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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
11000904

The Gallic Chieftain Vercingetorix

Triton XXII, Lot: 904. Estimate $5000.
Sold for $6500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Moneyer issues of Imperatorial Rome. L. Hostilius Saserna. 48 BC. AR Denarius (19mm, 3.94 g, 6h). Rome mint. Head of Gallic captive (Vercingetorix?) right, wearing hair flowing back and long, pointed beard, and a chain around his neck; Gallic shield to left / Two warriors in biga right: one driving, holding whip in right hand and reins in left, and the other, facing backward, holding shield in left hand and brandishing spear in right; L • HOSTILIVS above, SASER[N] below. Crawford 448/2a; CRI 18; Sydenham 952; Hostilia 2; BMCRR Rome 3994-5; RBW 1569. Choice EF. Great metal.


From the Alan J. Harlan Collection. Ex Tkalec (29 February 2008), lot 226.

The portrait on the obverse has sometimes been identified as the famous chief of the Arverni, Vercingetorix, whom Julius Caesar captured in 52 BC in Alesia. It is difficult to imagine anyone placing such a dramatic portrait of a defeated foe on their coinage, but it is clear from surviving sources of the period that the Romans had a good deal of respect for the Gauls as honorable warriors. Crawford and Sear believe this identification is unlikely, but the large, distinctive, and carefully engraved head suggests the die cutter worked with an eye toward creating an individualized portrait, rather than a stylized personification of a Gaul. The reverse is also of particular historical interest, in that it depicts the manner in which chariots were used in Celtic Gaul, and perhaps in Britain as well.