or wear.

ACSearch shows approximately 200 examples of Crawford 299/1a-1b. In the photos of many of them, to the extent the quadrangular device is even still visible, no circle can be seen inside it. However, a number of them do appear to show a single large circle inside the device, touching or almost touching the lines of the quadrangle.

 [Photos omitted.] 

The only attempted explanation I have found of the obverse quadrangular device and the circle(s) inside it is by Grueber, who suggested that they “may be a representation of of a corn-measure seen from the top, similar to such as were discovered some years ago at Pompeii.” (BMCRR I p. 200, continuation of n. 1.) However, this explanation depends upon and derives from Grueber’s proposed dating of the issue to 91 BCE, when “M. Livius Drusus, as tribune of the plebs, proposed and carried out laws for the distribution of corn or for its sale at a low price, for the assignment of public lands, and for the establishing of colonies in Italy and Sicily.” (Id. pp. 199-200 n. 1.) Given that all the scholarship in the last 50 years has rejected Grueber’s dating of the issue, on the basis of the substantial subsequent hoard evidence (see above), there no longer appears to be any basis for his interpretation of the quadrangular device and its interior circle. But, as stated, I have seen no other interpretation.

 Triga on Reverse: As explained in Numiswiki, a triga is “[a] three horse chariot. In republican coinage usually the deity is being pulled by a Quadriga or four horse chariot.  The Triga only appears on two Republican coins.  The first appearing in 110 BC [sic] on the denarius of Ap. Claudius Pulcher, T. Mallius [sic] and Q. Urbinius.  The only other example being on serrated denarii of C. Naevius Balbus in the time of Sulla.” https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Triga. See also Sear RCV I p. 106, noting in its discussion of Crawford 299 that the triga ““is rarely depicted on the Republican coinage, the only other example being on serrate denarii of C. Naevius Balbus issued some three [sic.] decades later in the time of Sulla.” Nor, I believe, is a triga depicted on any Roman Imperial coin. (The only example I have found of a Roman Provincial coin depicting a triga was issued in Thyatiria in Lydia under Severus Alexander; see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/6/4376.)  [Discussion of Naevius Balbus type omitted.]

As stated above, it is reasonable to interpret the first depiction of a triga, on Crawford 299/1a-1b, as representing the triumvirate of moneyers that issued the type. Indeed, as also noted above, there is a possible explanation for the only subsequent depiction of a triga (on the C. Naevius Balbus denarius, Crawford 382/1) that is much simpler than Harlan’s complicated theory of a symbolic represenatation of Roman imperium: assuming that the AP•CL who was one of the three moneyers named on Crawford 299 was the Appius Claudius Pulcher who was later Consul in 79 BCE, the fact that Crawford 382/1 was itself issued in 79 BCE strongly suggests that its otherwise unique depiction of a triga was no coincidence, but was a tribute to Appius Claudius Pulcher and his earlier issue as moneyer. See Yarrow, supra,  Section 2.1.1 n. 26 at p. 219: as an example of a moneyer’s issue having some “close connection with the consul” of that year (see id. p. 69), pointing out that “[Crawford] 382/1 copies the reverse of 299/1 in the very year the moneyer of 299/1 became himself consul.”

 9.  One of my more beautiful and well-preserved Roman Republican coins, I think.

Roman Republic, L. Memmius, AR Denarius, Rome Mint, 109-108 BCE. Obv. Male head to right (Apollo?), wearing oak wreath, star (*) [= monogrammed XVI; mark of value] beneath chin / Rev. The Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux), cloaked, with stars above their heads, standing facing between their horses, each holding a spear and the bridle of his horse, with each horse raising its outside front hoof; L•MEMMI in exergue. Crawford 304/1, RSC I Memmia 1 (ill. p. 65), Sear RCV I 181 (ill. p. 107), BMCRR II Italy 643, RBW Collection 1145 (ill. p. 237). 19 mm., 3.95 g.  Purchased Jan. 6, 2022 at Roma Numismatics E-Sale 93, Lot 897. Ex. Andrew McCabe Collection; ex. Numismatica Ars Classica AG, Auction 7, 27 May 2014, Lot 1944; ex. Aureo & Calico, Auction 159, 3 March 2004, Lot 1056.*


*Crawford says little about this issue, stating only (see Crawford I p. 315) that the moneyer “may be identified with L. Memmius, who visited Egypt as a Senator in 112,” that the obverse type “remains unexplained” (but resembles the head of Apollo on Crawford 350A, including in wearing an oak-wreath rather than a laurel wreath), and that the representation of the Dioscuri -- dismounted and standing next to their horses rather than mounted and galloping in the same direction with couched lances, their traditional portrayal on Roman Republican coins, especially during the 2nd Century BCE – is “unusual.” For detailed discussions of the Dioscuri in mythology, in their role as protectors of the Roman people as a result of their miraculous intervention on the Roman side at the battle of Lake Regillus, and as frequently depicted on Roman Republican coins (albeit rarely on Roman Imperial coins), see, e.g., https://www.ostia-antica.org/dict/topics/mint/mint04.htm#:~:text=The%20Dioscuri%20were%20known%20to,against%20the%20Latins%20in%20c; https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Dioscuri:

 “[T]he worship of the Dioscuri, as divinities, had its origin at Rome, from the victory which the consul Postumius gained, near the lake Regillus, over the Latins and the sons of Tarquinius Superbus (B.C. 493 or 496). It was said that, after that engagement, the Dioscuri appeared in the forum of Rome, wearing conical bonnets, over each of which was a star. They stood resting upon their lances, beside their horses, which were drinking at a fountain. These twin heroes disappeared as soon as they had announced the news of the battle, at a moment when, on account of the distance from the scene of the slaughter, no one could have as yet become acquainted with the event. It is also related that, during the action, two young men, mounted on two white horses, were seen fighting valiantly for the Romans. . . .

