|Roman Republican Coins and Books by Andrew McCabe
Auction and Museum Catalogues Coins: Marius, Social War, Cinna and Sulla 106-73BC
Links to Auction and Museum Catalogues, Coins: Marius, Social War, Cinna and Sulla 106-73BC:
Coins: 106-73BC, Marius, Sulla, Social War, Crawford 311/398
Click on any photo to see that coin. Or click on the right-hand blue link to see the entire set.
106-92BC Crawford 311/336 Marius
Marius was consul six times between 107BC and 100 BC, during which he successfully defended the nation from the devestating invasion of the Cimbri and Teutones out of Gaul. He clearly was the pre-eminent politician of the era. The coinage is however rather noticeable for a lack of allusions to him or his victories. An exception is the issue of Caius Fundanius of 101BC whose Quinarii show a captive scene that includes a Gaulish carnyx. The accompanying denarius with a man in a chariot led by a quadriga of horses is thus presumed to show Marius himself on his triumphal parade. This period also saw the continued issues of heavy well-made bronzes on a full one ounce standard, although in limited volumes. A numismatic curiosity is the issue of Unciae and even Semunciae, that could not have any conceivable economic role. That by L.H.TVB is most curious as the moneyer did not issue any other coins.
91-89BC Crawford 337/344 Social War
The short period of the Social War shows several numismatic novelties. Rome issued unprecedented volumes of silver during the war. I do not wish to comment on the merits or otherwise of various attempts to estimate die numbers or issue volume which is well dealt with by others, but the facts of the Fiesole hoard show 885 coins from the mere five Social War issuers, out of 2004 coins in the hoard. Such a concentration of a very few issues in a large and otherwise well mixed hoard suggests that Social War coinage was so large as to swamp the existing money supply. The coins of L.Piso L.F L.N Frvgi show amazing complexity in their variations of a simple theme, Apollo/Horseman with palm branch, torch and whip, and involve a complex control mark system. The silver sestertius is briefly reintroduced after an absence of more than a century. Large volumes of bronzes were also issued again for the first time in sixty years. The higher quality bronzes issued in the previous two decades were in comparison on a much smaller scale. These new bronzes were officially struck at a semuncial standards, whose introduction was demonstrated on coins with the legend Lege Papiria de Assis Pondere, Papirius’ law on the weight of Asses. L.P.D.A.P. is one of the less common issues but other moneyers struck bronzes in large volumes, so these new coins probably had a serious fiscal role. Dupondii issued on an uncial standard were struck in the 40s and 30s BC and older 2nd century coins are often found worn and halved, but not these new coins. So at some point the half ounce became the de-facto standard for bronzes and the older coins may have doubled in value. We do not know when or how. The Social War also of course features coins issued by the Marsic confederation. Two of the less rare types are illustrated in this set.
88-82BC Crawford 345/366 Sulla Marius Cinna civil war
This is a complex historical period, one that saw Sulla at the peak of his Imperatorial power but not in Rome, whilst Rome was ruled by an enfeebled Marius and then Cinna, both destined to die whilst Consuls. The rising power was Sulla in the east and Rome was in his shadow. At the end of the Social War in 88BC, Sulla prepared to go East to fight the Mithridatic war. Marius with the support of the tribune Sulpicius had Sulla’s command overturned and transferred to himself. Sulla marched on Rome, took control and once again reversed Marius’s decisions and then set off to the East. Marius fled to Africa but returned in 87BC with his supporter Cinna, after Sulla’s departure. Marius was elected Consul for 86BC and died two weeks after gaining his seventh consulship, leaving Cinna in control of Rome. Cinna ruled Rome as Consul until his death in 84BC. Carbo succeeded him and in 82BC was joined in the consulship by Gaius Marius the Younger. Sulla stayed in the east until 82BC but on his return decisively defeated the forces of Carbo and Marius junior in Italy. The final attack by the remaining Marians with the support of a Samnite army was defeated in the battle of the Colline gate at Rome. The entire Samnite army massacred. Thus ended the long rivalry between Sulla and Marius as first men in Rome. I usually do not give a potted history in the coin discussions but it is essential to understand the coinage of the era. Apart from a badly made coin of Sulla from a camp mint in the East, the entire coinage of this seven year period was struck by the Marians. Bronze coins in Rome ceased after 84BC and were never resumed. The silver coins were well made in significant volumes and following from the example of the Social War coinage, show some spectacularly complex control markings, of which the issue of Crepusius is most famous for its numbered dies. For an alternative view, the account in this uncyclopedia on the Sulla Marius rivalry, and illustrating a rather nice Sulla denarius with Jugurtha, cannot be bettered.
