Of galleys and crocs - about a nice portrait of Octavian

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Cucumbor, Nov 16, 2020.

  1. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Well-Known Member

    Hi CT folks,

    When a nice portrait of Octavian shows up, and the price is no more than a one person portion of burger+fries+beverage in a restaurant, even more so when restaurants are closed due to Covid, one has to jump fast on the galley !

    JULIUS CAESAR and OCTAVIAN – Halved dupondius, Vienna (Gaul), ca. 36 BCE
    [•IM]P• [DIVI•IVL•CAE]SAR•DIVI•F bare headed portraits [of Julius Caesar to left] and Octavian to right
    C•[I•V] Prow of galley to right, surmounted by superstructure and mast (CIV for Colonia Ivlia Viennensis)
    31,5 mm – 9,96 gr
    Ref : RPC # 517

    I found Octavian’s portrait very pleasing on the coin, and even though it lacks the portrait of Caesar and the rostral part of the galley (the most interesting half I guess, but who knows where it might be now ?), I couldn’t resist, and it certainly was well worth every cent I spent….

    Now, I would like to write a few words about this interesting coinage, because it takes place in the conceptual continuity (thank you Frank ;)) of the bronze coinage from the first struck janiform asses to the Nemausus crocodile.

    This coin is known as the « Vienna dupondius » after the name of Vienna, Gaul, where it was produced around 36 BCE.


    The Colonia Julia Viennensis (today Vienne, France, not to be confused with Vienna, Austria) was a gallic (Allobroges) fortified settlement (oppidum) before it became a roman colony ca 47 BCE. During the Gallic war, Julius Caesar had troops stationed in Vienna, and in 45 BCE, Tiberius Claudius Nero had some auxillaries settling down there too. After Caesar’s assassination, a revolt chased out the latters who therefore founded Lugdunum (today Lyon, France), which would quickly become the capital city in Gaul.

    Even though it is located only 20 miles south of Lugdunum, Vienna remained an important provincial capital. Some major roman constructions are still visible in the city, such as the temple of Augustus and Livia or the roman theater, where a famous international jazz festival takes place every summer (well, almost every summer, 2020 being a bit….different).

    Temple d’Auguste et Livie : By Troyeseffigy - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21162568

    Theatre gallo romain : By Hélène Rival - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4661055

    Jazz a vienne.jpg
    Jazz à Vienne

    Anyway, it’s quite nice and interesting a place to visit, full of History, and only a bit more than one hour driving from my place :), should someone be interested !

    From Janus to the crocodile

    One of the recurring theme in the roman republic coinage is Janus. We see Janus, or janiform heads all along the roman republic, either on silver (quadrigatus) or on bronze coinage. The bronze coinage however, in addition to the portrait of Janus on the obverse, often shows a prow of galley on the reverse. The As below has a mark of value « I » that we will see again in the future….

    Quadrigatus - Rome or other italian mint, c 215-211 BC
    Laureate janiform head of Dioscuri
    ROMA in relief in linear frame at exergue, Jupiter, holding thunderbolt in right hand and scepter in left, in fast quadriga driven right by Victory.
    6,69 gr - 20-21 mm
    Ref : RCV #33, RSC # 24

    As - Rome mint, circa 211-206 BC
    No legend, head of janus
    Prow of galley right, ROMA at exergue, I above galley
    37.22 gr
    Ref RCV # 627

    From being anonymous to begin with, i.e. symbolizing ROME with no mention to the monneyers, the production took a more personnal turn with the appearance of the monneyer’s names, as well as the silver issues did.

    D. Junius L.F. Silanus, As - Rome mint, 91 BC
    No legend, Head of Janus
    D SILANVS L F, Prow of galley right
    12.08 gr
    Ref : RCV # 738

    One step further as been taken by Pompey the Great when his own portrait replaced that of an until then anonymous Janus on his asses produced at a sicilian mint

    Sextus Pompey, As - Sicily c.43-36 BC
    Head of Janus with features of Pompey the Great, MAGN above
    Prow of galley right, PIVS IMP in field
    16.57 gr
    Ref : HCRI # 336, RCV #1394, Cohen #16

    To be continued....
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2020
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  3. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Well-Known Member

    Not long thereafter apear, in now roman Gaul, several bronze issues bearing the portraits of Julius Caesar and Octavian (Lugdunum, Vienna) or Agrippa and Octavian/Augustus (Arausio, Nemausus). We usually see these dual portrait coinages as an evolution of the janiform heads, ending with the so famous Nemausus dupondius.

