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Research Coins: Electronic Auction

432, Lot: 214. Estimate $150.
Sold for $700. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Anonymous. 209-208 BC. Æ Triens (20.5mm, 6.53 g, 2h). Dolphin (first) series. Mint in Sicily. Helmeted head of Minerva right; •••• (mark of value) above / Prow of galley right; dolphin downward to right; •••• (mark of value) below. Crawford 80/3; Sydenham 215a; RBW –. VF, dark brown surfaces. Unpublished overstrike.

From the Andrew McCabe Collection, purchased from Richard Schaefer (Goodman Collection), 2004.

Exceedingly rare as a type and also unpublished as an overstrike. This is an important discovery, the dolphin triens not being listed by either Crawford table 18 or the later Hersh ANSMN 1985 overstrike inventories. There is clearly a Hieron II Poseidon/Trident undertype with the trident visible through the reverse prow. For clarity: the dolphin before prow is certainly part of the triens type and not of the undertype, which has dolphins of different style aligned with the tripod but in the opposite direction; the prow style also exactly matches that of RRC 80/1 as. The overtype is also exceedingly rare in its own right. There are no dolphin trientes in the Paris collection, none in RBW, none in Vecchi 3 (Fallani), and just one – CNG 45, lot 1228 – in the vast Goodman collection sold in CNG auctions 43-47. Quite apart from the rarity of the coin, the strike over a Sicilian undertype raises questions and provides new evidence for the dolphin series. Michael Crawford was uncertain about its mint location, noting Sicily(?) and “I am less happy with placing the issue with .. dolphin [in Sicily], but their stylistic affinities seem to be here rather than elsewhere”. In my own studies on anonymous bronzes in Essays Russo – see previous lot, a dolphin anonymous as – I placed the dolphin and related anonymous bronze types in the southern end of Apulia, the Messapian peninsula, probably actually in Brundisium. I did so because of the undisputed style links between club and dolphin bronze series, and their crossover anonymous types, and the undoubted placement of the heavy club asses on conical section flans in Apulia. This coin provides one piece of contrary evidence. It's possble the overstrike was Apulian as was done for many Luceria and related types, but it's also possibly Sicilian and may be evidence of a transition of engravers and workshop from Sicily to Apulia or vice versa for the club and dolphin bronze manufacture. With the very large heavy asses, the main denomination of these series does not seem aligned with Sicilian norms. This rarity is, of course, small and light as it must be because the undertype drives the size. A highly important coin for multiple reasons. [Andrew McCabe]