A Luceria semuncia without a mintmark

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by red_spork, May 25, 2019.

  1. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    The city of Luceria in Apulia was one of Rome's oldest and most important colonies. Livy reports that the city became a Roman colony in 314 B.C. Because of its location near Samnium, the city would be of great strategic importance during the Second and Third Samnite Wars. When the war with Hannibal began, the city was again the location of an important Roman garrison and its extremely prolific mint was responsible for a considerable body of coinage in silver and bronze, almost all of which is mintmarked with an archaic style "L".

    While browsing the most recent Naville sale I spotted this interesting anonymous semuncia which they identified as a Rome mint Cr. 56/8. The style immediately struck me as similar to the Cr. 43/6 "L" series semunciae minted at Luceria, though it is missing that characteristic "L" mintmark that would normally be directly under the prow as in the example linked above. When I checked my references I could find nothing like it in Crawford or the RBW Collection but as usual, Andrew McCabe's paper on anonymous bronzes provided an answer. In it, he lists a group "F3" which includes a handful of examples of otherwise normal "L" and "CA" series coins lacking a mintmark including a semuncia from the British Museum Collection that appears to be a reverse die match to my present coin. Andrew suggests that these are likely just engravers' errors and does not treat them as a full anonymous series in their own right. While I tend to agree with Andrew that this is likely simply an engraver's error I am a sucker for varieties like this so of course I had to have it. I was really hoping it would go unnoticed and hammer somewhere at or near the opening bid but I suspect someone else noticed what it was as there was a surprising amount of competition during the live session but thankfully the other bidder bowed out just one increment or so away from my maximum.
    Roman Republic Æ Semuncia(17 mm, 3.39g). Anonymous, style of first "L" series, Luceria mint, 214-212 B.C.. Head of Mercury right, wearing winged petasos; border of dots / Prow of galley right; above, ROMA. Line border. Crawford 43/6 var(no "L" mintmark); BMCRR 168(plate IX.10) = Ghey, Leins & Crawford 2010 43.6.3
    Ex Naville Numismatics live auction 49, 5 May 2019, lot 321, ex AK Collection, Triton XII, 6 January 2009, lot 463(part, ID #B053)

    As always, feel free to post anything relevant.
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  3. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Cool engraver error! I love the detail of both the reverse and Mercury's winger cap. I love bronze RRs (who am I kidding? I love everything to with the republic).
    Here's my first of these and a recent win from Frank's last blind auction(if my identifications are wrong a correction is always appreciated):

    ANONYMOUS. Semuncia
    (Circa 217-215 BCE). 5.49 g. 20 mm Rome. Obv: Head of Mercury right, wearing winged petasus. Rev: ROMA. Prow of galley right. Crawford 38/7. Ex LANZ (gross, I know. Never again.)


    Roman Republic Anonymous Issue
    Rome, 215-212 BCE. Æ Semuncia (18mm, 3.74g, 12h). Draped bust of Mercury r., wearing winged petasos. R/ Prow of galley r. Crawford 41/11; RBW 136. Green patina, near VF;
    Ex Frank Robinson
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  4. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    Both are quite nice coins, also both are examples of Crawford 38/7(group AA in the paper I linked above). This series is rather large and the coins come in a handful of styles but the prow styles in particular are very different from the slightly later Crawford 41 bronzes. Here are examples of 38/7 and 41/11 from my collection. The 38/7 was the first RR bronze I ever purchased.
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  5. Andrew McCabe

    Andrew McCabe Well-Known Member

    I have one and a half die-matches to Red Spork's anonymous Luceria semuncia. A double die matched semuncia and a reverse die matched uncia. Go figure. Craaaazzy. Note the obverse of the uncia has a larger die diameter so they are likely part of the same series. An unmarked reverse die thus was rather convenient. Three dies made two coin types.
    32948131006_86f31607df_z (1).jpg 37935084586_a688652073_z (1).jpg
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  6. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    I looked at your semuncia several times while researching my coin and didn't even think to look at the uncia. How cool. Now I feel like I've gotta find an uncia for myself with the same reverse die to complete the set.
  7. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    What do you make of the fact that both denominations used a single reverse die? I know you previously mentioned that it was likely an engravers' error but this seems more like perhaps an intentionally unmarked die since it was used for multiple denominations and it also seems like perhaps the same blanks were used for both semunciae and unciae based on the weight(my semuncia = 3.39g, yours=4.68, your uncia=3.93) and apparent diameter from photos. Crazy indeed.
  8. Andrew McCabe

    Andrew McCabe Well-Known Member

    I now no longer think it was an error. Can't be proved but I suspect they needed a small volume and just made one reverse die for two denominations.

    Weights never mattered for such small denominations. Right until the end of the second century, Uncia and semuncia denominations were occasionally issued often weighing the same as quadrantes from the same period. Romans didn't seem to care about the weight of their bronze coins only that the size (diameter) was normal and the coins looked official. They spent bronzes based on the denominations marked and recognised the denominations from the obverse types.
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  9. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    I always enjoy your RR posts @red_spork !

    Here is a Luceria coin of mine that I believe you are familiar with. Kinda ugly, but a fun one for me. That 5/12 of an As always got my attention.

    Roman Republic
    Anonymous AE 23mm Quincunx
    211-200 BCE 6.96g
    Apollo, P behind
    Luceria mint
    5 pellets , Dioscuri on horses
    Cr 99-4 Syd 309 Sear 910
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  10. Andrew McCabe

    Andrew McCabe Well-Known Member

    Yes very rare! To those spending it, it would have been half an Italian as (of 10 uncia) though 5/12 a Roman as. That's why the quincunx and dextans were produced.
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  11. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

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