The Dioscuri most frequently appear, on coins of the Roman Republic, as horsemen galloping, with couched lances, and stars above their pilei. . . . In the imperial series, this type (which was meant to denote brotherly concord), is of rare occurrence.”

It has been suggested that the portrayal of the Dioscuri on the reverse of this coin may be based on an ancient statuary group similar to the pair of statues unearthed in 1561, located at the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome since 1583:


See https://www.walksinrome.com/uploads/2/5/1/0/25107996/castor-and-pollux-piazza-del-campidoglio-rome_orig.jpg. And, if taken together, the pair of statues certainly resembles the reverse of the L. Memmius denarius:


10. Again, I love the galley -- which, on this coin, is designed, surely deliberately, to resemble a face.

Roman Republic, Mn. Fonteius, AR Denarius, Rome Mint, 108-107 BCE. Obv. Jugate and laureate heads of Dioscuri right, stars above their heads; below their chins to  right, * [= XVI; mark of value] / Rev. Galley right depicted in three-quarters perspective at prow, with long projecting rostrum, full-length oars on front side (with overlapping horizontal shields above oars), and partial view of foreshortened oars on back side*; pilot seated in stern beneath aplustre; above, MN • FONTEI [MN and NTE ligate]; below galley, control-letter B. 20 mm., 3.91 g., 4 h. Crawford 307/1b, BMCRR I 1205; RSC I Fonteia 7 (ill. p. 48); Sear RCV I 184 (ill. p. 107). Purchased from Roma Numismatics E-Sale 98, 16 Jun 2022, Lot 1029.**


*Presumably intentionally, the three-quarters view of the prow of the galley presents the distinct impression of a face, with two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and headgear; the foreshortened oars to the right somewhat resemble a cat’s whiskers.

 **According to Crawford I at pp. 316-317 (referring to id. p. 305), the moneyer “is doubtless a brother or cousin of the moneyer C. Fonteius,” the issuer of Crawford 290/1 in approximately 114-113 BCE, similarly depicting the Dioscuri (in a Janiform design) on the obverse and a galley on the reverse; “either may be identified with the Fonteius who was Legate in 91 [BCE].”  The reason that both moneyers chose to portray the Dioscuri and a galley, as explained at Crawford I p. 305, is that the gens Fonteia came from Tusculum, the chief cult-center of the Dioscuri in Latium.  The galleys on both reverses are “doubtless” allusions to the transmarine origin of Telegonus (the son of Ulysses and Circe), who was the legendary founder of Tusculum.


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Posted (edited)

Now we get a real flood of cool reverse types! 👍

My two favourites from this time slot have been shown already. That said, I think my Sergius Silus (c. 116-115) is special:


The reverse die quality varies a lot for this issue. Of course it's the barbarian's head that captures one's interest... and I think the engraving of the head on this die, complete with long moustache, is pretty great. I searched far and wide for this one!

My other favourite (c. 113-112) is the popular T. Didius gladiator reverse. There are few RR types that capture dramatic action so well. The tension in the gladiator on the right is particularly impressive:


Some runners-up include this Flamininus with Macedonian shield (c. 126 BCE):


Aside from the attractive toning, I like this coin for its historical interest: the moneyer was a descendant of the famous Flamininus who proclaimed freedom for the Greeks (from Macedonian tyranny. In exchange for Roman tyranny?)

Another runner-up would be this Asiagenus (c. 106, Cr. 311/1a):


A pleasant coin, but the extra interest is due to a spelling error. The exergue should read ASIAG not ASAG. (The error seems to be present on only one die. This kind of mistake is pretty rare on RR silver.)

@DonnaML, the only coin you didn't highlight that I would have picked for special treatment was the Sulpicius Galba oath scene. Wow for that beautiful Memmius Dioscuri - hard to find that reverse in such high quality!

@akeady: Wow, you don't see the dodrans and bes very often, how cool is that! Love that anguipede giant too. The Laeca Provoco reverse is quite interesting, referring to a citizen's right to appeal to the People... it's on my list.

@John Conduitt: I think obverse brockages definitely count as interesting reverses!! I certainly intend to post a couple, anyway. 😄 


Edited by Severus Alexander
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29 minutes ago, Severus Alexander said:

That said, I think my Sergius Silus (c. 116-115) is special:


The reverse die quality varies a lot for this issue. Of course it's the barbarian's head that captures one's interest... and I think the engraving of the head on this die, complete with long moustache, is pretty great. I searched far and wide for this one!

A great coin. One of the RR coins on my radar, but difficult to find in a good condition with the barbarian's head clear. I was not able to grab one with a clear head + affordable price. And even if I am not very exigent about my coins' condition, I don't want an example with a blob instead of the head. 

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104-85 BCE:

Granted, there are plenty of biga reverses on Roman Republican coinage, but the artistry on this one is outstanding, especially in-hand.


Cn Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus, 88 BCE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.51 g, 18.1 mm, 2 h.
Rome, 88 BCE.
Obv: Bust of Mars wearing Corinthian helmet, seen from behind, with head turned to right, spear over left shoulder and sword slung from baldric over right shoulder.
Rev: Victory in biga right, holding reins in left hand and wreath in right hand; in exergue, CN·LENTVL.
Refs: Crawford RRC 345/1; RSC Cornelia 50; Sydenham CRR 702; Sear RCV 254.

This reverse has a little bit of everything: the pilei of the dioscuri, the thyrsus of Dionysus, maybe Amalthea the goat, some divine baby or other, the laurel wreath of Apollo:

Mn. Fonteius C.f., 85 BC.
Roman AR Denarius, 3.97 g, 21.0 mm, 5h.
Rome, 85 BCE.
Obv: MN. FONTEI C. F, Laureate head of Apollo-Vejovis right; thunderbolt below; Roma monogram below chin.
Rev: Infant Genius seated right on goat; pilei of the Dioscuri above; below, filleted thyrsus right; all within wreath.
Refs: Crawford 353/1a; Sydenham 724; Fonteia 9; BMCRR 2476; RCV 271; Varesi 290.


