My first (formerly!) slabbed coin

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by DonnaML, Aug 14, 2020.

  1. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I have never bought a slabbed coin, and think it's quite unlikely that I ever would. This coin, however, came with the information that it had been removed from an NGC slab, and the (reputable) dealer sent me the original NGC sticker. Which is interesting, but I certainly would have bought the coin without either the information or the sticker! They played no part in my decision. I was far more impressed by the coin itself, and its provenance didn't hurt. (In essence, I bought this coin to console myself after returning the C. Marius Capito denarius that turned out to be a hybrid and almost certainly a fourree.)

    Roman Republic, Publius Fonteius P.f. Capito, AR Denarius 55 BCE [Harlan: 54 BCE], Rome mint. Obv. Helmeted and draped bust of Mars with slight beard, right, with trophy over far shoulder; P•FONTEIVS•P•F•CAPITO•III•VIR counter-clockwise around / Helmeted and caped Roman soldier on horseback galloping right, thrusting his spear down at helmeted Gallic warrior crouching beneath horse, holding his shield up with left hand to try to fend off horse, and thrusting sword with his right hand at unarmed captive to left; the captive’s Gallic helmet [and shield, off flan] sailing off to lower right; MN•FONT•TR•MIL clockwise above. Crawford 429/1, RSC I Fonteia 17, Sear RCV I 392 (ill.), Sydenham 900, Harlan RRM II Ch, 22 at pp. 174-175 [Harlan, Michael, Roman Republican Moneyers and Their Coins 63 BCE-49 BCE (2nd Revised Edition 2015)]. 17.8 mm., 3.97 g. (Purchased from Zuzim Inc., Brooklyn, NY, Aug. 2020. Ex: Numismatica Ars Classica, Auction 100, May 29, 2017, Lot 329 [see]; Ex: Gerhard Hirsch Auction 168, Nov. 22-24, 1990, Munich, Lot 434. Formerly in NGC slab, Cert. No. 4629554-001, Graded Ch. AU, Strike: 4/5, Surface 4/5.)*

    Fonteius Capito jpg version 1.jpg

    *The moneyer is traditionally identified as either (1) the Publius Fonteius who became the adoptive father of the famous Publius Clodius Pulcher when the latter changed his patrician status to plebeian; or (2) a friend of Cicero named Fonteius, mentioned in a letter to his brother Atticus. However, both Crawford (Vol. I at p. 453) and, at greater length, Harlan (Ch. 22 at pp. 171-173) point out the lack of evidence for either theory. The scene on the reverse of this coin is believed to record the exploits of the moneyer’s relative, the military tribune Manius Fonteius (identified as such in the reverse legend), who may have been on the staff of Marcus Fonteius, governor of Narbonese (Transalpine) Gaul from 76-73 BCE. See RSC I at p. 49, Crawford Vol. I at p. 453, Harlan RRM II at pp. 174-175.

    FWIW, here's the NGC sticker:

    Fonteius Capito - NGC Sticker - jpg version.jpg

    I find the reverse of this coin particularly appealing because it's an "action" scene -- capturing one moment of explosive action in a "story" -- rather than being static like so many ancient coin reverses. It reminds me a little of a comic book panel. The scene does raise a couple of questions regarding the unarmed captive whom the Roman soldier appears to be trying to rescue from certain death. First, the captive's helmet (flying off to the right) appears to be the same type of Gallic helmet as his would-be-slayer's. Why would a Roman be rescuing one Gaul from another? Perhaps the one on the left belonged to an allied group? Second, am I completely wrong in my impression that the captive is not only unarmed but almost entirely unclothed? How exactly did that happen?
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
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  3. Alegandron

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

    Wonderful rebound, Ms Donna! I really like the reverse, lotsa action. Fluid motion...

    I think receiving the Sticker is great. You get some provenance. I ignore the the grading and comments, because you have the attributes.

    I was going to ask how YOU broke it out, but you pre-purchased that feature! :). I have a few of those sticker-badges, and I just tuck them into the Saflip flap.

    I understand that some of the Crazy Celts actually went to battle nekkid.