82-73BC Crawford 367/398 Sulla, rise of Crassus, Pompey
With his enemies and rivals utterly vanquished, Sulla’s return to power marked the beginning of the first Imperial Dictatorship. Sulla himself only issued one type as Dictator, in both silver and gold. The type showing the Imperator triumphant is similar to that used by Marius in 101BC that I refer to above. Perhaps both were used to pay army end of service bonuses, which can be compared with Hirtius’ gold coinage for Caesar in 46BC. Sulla’s retirement in 79BC and death the following year did not result in a regime change, indeed Sullan orthodoxy and constitutional influences persisted for decades until the rise of Julius Caesar, a nephew of Marius and son in law of Cinna. With peace descending on Rome, we enter a most interesting 30 year period for numismatics, full of rare and enigmatic issues, with very little hoard evidence that give unclear signals because issues may be absent as much for their rarity as their date of issue. Typical is the set of five denarii issued by Marcus Volteius in 78BC that Mommsen believes related to the five agonistic festivals celebrated annually in Rome. On the rarest of the five coins, the head of Apollo and the tripod and snake refer to the Ludi Apollinares held in July. The decade after the eventual triumph of Sulla saw the inexorable rise of the soldier and the businessman who would be jointly the first men in Rome for the next 15 years, Pompey the Great, and Marcus Licinius Crassus.
The Case for Auction Catalogues
Auction catalogues are an inexpensive way to access top rate collections without paying for a hardcover museum catalogue. There is little price differentiation between mediocre, merely good, and truly great catalogues so it is good to know which ones are best. The greatest catalogues have between them all the rarities and all the top rate coins, so if you have most of those listed in this section, and your interest is in a reference source for individual Roman Republican coins, then you probably only need the 20 or so listed here. Many are interested in catalogues for other reasons, as a snapshot of assembled collections, for price trends, for beautiful coins of all eras, in which case let your interest wander wider. If you want to skip the next section about rare coins, then jump straight to the auction catalogue listings here.
On the concept of Rarity
A marker for top auction catalogues is the number of extremely rare denarii they show. I have compiled below a list of the most sought after denarii in the Republican series, so hard to come by that even top collections rarely have more than a few examples. Some of these types might appear at auction only once every few years or decade, some perhaps a couple of time per year. In some cases sylloges of all known examples, or comprehensive die studies, have been published. Due their rarity even lower quality examples get funnelled into the high end sales venues, the coins types are well known, and if one appears at a low end venue, perhaps direct from the soil, it'll be noticed quickly. Because of this, the funnel process causes these coins to appear perhaps more often at the high end venues than their scarcity would suggest. However a few coins marked "excessively rare" just about never appear. Some are known only in a single specimen. I've included picture links for a selection. All are denarii unless otherwise stated.
In the case of main Republican silver types, rarity equates to desirability and often to high prices. Any of the coins listed as a main type in, traditionally, Sydenham, will command a respectable premium at auction. Yet, very rare types which are not listed as main types will not. Within many Crawford series there are often very rare sub types that command no premium. And the often rare anonymous silver types that take after Crawford 44, but are not distinguished in Sydenham, fetch no more than their commoner cousin with the sole exception of the anonymous incuse denarius that is easily spotted. Somehow a coin does not count as rare unless if fills a main type slot. There is something about men and collections that engenders a primeval urge to fill a slot. Also, coins count as rare if they cannot be got by ordinary collectors. The EID MAR denarius falls in this category. It is unobtainable unless you have a lot of money, it is in the normal price range of Sicilian dekadrachms rather than Republican denarii. It is unlikely there will ever be an EID MAR on eBay, or from a competitively priced VCoins seller. So from that perspective it is indeed extremely rare, despite the fairly large number, about 100, that are known, because it is simply unobtainable in the normal market place. Rarity thus combines desirability with unobtainability, and is not a statistical measure.