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From the 104 to 85 BCE time frame I will certainly choose the following for its ibis and the speed of the horse, almost gone off flan by the time the celator shot their picture 🙂 


L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi, Denarius - Rome mint, 90 BCE
Laureate head of Apollo right, Δ below chin
Naked horseman galloping right, holding whip; above swan  (I rather see an ibis though...). L.PISO.FRUGI / ROMA at exergue
3,93 gr - 18,8 mm
Ref : RCV # 235, RSC # 12b, RRC # 340/1-Calpurnia 12b-symbol 166
Ex. Naville Numismatics


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I have 13 coins from this "half-period." I'll pick some in the next two days and post writeups and full-size photos of them.

The 11 in my Roman Republican virtual coin tray:




Plus these two I purchased after creating the virtual tray:



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Ar Denarius of M. Porcius Cato 89 BC Obv Draped bust of Female right Rv  Victory seated right Crawford 343/1b 3.90 grms 19 mm Photo by W. Hansen


The reverse probably refers to a shrine to Victory built by an ancestor. 


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The first denarius from my current post is one of the coins from my collection I cherish a lot. The only thing I dislike about RR denarii is that the designs tend to get a little repetitive - biga of horses for example. When I find a coin with a special design, usually this means I want it. This coin is double special since the obverse legend on this one turned out to be a very important name/title in the Roman history.


L. Julius L.f. Caesar. 103 BC. AR Denarius. Rome. 15,8 mm, 3,51 g CAESAR, helmeted head of Mars left, [S (retrograde) above] / [L IVLI L F], Venus driving biga of Cupids left, holding reins and sceptre; [lyre to left], S (retrograde) above. RSC Julia 4a; Crawford 320/1; BMC 1406; Syd. 593a


The second coin I would like to show was my first RR coin. With a generic design. But it was a good first step. 


Cn. Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus 88 BC. Rome. 14 mm, 1,65 g Quinarius AR
Laureate head of Jupiter r. Victory r. crowning trophy; in exergue, CN LENT
Crawford 345/2, RSC I Cornelia 51a (ill.), BMCRR 2443-2444, Sear RCV I 255 (ill.), Sydenham 703, RBW Collection 1313

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For 104-85 BC, Cr. 317 - Cr. 353, I've got 129 coins, though quite a few are very similar - 14 Cr. 340/1 denarii with different symbols, etc. 😄

Here are most of them - starting with the rightmost bronze in the first row.

Finally there are some novelties in the bronze reverses.


This semis of Q. Titius (Cr. 341/5) of 90 BC has an obverse of the laureate head of Apollo right and a reverse of Minerva in a quadriga right.   The fractional bronzes use the types of C. Vibius C.f. Pansa, Titius' colleague as moneyer.   Not in great condition, but hey!


On the asses, there are a few different reverses too.   The afore-mentioned C. Vibius C.f. Pansa doesn't give us one or two but three galleys on an as - Cr. 342/7b:


C. Marcius Censorinus issued some interesting asses in 88 BC.
Cr. 346/3 - jugate heads of Numa Pompilius and Ancus Marcius on the obverse and two arches on the reverse, with a spiral column with a statue of Victory beneath one and the prow of a galley beneath the other:

And another type from the same moneyer - Cr. 346/4a - same obverse but with a reverse of two ships crossing, with the spiral column with Victory behind:

There are a few issues with prow left too - e.g. Cr. 350A/3d - of Gargilia, Ogulnia (I think!) and Vergilia

I mostly use different trays for bronze and silver RR coins because the bronzes are usually much larger than the silver coins, so I'd have to buy many more trays if I stored them together!

So, here are the silver ones.

In fact, Cr. 317 of L. Appuleius Saturninus is an interesting isssue straight away.   I can just imagine the designers wondering how they can liven things up a bit - "We've got Roma's head and Jupiter in a quadriga... how about we put the head on both sides for one version, Jupiter and the quadriga on both sides for another version and then do a much bigger issue of Roma/Jupiter, with a couple of varieties?"


Obv. & reverse of Cr. 317/1 - quite hard to tell apart, especially in a rough example like this , but the obverse has a control mark (G here) and the reverse reads L•SAT for the moneyer's name.

Cr. 317/2 has Jupiter on each side and in this example it's easier to see the difference between the sides:

Then, Cr. 317/3 - this is /3a, /3b is above too - is a conventional arrangement:

Here's a second tray of silver with the rest of what I have for the period - some Cr. 340/1 denarii of Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi with horses in either direction and horsemen holding palm branches and whips and control marks & symbols:


Cr. 341/1 of Q. Titius is an interesting coin - Mutinus Titinus on the obverse and Pegasus on the reverse (341/2 has Liber on the obverse):

My Pegasus has mostly flown off the coin, but Mutinus himself seems pretty cool, and why wouldn't he be - RSC says "The god Mutinus Titinus is the same as Priapus, who had a temple at Rome, and who was especially worshipped by young married women."

C. Vibius C.f. Pansa of ca. 90 BC (Cr 342/1-6b for denarii) issued a number of interesting coins - I'm missing the very rare Cr. 342/2, but here are Cr. 342/1 and Cr. 342/6a.

Cr. 342/2 - Mask of Silenos on obverse and mask of Pan on reverse:

Cr. 342/6 - shades of the Appuleia where they put the quadriga on both sides, with Minerva driving here:

Lastly - my first Roman Republican coin was an anonymous denarius of 86 BC - Cr. 350A/2:

Apollo on the obverse and Jupiter in a quadriga on the reverse.   I recently picked up another example and gave it to my nephew (& godson) as he expressed some interest in ancient coins and is awed by the fact that we can get such old things.   Get the next generation interested - someone has to buy our coins 😄

Anyway, this was a large issue and it's not clear why it's anonymous.   Crawford estimated 456 obverse dies for the anonymous issue and a total of 30 obverse dies for 5 similar coins of the same year which name the moneyers - the same Vergilia, Ogulnia & Gargilia mentioned on a bronze issue above.