    Super coin, I really like it! Well done, and congrats!
  4. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you!
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  5. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    That's a really nice looking coin, and the reverse is very interesting indeed. It's a good thing the ticket is saved, as it's part of the coins know history.

    I've bought two slabbed coins up till now. If it's a coin I am looking for and the price is right (I wont pay extra for a slab!), I don't bother if a coin is slabbed. Overall, in Europe-based auctions and sellers I follow, there aren't that many slabbed coins offered. I've cracked out one slabbed one, the other one is still on my do-list. (Like many other coin related things too...)


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  6. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    The coin may serve as consolation to you, but it is certainly no consolation prize. Awesome addition to the collection!
    I'm not very familiar with the issue, but I see descriptions used by catalogers seem to be split between calling the unarmed combatant a comrade of the Roman about to be slain by the Gaul, or just another enemy soldier being attacked by the Roman horseman. I lean towards the latter; the focus of the armed Gallic soldier seems to be on the horseman, and his sword, while pointed in the direction of the unarmed soldier, is in an awkward position for someone attempting to strike down an enemy. It looks more likely to me that his sword is being held in the pose of someone who was just driven to the ground by the horseman.

    More RR battle scenes... on M. Sergius Silus's, depicting his ancestor of the same name, one-armed war hero and great grandfather of Catiline, just casually riding about holding the giant severed head of a Gallic soldier.

    RR - M Sergius Silus 2.jpg
    ROMAN REPUBLIC. M. Sergius Silus, quaestor.
    AR Denarius. 3.87g, 18.5mm. Rome mint, AD 116-115. Crawford 286/1. O: Head of Roma right; ROMA and XVI monogram behind; EX S C before. R: Helmeted horseman galloping left, holding sword and severed Gallic head in left hand; Q (for Quaestor) below; M.SERGI, SILVS in exergue.

    T. Didius's is probably more of a gladiatorial scene, but the alot of action is packed into the poses of the combatants.

    RR - T Didius - Fighters 3037.jpg ROMAN REPUBLIC. T. Didius, moneyer.
    AR Denarius. 3.88g, 19.4mm. Rome mint, 113/2 BC. T. Didius, moneyer. Crawford 294/1; Sydenham 550. O: Helmeted head of Roma right; [XVI monogram below], monogram of ROMA behind. R: Two gladiators fighting, one attacking with a whip, the other defending with a staff (or sword); T•DEIDI in exergue.
    Ex Prof Dr Hildebrecht Hommel Collection, acquired from Hirsch, auction 71, 17 March 1971, lot 477
    Roma Numismatic Notes : "Babelon suggests that the reverse type refers to the moneyer’s ancestor T. Didius, who was sent to Sicily in 138 BC to quash a slave result that was ultimately the precursor to the first of the three Servile Wars. Crawford disagrees, suggesting that the reverse depicts a scene one would expect to witness at the games T. Didius promised to put on during his time as aedile, making this issue an example of electoral propaganda."
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  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Both seem like reasonable guesses but I am unable to see how either can be proven. Either way it is a nice coin I wish I owned. The one I traded off shows the stick or sword held by the right combatant to advantage.
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  8. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    You share this sentiment with @dougsmit , who devoted a thread to Republican coins which depict people doing things, rather than just standing there. While one never tires of seeing Liberty, radiate, wearing stola and palla, standing facing, holding short torch and tablet, it is fair to characterize Roman imperial issues as being rather static, a parade of such-and-such a deity standing/sitting, holding this, that, or the other thing. One of the reasons I like Roman provincial issues is that their subject matter extends beyond one of the Dii Consentes holding his/her attributes.

    But did Venus actually do anything other than stand around and look pretty?

    Domna VENERI VICTR Sestertius.jpg
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  9. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    I've always loved this coin of yours and am at least glad that it's still 'in the family'. Hopefully, you'll find a suitable replacement. And yes, I do wish the staff/sword wasn't off flan on mine.
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  10. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Cool coin Donna.
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  11. Edessa

    Edessa Supporter! Supporter

    Nice coin, Donna! And a good decision, I believe. Your previous coin was also a nice coin, but you were not 100% happy.