For bronzes the list is more tricky as the default situation is one of rarity. Following my strange logic, there are just so many slots that it is a hopeless task to fill them. Rarity is merely another quality that a coin has, such as strike, centring or patina, but not a primary quality. Almost all early Republican bronze series are complete from As through Uncia, sometimes Semuncia, but in practice the Triens, Sextans, Uncia and Semuncia from many series are rare. The best thing is to check my rarity estimates for Roman Republican Bronzes however be aware that rarity does not necessarily translate into desirable or pricy for bronzes. There are simply so many different types of rare bronzes that, despite being individuall rare, they only attract a small price premium unless in top condition. In contrast, even the commonest Crawford 56 bronzes are rare in EF condition and can be expensive. So it is quite a different market.
For Aes Grave the story is different again, here size is the premium factor, and very rare aes grave fractions can sometimes slip under the radar if in worn condition. A serious collector should check the numbers quoted in Haeberlin that are listed in Crawford when deciding what to bid on. That way you can get the rare for only a small premium over the common. But a Roma Wheel Tripondius will never come cheap. Quoting from Warren Esty in On Rarity, rarity does matter in well defined popular series, and the main types of Republican denarii are a classic series where rarity is a key quality. Anyway, here is the list of extremely rare silver, whatever Rare really means. Additionally at the bottom of the page is a list of other very rare coins that are still markers for excellent catalogues.
Ancient Coin Auction Catalogues 1880-1980, John Spring, 2009
Not an auction catalogue but an invaluable resource about them. The title however conceals a far more interesting book than one would suspect. It is, at the same time, an history of private collections, about the collectors themselves, and about the auction houses and their proprietors since the latter 19th century. As well as full reviews of some 900 auction catalogues, with appropriate indexing and best-of lists, there are biographies of dozens of collectors and proprietors often including atmospheric photographs. I know of no other book of this types - it is different from any of the books on numismatic history that I previously reviewed, with a focus on the activities of the private collector. As an example I would not have expected to see a full page devoted to the opera singer Enrico Caruso and his collection, nor a photo of the excavations at Knossos used to illustrate the 1926 Ars Classica sale of Sir Arther Evans’ collection. Not just a reference but a book to read. Hardback, large format, high quality paper. Here is a sample page that is illustrative of the style.
Top 10 Auction Catalogues
The RBW collection of Roman Republican coins being sold in two parts by NAC late 2011 and early 2012 was one of the key collections of Republican coins, comprising about 1,900 coin types, all different, and all illustrated in a two volume catalogue arranged by Crawford RRC number. This can be compared with the Benz, Nicolas, Haeberlin and Martini collections each with about 1,000 illustrated coins, and the Goodman collection with about 2,100 illustrated coins (although split over five catalogues, not arranged by Crawford number and including multiple duplicates). RBW is well balanced in silver and struck bronze, with some gold and a good selection of Aes Grave. Although the bronzes are numerically fewer than in Goodman (1175 in Goodman; 720 in the first RBW catalogue with more to come in the 2012 second catalogue which deals with the semuncial reduction of 90BC and later), the number of different types represented is similar, and the quality of the bronzes is high - at least insofar as high quality Republican bronzes can be found! RBW includes a number of unpublished struck bronzes and many other types known in only a few specimens and/or missing from Paris or from RRC. However the single greatest attraction of this catalogue is its Crawford order layout which will allow it to be used as a standard catalogue illustrating the main varieties of struck bronzes, in order, and alongside the silver. RBW also contains many important catalogue notes written by either Roberto Russo or by RBW, and some of the views within are also reflected on these web-pages on struck bronzes. The collection remains online at the following Sixbid Locations
The Leo Benz collection covers over 900 coins in all metals with a bias towards silver. A sample of some nice bronzes and aes grave. Excellent plates, better than Leu 17, 43 black and white and six colour with enlargements. Many important rarities including an apparently unique Marc Antony field mint denarius, Labienus, EID MAR, two Cornufucius types, Murcus, Caius Antony, the main Cassius types, a Pompey Pietas and Minatia, and a Numitoria. Just for benchmark, the coins on my website include the three Minatia types, two Pietas, Labienus, and a Cornufucius. Benz has many more rarities, and in better condition. However there are no late silver fractions, and really very little coverage of early silver with symbols that are well covered on my site. The coins are sorted by Babelon which is a bit awkward for a modern catalogue. This and the following Leu 17 are not hard to find albeit at a premium, and you should get both if at all possible. They are the most comprehensive modern auctions of Roman Republican silver.