The named issues are Cr 350A/1a-e - I've yet to get 1d but have the others - here's Cr. 350A/1e for example.


Here, VER for Vergilia is first, the exergue reads GAR. OGVL, but you'll need a more complete coin to see it.

And, enough!


Edited by akeady
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What a wealth of options!!  I am awed by the mass of material we are being shown.  Here are my few for the time period 104-85 BCE


97    BCE


Cr. 333  C. EGNATVLEI  C.F  Q           1.68g

Laureate head of Apollo r.' behind: C E G NAT(lig) VL(lig) E I.C.F Q

Victory (r.) inscribing shield attached to trophy (l.); beside trophy at base a carnyx (Celtic battle trumpet)     
Between: Q    In exergue: ROMA

The quinarius introduced in 211 BC lapsed, but was revived from 99-97 with the iconography of the old Victoriatus.  This example was struck by a quaestor who marks both sides with his emblem of rank.


89    BCE


Three main types of denarii were produced by this moneyer of the Sabinus family. The cognomen is responsible for the structure and parallelism of the three types of denarii they produced (shown here).  All three are noted by the use of the head of Tatius on the obverse, with the name SABIN descending behind..  The first two also feature scenes associated with the Sabines in ancient lore.


type 1a           3.74g

Bearded head of King Tatius r.,  before: TA (ligate)

Rape of the Sabine women;   In exerge: L . TITVRI



type 2c           3.68g

Bearded head of King Tatius r.,  before: A PV (descending)
below r. palm branch

Execution of Tarpeia

As the story goes, Tarpeia, in an act of selfish treachery, opened a passage in the city gate for the Roman soldiers allowing them to enter her city to destroy it.  Far from honoring her, the soldiers in disgust threw their shields at her as they passed by and completely covered her body with their bulk. Here she is partially buried and being set upon by two soldiers.



type 3             4.04g
Bearded head of King Tatius r., no monogram

Victory in biga r. holding riegns in L hand and wreath in R.
Below: L. TITVRI        empty exergue


88    BCE


Cr. 345  C.N. LENTVL
Quinarius      type 2             1.73g

Laureate head of Jupiter, r.

Victory crowning trophy
In exergue: off flan  (CN LENT)


87    BCE


Denarius     type 3             3.79g

Helmeted head of Minerva r. (Corinthian helmet);  behind: DOS (cognomen abbreviation)

Triumphal quadriga (with eagle on thunderbolt on side panel) to r.
Above: Victory in biga, wings outstretched
In exergue:  L RVBRI

Crawford maintains that the use of the eagle marks a connection to Jupiter, while the presence of the Victory in biga strongly indicates that the vehicle is triumphal.


85    BCE


Cr. 352   L.IVLI  BVRSIO             4.07G

Male head with attributes of Apollo, Mercury, and Neptune (sky, land/wind, sea)
Behind: trident and tortoise

Victory in quadriga r. holding reigns in L hand and wreath in R.
In r. field: control mark LV
In exergue:  L. IVLI. BVRSIO

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Much as the example that I just posted in the Leu thread, this one is special because of the adjustment mark. I believe I detect a trend here and I may have a problem...but it is NGC EF! 😂

Roman Republic. L. Julius Bursio. 85 BC. AR Denarius (20mm, 3.68g, 12h), Rome Mint. Obv: Laureate, winged, and draped bust of Apollo right; to left, trident above helmet; Rev: Victory, holding reins and wreath, driving quadriga right; uncertain control letters above: L•IVLI•BVRSIO in exergue. Ref: Crawford 352/1a; Syd 728; Julia 5; RBW 1347 var. (symbol). NGC EF, Strike: 1/5 Surface: 5/5. Large adjustment mark on reverse and corresponding flattening on obverse. Ex Stacks and Bowers Feb 2022, Lot 75741.


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Wow, @akeady. And I thought I had a lot with 13 from the period! Here are some of mine with their writeups and full-sized photos:

1.  A classic combat scene, plus chubby Mars on the obverse:

Roman Republic, Q. Thermus M.f., AR Denarius 103 BCE. Obv. Head of Mars left with crested, plumed helmet/ Rev. Roman soldier advancing right, fighting with uplifted sword a barbarian soldier before him, while protecting with shield a fallen comrade at his feet, Q THERM.MF. in exergue (THE and MF in monograms). RSC I Minucia [Q. Minucius Rufus] 19 (ill.), Crawford 319/1, Sear RCV I 198 (ill.), BMCRR Italy 653. 19.4 mm., 3.97 g.


2.  One of my more unusual types, depicting a triumphator (possibly Gaius Marius) and his son:

Roman Republic, C. Fundanius, AR Denarius 101 BCE [Crawford] or 97 BCE [Mattingly], Rome Mint. Obv. Head of Roma right with winged helmet ornamented with gryphon’s head; wearing single-drop earring and necklace; behind, control mark “B” / Rev. Triumphator [Gaius Marius?] in walking (slow) quadriga right, holding laurel branch in left hand and staff in right; riding the nearest horse, a youth [his son Gaius Marius the Younger?], holding palm branch; Q [Quaestor] above horses; in exergue, C•FVNDAN. Crawford 326/1; RSC I (Babelon) Fundania 1 (ill. p. 50); BMCRR I 1681-1712 (1682 has control mark “B”); Yarrow pp. 144-145 (ill. p. 144 fig. 3.40) [Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021)]; Sear RCV I 204; RBW Collection – [not in book]. 17.5 mm., 3.98 g., 8 hr. Purchased at Classical Numismatic Group, LLC (CNG) E-Auction 532, 8 Feb. 2023, Lot 502.*


*Moneyer: C. Fundanius “strikes as quaestor, though with no reference to special senatorial authority for the issue.” Sear RCV I p. 111. According to Crawford (Vol. I p. 328), he “is not known to have progressed beyond the quaestorship; he is presumably the father of C. Fundanius, Tr. Pl. 68.” See also BMCRR I pp. 231-232 n. 1 (citing Mommsen and noting that C. Fundanius is the only member of the Fundania gens of whom coins are known).

