Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 92 - Part I   |   23 - 24 May 2016 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Session 1, Lot 72

Estimate: 35'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 28'000 CHF Price realized: 47'500 CHF
Umbria, Hatria
As circa 275-225, Æ 421.00 g. Head of Silenus facing, with animal’s ears; on r., L. Rev. Dog lying asleep; below, H – AT. Haeberlin p. 205, 2 and pl. 74, 1 (this coin). Sydenham Aes Grave 180. Weber 216 (this coin). Campana p. 233, 1. ICC 236 (this coin illustrated). Historia Numorum Italy 11.
Extremely rare and undoubtedly the finest specimen known of this interesting and
intriguing issue. An exceptionally detailed portrait and a superb green
patina. Good extremely fine
Ex Naville XI, 1925, Levis, 44, and New York sale XIV, 2007, 3 sales. From the Weber collection.
Hatria (now Atri in the Abruzzo region of Central Italy), a town of Picenum in eastern Italy, was situated close to the Adriatic Sea between the rivers Vomanus and Matrinus (modern Vomano and La Piomba). The town of Matrinum located at the mouth of the latter river served as its principal port. Although Hatria’s origins are obscure, it was perhaps originally an Etruscan colony, first settled by colonists from Atria in Padanian Etruria. During Rome’s steady rise to dominance over central Italy during the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C., the town came under its sway, becoming a Latin colony shortly after 290 B.C. The city flourished under Rome’s patronage and later, after the roads were built, served as the junction of the Vias Salaria and Valeria. The city was attacked by Hannibal in 217 B.C., and eight years later in 209 B.C. it was one of the eighteen Latin colonies that stayed loyal to Rome during the Second Punic War, providing support to its ally in the form of both material aid and soldiers. During imperial times, during the reign of the emperor Hadrian who himself was from Spain but whose family hailed from the region of Hatria, the city received the title Colonia Aelia Hadria. Hatria’s small and rare coinage must be considered in light of the developments of coinage at Rome. At Rome and in central Italy, while bronze was plentiful, both silver and gold were extremely scarce, with the latter being practically non-existent. Commerce therefore, when not in kind, was facilitated by the use of bronze ingots. Initially these came in the form of lumps, called by numismatists aes rude, sometimes found inscribed or counterstamped, and later formed into figural quadrilateral bars and other recognizable shapes, often erroneously referred to by numismatists as aes signatum. Around 280 BC or perhaps a little later, lead-rich ingots formed into the shape of quadrilateral bars similar to the earlier figural bars and occasionally bearing the legend ROMANOM ”of the Roman” appear. These probably served as war booty during the Pyrrhic and First Punic Wars (275-241 B.C.). Concurrent with these currency bars was the introduction at Rome of the first cast round coins, struck from the same sort of leaded bronze, all clearly denominated with symbols and pellets and based on a libral as of 324 grams to which they readily adhere. It was at precisely this same time that coinage at Hatria and other central Italian mints subject to Roman influence first appears. The coinage of Hatria itself is quite scarce, and consisted of cast round coins in nine denominations from as to semuncia. Attested Provenances for the early cast issues of Hatria are Rimini and Atri itself. The largest, the as, was struck at a standard of about 372 grams, although specimens as heavy as 435 grams and as light as 323 grams are known. Other than the head of Silenus found on the as and the Pegasus which appears on the quincunx, the types are a mixture of both animate and inanimate objects common in everyday life, such as male and female heads, anchors, cocks and fish, shoes and craters, as well as letters and denominational marks.
The types used on the as were the facing head of Silenus, depicted bald and bearded, with thick lips, slanted eyes, and having the downturned ears of a mule, on the obverse, and on the reverse a sleeping dog curled up to the right. The legend HAT (sometimes appearing retrograde) can be found on either the obverse or reverse, as can the denominational markings I or L that often appear in the field. It is not known why these types were chosen, but it could be that viticulture played some role in the Hatria’s economic development; if so, as the tutor and drinking companion of Bacchus, Silenus would have made an appropriate type for the city’s first and only coinage. The dog, an animal noted for its ability to hunt and to protect, has always been man’s companion, and its use here perhaps was meant to compare the fierce loyalty it showed its owner to Hatria’s loyalty to Rome. The specimen offered here is undoubtedly one of if not the finest known examples of the type if not the finest.

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