Leu 17 includes over 900 very high quality Republican silver issues. Some highlights include EID MAR, Murcus, Cornufucius, Cassius 505 trophy (excessively rare), Ventidius, Caius Antony, Pompey Pietas and Minatia, twenty five Social War (unprecedented), Numitoria, and a decent range of early silver with symbols. It lacks only late silver fractions, some early silver with symbols and sporadic individual rarities - some of which you can, in fact, find on this site, but is otherwise exceptionally complete. Perhaps the focus on quality even for the rarest coins caused Nicolas to stop just short of true completion. Plates are good.
Fewer coins than the prior two catalogues with about 430 coins, but of an astounding quality, with excellent plates and also many plates of enlargements. English text with quite a few end-notes thus perhaps more accessible than other catalogues in this section. Many of the coins are FDC, or Good EF to mint state. Despite its smaller scope NFA XXVII has quite a few rarities, an EF EID MAR, a Ventidius and a Cornufucius. Although not quite as replete in rarities it makes up in sheer quality, only matched by the NAC7,8,9 set but in the case of NFA XXVII in a single attractive volum.
Haeberlin collection: Gold-und Silbermunzen der Romischen Republik, Cahn-Hess 1933
Haeberlin covers gold and silver and is particularly comprehensive, with, for example, a complete run of sestertii and quinarii from the 50s and 40s BC, mostly missing from the other collections. Thirty six illustrated Social War coins, a key signal of completeness. The 1200 or so illustrations cover just a third of the Haeberlin collection, being the most important coins. The full collection of 3300 coins is listed with weights, allowing other ex Haeberlin coins to be confirmed. The arrangement is chronological although evolving research means that not all coins will be found where expected. This has an even higher proportion of silver rarities than Benz, Leu 17 or Martini but stopping just short of perfection, missing once again some sporadic early coins with symbols. The early denarius coins associated with this website do in fact include a large proportion of the rarest coins with symbols, often the Achilles heel of even the best collections. The pictures in Haeberlin Cahn-Hess are rather dark yet still quite sharp and clear. Difficult to find and expensive. There is apparently a reprint: if it is anything like the quality of the Sydenham collection reprint it may best be avoided given the shady originals.
Joseph Martini collection : Monnaies de la Republique Romaine, Ratto, Lugano 1930
Martini covers the entire corpus including silver, aes grave, struck bronzes and gold, with notable rarities in all metals. Excellent plates, bright and clear, loose-leaf on good quality paper, very much nice than those of Haeberlin, and seemingly from plaster casts. About 800 coins illustrated out of 1670 catalogued. Martini has good coverage of bronze, many of these in excellent condition perhaps typical of the quality of the very best NFA catalogues. Slightly fewer landmarks rarities than Haeberlin (albeit difficult to check as it is arranged by Babelon), still it includes quite a few rare Imperatorial gold, Cornufucius, Numitoria, Murcus and other notables. The all-metal coverage, the high quality of the coins and illustrations, and the rarities mark this out as a first rate collection.
Also buy CNG 46,47 if available at the same time. Goodman is the best published struck-bronzes collection outside the Paris and Hannover museum collections, although the former is not published as such, rather just d’Ailly’s collection as line drawings. Each of CNG43,45 and Triton I merits a Top 10 rating on their individual merits. The collection is continued in CNG46 and CNG47 but the latter two catalogues are less extensive. This is an excellent substitute for the Kestner Hannover museum catalogue although it is not easy to use as it is spread over a number of different auctions. I disassembled my CNG43-47 copies and rebound the pages in approximate Crawford order. Goodman lists many types not elsewhere catalogued as well as commenting on previously misunderstood types (there is no commentary in Kestner). The new types are listed on the Handbooks page. The coverage of Goodman is shown in my Roman Republic Bronze Rarities page that cites 1175 bronzes. The commentary in Goodman is a useful addition to the Russo’s list of unpublished bronzes in Essays Hersh. CNG 46 has silver only; CNG43,45,47 and Triton 1 cover mostly bronze. Whilst Goodman is noted for its bronzes, the silver on their own would form an impressive collection although not near Leo Benz or Leu 17. For silver CNG46 is important. Not at all difficult to find, CNG43-47 sometimes command a moderate price premium because of Goodman. There are 1175 struck bronzes in Goodman, and a further 920 in other metals or Aes Grave between the five catalogues, totalling near 2100 Roman Republican. Clearly essential.
