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Research Coins: Printed Auction


The First Gothic Coinage

Sale: CNG 78, Lot: 1900. Estimate $200. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 14 May 2008. 
Sold For $845. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EARLY GOTHS. Taman Peninsula region. Late 3rd-early 4th century AD. BI Denarius (1.64 g). Degraded male head right - abstract design with rays emanating from central figure; group of six pellets in field / Degraded figure of Mars carrying transverse spear and trophy; three pellets and circle flanking legs; all within wreath. L.N. Kazamanova, “Varvarskie podrazhaniia rimskim denariam s tipom idushchego Marsa,” Vestnik Drevneél Istorii 1 (1961), Group III; D. Faltin, “Taman Imitiations - ‘Coins of the Unknown People,” The Celator 20, 7 (July 2006), pp. 22-6. VF, dark green patina, a little rough. Very rare.

Ex Elsen 69 (16 March 2002), lot 66.

Although unrecognized in western numismatic literature, these coins have been studied by Russian and Ukranian numismatists over the past century. The vast majority of the extant specimens have been found in the region of the Taman Peninsula, although some have been found throughout the Black Sea region and northern Caucasus. The context of their finds suggest they are datable from the mid-third to the early fourth centuries AD. Although other theories regarding their origin still persist, the consensus among Russian numismatists is that these coins were issued by the Goths. Most prominent among these numismatists is L.N. Kazamanova, who has produced the most detailed study of the coins to date. She has determined that the coinage began as imitations of Roman denarii, specifically those of Marcus Aurelius or Septimius Severus featuring Mars advancing right on the reverse (cf. RIC III, 326 [Marcus] and RIC IV 46 [Severus]). Over time the obverse portrait and reverse type became more degenerate, eventually resulting in types that no longer resemble the original prototype. In her survey of the coins, Kazamanova has divided them into three groups based on the level of degeneration of the types, as well as their silver content. The present coin is from the latest group, which are of highly-debased billon and the designs are far removed from their prototypes.