The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 38, September 11, 2011, Article 20


An E-Sylum reader writes:

This may be too commercial for The E-Sylum, but it will be a very important sale. The full catalogue is up on SixBid.

Roman republican coin

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.

he 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.

Not at all. With pedigrees like those, and the completeness of the collection itself, the sale catalog is sure to be useful for many years to come. Here's an excerpt from the consignor's introduction to the sale. -Editor

At the tender age of ten, I first discovered an interest in collecting coins (I am convinced that the propensity to collect is a genetically inherited condition). After a few years of dabbling with Whitman "penny boards", US type coins, and foreign crowns, I bought my first Roman Republican denarius in a Lu Riggs auction in 1960, and was amazed that a coin of such antiquity, beauty, and historical interest could be purchased for such a modest price.

Shortly thereafter I purchased a copy of Sydenham's wonderful 1952 catalogue of the Republican coinage and, after reading it carefully, was delighted to find that I could identify and attribute virtually any Republican coin which I encountered. The Republican denarii appealed to me as a series because they combined the beauty and diversity of types of Greek coinage (which I found lacking in Roman Imperial coins, with their repetitive portraits of the emperor combined with stylized representations of various deities), but still formed a cohesive and uniform series (the absence of which in the Greek series thoroughly intimidated me).

Another major milestone in my collecting career occurred in 1969, when I personally attended my first major auction sale: the collection of Thomas Olive Mabbot, sold by Hans Schulman (and idiosyncratically catalogued by Hans Holzer) at the Waldorf Astoria. There I was fortunate to meet Charles Hersh, one of the editors of Sydenham's book, and a great collector and student of the coinage of the Roman Republic.

Charles broadened and deepened my perspective as a collector, and introduced me to the fascinating world of scholarly research and publication. He was one of the dwindling numbers of "gentleman scholars", whose principal occupation was non-academic, but whose scholarly publications were universally accepted as authoritative. Charles became my numismatic mentor, and I would visit him regularly.

To read the complete article, see: Most complete collection of ancient Roman Republican coins ever offered for public sale (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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