Control Marks: See Crawford Vol. I p. 328, explaining that the control-marks on the 57 different obverse dies “are the letters of the Latin alphabet, on the denarius alone or accompanied by one dot [;] . . . no control-mark has more than one die.”

Interpretations of Reverse: According to Crawford (Vol. I p. 328), the presence of a Gallic carnyx together with Victory and a bound captive on the reverse of the accompanying quinarius also issued by C. Fundanius (Crawford 326/2) “makes the reverse type as a whole a clear reference to Marius’ victories [in 101 BCE] over the Cimbri and Teutones; the triumphator on [the denarius] may therefore perhaps be regarded as Marius himself, the rider on the near horse as Marius’ son, now aged 8.” See also BMCRR I p. 231 n. 1, citing the same theory. Sear also cites this view in describing Crawford 326/1 as a “remarkable type commemorating Marius’ joint triumph with Q. Lutatius Catulus in 101 BC. Crawford suggests that the young rider on the near horse may be Marius’ 8-year-old son.” Sear RCV I p. 111. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaius_Marius for an account of the victories over the Teutones and Ambrones in 102 BCE, and over the Cimbri on 30 July 101 BCE in the Battle of Vercellae, as well as the subsequent joint triumph celebrated by Marius and his consular colleague Catulus after fifteen days of thanksgiving. Interestingly, Wikipedia’s discussion of these battles and the triumph is accompanied by a photograph of this coin type, Crawford 326/1.)

However, in the chapter entitled “Roman Republican Coinage ca. 150-90 B.C.,” in Harold B. Mattingly, From Coins to History: Selected Numismatic Studies (2004) pp. 199-226 at pp. 201-202 & n. 11, Mattingly concludes based on hoard and stylistic evidence that the denarius of C. Fundanius was actually issued in 97 BCE rather than 101 BCE, and, in the footnote, rejects Crawford’s interpretation of the type for that as well as a more significant reason:


At pp. 144-145 of her recent book, Professor Yarrow takes a middle ground:



On the first page of a paper by Bruce Marshall entitled ‘Riders in the Chariot’: Children Accompanying their Fathers in Roman Triumphs, presented in 2012 at the 33rd Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Classical Studies (available at http://www.ascs.org.au/news/ascs33/MARSHALL.pdf), the author quotes Mary Beard’s book The Roman Triumph (2007), at p. 224 (a book to which I do not have access), as follows:

 “It seems to have been, or become, the custom that the general’s young children should travel in the [triumphal] chariot with him, or, if they were older, to ride horses alongside. We have already seen Germanicus sharing his chariot in 17 CE with five offspring. Appian claims that Scipio in 201 BCE was accompanied by ‘boys and girls’, while Livy laments the fact that in 167 BCE Aemilius Paullus’ young sons could not – through death or sickness – travel with him, ‘planning similar triumphs for themselves.’”

This would appear to support Mattingly’s rejection of Crawford’s “Marius” interpretation of this coin type. However, the key question is obviously “how young is too young?” Marshall’s article actually relies on the Crawford identification of Marius’s son on Crawford 326/1 without questioning it or even mentioning Mattingly’s point, and, at p. 4,  specifically cites Suetonius for the following example: “Octavian’s triumph for the victory at Actium from 13th to 15th August 29 BC could be said to follow in the ‘republican’ tradition: his step-son Tiberius, the future emperor, then aged 12 (born November 42), rode the left trace-horse of the triumphal chariot, and his nephew Marcellus, then of similar age (born 42), rode the right-hand, but more prestigious, one.” If this is correct, then that would seem to contradict Mattingly’s argument that only “a son who had reached manhood” would ride a horse at a triumph, given that all sources appear to agree that boys did not begin to wear the toga virilis, representing manhood, until at least age 14. Was 12 in fact a sufficient age to ride separately? If so, was 8 also sufficient? Was an exception to the usual rule made for Tiberius and Marcellus given Octavian’s stature? If so, is it possible that an exception was made 70 years earlier for Marius’s son, given his father’s stature? And, if the youth on Crawford 326/1 was not Marius’s son, then what other person could he have been intended to represent, or been perceived to represent by people seeing the coin? Was it simply a “general representation” not intended to be associated with Marius or anyone else. But isn’t it probable that Marius’s triumph of 101 BCE would have been remembered by anyone seeing the type even if Mattingly is correct that the type was actually issued four years later, in 97 BCE?

Importantly, as I believe others have pointed out, it seems unlikely that a representation of Marius as triumphator on the reverse of this type would have been seen as violating the rule against portraits of living persons on Roman coins. A tiny, unnamed figure in a quadriga is hardly a “portrait.”

I doubt that any of these questions can ever be answered definitively.

3.  A sacrificial goat and a Roman king who wasn't Romulus!

Roman Republic, L. Pomponius Molo, AR Denarius, 97 BCE, Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate head of Apollo right, L• POMPON• MOLO / Rev. Numa Pompilius [legendary second king of Rome after Romulus], holding lituus in left hand, standing right before a lighted altar, at which he is about to sacrifice a goat, which is led by a victimarius standing left, NVMA•POMPIL in exergue (MA and MP in monogram). Crawford 334/1, RSC I Pomponia 6 (ill.), BMCRR Italy 733, Sydenham 607, Sear RCV I 214 (ill.). 19.7 mm., 3.86 g.* (Purchased from Marti Classical Numismatics, Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 2020; Ex. Spanish collection.)


