Etruscan Coins from the Collection of a British Connoisseur

Artemide Aste @ 08 apr 2019

Nella prossima asta Artemide LI  siamo orgogliosi di proporre un'importante collezione di monete etrusche raramente apparsa sul mercato per conservazione e rarità.


The Collection of a British Connoisseur


Presented here is the first part of a remarkable old school academic collection of a British connoisseur and Italophile, formed with care more for the rarity and significance of the coins than their beauty; however the collection also includes outstanding examples of exceptional rarity, significance and beauty. Among these, the AR Drachm (cf. no. 5) and the AR ½ Unit (cf. no. 12) of Populonia and, especially, the cast series of Tarquinii (cf. nos. 48-51); being the Quadrans Dolphin/Anchor the sixth and probably the finest recorded example, the Sextans Plough/Yoke  undoubtedly the finest of the two known, and the Uncia A/Crescent-pellet the second specimen recorded.
The collection contains several new dies of various series and secures the identification to Populonia of the extremely rare metl series (cf. no. 27).
As with the Egyptians, Phoenicians and Carthaginians civilisations, the Etruscans, who called themselves Rasna, were rather slow to adopt the invention of coinage. The brief period of Etruscan coinage, with the predominance of marks of value, seems to be an amalgam that reconciles two very different monetary systems: the ‘primitive’ bronze-weighing and the so-called aes grave economy of the Italic peoples of central and southern Italy, with that of struck silver and gold issues of Greek Magna Graecia.

        Italo Vecchi


The entire Etruscan struck series has been thoroughly reappraised by Italo Vecchi in Etruscan Coinage I, Milan 2012 and Italian Cast Coinage, London 2013, with reference to the forthcoming Etruscan Coinage II, dealing with Etruscan cast issues.


Obverse image of coin 5 Reverse image of coin 5

5: Populonia. AR Drachm, 5th century BC. D/ Head and neck of lion left, with raised mane and open jaws. Dotted border. R/ Blank. Vecchi EC I, 5.2 (O1); HN Italy 114; HGC 85. AR. g. 3.99 mm. 16.00 RR. Very rare. An outstanding example, sharply struck and prettily toned. Good VF.


Obverse image of coin 6 Reverse image of coin 6

6: Populonia. AR Unit, late 5th century BC. D/ Eagle with closed wings standing right. R/ Large I. Unpublished in the standard references; cf. Roma Numismatics X, 2015, lots 16 and 17. AR. g. 1.05 mm. 12.00 RR. Very rare, one of four recorded example. Good metal, prettily toned. Good VF. 

Obverse image of coin 8 Reverse image of coin 8

8: Populonia. AR Didrachm of 10 Units, c. 425-400 BC. D/ Head of Metus facing, hair bound with diadem; below, X. Dotted border. R/ Blank. Vecchi EC I,8. 21-7 (O2); HN Italy 117; HGC 92. AR. g. 7.66 mm. 22.00 RR. Very rare. Prettily toned. Good VF.


Obverse image of coin 9 Reverse image of coin 9

9: Populonia. AR Unit (?), 4th century BC. D/ Octopus with six tentacles, die flaw below. R/ Blank. Vecchi EC I, 5 (O1, Pisae ?); HN Italy 227 (Pisae?); HGC 91. AR. g. 1.08 mm. 10.00 R. Rare. A superb example, prettily toned. Good VF.


Obverse image of coin 10 Reverse image of coin 10

10: Populonia. AR Unit, 4th century BC. D/ Amphora. R/ Large I. Unpublished in the standard references; for obverse type cf. Vecchi EC I, 129. AR. g. 0.98 mm. 8.50 RRR. Extremely rare. The second recorded specimen (cf. Roma Numismatics XVI, 2018, lot 9). Good metal. Sharply struck and prettily toned. Good VF.


Obverse image of coin 12 Reverse image of coin 12

12: Populonia. AR 1/2 Unit (?), 4th century BC. D/ Amphora in shallow incuse. R/ Large V. Unpublished in the standard references; for obverse type, cf. Vecchi EC I, 129. AR. g. 0.43 mm. 8.00 Apparently unique. A superb example. Good VF.


Obverse image of coin 14 Reverse image of coin 14

14: Populonia. AR Unit, 4th century BC. D/ Wheel with long crossbar, central pin supported by two struts. R/ Blank. Vecchi EC I, 19 (unrecorded die). HN Italy 126. HGC 102. AR. g. 0.72 mm. 10.00 RR. Very rare, apparently fewer than ten specimens known. In excellent condition for issue. Lovely grey toning. Good VF.


Obverse image of coin 23 Reverse image of coin 23

23: Populonia. AR 20-Asses, 3rd century BC. D/ Facing head of Metus, tongue protruding, hair bound with diadem; below, X:X. R/ Blank. Vecchi EC I, 49.1-9 (O14); HN Italy 150; HGC 104. AR. g. 8.21 mm. 21.50 Rough reverse surface. A very attractive example, well centred on a broad flan. About EF.


Obverse image of coin 25 Reverse image of coin 25

25: Populonia. AR 10-Asses, 3rd century BC. D/ Laureate male head left; behind, X. Linear border. R/ Blank, with a shallow protuberance. Vecchi EC I, 70 (O1); HN Italy 168; HGC 120. AR. g. 3.69 mm. 17.00 An outstanding example. Lovely light iridescent toning. EF.


