BCD Incerta-- certainly fun

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by TIF, Nov 17, 2018.

  1. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I like mystery coins-- that's why I'm quick to jump in when someone posts a coin for attribution. Digging for coin identification is fun. Recently some group lots of unattributed coins formerly belonging to BCD have been sold and I managed to acquire one lot thanks to @zumbly's pre-bidding exuberance (if you want details you'll have to ask him :D).

    The lot accrued a lot of air miles on its way to this little rock but now they're here and I had time today to photograph them and start a spreadsheet. Twenty-one coins... one which is adorable and was attributable thanks to a couple of recent sales. Of the rest, I suspect some will eventually be attributable and a few might at best be narrowed down to some general possibilities. I'm going to need better magnification though! The average size is 13-14 mm and the smallest is 7!

    Hasty group shot:

    The lot was packaged in a baggie of loose coins with a half dozen bits of auction ephemera in another baggie. The tags were separated from their coins! :(. Only two of the notes had any descriptive information specific to a coin so the remainder will go unmatched. That is unfortunate. I wish the auction house had not separated these bits of provenance from the coins! The unmatchable bits were notes about the source. The coin shown below did have a tag which provided some additional provenance.

    I'm having a great time making a spreadsheet, examining coins, and searching for clues :). Here's one of the nicest coins in the group, something which would have appealed to me even regardless with or without attribution. Thanks to a similar coin which came to auction this year, and one from 2014, some of the mystery has possibly been solved. However, taking someone else's word for the attribution when only two others are known, and with questionable obverse legends, I have to wonder how firm the attribution really is. I'd like to know what led to the rather narrow date given in the CNG listing, the first known example. Does the Salapia attribution come from the ΣAΛ reportedly seen on the CNG coin's obverse? My coin has legible letters on the reverse left field which on the other two examples are either off flan, worn away, or which were never there to begin with. Might these additional letters changes thoughts about the place of issue for all three of these examples? "ΠΛΩ"... it's not an abbreviation for Salapia. A magistrate, maybe?

    APULIA, Salapia
    c. 225-210 BCE
    AE 14mm, 2.04 gm
    Obv: head of Athena right, wearing crested helmet; [unlegible]Λ below left
    Rev: owl standing right, head facing; club to upper left; ΠΛΩ downward right field
    Ref: not recorded in reference literature but two prior examples are found, CNG E-auction 327 lot 123, 28 May 2014 and Bertolami E-auction 60 lot 23, 9 July 2018.
    ex BCD, acquired by him from Dan Clark, MBS 88, 24 May 93/ lot 77, total cost $22.

    The CNG specimen:

    New Type for Salapia
    327, Lot: 123. Estimate $100.
    Sold for $750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
    APULIA, Salapia. Circa 225-210 BC. Æ (13mm, 3.16 g, 10h). Head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet; star and ΣAΛ to left / Owl standing right, head facing; club to left. Unpublished in the standard references. VF, earthen green patina. Apparently unique.
    From the Continental Collection.

    Wow. At least two bidders must've been intent on acquiring this new type!

    Four years later, a second example came to market in a Bertolami auction. It was unsold on an opening bid of £30. So much for the new kid on the block :D.
    Northern Apulia, Salapia, c. 225-210 BC. Æ (13mm, 2.90g, 8h). Head of Athena r., wearing crested Corinthian helmet; star and ΣAΛ to l. R/ Owl standing r., head facing; club to l. Unpublished in the standard references, but cf. CNG 2014, E-Sale 327, lot 123. Extremely Rare, near VF


    Not much is known about Salapia. If the region of Apulia is the heel of Italy, Salapia was its Achille's tendon :D.


    As always, feel free to post anything you feel is remotely relevant :).

    Edited 18 November:

    Please don't help me with any attributions of coins shown in the group picture unless I post the individual coin with my thoughts-- then consider it fair game. For me, the fun and the entire point of buying the lot is in hunting for attributions :). The hurricanes and continued overwhelming expenses have decimated my coin budget and I have to stretch out my enjoyment for every purchase for as long as possible.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018
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  3. Alegandron

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

    How fun is that pile of Mysteries! And, way cool on the Salapia! (Cool name for a burg in Magna Graecia: Tilapia pops in my head! Or, Sloppy Joes, or Jalopy...)