*See RSC I at p. 77: “This type is an allusion to the supposed descent of the gens [Pomponia] from Pompo, one of the sons of Numa Pompilius, who is here represented as sacrificing to Apollo.” Crawford’s interpretation is the same; see Crawford Vol. I at p. 333.

4.  Piso Frugi pater:

Roman Republic, L. [Lucius] Calpurnius Piso Frugi, AR Denarius, 90 BCE. Obv. Laureate head of Apollo right (control marks H behind and F below) / Rev. Naked horseman galloping right holding palm frond in upraised left hand (control marks G above and H below), L• PISO FRUGI beneath. Crawford 340/1, RSC I Calpurnia 11, Sear RCV I 235/1, BMCRR I 1938-2129 [this combination of two-letter control marks is not recorded in BMCRR; cf. BMCRR 2120 (H, F on obv. paired with C, A on rev.)]. 17 mm., 4.02 g.


5. I thought I should post at least one quinarius.

Roman Republic, M. Cato, AR Quinarius [half denarius], 89 BCE. Obv. Head of young Liber (or Bacchus) right, M•CATO (AT ligate) downwards behind; below, control-mark star/ Rev. Victory seated right, holding patera with outstretched right hand and palm branch over left shoulder; in exergue, VICTRIX (TR ligate). Crawford 343/2b, RSC I Porcia 7 (ill.) (type with symbol as control-mark), BMCRR 662, Sydenham 597(c), Sear RCV I 248 (ill.), RBW Collection 1298. 15 mm., 1.58 g., 6 h. Purchased from Numismatique Louis Brousseau Auction 1, Aug. 24, 2019, Lot 255.*


*Issued at end of Social War. The moneyer’s specific identity and relationship to Cato the Younger (Uticensis) are unknown; he was not that Cato’s father, who died no later than 91 BCE. There is a possibility that he can be identified with M. Porcius the wine-merchant. See Crawford p. 352. The reverse figure is presumably Victoria Virgo, whose shrine was built by Cato Censorius (id., citing Livy). 

The control-mark of a star is not among the 67 control-marks listed in Crawford Table XXV at pp. 350-351.  There is one other example of this control-mark listed in acsearch.

6. Numa Pompilius again, and who can resist a desultor?

Roman Republic, C. Marcius Censorinus, AR Denarius, Rome 88 BCE. Obv. Jugate diademed heads, right, of kings Numa Pompilius, bearded [legendary second king of Rome], and Ancus Marcius, beardless [his grandson, the legendary fourth king of Rome], no control-mark / Rev. Desultor on horseback galloping right, wearing pileus [conical cap], with second horse at his side, holding whip with right hand and holding reins for both horses with left hand; in exergue, C•CENSO; no control-mark. Crawford 346/1i [no control-marks], RSC I Marcia 18a [no control marks], BMCR 2367 [no control-marks], see also id. 2368-2393 [various control-marks], Sydenham 713, Sear RCV I 256 [illustration has control-mark].  17 mm., 3.72 g. [Purchased from Munthandel G. Henzen, Netherlands, Feb. 2021; ex Dutch private collection.]*


*The moneyer, as was traditional for the gens Marcia, belonged to the populares faction, and was “one of the leading men of the Marian party; he was the accuser of Sulla for malversation upon his return from Asia in BC 91. He entered Rome with Marius and Cinna in BC 87, and took a leading part in the massacres which ensued.” BMCRR p. 301 n. 1. In 87, as a military tribune or prefect for Marius, he famously commanded the cavalry that attacked and killed the consul Gnaeius Octavius, and then brought his head to Marius’s ally Cinna (who then controlled Rome) before nailing it to the Rostra -- according to the historian Appian, the first time the head of a consul was displayed on the Rostra, but unfortunately not the last.  Censorinus died in 82 BCE (when he was legate, see Crawford p. 361) in the course of the final struggle against Sulla, when he was taken prisoner in the defeat at the Battle of the Colline Gate and was put to death. See id.; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcius_Censorinus; Crawford p. 361.

The obverse design “records the descent of the gens Marcia from Ancus Marcius [citing Plutarch, Suetonius, and Ovid] and hence also from his grandfather Numa Pompilius, a piece of genealogical fiction.” Crawford p. 361; accord BMCRR p. 301 n. 2. The reverse types on all of the denarii issued by this moneyer  “commemorate the foundation of the Ludi Apollinares, which were instituted in BC 212 in virtue of a prophecy of the soothsayer Marcius.” Id; accord Crawford p. 361.  This particular type “represents the race in which a rider (desultor) was provided with two horses, from one to the other of which he sprang during the race.” BMCRR p. 301 n. 2. See also Jones, John Melville, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby, London, 1990), entry for “Desultor,” at p. 94, defining the term as follows:

“One who leaps down or dismounts, the name given to a competitor in games at Rome who, in a manner not now clearly understood, took part in a horse race using more than one horse. It may be assumed that he had to change horses at least once during the race. In a collection of myths by the Roman writer Hyginus the statement occurs that a desultor wore a pileus because his actions symbolized the alternate immortality of Castor and Pollux [i.e., as he switched from one horse to the other]. This may be true but when a rider with two horses appears on Republican coins, the type should be regarded as agonistic rather than religious.”