Obverse image of coin 27 Reverse image of coin 27

27: Populonia. AR 10-Asses, 3rd century BC. D/ Laureate male head right; to left, [p]vplana and to right, m[etl]; X behind neck. R/ Blank. Cf. Vecchi EC I, p. 387, 7.1-2 (O1, Uncertain mints); HN Italy 191; SNG Firenze 1169; SNG ANS 24. AR. g. 2.60 mm. 18.00 RRR. Extremely rare, lightly toned. VF.


This is the third recorded example of an issue previously only known from two examples with the legend metl to right, off-flan on this coin, but from the same die. The ethnic: pvplana (Rix NU N.20), securely places the issue to the mint of Populonia in the 3rd century BC. The Etruscan legend metl may be connected to the Latin metallum, metalli "metal, mine, ore" as seen on some Roman coins of the mines.

Questo risulta il terzo esemplare, inedito, di un'emissione di cui erano noti due soli esemplari, certamente provenienti dallo stesso conio, con legenda a destra metl, fuori campo in questa moneta. La quale, in compenso, presenta a sinistra la nitida legenda puplana, a sua volta fuori flan nei due esemplari già noti.
L'etnico puplana (cf. Rix NU N.20) permette di assegnare con certezza questa emissione alla zecca di Populonia, nel III secolo a.C.
La legenda etrusca metl potrebbe essere messa in relazione con legende latine come MET, METAL, METALLI, presenti su alcune emissioni romane di bronzo della prima metà del II secolo d.C., emissioni cosiddette "delle miniere".


37: Populonia. AR As (Libella), 3rd century BC. D/ Male head left, wearing collar; behind, I. Linear border. R/ Blank. Vecchi EC I, 108.1(O1); HN Italy- ; HGC 139. AR. g. 0.39 mm. 9.00 RRR. Extremely rare, third specimen recorded. Superb and prettily toned. Good VF.


Obverse image of coin 47 Reverse image of coin 47


47: Etruria, uncertain mint. AV Unit, 3rd century BC. D/ I between two pellets. R/ Similar incuse. Cf. Vecchi EC I, p. 384, 4.1; Garrucci p. 47, pl. LXXI, 3 (from Chiusi). AV. g. 0.02 mm. 6.00 RRR. Extremely rare, very few specimens known. VF.


This is the third recorded example of a remarkable series which would seem to represent a gold As. Their extremely light weight would seem to indicate that they of a votive nature, possible as Charon’s obol. The phrase "Charon’s obol" as used by archaeologists sometimes can be understood as referring to a particular religious rite, but often serves as a kind of shorthand for coinage as grave goods presumed to further the deceased's passage into the afterlife. In Latin, Charon's obol sometimes is called a viaticum, or "sustenance for the journey”, and the placement of the coin in the mouth has been explained also as a seal to protect the deceased's soul or to prevent it from returning. Find spots in Etruria have been attested for at Blera (Bieda) in 1885 [Cimino, Baranowsky & Bezzi, 1940, 1-3] and Chiusi before 1874 [= Strozzi 524].

Questo è il terzo esemplare conosciuto di un'interessante emissione che sembrerebbe costituita da un asse d'oro. Il peso estremamente leggero e  le dimensione estremamente ridotte dei tre esemplari ci fanno supporre che essi non fossero destinati a circolare come monete ma avessero una funzione votiva, forse come oboli di Caronte.

L'espressione "obolo di Caronte" usata dagli archeologi a volte può essere intesa come riferimento ad un particolare rito religioso, ma spesso vuole più semplicemente intendere monete che possano favorire il passaggio del defunto nell'aldilà. In latino l'obolo di Caronte è talvolta chiamato "viaticum", cioè sostentamento per il viaggio, e la sua collocazione nella bocca del defunto è stata interpretata anche come sigillo per proteggerne l'anima o impedirne il ritorno. Ritrovamenti in Etruria sono stati attestati a Blera (Bieda) nel 1885 (Cimino, Baranowsky & Bezzi, 1940, 1-3) e Chiusi prima del 1874 (= Strozzi 524).


Obverse image of coin 48 Reverse image of coin 48


48: Tarquinii. AE Cast Quadrans, c. 275 BC. D/ Dolphin right; above, three pellets. R/ Anchor. Vecchi ICC 123; HN Italy 217; Vecchi EC II, 9 (forthcoming); Haeb. pl. 92,11-12; Garrucci p. 24, pl. XLVI, 4. HGC 192. AE. g. 73.60 mm. 43.00 RR. Very rare, sixth recorded example. A magnificent cast. Superb earthy olive green patina with reddish brown highlights. About as cast. About EF/EF.


Obverse image of coin 49 Reverse image of coin 49

49: Tarquinii. AE Cast Sextans, c. 275 BC. D/ Plough. R/ Yoke; below, two pellets. Vecchi ICC 124; HN Italy 218; Vecchi EC II, 10 (forthcoming); Haeb. pl. 68,17; HGC 193. AE. g. 59.41 mm. 43.00 RRR. Extremely rare, only the second recorded example and the first to be offered for sale. Lovely green brown patina, with reddish spots. A magnificent cast. About EF.