ZURICH.- On October 5th, Numismatica Ars Classica will offer the first part of perhaps the most complete collection of ancient Roman Republican coins ever offered for public sale. The Roman Republic spans the period from when Rome was a small central-Italian city state until the end of the Republic in 31 BC, when Octavian defeated Marc Antony at the battle of Actium, and the Roman Empire began. The first sale of the “RBW Collection” will cover the period from the beginning of Roman coinage in the 4th century BC up to the Social War in 91 BC, when several Italian states rose up against Rome, and almost toppled her. The coinage from the Social War until the end of the Republic will be offered by Numismatica Ars Classica in the spring of 2012.
The collection, formed over the past 50 years, includes coins struck in gold, silver, and bronze, as well as examples of the dramatic large cast coins which passed for currency in Rome’s earliest days. The first sale will include one example of nearly every coin type known for this period, plus 29 types which are not recorded in the standard references for the series. And, as a measure of the rarity of the coins offered, five are unique, and five others are known in only two examples.
The sale opens with 60 lots of the large cast bronze coinage, or Aes Grave, mostly in exceptional condition. The group includes many rarities, such as this massive dupondius, showing the head of the goddess Diana and a Roman wheel, estimated at chf 18’000.
The next section of the sale features the early silver and bronze coinage which Rome issued in imitation of the coinage of the Greek city-states who were her neighbors at that time. This beautiful example, featuring the head of the god Janus on the obverse, ex. Lockett collection, is estimated at chf 3’000.
In 212 BC, Rome introduced its own monetary system, based on the silver denarius of 10 bronze asses (the denarius is the direct ancestor of today’s penny). The early denarius coinage also included rare gold pieces, such as this 60-as piece with pentagram symbol, which is one of only two examples known, and has a pedigree going back to the Borghesi collection in the 19th century; it is estimated at chf 15’000.
The collection is also very strong in the denarius coinage of the late 2nd and early 1st c. BC, including this extremely rare denarius of C. Numitorius, perhaps the finest specimen known, estimated at chf 10’000.
The RBW Collection includes coins from most of the major collections sold in the past half-century, including such famous collectors as Enrico Caruso, Clarence Bement, Virgil Brand, Sir Arthur Evans, and John Works Garrett; the specific provenance of nearly every piece is provided. Clearly, this sale will be a once in a generation opportunity for collectors of ancient coins. Catalogues are available from Numismatica Ars Classica, Zürich.