    Lugdunum dupondius (COPIA) circa 36 BCE - ©NAC-2014-05-26
    IMP CAESAR DIVI F DIVI IV[LI] Laureate head of Julius Caesar l. and bareheaded Octavian r., back to back; palm branch between. Rev. Prow r., decorated by dolphin; above, globe and meta. In exergue, COPIA.
    20,40 gr
    Ref : Giard, Lyon 7. SNG Copenhagen 689. RPC 515.

    Vienna dupondius (CIV) circa 36 BCE - ©Heritage-2018-01-08
    MP CAESAR DIVI F DIVI IVLI, back to back bare heads of Caesar left and Octavian right / C • I • V, prow of quinquireme right.
    18,76 gr
    Ref : RPC I 517. SNG Copenhagen 703-704.

    Octavian & Agrippa, AE Dupondius - Arausio mint (Orange), 30-29 BC (Colonia Firma Julia Secundanorum Arausio)
    IMP DIVI F (IMPerator DIVI Filii), bare heads of Augustus (right) and Agrippa (left), back to back
    Prow of galley right, ram's head (?) enclosed in a medaillion above
    17.61 gr - 28 mm.
    Ref : RPC # 533

    Augustus & Agrippa, AE Dupondius - Nemausus mint, after 10 AD
    4th type
    IMP DIVI F PP, Laureate heads of Augustus and Agrippa back to back
    COL NEM, Crocodile chained to palm tree
    12.84 gr
    Ref : RCV #1731, Cohen #8

    The evolution of the reverse is interesting to note about too : It’s often been observed that the crocodile on the Nemausus dupondius takes place instead of the galley, its snout symbolizing the rostral part, and the palm the mast we see on the Vienna examples

    On the following collage, you can see how the mark value on the former As has become a mast on the superstructure of the galley and then the palm above the crocodile. Also the « prophylactic eye » (The « Eye of Horus » had been first used by the egyptians as a decoration on the front part of their vessels. It was later used by other mediterranean cultures to decorate seagoing craft in the belief that it helped to guide the ship safely to its destination - ©Wikipedia), you see on the rostral part of the galley on the Vienna dupondius, is at the exact same place than the crocodile big eye, and gives the same visual effect. The crocodile’s snout is sometimes big enough that it looks like the forepart of the galley too.


    It’s very easy to find halved dupondii (more of the Nemausus production than the others though) because facing a shortage of small change at that time, people would cut them in two (sometimes in four) smaller parts to get asses or even semis.

    Augustus & Agrippa, AE halved dupondius - Nemausus, after 10 BC
    3rd type
    [IM]P [DI]VI F , Laureate head of Augustus right
    [COL NEM], Crocodile chained to palm tree
    6.70 gr
    Ref : RCV #1730, Cohen # 10

    Please post anything you find relevant, such as Janus, galleys, romano-gallic dupondii, halved coins, bacon and sausage...
    Thanks for reading

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  4. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    You had me at, galleys and crocs!!!:woot:
    Wonderful examples and write up:artist::pompous::cigar:
    20190610_145011_403C6D12-9EB9-4AD3-BBDA-D997E890386A-2352-000002BE473A5937.png share8565333223178835145.png
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2020
  5. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Well-Known Member

    Voilà un article très étoffé Mr. Jean-Claude. Quelles belles pièces vous nous présentez ! (Translation: Wow Q !)

    And here is my two half croc:

  6. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish)

    When I see a thread posted by @Cucumbor I can’t help but get excited to read about your newest acquisition! I was not disappointed here, either. What a great set of coins and a very informative write up.

    Here is my Nemausus Croc!
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  7. Alegandron

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

    WOWSERS, CUKE! Gorgeous group on fantastic coins!!! Thank you for posting and your writeup. Nice.

    I really like the Janiforms

    I have a few...

    RR Anon AR Heavy Denarius -Quadrigatus - Didrachm 225-215 BCE Incuse Roma Janus Jupiter Quadriga RIGHT Cr 28-3 S 31

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

    RR M Furius LF Philus AR Denarius 119 BCE Janus Trophy Carnyx Cr 281-1 Sear 156

    RR Anon AE As after 211 BC Janus I Prow Cr 56-2 Sear 627

    RImp Pompey 42-38 BC AE As Janus Prow Magnus S 1394 Cr 479-1
  8. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Wonderful examples! Nice!
    Cucumbor likes this.
  9. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    What a pleasure to read @Cucumbor's writing, learning about these different types and seeing all these beautiful coins.