Also buy NAC8 April 1995, if available at the same time. These three NAC catalogues have between them over 1100 Roman Republican, all of the best quality including nearly 400 Aes Grave, many either rare or in excellent condition, and nearly 200 struck bronzes of the highest condition. For bronzes, this often means GVF, but this is markedly better than Goodman (Goodman also includes many high end bronzes but they are dispersed over a much larger collection, so less visible). The Aes Grave are split evenly between NAC7 and NAC9 and includes the very best e.g. a whole chickens/trident Aes Signatum bar that was knocked down at CHF60000 as well as two large portions of other bars in NAC9. The struck bronzes are split evenly between NAC7 and NAC8, and whilst all three have rare silver in EF, much the better is in NAC9. Each have their merits though, for example NAC7 includes the best portrait denarius of Caesar, Crawford 485, that I have ever seen and in fact this coin is used as a full page colour plate in Cavalli’s handbook. Strictly, NAC8 on its own is a rather small (280 high quality Republican) to rate as a Top 10 catalogue, but it is important for bronzes and you may find the three catalogues for sale together. The silver is roughly split 120 in NAC7, 180 in NAC8 and 230 in NAC9 and there is some good gold too. The silver rarities are dispersed between the three catalogues e.g. EF Numitoria in NAC7, a Crawford 44/5 fully incuse and two EF Pompey Minatia in NAC8, another Numitoria, a Caius Antony and some better gold in NAC9. Unlike Benz, Leu17, Haeberlin or Goodman, but akin to Martini and NFA XXVII, these three NAC catalogues do not pretend to be complete collections of the Republican but instead present a selection of the very best. However the run of Aes Grave is an exception being remarkably complete. Some excellent enlarged colour plates are included in each volume. My own copies of these catalogues have an added bonus, there are handwritten annotations of virtually every lot, commenting on condition, colour, realised price and value. Clearly by an expert dealer. Annotations generally increase rather than decrease the usefulness of numismatic books, and I mention another example, FITA, elsewhere. So do not be put off when a bookseller cites handwritten comments.
Other Important Auction Catalogues
Numismatica Ars Classica 1,2,5,10,11,15,23,E,F,G,H,K,N
Almost any NAC sale catalogue has something worth looking at from the Roman Republic, but some with greater or lesser emphasis. The catalogues, from number 2 onwards, are uniformaly printed on exceptional quality paper and photographic paper, and at any given time, their photos are of a better quality than their best rivals. Roberto Russo has a deep and specialist interest in Roman Republican coins, as shown by his Essays Hersh article on unpublished bronzes. Somehow this is reflected in the advertised coins. The late 1990s saw many specialist Republican collections in NAC that would be of great interest to readers of this site, more recent NAC catalogues, since 2001, are visually attractive but less interesting to me as the emphasis has shifted away from offering numismatically interesting collections in favour of sporadic examples of extra high value coins (FDC examples, EID MARs, gold etc.). Personally I prefer the older catalogues. I already mentioned the strong bronzes and Aes Grave in NAC 7, NAC 8 and NAC 9 but the other NAC catalogues from the late 1990s are particularly strong on Aes Grave (NAC 5,10,H,K), and struck bronzes (NAC E,F,H,AS95), the numbered catalogues having the higher quality pieces. Additionally they mostly have good runs of silver but I note them for their bronzes and aes grave because auctions with these are generally the more difficult to find. From the list below NAC H is rather good.
My coverage of other NAC auctions, specially more recent ones, is much less complete to an extent reflecting that more famous auctions with longer runs of very rare coins generally come to my attention. So I cannot be sure what I have missed but I have seen the following noteworthy catalogues. From those listed below, NAC15 and NAC45 clearly stand out.
A specialised collection of 650 struck bronzes, the best single volume auction catalogue for the series. Handy, easy to find and inexpensive. The coins are not of the same quality as the Goodman, Martini or Sydenham collections but it is a very useful quick-reference handbook. There are several attribution errors within to keep you on your toes.
Vecchi Sales 2,6,10,17
Italo Vecchi sales are a joy to a specialist. He has an unerring eye for rare varieties and quality, perhaps regardless of commercial attractiveness in an increasingly dumbed down market. On a visit I made to his London premises it seemed he was more interested in showing me coins he loved, rather than discussing the business subject. Italo now works as a consultant to auction houses, he has advised CNG in the past, and currently Dixon Noonan Webb. His 2003 Celator article on Etruscan coins is important, and at odds with Rutter in HNI. However he seems to have a special love for Roman Republican that shows up in his specialist listings. In particular his correct listing of the various varieties of anonymous denarii show his expertise. Whilst most his catalogues have some Republican, I note four here.
