Friday, 26 June 2009

Coin Hoards From Roman Britain Volume XII

The long awaited Coin Hoards from Roman Britain volume XII is now available. The “blurb” below gives a rough précis of the contents but for London Mint enthusiasts, the inclusion of the Langtoft , Ravenstone and Prestwood B Hoards is a real selling point. The Langtoft Hoard of almost 2,000 coins discovered by metal detectorists in 2000 was sold at auction in 2002 by DNW in London – only 54 coins were retained by the Yorkshire Museum or the finders. Some coins from the hoard are still available through the trade, having been sold in large groups. The hoard included well over 500 London Mint coins and so the full report by Craig Barclay is a valuable reference source.

The Ravenstone hoard of 469 coins, 275 from the London Mint included an extremely rare S over star/P mintmark CLARITAS similar to the one reported recently on this blog. This hoard was returned to the finder and its ultimate disposition is unknown. So, maybe some of us have already got coins from this hoard! If anyone knows where this hoard ended up, please let me know ............

The Prestwood “B” hoard of 735 coins included 438 examples from the London Mint and again includes some very scarce types, including two unlisted in RIC. This hoard was retained in its entirety by the Buckinghamshire County Museum.

All in all, this volume is thoroughly recommended and is available from Moneta:

Coin hoards from Roman Britain Vol. XII edited by Richard Abdy, Eleanor Ghey, Celine Hughes and Ian Leins

“The twelfth volume of Coin Hoards from Roman Britain presents 57 hoards with terminal dates from AD 244 to the end of the Roman period. This is the companion volume to CHRB XI, which contained the earlier hoards discovered between 1997 and 2001. CHRB XII also includes later hoards found up to April 2003. More recent addenda to these hoards have been included where possible.

The volume includes the Chalgrove II hoard of 4,957 radiates, with its important find of the second known coin of Domitian II. The recognition of an additional Gallic usurper has expanded our knowledge of this less well understood period of Roman history. The latest hoards included in the volume, Patching and Oxborough, are accompanied by discussion of the significance of these hoards for the monetary history of the late Roman to early Medieval transition.

Richard Abdy, Eleanor Ghey and Ian Leins are curators of Roman coins in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum. Celine Hughes is a former intern of the department.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Early Unmarked Coins of London

Following on from my previous post, there is a lively discussion going on at on the early unmarked coins of London and, in particular, the intermediate group first proposed by Bastien. Since RIC VI was published in 1967, there has been a significant amount of research on these series and a number of significant articles have been published. The following are amongst the most important:

Bastien, P. & Vaselle, F. - Le trésor monétaire de Domqueur (Somme) Wetteren, 1965.

Bastien, P. - Some comments on the Coinage of the London Mint, AD 297-313 NC 1971, p.152-156.

Amandry, M.- Un follies inédit de Dioclétien pour l’atelier de Londres BSFN, April 1980, p.677-679.

Bastien, P. -Atelier Continental sans Marque Le Monnayage de l’Atelier de Lyons, Wetteren 1980, p.125-128 (pl.LXIX).

Burnett,A.M. & Robinson,P.H. - The Upavon, Wilts, hoard. CHRB, Vol.V, BM 1984, pp.90.

Stewartby - Early Tetrarchic Coins of London from the Market Stainton Finds NC 1998, p.89-102 (pl.28,22).

Besly, E. - A Hoard of Tetrarchic nummi from Bridgend, South Wales NC 2002, p.169-215 (pl.31-42).

Drost, V. & Gautier, G. - Le Trésor de Larré (Morbihan) : une thésaurisation mixte de la 1re Tétrarchie (terminus 300 après J.-C.) Trésors Monétaires XXIII, 2009, p.1-33 (pl. 1-10).

Essentially. the current thinking is that as well as the “unmarked continental mint” with its plain laureate busts, there is a further group of plain laureate busts attributable to London with its distinctive small, neat lettering – as opposed to the big, irregular letters with slender down-strokes of the Lyons style. Stewartby gives these London plain busts the designation Class Ib with the LON issues being assigned to Ia. There then follows a new series designated as IIe that comes before the IIa class described in RIC VI as "with small head on tall neck".
Class IIe are all cuirassed but have busts that are reminiscent of the Lyons style. Stewartby is careful to point out, however, that there is no definitive break between IIe and IIa and goes so far as to describe a series IIea into which ambiguous coins can be placed.

Stewartby describes the Ib and IIe series combined as the “intermediate group” although it is not clear to me that this was Bastien’s original intention. In his 1971 NC article he seems to describe the IIe series alone as the “intermediate group”.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Unmarked Continental Mint

Just before Constantius invaded Britain to defeat Allectus, a number of coins were produced at an “unmarked” continental mint. Although the location of the mint was unknown (possibly Bolougne), it is fairly certain that they were produced using workers from the Lyons mint (Bastien , RBN 1959). The style and bust types are identical to contemporaneous marked Lyons issues (LA and LB). Therefore, Sutherland, when compiling RIC VI included this issue in the Lyons mint section – numbers 14-21. Bastien in an annexe to a later work, Le Monnayage de L’Atelier de Lyons (Wetteren, 1980), - Annexe Atelier Continental Sans Marque pp.125-128 and Plate LXIX revisits this issue. He reaffirms his view that these coins were minted at an unknown continental mint prior to the invasion and concludes that, in reality, there are only four types in the issue, RIC 14a, 14b, 17a and 17b. The others listed under Lyons by Sutherland are erroneous, either unofficial or lightly struck LA or LB coins or unmarked London coins. He goes on to catalogue these four types each with two different versions; the first group with large heads (“effigies larges”) and the second with small heads (“petites effigies”). Examples of some of these coins are pictured on James Pickering’s website – see link left, and the picture above is an example of RIC VI (Lyons) 14b.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The La Chapelle-lès-Luxeuil Hoard

The La Chapelle-lès-Luxeuil (Haute-Saône) hoard of 15,518 Constantinian nummi was published in Volume XVIII of the Trésors monétaires series. It is the only hoard in the volume and is a useful addition to the library of London mint enthusiasts. The terminal date of the hoard is 342AD but unusually for a hoard of that date a significant portion of the hoard (15%) was minted prior to 325AD. It contains 245 coins from the London Mint, of which eight are unlisted in RIC. Interestingly for me, one of the RIC listed and illustrated coins is an example of the rare S over star/P issue (RIC 120) that is an obverse and reverse match to a coin that was once in my own collection but has since moved on.

The Trésors monétaires series published by the Bibliothèque nationale de France is a rich seam of information as many hoards of this period found in France contain a good proportion of London mint coins. The latest volume (XXIII) contains a significant early hoard of the first Tetrarchy that includes a rare LON issue and many unmarked examples. The Larré trésor contains a total of 44 coins from London and a further 15 of the unmarked continental mint. The terminal date is 300AD and the total number of coins found in the hoard was 929.