Newp: Grain-ear quinarius from Sicily

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by red_spork, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis

    I picked up this quinarius in the most recent Agora sale. I went back and forth on whether I was going to bid on it or not for a while as I wasn't a huge fan of the flat striking. In the end the coin won out as this type often comes with metal issues, die wear issues or striking issues and I felt this example was a rather nice and attractive compromise.

    This quinarius comes from the second grain-ear series, struck at a Second Punic War-era Sicilian mint referred to by Crawford as Sicily(2). Stylistic evidence suggest there were at least two separate Roman mints operating on Sicily at this time and you can see an example of the other mint's grain-ear quinarius here. These were relatively large and important mints during this era and both struck at least one issue of coins with a grain-ear mintmark. The repetition of the grain-ear is not terribly surprising as Sicily was responsible for much of Rome's grain at the time and this symbol was a bold declaration of the importance of Roman control of the island. Later on as moneyers at Rome began to exercise more control over the designs of their coins the grain-ear symbol came back into use(as can be seen on this Minucia denarius), but since these coins were most likely struck at Rome, the grain-ear symbol was no longer a Sicilian mintmark but instead a political statement, generally interpreted along the lines of "My relative provided grain for you. Remember that next time you're at the polls."

    I'll end with a quick note on terminology. Many websites and references refer to this mintmark as a "Corn-ear". This is not corn in the sense that many Americans think of it, but instead in British English, "corn" has a more generic meaning closer to the word "grain". I have chosen "grain-ear" here as I feel it is less ambiguous and matches my own understanding of the word "grain".

    Roman Republic AR quinarius(15mm, 2.05g, 11h). Anonymous, grain-ear/corn-ear series, ca. 211-210 B.C., Sicilian mint. Helmeted head of Roma right, V behind / The Dioscuri riding right, each holds a spear; grain-ear below; in linear frame, ROMA. Crawford 72/4; Sydenham 194

    Ex RBW Collection, Agora 73, 3/27/2018, lot 206, privately purchased from Dmitry Markov, 9/9/1994
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
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  3. Orfew

    Orfew Supporter! Supporter

    Great coin and an interesting writeup.
  4. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Neat little coin and interesting historical write up. Congrats.
  5. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    A very nice example!
  6. Alegandron

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

    Great capture @red_spork . I ALMOST ALMOST took a very serious swipe at that coin to win it. I kept thinking you would get into the fray. It has your name all over it. I decided on a completely other purchase. Glad it went to you!! Well done!
    galba68 likes this.
  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Excellent coin! We often run into problems with British English versus American English and would be better off if more people would stick to generic terms to dodge the corn problem. I use grain which includes barley and am not enough of anagri-historian to know what various plants looked like back then. I know the advances in plant and animal husbandry can fool us. Thanks for sharing.
  8. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm not terribly well versed in this facet of history either, but I agree that I am not so certain it is necessarily "wheat" so I've changed the description to "grain-ear".
  9. ancientcoinguru

    ancientcoinguru Supporter! Supporter

    I also thought about going after that coin:), since I am missing a quinarius from either of the grain-ear series. It's a real beauty, congrats!
    Theodosius likes this.
  10. Alegandron

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

    Funzies: Here are a couple Grain Ears from the exact same period and proximity!

    Sicily Akragas Punic occup 213-210 BC AR Half Shekel 19 mm 2.9g Male head r Triptolemos wreath grain -Horse leaping r Punic Ḥ SNG COP 378

    Campania CAPUA AE 14-5mm 216-211 Hera Oscan Grain ear Hannibal capital Italia SNG Fr 517 SNG ANS 219 HN Italy 500 EE Clain Stefanelli
    Theodosius, Bing, Curtisimo and 6 others like this.
  11. ancientcoinguru

    ancientcoinguru Supporter! Supporter

    Good idea @Alegandron! I can contribute this AE sextans.
    AE sextans Grain ear KA.png
    Ca. 211-208 B.C Anonymous
    Appears to be of Sicilian mint, probably Catana.
    Post-Reform Æ sextans (20 mm, 6.20 g, 9 h)
    Obv: Head of Mercury right, wearing winged petasos; above, two pellets.
    Rev: (KA) before, ROMA below, prow of galley right; above, grain ear.
    Reference: BMCRR 274.
    Carausius, Bing, Curtisimo and 6 others like this.
  12. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis

    I have one of these as well along with the matching triens:

    The sextans is overstruck on Hieron II Poseidon/trident. The triens is overstruck but it's scratched up and hard to discern the undertype.
  13. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Well-Known Member

    Yes, for example, my wife's "husbandry" is a US coin idiot, who likes to hang out in the ancients threads! :smuggrin::smuggrin::hilarious:
    Curtisimo likes this.
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