Classical Numismatic Group CNG41,61,79, Triton III, A.K. Collection from Triton XII
CNG is the reserve currency of auction catalogues, consistently well produced even if not quite up to NAC standards, good descriptions, and with an unbroken run dating back to 1987. Back copies of a very wide range of CNG catalogues as well as some NFA catalogues are available from CNG’s catalogue page. Many CNG catalogues as well as their online auctions feature Republican coins and since 2000 these can be searched on their website, but, additional to CNG43-47 discussed above, the following are amongst the best. Triton III and CNG79 are probably the most important of these.
Edward Sydenham, Aes grave italique, Monnaies romaines consulaires, Ratto, February 1928
An excellent collection of Aes Grave and bronzes, reprinted in moderate quality on cheap paper in 1974. 29 plates, 650 coins. The original is very rare and expensive, in large format. Were the original more accessible, or the reprint of better quality it would certainly be on the essential list. Many plates of rare Aes grave, which come out better than the struck coins in the reprint. A good set of decent quality struck aes, dark in the reprint, on balance very similar in scope and quality to the coins illustrated on this website.
Frederick S. Knobloch, Ancient Roman Coins of the Republic, May 1978
230 illustrated coins in the text of 760 listed, Murcus, EID MAR, Cornuficius, Caius Antonius, Pietas, six social war, bronze Bes. Relatively small but high quality with some important rarities. May be available bound together with Knobloch's Imperial and Byzantine auctions.
UBS 78, September 2008, Important Collection of Roman Gold and Silver Coins
A focused collection of the Imperatorial period, 160 coins, of the highest quality and rarity, illustrated in a hardback catalogue with stunning colour pictures. The collection only covers the Imperatorial period and all coins are in EF. Pompey Pietas and Minatia, Caesar trophy and chariot Cr.482, Caius Antony, many Imperatorial portrait gold, Labienus, an attractive Antony and Cleopatra Tetradrachm, and a full run of other rare Imperatorial silver, most Brutus and Cassius types, dream of Sulla etc. This is part of a larger collection of the Roman Empire, all of the highest quality, that I also cover in the Glossy Picture Books section.
Tkalec, February 2008, September 2008
The February 2008 has nearly 400 Roman Republican all colour photos and two times enlargements of most lots, silver and bronze and all EF. A good run of some 330 very high quality silver, nothing at all rare but great condition and pictures. But the catalogue really stands out for the 70 or so bronzes which are all extremely fine. I know of no other that has quite such a run of EF Republican bronzes, even common coins in this condition being very hard to find. Quite a few are coincidentally rare types e.g. Corn ear KA As, although clearly the collecting focus was on quality and attractiveness. The September 2008 has 220 Republican and continues the theme with a further 70 struck bronzes, again all superb condition but not rare as such. One better heavy fleet dupondius and an excellent EID MAR.
Münzen and Medaillen Deutschland Sales 2 and 19
M&M 19 has an high quality collection of over 300 struck bronzes and early silver with symbols. Many very rare coins although not all in the best state of preservation. Photos are black and white on good paper, and quite clear although having a rather washed out appearance. Despite having many fewer coins than Vecchi 3, this catalogue has better coverage of correctly attributed rarities, specially fractional bronzes of the 200BC to 150BC period that do not have good illustrated coverage in Crawford, and some early silver types that are missing from many catalogues. Many of the early silver are extremely rare e.g. apex denarius, adze quinarius. I have mentioned this as being one of the two Achilles heels of otherwise great collections (the other being late silver fractions) so this is important for silver and important for bronzes. M&M 2 has a large collection of good Aes Grave as well as some decent struck bronzes. Also included is a good selection of Panormus bronze Asses and Semisses of the Republican period.
Numismatic Fine Arts XXII June 1989, and Fall Mail Bid Sale 1990
NFA catalogues are famous for their quality, and NFA XXVII is justifiably in the all-time top ten. I have browsed many others and surprisingly almost none have Republican collections worth noting although many have sporadic top end quality coins. NFAXXII has a small (30 coins) but exceptional selection of Republican gold, all very rare types and superbly laid out with extensive discussion on each coin, with typically a full page of discussion text per item, discussing attribution, dies, types etc. Hence it is very important as a reference work, having much original post-Crawford material, although many may read it only as a Glossy Picture Book, and why not. The remainder of the catalogue consists of Imperial gold, shown to the same high standard. The Fall 1990 sale is a moderate quality collectors sale, unusual for NFA, with 330 Republican, many interesting but also well worn.
