I am indebted to Dr. Sánchez for sharing with me this authoritative piece of scholarship. I recommend it to any readers of this blog equally interested in provincial coinage, oath scenes, and/or the transition to empire.
This started as a twitter convo but got interesting and as it is hard to search twitter for past information, I’m going to echo what I learned there here.
MD pointed out this specimen looks tooled and I agree. McCabe wondered whether the tooled specimen is ancient or modern. There was concern also about the shape of the hammer on which ABD commented on twitter. Then MP pointed me towards a photo on an internet discussion forum. All the photos below are from that discussion. The owner of the coin and others engaged in the discussion are said to be in Lyons. The second set of photos seem to be from a seller. In the discussion there was concern A) the specimen might be cast and/or B) the specimen might be plated. It has a reported weight of only 2.7g.
Looking at the BnF specimen and this one I’m suspicious that they may share a casting mould, but I’m not 100% confident.
The text describes the coin as small, bronze and exceedingly rare. The author associates it with know historical events. I cannot find any type that is a good candidate for inspiring this engraving. I ran through auction databases, RPC, OCRE, CRRO, etc… Nothing at all. Did it exist? Was it a fantasy piece? Do you recognize the inspiration?
In 1755 Richard Mead M.D. owned an aureus of the type we now refer to as RRC 506/1.
The above engraving is intriguing because it does not seem to fill in missing detail. The engraver seems to be trying for high degree of accuracy, not just here but on the other plates. The missing tie on the bottom of what is here shown as the reverse (the PRIM side) is on the key clues. It rules out a match with many known specimens. The only possible matches are on the below list are 6 and 9, but I don’t think either is a perfect match.
A mystery where the Mead specimen is today.
At last count 9 specimens were known. I quote and annotate:
A revised census of the specimens we can account for and based on Bahrfeldt’s original list (compiled with the aid of Michel Amandry, Hadrien Rambach, and Alan Walker):
1). BMCRR East 57 = Duke of Devonshire Collection = Henry Platt Hall Collection = Leo Biaggi de Blasys Collection = Ratto Stock = Present location unknown? [image below]
2). Hunterian Collection (Glasgow) [image below]
3). Münzkabinett Berlin = Marquis Lionel René de Moustier Collection (Hoffmann, 1872), lot 42
4). Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien [Vienna] (plated in Bahrfeldt) [Non vide]
5.) BMCRR East 58 = Dupré-Wigan Collection [image below]
6). Duplicate from the Bibliothèque Nationale, purchased in 1844 from the Paris dealers Charles-Louis Rollin (1777-1853) and his son Claude-Camille Rollin (1813-1883) = Münzen und Medaillen AG 77 (18 September 1992), lot 141 = RBW Collection (Triton III, 30 November 1999), lot 844 = Property of an European Nobleman (Numismatica Ars Classica 24, 5 December 2002), lot 6
7). Vatican Collection (Rome) [Non vide]
8). Ponton d’Amécourt (Rollin & Feuardent, 25 April 1887), lot 26. Present location unknown? [Non vide]
9.) Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris) = Montagu (Rollin & Feuardent, 20 April 1896), lot 40 = Comte du Chastel Collection (Rollin & Feuardent, 27 May 1889), lot 179.
This bar has been recorded as a fake. And I found it in draw labeled as fakes in Glasgow still.
The bar has been in my head making noise there for a while. This post is intended to get out my thoughts. I have a hunch that numismatic forgeries of cast bronzes may have been modeled in some cases on book engravings. This is a wild guess.
The style of engraving on Carellii’s plates has intrigued me. Like many other engravings the artist often draws what they think ought to be there (not unlike Thucydides’ approach to historical speeches in his histories).
I decided to chase the reference which led me here:
This engraver has clearly seen a bar similar to the one in Glasgow if not the same bar the text says the following.
Joannellius supplied Passeri with a drawing of a specimen found beyond Todi and kept in the Museo Masciolio (do you know where or what this was? do tell!). Similar bars are said to be in the Pembroke Museum and another said to be in the Treasury of San Genovese according Spanhiem, but the latter in very poor condition. For all my skimming of Spanhiem I’ve not (yet) found this testimony. I was reading 1.4. It’s an disquisition on the great coin collections and collectors Europe so interesting none the less.
I guess my question is if this bar has been known for so long is it more likely to be authentic rather than a misguided replica…. When does the fake trade in aes grave really get going historically…?
Not the greatest photos. Just took a quick snap for reference on my last visit to Cambridge. But Thought I’d put on the blog to make them easier to find in future.
I’m grateful to David Hill, ANS librarian and archivist, for his help accessing the Hersh papers and his kind permission to share these photographs. I am presently preparing a finding aid for the papers and this post was inspired by that work.
RRC 24/1 = Vecchi 64 is a rare large denomination of Aes Grave. There is no image in CRRO. Vecchi knows of only five specimens and lists the weights and last known location of all five. Only one is in a public collection, and that is in the Vatican.
Amongst Charles Hersh’s papers in the ANS archives, there are the following photos and details of a specimen previously unknown in publications.
The whereabouts of the specimen today are unknown. If you recognize the coin and have a better photograph, I’d be glad to know of it.
Update. With the help of Bill Dazell, I’ve learned that upon the owner’s death some 533 coins went to the ANS, but not this one it seems…