Featured A Roman Republican coin WITHOUT an animal reverse

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by DonnaML, Jul 10, 2020.

  1. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Not even a horse!

    I know nothing about boats -- it's probably been 15 years since I've even set foot on one (a whale watching trip off Cape Cod) -- but I found this coin so appealing, and so detailed, that I couldn't resist buying it:

    Roman Republic, C. Fonteius, AR Denarius, 114-113 BCE. Obv. Laureate, Janiform head of the Dioscuri, control mark N under left chin [mark of value * (= 16) under right chin is worn off] / Rev. Galley left with three rowers, gubernator (pilot) at stern, anchor beneath galley, C • FONT above, ROMA below. Crawford 290/1, RSC I Fonteia 1 (ill.), Sear RCV I 167 (ill.), Sydenham 555. 20 mm., 3.90 g. Ex: CNG Auction May 2012 Lot 293, Ex: Bruce R. Brace Collection.*

    Fonteius (Dioscuri-Galley) jpg version.jpg

    * According to H.A. Seaby in RSC I (at p. 48), the Janiform head on the obverse relates to the origins of the Fonteia gens -- which claimed as its founder Fons or Fontus, supposedly the son of Janus -- and the galley on the reverse relates to the naval exploits of the moneyer’s ancestor P. Fonteius Capito, who was praetor in Sardinia in 169 BCE. Crawford disagrees. (See Vol. I at p. 305.) He states that there is no good evidence for the existence of Fontus, and that the Janiform head should instead be regarded as that of the Dioscuri, because the gens Fonteia came from Tusculum, the chief cult-center of the Dioscuri in Latium. Crawford also states that the reverse is “doubtless” an allusion to the transmarine origin of Telegonus (the son of Ulysses and Circe), who was the legendary founder of Tusculum. Sear agrees with Crawford.

    I had never heard of Bruce R. Brace before, but it seems that he "was a scholar and by many considered to be a dean of Roman Numismatics in Canada. Coins from his extensive collection were sold by CNG in 2012 and 2013." https://www.vcoins.com/en/stores/an..._ex_bruce_r_brace_library/630746/Default.aspx . According to Google, he was the former General Chairman of the Canadian Numismatic Association, the recipient of their J.D. Ferguson Award in 1984, and the former honorary curator of the McMaster University Museum of Art coin collection, at least a portion of which is now known as the Bruce R. Brace Coin Collection. If this coin was good enough for him, it's certainly more than good enough for me!

    A few questions: is the object beneath the stern of the boat supposed to be the anchor? What are those things hanging off the stern that look like ropes with claws attached? And, what is the object attached to the side of the boat, on the far left, that looks a little like an animal skull in profile?

    If anyone wants to, please feel free to post your own Janiform heads (other than one of the many Republican cast or struck bronze coins with Janus on the obverse, since there are about a million of them and I've already seen a great many posted here). Or to post your own coins showing the entirety of a galley or other boat (other than one of the Marc Antony legionary coins, which have also been posted extensively here). I'm looking to see something new!

    Here is my one other Janus coin:

    Roman Republic, M Fovri L.f. Philus, AR Denarius 119 BCE. Obv. Laureate head of Janus, M•FOVRI•L•F around / Rev. Roma with Corinthian helmet standing left holding scepter, crowning trophy surmounted by helmet and flanked by carnyx and shield on each side, Gallic arms around; star above, ROMA to right, PHLI in exergue. RSC I Furia 18 (ill.), Crawford 281/1, Sydenham 529, Sear RCV I 156 (ill.), BMCRR Italy 555. 20.13 mm., 3.66 g. [According to Crawford (Vol. I p. 297), this reverse probably refers to "the defeat of the Allobroges and Arverni and the triumphs of 120."]

    Roman Republic Denarius 119 BCE - Obv. Janus; Rev. Roma crowning trophy.jpg
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  3. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    That's a rudder.
    ominus1 and DonnaML like this.
  4. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Shows how much I know!
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    My favorite galley type is the 3/4 perspective view by Mn Fonteius showing oars on both sidesand a fashionable face on the prow. The obverse is the Dioscuri.
  6. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    That is the apotropaic eye to ward off evil. It appears on most RR bronzes as well but is rendered in various different ways. See this labeled quadrans from Andrew McCabe's paper on anonymous bronzes.

    I don't have an example of this type but here's my Janus on a denarius
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  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I currently own the 8 volume set of Banti Corpus Nummorum Romanorum with Bruce Brace bookplates. If that provenance means anything to anyone, I could be talked out of them but postage on this set would be a killer.

    I find it interesting that the OP galley clearly has the three prong, hull opener ram but the 3/4 view from Fonteius does not.
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  8. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    A beautiful coin. I believe that Mn Fonteius was a brother of the C. Fonteius who was the moneyer of my coin.
  9. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I can't figure out what you're looking at. Is it at the bow?
  10. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you.

    Your reverse in particular is beautiful -- much more detailed than mine.
  11. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I think it is there, but too face-on to see well.

    The movie "Ben Hur" shows the "hull-opener" three-prong ram in action in a naval battle. It is pretty impressive and, at the time, I wondered how they showed that hull getting breached without wounding some of the extras playing galley slaves.
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  12. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I'm still confused about where it is: is it what appears to be protruding from the boat at the far left? I thought the "protrusions" there were an effort to render the actual back of the boat in a kind of perspective. Here's a photo of the reverse I just took that's more of a close-up, with some of the details more clearly visible:

    20200710_145509 Fonteius galley R2.jpg

    On the first level below the deck, are those circular objects supposed to be the heads of more oarsmen? I am continually amazed at the amount of detail the celators were able to incorporate, despite the absence of artificial magnification.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
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  13. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
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  14. Restitutor

    Restitutor Well-Known Member

    Magnificent coin and superb detail! Here’s a version from the recent CNG auction I regretfully didn’t bid on:

  15. Alegandron

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

    These are kinda hard to find, and I have two that are Janus, and one of Mars (Mars is very difficult to find.)

    RR Anon AR Heavy Quinarius Quadrigatus Drachm 216-214 BCE Janus ROMA Jupiter Victory Quadriga LEFT Cr 29-4 S 35
  16. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Things were cheaper when I visited in the late 60's but Gimbels was overpriced. I suspect the coins shown in their brochure were not what you got. That Shekel of Tyre is not 'F' and was not sold for $30. I only visited Gimbels coin once. There were better shops in town. I never went back after I was restationed in 1969. When in NYC I used the book below and paid $6 for a round trip bus ticket from Ft. Monmouth NJ. You could eat a lot for well under $5.
    The coin shows no waterline. The three prongs were at or below the water as was the rudder.
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  17. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

  18. Restitutor

    Restitutor Well-Known Member

    Speculating but to me they seem like some sort of identification flags.

    Edit: I found this image searching for something online as a reference and I no longer think flags are a likely answer,, No info, but it at least provides more detail on the mysterious objects.


    second edit! I think it’s just wood decoration?

    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
  19. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    They look like decorative ribbons blowing in the breeze.
  20. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks. At least I know now where the three prongs of the ram are.
  21. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    Very nice coin and great provenance. Bruce Brace was very well known in Canada. His collection was dispersed several years ago.

    Here's mine

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