    Here are a couple NOT in Salapia, but are from Apulia:

    Oh, yeah, these are @dougsmit 's FAVORITE denomination! QUINCUNX! :D

    Bigger than yours, but a very similar design theme!
    Teate (Teanum in Roman times), Apulia 225-220 BCE AE Quincunx 12.5g 26.5mm Athena R Corinthn helmet - TIATI owl K 5 pellets - BMC HN Italy 702a SNG Cop 689 var RARE

    Apulia Luceria AE Quincunx 26mm 14.75g- Spoked Wheel 250-217 BCE Athena-Wheel Grose 443 HN Italy 678 SNG ANS 699
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
  4. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Great coin, that one instantly caught my eye when I was looking at the pile of coins. Unfortunately I recently started collecting coins from Magna Graecia, no coin yet from south Italy...
    Roman Collector likes this.
  5. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    @Alegandron, or anyone... when did the region of Apulia become known as Apulia? is this a name which would have been used (in some form) by ancient Greeks?
    Alegandron likes this.
  6. Alegandron

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

    I understand it was originally colonized by the Mycenaeans who were 1600-1100 BCE.
  7. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Yes, but what did those people, or people 1000-1500 years later, call the area? Did they have a name for it?
  8. Alegandron

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

    This is a BAD reply (Wikipedia), but this is the best I can give you.

    All of my Roman Republic references called it Apulia during that time, and now Puglia today...
    Apulia (/əˈpuːliə/ ə-POO-lee-ə; Italian: Puglia [ˈpuʎʎa]; Neapolitan: Pùglia [ˈpuʝːə];[a] Albanian: Pulia; Ancient Greek: Ἀπουλία, translit. Apoulía) is a region of Italy in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Otranto and Gulf of Taranto to the south. Its southernmost portion, known as the Salento peninsula, forms a "tacco" or heel on the boot of Italy. The region comprises 19,345 square kilometers (7,469 sq mi), and its population is about four million.
  9. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    It looks like you're going to have a heck of a lot of fun with that lot. Congrats on your win!
  10. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Herodotus describes that the region was known to the Greeks of the 5th century B.C. as ιαπυγία (Iapygia) and the inhabitants as ιαπυγες (Iapygians), which were also further divided into 3 people, Daunians (Δαύνιοι), Peucetians (Πευκέτιοι) and Messapians (Μεσσάπιοι) (I can go further into the names, Μεσσά = Greek = middle, πιοι = salt water.). Herodotus describes that these people are descent from Cretans of the time of Minos. Anyway, the name ιαπυγία ended up through Oscan to the Latin word of Apulia, after a series of some name changes... from Iapygia to Iapudia to Apudia to Apulia.

    I hope that answers your question.
  11. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Yes, quite thoroughly! Thanks :)
    Alegandron likes this.
  12. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate!

    My Vandal senses are tingling with that nummus-looking palm tree reverse coin :D

    Anonymous, Vandal Kingdom
    AE nummus
    Obv: Bust right
    Rev: Palm tree
    Mint: Carthage or other North African mint
    Date: 440-490 AD

  13. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Yes indeed :)

    Well, perhaps-- the obverse may be a different entity.
  14. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Glad you’re having fun with the lot. :) I still haven’t managed to delve into mine. :shy:

    I really like that little owl coin! The ΣAΛ is a bit clearer on the other two examples, and together with (I suppose) the style and types, that must have led to the Salapia attribution. I wonder about the narrow date range given too. In any case, yours with the legend on the reverse, certainly adds more info to what known about the issue. Neat!
    TIF likes this.
  15. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus

    That looks like a great lot and a ton of fun. I love trying to track down attributions in references.
    TIF likes this.
  16. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Excellent lot @TIF - have fun!
    TIF likes this.
  17. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    I will have to have a good look around Salapia area as we are staying next September in Bari not far away, it looks like I will be chasing some coins from that area if anywhere as cool as posted in this thread.
    Alegandron and TIF like this.
  18. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    A neat group!
    TIF likes this.
  19. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I recommend Michael Grant's A Guide to the Ancient World: A Dictionary of Classical Place Names, which has 728 pages of such information, organized alphabetically by place name. It is remarkably inexpensive, having been reprinted by Barnes and Noble before the internet made everyone only look on-line.

    "... took it name from the Apuli, a Samnite Oscan-speaking tribe ...." which is followed by 3/4 page of additional information about the region as it changed over time.
    TIF, Pellinore and zumbly like this.
  20. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander find me at NumisForums Supporter

    That "ΠΛΩ" is certainly intriguing. An uncia from Apulia seems to make sense, given the design and weight. In doing a bit of searching I noticed a couple of things that may or may not be useful. First, the coins of Brundisium (including unciae) sometimes have a similar club on them. Second (and this one I find more exciting), there is a town close to Tarentum called Pulsano which seems to date back to the bronze age, but with no coins recorded for it.(?) On the Adriatic, there's also Polignano (closer to Brundisium). Either of those names could be linked to "ΠΛΩ" but I haven't been able to find out the Greek names of those cities. A scrap to maybe follow up on though...
    TIF likes this.
  21. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander find me at NumisForums Supporter

    Oh, and there's also a "Pulizano" near Pulsano, as shown on this map from the 16th century:
    Screen Shot 2018-11-17 at 11.56.28 PM.jpg
    chrsmat71, Jay GT4 and TIF like this.
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