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Classical Numismatic Group | Numismatica Ars Classica | Freeman & Sear > Triton IAuction date: 2 December 1997
Lot number: 754

Lot description:


Circa 280-260 BC. Æ Aes Signatum (≈1461 gm). Cast Ingot of Five Roman Pounds. Two chickens facing each other feeding; two eight-pointed stars vertically between the chickens / Two tridents with staffs outward; two dolphins between, with tails curled around one of the tridents. Thurlow-Vecchi AS 24, pl. 23; Crawford 12/1; Haeberlin pl. 53, 1. Basically as cast with a choice dark green patina under earthen encrustations. One of the finest known. Extremely Rare. ($25,000) The Goodman Collection; Ex Sternberg Auktion XVIII (20-21 November 1986), lot 275. During the fifth and fourth centuries BC, the Romans and their central Italian neighbors used aes rude (irregular cast lumps of bronze of greatly varying weights) for their currency needs. Toward the close of the fourth century BC, a more sophisticated system came into existence with the introduction of aes signatum which were of a relatively consistent weight and bore designs on both sides. The average weight of the known specimens is around 1500 grams and they probably represented a value of five asses (quincussis) or five Roman pounds. Only a handful of complete specimens have survived, as these were often broken into fragments representing subdivisions of the full bar. The obverse and reverse type of this example refer to a Roman naval victory during the First Punic War. On this specimen, the obverse type refers to the cult of the Dioscuri and recalls the role of Castor and Pollux as protectors of the sailors. The reverse type is an obvious allusion to Neptune, god of the sea. NEW PARAGRAPH. Bahrfeldt knew of only two examples of this variety, one in the British Museum and one in the Bibliothèque Nationale. This bar, superior in condition to both, is part of a hoard found between Rome and Naples. Of all 8 issues of Aes Signatum, only 31 examples were known, most in museums. This hoard added 6 or 7 more; its contents is as follows: 1). Elephant/Sow, Crawford 9/1 (not yet published), 2). Anchor/Tripod, Crawford 10/1, 1645 grams (Leu Auktion 42, lot 34), 3). Chickens/Tridents, Crawford 12/1, 1487 grams (Leu Auktion 42, lot 35), 4). Chickens/Tridents, Crawford 12/1, 1650 grams (NAC Sale 9, lot 410), 5). Chickens/Tridents, Crawford 12/1, 1145 grams (Athena Sale 2, lot 247; NAC Sale 5, lot 205), 6). Chickens/Tridents, Crawford 12/1, 1461 grams (this specimen), 7. Unknown issue. Besides the aes signatum, approximately 150 Aes Graves were found in this hoard, all Crawford issue 14, many of the Triens. Thus most of the coins in the hoard were Aes Grave, although the 6 or 7 ingots roghly equalled them in total weight. This implies that Crawford issue 14 is contemporary with the Aes Signatum.