    The following coin indicates that even Barbarians didn't have a problem striking coins that showed...Romans slaughtering Barbarians. Perhaps they had the attitude "At least we are not Gauls!".

    Contemporary Imitation. Circa 1st Century BC. AR Denarius (17mm - 2.65 g). Diademed head of Apollo right; symbol behind / Horseman galloping left, holding sword and head of a barbarian. Copying the types of C. Piso L.f. Frugi and M. Sergius Silus. Purchased on VAuctions many moons ago.

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  12. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    The style of your denarius is beautiful, Donna. Congratulations!
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  13. Alegandron

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

    Roman Republic Motion (Not Biga, Not Triga, Not Quadriga)

    RR 234-231 BCE AR Heavy Denarius - Didrachm Apollo-Horse prancing Crawford 26-1 Sear 28

    RR Anon AR Heavy Denarius - Didrachm 275-270 BCE ROMANO Apollo Left-Galloping Horse Sear23


    RR C POBLICIUS Q f 80 BCE AR Denarius serratus 3.94g Rome Flan wgt control gouge Hercules strangling Nemean lion club quiver Cr 380-1 Syd 768
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  14. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Nice score Donna, & great action narrative on the reverse :D! The portrait of Mars was finely engraved & interesting to see him depicted as a very young man instead of the usual depiction we see on later coins like the one below :cool:.

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  15. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    That's one beautiful coin.

    I've cracked open a few slabs and a I have a few more coins that need "liberating". I just need the will to do it, not that I am hesitant, just not motivated right now.
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  16. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    I have popped a few open to complete a unique album and secured the TPG tab to the album itself. I was advised by our local numismatist to never throw the tab out it is proof that the coin is legit.
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  17. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Donna's type most certainly is high on the rating scale bearing my name where 1/5 is 'just standing there' and 5/5 doing something really interesting. Just as I would have preferred a ten point scale for strike and surface, I would prefer a larger number of choices for rating types by interest. Unfortunately the decision was made by higher powers so we live with just five.

    The Capito has enough action that one might expect the coin to be able to cut itself out of the slab without intervention of humans with hammers. Mine is never going to be called more than Fine but it is still an interesting coin IMO. In addition to the action filled reverse, the type offers the relatively uncommon use of the title IIIVIR. That would not raise it a whole point but this coin does not need the help and gets its 5/5 from the actio.

    I suppose there are intermediates where someone is standing there in a slightly different way, holding some particularly interesting item or dressed in a manner that grabs the viewer's attention. Similarly action scenes are higher rated if there is gore or easy attribution to some historical event. In the middle we also could place scenes that are a bit out of the ordinary but not action packed. Here I'm thinking Legionary standards, architecture, ships and groups of people. Each of these could go up or down, for example, if they were done in an especially decorative or boring manner. I will rate the Capito a 5/5 for interest. Since I have nine allowable images left on this post, I'll offer below my gut feeling ratings for a few other coins.

    Another 5/5 would be the Fostlus where the shepherd finds Romulus and Remus in the care of the wolf.

    Sacrifice scenes can be static or action packed. I offer the one below as 4/5 a step up since the goat has a look of resistance suggesting he knows this is a bad day.

    Horses pulling a vehicle are common and can be boring but I'll upgrade them a bit (3/5) when the animal is not the usual horse as on this coin showing a biga of snakes.

    Also a step down at 3/5 might be people standing there but with buildings or interaction that suggests added interest. The one that comes to mind is the Venus of the sewers reverse.

    I'm unreasonably hard on Republican quadrigas but will go to 2/5 if they are slightly upgraded by a great pose or special driver. The one below shows horse heads going in several directions and Victory using a long palm rather than ordinary hore manipulation tools.

    The reverse below might be up to a 2/5 only if you consider the scorpion being trampled as a part of the main scene rather than some minor type tacked on. In this case, the camel and king (Aretas is named on the coin!) surrender scene on the obverse overrides the less great reverse making the coin an 5/5 in my book.