At p. 361, Crawford describes 9 different subtypes of this issue, differing in whether and where control-letters, numerals, symbols, and “fractional signs” appear, i.e., on the obverse and/or the reverse. This type, with no control-mark of any kind on either side of the coin -- and it seems unlikely that any such mark would have worn off completely but left all the other major features of the design, including the whip in the rider’s hand, still clearly visible -- is the ninth subtype, denominated Crawford 345/1i.  Taking all subtypes together, there are a total of 102 obverse dies and 113 reverse dies. Id. Thus, the number of dies with no control-marks is quite scarce when compared to the total number of dies with one or more control-marks of any kind, but is no more scarce, when compared on a one-to-one basis, than the number of dies with any given individual control mark or marks.

7.  Another goat, this one a lot luckier than the other. My third coin from the gens Fonteia, with another still to come.

Roman Republic, Mn. Fonteius C.f., AR Denarius, Rome Mint 85 BCE. Obv. Laureate head of Apollo* right, MN. FONTEI behind (MN and NT in monograms), C.F below chin, thunderbolt below neck / Rev. Cupid or winged Infant Genius seated on goat  right, caps (pilei) with stars of the Dioscuri above, thyrsus of Bacchus below; all within laurel-wreath. RSC I Fonteia 10 (ill.), Crawford 353/1c, Sydenham 724a, Sear RCV I 271 (ill.), BMCRR Rome 2478. 20 mm, 3.93 g.  image.png.65da10511e5e2cc35ae109e932cfacbf.png

* RSC I identifies as head of Vejovis; Crawford and Sear disagree and identify head as Apollo.


I have no idea how I'm going to narrow things down for the next 15-year period, from 84-70 BCE: I have 24 different types from those 15 years, and almost all of them are pretty special, I think.  

Edited by DonnaML
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Oh so many "wanna have" coins posted in this slot!

My two favourite 104-85 BCE reverse types from my own collection are, first, this L. Calpurnius Piso/Q. Servilius Caepio denarius from 100 BCE:


The "EX•S•C" on the reverse marks this as a special issue authorized by the senate (rather than the usual sort issued by the tresviri monetales). In this case, the coins were used to fund the Marius/Saturninus law subsidizing grain for the people of Rome.  AD FRVmentum EMVndum = "for buying grain". Another law at the same time provided land for Marius's veterans. These laws were highly controversial and the cause of much violence.

My other favourite, a quinarius from 87 BCE:


This example has its probems, but I just love the ebullience of that Victory! It's an issue from Rubrius Dossenus in the context of the civil war between Marius and Sulla. The serpent and altar on the right likely refers to Asclepius, possibly in thanks for lifting the plague that struck Pompey Strabo's forces and which spread through the city of Rome. (@Sulla80 has a great writeup on this coin here.)

Honourable mentions:


This one's interesting for two reasons, 1) it's an issue of the infamous Saturninus (onetime ally of Gaius Marius and instigator of a popular revolution in Rome that was quickly quelled, and he himself killed), and 2) part of the reverse makes an appearance on the obverse! This "partial brockage" is quite unusual.

16 hours ago, DonnaML said:

According to Crawford (Vol. I p. 328), the presence of a Gallic carnyx together with Victory and a bound captive on the reverse of the accompanying quinarius also issued by C. Fundanius (Crawford 326/2) “makes the reverse type as a whole a clear reference to Marius’ victories [in 101 BCE] over the Cimbri and Teutones;

Here's that quinarius:


I tend to agree with you, @DonnaML, that both the denarius and quinarius issue refer to Marius's victories, whether they were produced in 101 or a few years later. It's interesting to note that this and a couple other quinarii mark the first time in 90 years that the denomination was issued. Contemporary documents suggest that the coin was popularly referred to as the "victoriatus"... further evidence that Marius's victories lie behind the issue. It was a HUGE deal in Rome that Marius managed to turn back the German tide that threatened Rome itself. He was regarded as a superhero.

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I think we're now ready for the next slot (84-70 BCE)

My choice for that time period will be the following serratus denarius because of Juno Sospita playing violin



And I will allow myself to add a second one featuring the greyhound we've had for many years



Edited by Qcumbor
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I only have three for the time period 84-70 BCE (sold most of my late republic over 20 years ago.) Here are my few:

82    BCE


Cr. 363   L. CENSOR      3.48g

Laureate head of Apollo r. (no control mark)

Marsyas bear headed and raised r arm, walking l, holding wine-skin over l shoulder;
behind (r), column with Victory standing (emblematic of the Roman Forum),
before: L.CENSOR

Following the Social War of 91-88 BC the figure of Marsyas became highly politically charged for the duration of the Republic.   

The figure of Marsyas appears in an early Greek myth which pits an early form of Greek religion against the Olympian pantheon of Classical antiquity (8th-5th centuries BCE). Maysyas is a satyr demigod and devotee of the "Mother Goddess" Rhea, revered by the ancestors and heroes of Phrygia.  He finds an aulos (double column pipe) and masters playing it. In a fifth century embellishment, the aulos has been cast off as wicked by Athena (Olympian), who places a curse of vile death upon whoever finds it.  This is unknown and perhaps immaterial to Marsyas.  Nonetheless, in the Classical Greek story his indifference to the Olympians is manifest in the story of the contest of music which pits Marsyas against the Olympian Apollo; Marsyas on the aulos, and Apollo on the lyre.  Marsyas challenges Apollo to a music contest to be judged by the Muses (variously the 3 Boeotian, 5, or 9 Olympian) in which the loser is subject to whatever the winner demands. Marsyas is winning the contest until Apollo adds his voice to that of the lyre, on the ground that Marsyas uses his mouth and breath to nuance the music he plays.  When the Muses support this thought, Marsyas goes down in defeat.  Apollo chooses to flay him alive, an action which Plato says changed Marsyas into a wineskin.

Given the shape of religion before and then into the classical period, it is not hard to see how this story gets its genesis. From an after the Classical period the Greeks tended to read the figure of Marsyas as an embodiement of hubris, which dared to challenge Classical tradition.  In that setting and world view, he got what he deserved.  However, this reading of the story contrasts sharply with the Roman sensitivity, which is illustrated in the iconography on the coin.