The New York Sale III, December 2000
The William N. Rudman Roman Republican collection, 380 mostly better quality silver, many scarce. Similar in scope to Astarte XVI or Sternberg XXXII.
Freeman and Sear, Mailbid 12, October 2005
260 better quality silver, mostly ordinary types but nicely presented.
Peus 322, November 1988 and Peus 388, November 2006
My thanks to Warren Esty for drawing these to my attention as the European auctions can easily be overlooked. 646 Roman Republican coins (only) on 26 plates, in a nice quality dedicated catalogue. Mostly silver, also includes a a representative set of generally ordinary aes grave and bronzes excepting Cr285 Saturn/harpa Semis and Cr308 Roma/cornucopiae Uncia, both very rare and desirable due to their non standard types. Silver includes Cr225 L.ATILI NOM, L.PISO FRVGI sestertius, some rarer denarii in very nice condition including MESSALA F., Buca dream of Sulla, Volteia Sybil. Other important rarities include Marcellus/Lentulus Ephesian Artemis, Statia Murcus, a pair of Scipio Sekhets in better condition, Arria, Numonia. Peus 388 includes 280 coins, 20 of which Aes Grave, some high-end Imperatorial, and the remainder moderate quality silver.
Astarte XVI November 2004
560 Republican silver, all in-text colour photos. An essentially complete run of most types with many rare included, of decent quality (GVF), but lacking almost all the great rarities, most early coins with symbols, and most late fractions. Such coins act as fingerprints, missing from important catalogues that have not quite the measure of greatness of my Top 10 list. Astarte XVI includes some coins that are not often seen, for example Pomponia Jupiter/Eagle, Shield and Carnyx, Volteia Tripod but is not quite as interesting as its large size would suggest.
Sternberg XXXII, October 1996
580 Roman Republic with at first glance a very similar coverage to Astarte XVI. A good run through the Republic with the exception of the key rare coins. High quality photos, most coins about EF. The unusual feature is a long run of over one hundred L.Papius Crawford 384, and L. Roscius Fabatus, Crawford 412, that both include pictorial symbols of items from daily life. Also included are tables of symbols for the two moneyers which are noted as being from BMC and Crawford with some corrections. This will be an important resource for those with a specialist interest. Whilst the tables in Crawford are very useful, nothing beats photos. The Bonanno collection has a great dedicated website to L.Papius and his symbols
Birker and Waddel IV, December 1982
300 silver, some scarce and a few rare. Murcus, Pompey Minatia, Cassius crab, Volteia tripod etc. Condition akin to the coins on my wesbite, i.e. they have seen better days, but some rather interesting coins.
Auctiones A.G. Basel, Auction V, December 1975
240 Republican including over 50 Aes Grave, the remaining better quality silver. High quality plates, considering the 1970s date.
Other notable auction catalogues
I include a list of further good auction catalogues at the end of this webpage without commentary, most have 100-200 Roman Republican with more or less rarities, all are good and worth having for a modest price but not worthy of special commentary.
Online Auction Catalogue resources
Wildwinds, Lamoneta.it, Denarios.org, and CNG websites
In July 2009 Coinarchives removed general access to their database, only showing recently sold coins which are anyway available either at Sixbid or from individual dealer sites. So I no longer recommend or link to it. It used to have 125,000 coins on view, but no longer. CNG’s research site and Wildwinds are now the best English language databases on the internet with efficient search functions. Lamoneta.it also has an excellent database, as does denarios.org. So please check all of these database, but of course do not forget to first check the database on this website.
Warren Esty’s catalogue website
http://esty.ancients.info/catalogs/ A website about auction catalogues, listing dozens of modern catalogues with a commentary on their contents. These include many other important groups of Republican coins not listed on my website. CNG, Vecchi and (some) NAC catalogues are consistently the most interesting.
The Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has a collection of over 40,000 numismatic sale catalogues, curated by Professor T.V. Buttrey, and its website www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/dept/coins/library/salescatalogue includes a complete listing for download as well as a bibliography on sale catalogues. The museum can help confirm coin provenance information from older or obscure catalogues that would otherwise be unobtainable.