    Have shown my crocodiles before, prefer not to repeat myself :D

    Sharing this Janus denarius (maybe I also shared it already...) - the galley certainly looks like a crocodile, which I never noticed before:

    Lazio, Rome 114 - 113 BC moneyer Caius Fonteius
    19 x 20 mm, 3.522 g

    RSC 1; CRR 555; Sydenham 555, Fonteia 1;

    Ob.: Laureate, janiform heads of Dioscuri; on l. control mark H; pellets for H-value • • • • • • below necks. On r., denominational mark X (crossed)=XVI. Border of dots
    Rev.: C·FONT (NT ligated) // (ROMA) galley traveling to r. with helmsman and three rowers to l.; acrostolium on prow of the galley; border of dots

    upload_2020-11-16_21-13-42.png upload_2020-11-16_21-12-53.png
  10. Alegandron

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


    RI Augustus oak crown Agrippa rostral crown L AE Dupondius 26mm 12.6g Type III 9-3 BCE Nemausus chained Croc wreaths RIC I 158
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  11. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Neat new addition, Q. Also, one of the more fascinating posts that we've had here this year, to my mind.

    Just posted one of my Nemausus crocs in another thread, so the other one, an ex Bing, will get posted here. :)

    Augustus Agrippa - Gaul Nemausus ex Bing 3549.jpg AUGUSTUS & AGRIPPA
    AE As. 12.0g, 26.5mm. GAUL, Nemausus, 20-10 BC. RIC 159. O: IMP DIVI F P-P, back-to-back heads of Agrippa, left, in rostral crown, and Augustus, right, laureate. R: COL NEM, palm tree curving to left, crocodile right chained below, wreath to left of palm tip with long ties trailing to right.
    Ex @Bing Collection

    And for a galley, how about this one, an issue with abit of "conceptual continuity" going on...

    Marcus Aurelius Lucius Verus - Den Antony Galley VI 4007new.JPG
    AR Denarius. 3.43g, 18.8mm. Rome mint, AD 165-166. Restitution issue of Mark Antony legionary type. RIC 443. O: ANTONINVS AVGVR – III VIR R P C, Praetorian galley left. R: ANTONINVS ET VERVS AVG REST, Legionary eagle (aquila) between two signa; LEG VI across field.
  12. Alegandron

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


    AE20 7g
    76 BCE
    Turret hd Tyche palm branch -
    Galley prow volute aphlaston at stern Phoenican letters
    BMC 26
    Ex: @Bing
  13. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the kind comments and nice pictures...

    Pursuing some research, I eventually found the other half of my coin. Well not the other half, but one that would make a nice pair with it thanks to a wonderful portrait of Caesar (unfortunatelly not mine)

    Jacquier-2013-09-13.jpg ©Jacquier-2013-09-13


    Edit to add : don't know why Caesar has got rabbit ears on that one though :)
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  14. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Well-Known Member

    Resurecting this thread almost exactly one year after I created it, I could change the title in

    "Chasing the other halves"​

    Remember : in my 2020 top of the year, @dougsmit kindly challenged me on the finding of the second half of my coin....

    I would have liked to find someting of equal quality as the Octavian half in the OP, but one has often to deal with what's available. Plus, although it has a Julius Caesar's portrait on it, it's one of the cheapest coins I bought in 2021

    JULIUS CAESAR and OCTAVIAN – Halved dupondius, Vienna (Gaul), ca. 36 BCE
    •IM[P• DIVI•IVL•CAESAR•DIVI•F] bare headed portraits of Julius Caesar to left and [Octavian to right]
    [C•I]•V Prow of galley to right, surmounted by superstructure and mast (CIV for Colonia Ivlia Viennensis)
    33 mm – 10,58 gr
    Ref : RPC # 517

    As a reminder, here's the other half to reunite them

    JULIUS CAESAR and OCTAVIAN – Halved dupondius, Vienna (Gaul), ca. 36 BCE
    [•IM]P• [DIVI•IVL•CAE]SAR•DIVI•F bare headed portraits [of Julius Caesar to left] and Octavian to right
    C•[I•V] Prow of galley to right, surmounted by superstructure and mast (CIV for Colonia Ivlia Viennensis)
    31,5 mm – 9,96 gr
    Ref : RPC # 517

    While at it, I spent som time at finding the other half for my type III Nemausus half dupondius too

    Augustus & Agrippa, Nemausus (Nîmes) halved dupondius - type III, after 10 BC
    3rd type
    IM[P] DI[VI F] , Laureate head of Agrippa left
    COL [NEM], Crocodile chained to palm tree
    4,60 gr
    Ref : RPC #524, RCV # 1730, Cohen # 10

    And his fellow because they missed each other for so long...