Here is a note from Wikipedia which sums up the difference rather concisely:
Among the Romans, Marsyas was cast as the inventor of augury[34] and a proponent of free speech (the philosophical concept παρρησία, "parrheisia") and "speaking truth to power". The earliest known representation of Marsyas at Rome stood for at least 300 years in the Roman Forum near or in the comitium, the space for political activity.[35] He also was depicted as a silen[36], carrying a wineskin on his left shoulder and raising his right arm. The statue was regarded as an indicium libertatis, a symbol of liberty, and was associated with demonstrations of the plebs, or common people. It often served as a sort of kiosk upon which invective verse was posted.[37]

(notes below)



79    BCE



Cr. 382     C.NAE BALB              3.86g
1a  serrate

Head of Venus r. wearing diadem
Behind:  SC downwards    Before: control mark B (Latin alphabet)

Victory in triga r. holding reins in both hands
In exergue: C.N  AE(lig).BAL(lig) B (off flan)



Cr. 383   TI. CLAVD. TI.F AP.N  

Bust of Diana r., draped, with bow and quiver over shoulder
Before:  S C upwards

Victory in biga r., holding palm branch and reins in L hand, and wreath (elongated) in R.
Below:  CLVIII  (control mark)
In exergue: TI.CLA VD.(lig) TI [.F off flan]




34. N.M. Horsfall, reviewing Cacus and Marsyas in "Etrusco-Roman Legend" by Jocelyn Penny Small (Princeton University Press, 1982), in Classical Review 34 (1984) 226–229, vehemently rejects Marsyas's connection with augury, but this is a minority view.
35. Elaine Fantham, "Liberty and the Roman People," Transactions of the American Philological Association 135 (2005), p. 221; on assemblies of the people, see Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, Bill Thayer's edition at Lacus Curtius, "Comitia."
36. The distinction between a satyr and a silen was sometimes blurred in the later tradition.
37. Servius, ad Aeneidos 3.20; T.P. Wiseman, "Satyrs in Rome? The Background to Horace's Ars Poetica," Journal of Roman Studies 78 (1988), p. 4; Elaine Fantham, "Liberty and the Roman People," Transactions of the American Philological Association 135 (2005), p. 227; Ann L. Kuttner, "Culture and History at Pompey's Museum," Transactions of the American Philological Association 129 (1999), pp. 357–358.

Edited by lrbguy
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I only own a couple coins from this time period but this one is the most interesting reverse - Sulla's Triumph in celebration of his victories in the Mithridatic Wars:


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This issue is common but seems to me to have some of the nicest toning around. Must be good silver. Copied from the description in the Museums Victoria Collections "Cn Lentulus went on to become Consul in 56 BC. Crawford suggests for the formula EX S.C. on the reverse of this coin "it thus seem probable, though not absolutely certain, that routine coinage, although authorised by the Senate, bore no special mark and that only when an issue was separately authorized during the year was it marked with EX.S.C." (Crawford p.609). Lentulus also issues denarii without the EX S.C. formula but gives his authorization by the term LENT. CVR. X (with bar) F. - Lentulus Curator denariorum flandorum."

Roman Republic. Cn. Lentulus. 76-75 BC. AR Denarius (18mm, 3.66g, 6h). Spanish(?) mint. Obv: Diademed and draped bust of Genius Populi Romani right; scepter over shoulder; G•P•R above. Rev: EX - S C / CN•LEN Q; Scepter with wreath, globe, and rudder. Ref: Crawford 393/1a; Sydenham 752; Cornelia 54; RBW 1432. Ex Southland, Oct 1994.



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Ar Denarius of C. Licinius Macer 84 BC Obv. Diademed Bust of Vejovis left preparing to hurl a thunderbolt with his right hand. Rv Minerva driving a galloping quadriga right Crawford 354/1 3.82 grms 20 mm Photo by W. Hansen

354-b.jpg.11ee63d202b3df8c34bbc2a2cd5c80c0.jpg This god seems to combine some of the attributes of Apollo with that of Jupiter. 


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My personal favourites for this period, because of historical values


GENS NAEVIA. Denarius (Serratus) Ar. 3.89g/19mm. 79 BC Auxiliary workshop of Rome. (FFC 937; Crawford 382/1b). Obv: Diademed head of Venus right, S.C behind, dotted border. Rev: Victory in triga to the right, with one horse looking backwards. Control marker L, above. C NAE BALB in exergue, dotted border.

Gaius Naevius Balbus in 79 BC was a supporter of Sulla and may have been a prefect in Sulla’s army at the Battle of the Colline Gate in 82 BC. The obverse of the coin depicts Venus, the patron Saint of Sulla, while the reverse shows Victory, alluding to Sulla’s victory games.
The gens Naevia, occasionally written Navia, was a plebeian or patrician family at ancient Rome. Members of this gens are first mentioned at the time of the Second Punic War, but the first of the Naevii to obtain the consulship was Lucius Naevius Surdinus, in AD 30.
The nomen Naevius is generally regarded as a patronymic surname derived from the praenomen Gnaeus indicating a birthmark.  Gnaeus and naevus, the usual form of the Latin word for a birthmark, were pronounced similarly, and a number of other Latin words could be spelled with either gn- or n-, such as gnatus and natus, "born".
In the time of the Republic, the principal cognomina of the Naevii were Balbus and Matho. Balbus, a common surname, originally signified one who stutters.


Obverse: Bearded male head right. Iberian sign BON behind

Reverse: Helmeted rider with lance in right hand, galloping to the right. Below on line, Iberian inscription BOLSKAN.

AR, 3.44gr. 22mm (VG +). Jenkis Palenzuela type. Huesca province, Spain.
ACIP. 1423.

The "Palenzuela" type coins correspond to the Sertorian war of the years 80-72 BC


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