    I'm sorry, Salus. I know you got all dressed up and brought your snake but the high standards of Republican types makes standing there leaning on a column hard to promote over a 1/5. I'm not suggesting you be like Venus and show extra skin or bring an animal that has more personality than a row of dots but you just have to try a little harder next time.

    Come to think of it, life is not fair to coins either. In the Imperial period, a reverse showing the Dioscuri riding (not just standing there) would rank well above 1/5 but in the Republican major leagues, when the same types were used for so many moneyers or so long a period, action scenes can get a bit ordinary if not fully boring. The same goes for all your friends with quadrigas. You really should have held off a century or two when your design would have been rated against all those personifications that really were boring. Those emperors really knew how to design 1/5 coins but we expect more out of those who chose to play with the big dogs. :)
  18. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I went off and read that thread, which I quite enjoyed. Except for learning that drive-by foolishness from non-ancient coin collectors was happening long before I joined Coin Talk six months ago!
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  19. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks, @dougsmit. Perhaps needless to say, I agree with you on where the Fonteius Capito stands on the "interest" scale! I largely agree with your opinion on the other coins you've posted here. My opinion is a little more favorable than yours regarding the M. Acilius Glabrio snake-feeding scene, although I do think the similar scene on the Roscius Fabatus reverse rates a bit higher than the Acilius Glabrio on the action scale. The snake looks a bit more dangerous, especially given the implied danger if one knows the story behind that scene (the annual ceremony at the Juno Sospita festival in Lanuvium, during which a virgin is left overnight in the grotto under the temple, and may or may not survive her encounter with the sacred serpent):

    Roscius Fabatus denarius 59 BC - jpg version.jpg
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  20. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks, @zumbly. Here's my example of the Sergius Silus reverse -- definitely another "high-action" scene!

    Sergius Silus R1.jpg

    The alternative interpretation you suggest for the scene on the reverse of the Fonteius Capito -- that the unarmed man is just another enemy soldier driven down, like the swordsman, by the Roman soldier on his horse -- is very interesting. Where did you see it? Every catalog I looked at interprets the scene as the Roman trying to rescue an unarmed captive of the Gallic swordsman. But the second interpretation makes some sense, given that the unarmed man also has a Gallic helmet (and shield, on most examples) flying off -- and that it seems more likely that they would have been knocked away in that manner by the horse than by the warrior with the sword. And here's an example from acsearch in which it seems even more clear that the swordsman was driven down into his current position by the Roman; in fact, the Roman's foot appears to be directly on top of the swordsman's head, pushing him down:

    Crawford 429-1 Fonteius Capito - example from acsearch with rider's foot on head of warrior.jpg

    On the other hand, if the unarmed man is just another enemy soldier rather than a captive, why does he appear to be entirely unclothed except for, possibly, a pair of jockey shorts (or their ancient equivalent)? I doubt that his clothing was blown off by the air currents generated by the horse galloping over him! More importantly, there are a number of examples in which the unarmed man looks much more like a captive than in mine, with both arms together behind him as if they're bound, and the Gallic warrior's sword not just pointed in his direction but actually already penetrating his stomach, or very close to it. See the example posted in this very thread by @dougsmit:

    Fonteius Capito doug smith example Crawford 429-1.jpg

    Or this example at acsearch:

    Crawford 429-1 Fonteius Capito - example 3 from acsearch with bound captive.jpg

    Or this one:

    Crawford 429-1 Fonteius Capito - example 2 from acsearch with bound captive.jpg

    Or this one, from the Richard Schaefer Roman Republican Die Project clippings:

    Crawford 429 Fonteius Capito reverse - example from RRDP.jpg

    I'm not sure which interpretation I think is correct. Perhaps both, depending on the example of the type!
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
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  21. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    In looking at other examples of my Fonteius Capito denarius on acsearch, I found another, more recent sale of my coin by Roma Numismatics, in 2019, in addition to the two previous sales in the coin's provenance (in 2017 and 1990), detailed in my OP. See (Roma Numismatics, E-Sale 54, Feb. 28, 2019, Lot 558). I don't think there's any question that this is my coin:

    Crawford 429-1 - Fonteius Capito  my copy - photo from 2019 Roma Numismatics auction.jpg
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