    Augustus & Agrippa, Nemausus (Nîmes) halved dupondius - type III, after 10 BC
    3rd type
    [IM]P [DI]VI F , Laureate head of Augustus right
    [COL NEM], Crocodile chained to palm tree
    6.70 gr
    Ref : RPC #524, RCV # 1730, Cohen # 10

    Please, as usual, post anything you feel relevant

  15. DonnaML

    DonnaML Well-Known Member

    I somehow missed this wonderful thread last year, so I might as well post my COL NEM "Type III" dupondius now:

    Augustus AE (Brass) Dupondius, 9-3 BCE, Colonia Augusta Nemausus [Nîmes] (Gallia Narbonensis province) Mint. Obv. Heads of Agrippa left and Augustus right, back to back, with Agrippa wearing combined laurel wreath and rostral crown, and Augustus wearing oak wreath, IMP above heads and DIVI F below [Imperator Divi Filius] / Rev. Crocodile right standing on two palm branches, chained to palm-shoot standing behind it, with tip of shoot leaning to right; wreath above and to left of palm-shoot, with long ties extending behind shoot to right, COL - NEM to left and right of palm-shoot. “Type III” of Augustus & Agrippa/Crocodile coin (see https://multicollec.net/1-mo-h/1h04). RIC I 158 (p. 52), RPC I 524 (see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/search/browse?volume_id=1&number=524), Sear Greek Imperial Coins 157 (D. Sear, Greek Imperial Coins and their Values (1982)], Sear RCV I 1730 (ill.). [See Sear RCV I at p. 337: Commemorates conquest of Egypt in 30 BCE; influenced by Augustus’s settlement of veterans of Egyptian campaign in Nemausus after colony was founded in 27 BCE.] 28 mm., 12.09 g.

    COMBINED Augustus & Agrippa - crocodile - COL NEM dupondius.jpg

    I don't know which numismatist first pointed out the close resemblance between the crocodile and a galley, or when, but it really is tremendously obvious even to someone like me who isn't familiar with the predecessor types.

    My own favorite galley coin is this one, from C. Fonteius (Crawford 290/1) -- even though it has no mast.

    Fonteius (Dioscuri-Galley) jpg version.jpg

    Note the apotropaic eye on the side of the galley near the prow. I didn't even notice it at first, but once someone mentioned it, I couldn't miss it.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2021
  16. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Well-Known Member

    Two very interesting coins @DonnaML thanks for showing them
    Your croc is great with this kind of circ. cameo effect

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  17. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    This one, which I think I shared before, is class I or an early class II type; most probably class I because both heads are crested, a feature also found on some smaller early Class II coins and there is a dot after COL. On Class II coins there is no dot after COL and COL NEM is ligate (RIC 157). The size is fairly large, however, the weight is not a sufficient criteria to establish a type I or II.

    24 x 25 mm, 13.919 g
    RIC 154 - 156; Sear 1728; RPC 522
    Gallia, Nemausus (Nîmes) according to Ilish, 1992 struck between 12 - 8 BC

    Ob.: IMP DIVI•F Heads of Agrippa (left) and Augustus (right) back to back, Agrippa wearing a short beard, a combined rostral crown and laurel wreath and Augustus bare-headed. Both heads crested
    Rev.: COL•NEM Crocodile chained to palm-shoot with tip right; above on left a wreath with long ties

  18. Limes

    Limes Well-Known Member

    That's a neat portrait on the coin. I like that the cut is such, that both portrait and croc are still nicely visible.

    Well, I don't have Janus coin or halved coins, and I'm out of sausages and I've never been fond of bacon. But I do have a relevant dupondius and a galley. But since the galley is the omnipresent galley coinage of Marc Antony, I'll just show this one:
  19. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Well-Known Member

    That's a beautiful early example @cmezner, thanks for sharing it

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  20. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Well-Known Member

    Great portraits, perfect centering, even green patina, that one has it all

  21. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    To me, these miss being a proper pair since the new coin needed to have the same die orientation as the first which would have shown the top and hardly any of the crocodile. Keep looking. I can't recall ever seeing a croc free coin but the random die orientations would seem to make it obvious to be out there. For the 'benefit'(?) of those who came to CT after my period of obsession with these coins, I will link to my page based on what I then called the coins: "Impossible to Grade". These things were so very varied in strike and flan preparation that is is really hard to find one that can be graded using the standard letters. Since I have seen, but not purchased a few more perfect than any I had when my page was written. The image is from that old group of coins.

    I find the matter less than obvious considering the fact that the reverse makes perfect sense as a commemorative for the city whose residents were veterans of the wars that chained that croc to the tree at Actium. I can see the relation to the prow in one sense but am not 100% sure that the designer of this type was intentionally mimicking the Caesar version. It is a nice theory but not obvious to the least of us. I have not seen Ilish (and could not find a link) so I have no opinion as to the validity of the 'Types'. It is a hard word to search due to the similarity to the fish and the singer. :pompous:
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