Clain-Stefanelli listed auctions
Clain-Stefanelli lists various important Roman Republican catalogues. Some are already listed on this page. Others auctions have only selective coins illustrated, for example those by Glendining so I exclude them as even with famous provenance as there are better alternatives. Here are those not otherwise listed.
Excepting the British Museum, Paris d'Ailly collection and Kestner Hannover Haeberlin collections with rare expcetions few other museum catalogues are worth special notice, and would be beaten by any of the Top 10 list above. Here are the exceptions
G. G. Belloni, Le Monete Romane dell'età Repubblicana (Milan, 1960).
A beautiful presentation of the Milan museum collection, stunning photography on 60 plates, the best of any book in my library. All metals. With the intent of being a comprehensive reference, the catalogue cites about 1200 coins not in the collection in addition to 2400 in the collection (over half photographed). No dating and not very much numismatic discussion – it is primarily a corpus. The text is quite academic, listing many unillustrated coins, with minor textual variations, references to Bahrfeldt etc. It is pre-Thomsen and pre-Crawford in organisation, but it includes some useful features such as an extensive philological analysis of magistrates as per Broughton, Magistrates of the Roman Republic. See also my comments on the quality of the plates in this book on my handbooks page. There is another publication from Milan, Sylloge Numorum Romanorum: Res Publica Milan 1994, which I have not reviewed.
Coins of the Roman Republic in the National Museum in Warsaw, Janina Wiercinska, 1996
A well produced book, inexpensive, illustrating an interesting comprehensive collection despite not being top quality. With an amazing 77 good plates illustrating over one and a half thousand coins, far more than any single sale catalogue, it is an excellent value resource. Aes Grave, bronze, silver, some scarce (it has an EID MAR, holed and worn) but also many duplicate examples of commoner types that can be useful viewing, for getting a feel of the characteristic look and morphology of many issues.
Peter Kos & Andrej Semrov; Rimski Republikanski Novci – Zbirka Numizmaticnega Kabineta Narodnega Muzeja I (Ljubljana, 1990)
423 Republican coins from the National Museum of Slovenia in Ljubljana. A lovely little book, with pretty good coins well photographed and much more attractively printed and bound than most such regional publications. It includes an EF Cassius 505 trophy denarius, an excessively rare type that I noted in only one (Leu 17) of the hundreds of catalogues I’ve reviewed.
La Republique Romaine, Sabine Bourgey, Paris 1991
Illustrates many of the best Roman Republican coins sold by Bourgey over the last century. The photo quality is very bad, but it is important as it illustrates many coins from the November 1913 Bourgey auction of an “old collection”, believed to be Quadras y Ramon, with many important rarities. Inexpensive and in print.
Cataloghi dei Civici Musei di Pavia II : Monetazione repubblicana, Novelia Vismara, 1992
700 coins illustrated of above typical standard for an Italian local museum. As usual includes many more-or-less worn bronzes. High quality plates.
I list the following with no particular comment, except to say that they are in my library but I do not have any reason to refer to them. Either the coins are not of great interest or the production values are poor, and they do not contain any redeeming study material as in the Edinburgh example above. If I had a choice, your $20 would be better spent on a catalogue listed in the Top 10 or other important auction catalogues. The Wulfing and Ontario collections have quite good production values, some of the others are notably less professional.
Other notable auction catalogues
Some further good auction catalogues are listed here without much commentary, most have 100-200 Roman Republican with more or less rarities, all are good and worth having for a modest price.
Additional to the list of extremely rare coins above, the following coins still count as very rare and very difficult to get, but nevertheless appear from time to time, perhaps anywhere from a couple to half dozen might sell each year. The lack of an individual listing for these types in RCV means that the relative rarity of the Roma/Dioscuri types with symbols is not generally understood. Therefore some of these coins might also sometimes appear outside the top auction venues, on Vcoins or even on eBay, where their types and scarcity may not be well known. In contrast many of the rarer coins of the Imperatorial period are very well known, such as the Dream of Sulla type. There are few very rare coins from the middle Republican period, almost all are either early coin with symbols, or Imperatorial era, but the few rare types listed, Cr377/398/419/435/445/474 are easily recognised. The relative rarity of the fractional silver of the late Republic is difficult to assess. Only very few types are regularly seen; most are very rarely seen, the collecting pool is small and thus they don't get listed in large numbers in auctions. I am going to list them all in one paragraph to avoid taking up too much website real estate. The majority of these types can be found in the various photo sets linked into this website. Here goes.
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