The Hand of the Engraver

Roman republican coin engravers certainly had distinctive hands and styles. This is well known, but hard to quantify or even get into meaningful qualitative descriptive terms. I found myself thinking about this as I reviewed the plates from a hoard publication that came in through ILL today. The images aren’t really sharp enough: I’ll have to re-scan at the ANS one day soon, but at least for now I have an idea of the content and the text.

M. Corrente et al, “La paga del soldato? Studio e interpretazione di un tesoretto repubblicano da Masseria Battaglino” The journal of archaeological numismatics 10 (2020), 67-85.

The plates do however let us readily see stylistic similarities especially in the rendering of obverses, so for instance below compare specimen 115 (RRC 407/2) and 124 (RRC 409/1), or even 126 (RRC 410/3) and 145 (RRC 423/1).

Here compare the flat faces of 51 (RRC 341/1) and 67 (RRC 344/3), and the bunchy beard on 67 and 72 (RRC 346/1).

Stylistic similarities or “hands” are notoriously hard to identify and I’m not trying to do so here, but rather simply say something about how comparisons can be made and the utility at looking at issues not singularly but side by side, esp. how the circulated.

Another side of this conversation might look at the small neck phase of the RR mint in the late 2nd century, e.g. RRC 291/1 and RRC 296/1.

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