Vibius C f Pansa denarius: breaking die or inexpert engraver?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by scarborough, May 28, 2020.

  1. scarborough

    scarborough Active Member

    Can anyone suggest what caused the broken raised line on Apollo’s nose? Is it a cracked die? An inexpert engraver?

    The coin itself is a common Roman republican denarius

    [​IMG] coin109 20 05 28 horiz.jpg

    C. Vibius C.f. Pansa. 90 BC. AR denarius (18mm, 3.81 g,).
    obv PANSA to left, laureate head of Apollo right; simpulum below chin
    rev C.VIBIVS.C.F in exergue, Minerva in quadriga r, holding trophy in r hand and spear and reins in l
    Cr 342/5b, Syd 684, BMCRR 2270

    Fortunately obverse dies in the series have control marks; in this case a simpulum under the chin. I was able to find two other photos of this obverse die, both from the Bibiotheque nationale de France collection

    [​IMG] bnf 20 05 28 vibia obv horiz.jpg

    (images thanks to Coins of the Roman Republic Online:

    Both of these coins show the same flaw on Apollo’s forehead and nose, so it must be part of the die.

    But was the flaw caused by a crack? Or by a careless engraver?

    My reasoning for the latter is due to the position of the flaw, being along the outline of Apollo’s profile. As well, this series was struck during the emergency of the Social War when a vast amount of coinage was necessary for armies. According to Crawford, there were 988 obverse and 1 097 reverse dies. So perhaps in the rush to cut another die the engraver cut too deeply on Apollo’s profile before realizing his mistake …

    I’d be interested in hearing your views.

    Thank you

  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    looks to be authentic...i don't know enough about this particular denarius on such issues...but someone will ring in shortly, i'm sure..:)
  4. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Makes me wonder if the celator didn't try to repair some issue in/on the die manually?
    Or else it happened naturally on the most shallow part of the die... the indentation along the nose.
    Here's mine, ironically or by design missing the nose indentation in question:

    Vibius C.f. Pansa.

    90 B.C.E. AR denarius (16.5 mm, 3.70 g, 6 h). Rome mint. PANSA, laureate head of Apollo right, liitus below chin / C·VIBIVS·CF, Minerva driving quadriga right, holding reins and spear. Crawford 324/5b

  5. Alegandron

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

    Wow, that makes sense to me. These were war issues in the extremity. The Romans were scared. They weren’t fighting Barbaric enemies, nor even the Greeks. No, the Romans were fighting their own Allies. Enemies that set side-by-side in battle formation, and covered each other’s flanks. The Allies new every tactic, strategy, training methods, armament, everything about the Roman Legions, because they were the Allied Legion. Allied legions were assigned to Roman Legions, sometime TWO Allied Legions were assigned to a Roman Legion. So monster mintage were pounded out to hastily formed troops that were a bit afeared of the former comrades in arms.

    90 BCE was the Year of “Oh, Crap! This is really happening!...” and, the Confederation was beatin’ on the Romans!

    Hasty mintage makes for cool but weird!

    Maybe the Roman die cutter was getting purdy jittery, cuz the die cutter beside him was a Frentani or a Samnite, getting ready to sign up with the Marsic Confederation Legions.

    RR Vibius Pansa 90 BCE AR Denarius Apollo V control - Minerva Quadriga Sear 242 Cr 342-5 Social-Marsic War
    Last edited: May 28, 2020
  6. Alegandron

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

    LOL, WHoooaah! There’s a little guy who crept into the picture! Looks like a happy little guy!
    Ryro likes this.
  7. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Sorry for the photo bomb. Turkey, stole his poppa's shades in this once!
    And great point. In times of war (for the Romans=always) artistry is lost in the name of paying the soldiers!
    Alegandron likes this.
  8. Alegandron

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

    LOL, BIG FUN for the Little Man! He looks great!
    Ryro likes this.
  9. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    I think it's die damage. A small piece of the die, more specifically the edge of Apollo's profile, seems to have splintered off at some point. I have an L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi denarius struck from a similarly damaged die:
    Römische Republik – RRC 340:1, Denar, Piso Frugi, Apollo:Reiter.png
    Roman Republic, moneyer: L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi, AR denarius, 90 BC, Rome mint. Obv: laureate head of Apollo r.: control marks. Rev: L PISO FRVGI; horseman galloping r. with palm-branch; control mark CVI. 18mm, 3.77g. Ref: RRC 340/1.

    Here is my C. Vibius Pansa example:
    Römische Republik – RRC 342:5b, Denar, Pansa, Jupiter in Quadriga.png
    Roman Republic, moneyer: C. Vibius Pansa, AR denarius, 90 BC, Rome mint. Obv: laureate head of Apollo r.; behind, PANSA downwards; before, control-mark. Rev: Minerva in quadriga r., holding spear and reins in l. hand and trophy in r. hand; in exergue, C VIBIVS C F. 19mm, 3.67g. Ref: RRC 342/5b.
  10. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

    I think it's die damage. Your coin and the other 2 from the BNF especially look like a late die stage strike. You can see the damage
    particularly in the lettering.
    Alegandron and red_spork like this.
  11. scarborough

    scarborough Active Member

    Thanks everyone for a great discussion. For myself, it's part of what makes our hobby so interesting.
    Take care
  12. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..that is kool coin and a kool kid Ryro! :)..
    Ryro likes this.
  13. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Interesting question, and I agree with the above: die damage.
    From the rest of the coin, this looks like it’s happened early in the life of the die too.
    The coin maker must have thought «Oh, cac! Better get this thing pieced together and make the most of it.»
    Alegandron likes this.
  14. Andrew McCabe

    Andrew McCabe Well-Known Member

    Die break. The obverse is falling to bits, not just on the nose but elsewhere.
  15. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    This does seem to be a somewhat sloppy issue. Here's mine - the roughness seems to be post-minting damage and/or crystallization. And a banker's mark.

    RR - Vibia 1 denarius Oct 2018 (0).jpg

    Roman Republic Denarius
    C Vibius Cf Pansa
    (90 B.C.)
    Rome Mint

    PANSA, laureate head of Apollo right, control mark before (lighting bolt) / Minerva in quadriga right, C VIBIVS CF in exergue.
    Vibia 1; Crawford 342/5b
    (3.49 grams / 18 mm)
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page