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Hersh’s Die Study of the Denarius of Gaius Antonius

By Liv Mariah Yarrow for American Numismatic Society (ANS) ……

I never had the pleasure of meeting Charles Hersh during his lifetime. But over these last few weeks, I’ve been meeting the man, his brilliance, his meticulous research habits, and a little of his personal tastes, all through his papers on deposit here at the ANS.

A few months ago a friend and colleague, Jordan Montgomery, asked me what I knew of these papers. I’d seen a few scans of one or two documents and knew others had made some use of it, but really not much at all. Jordan said his curiosity was piqued by conversations with fellow numismatists about how the late Rick Witschonke often spoke in admiring tones of the richness of Hersh’s papers and the importance of their contents to our field.

Having a fondness for archives and an inclination to trust Rick’s judgment on such things, I said I’d take a look.

The boxes have not disappointed. I’ve now committed every Thursday of this semester to the creation of an archival finding aid detailing the contents of each box and folder so that future researchers can more easily access the materials. This is also the first step in determining what portions to prioritize for digitization and considering the necessary scale and feasibility of such a digitization project.

There are eight large archival boxes and a number of smaller boxes and bound materials. In box 5, folder 5, there is a complete die study of a small but deeply interesting issue, RRC 484 (fig. 1).

What follows is a short overview of the issue of context followed by the complete contents of the archival folder so as to share some of the beauty of Hersh’s process and a sense of his intellectual rigor. The rest of the archive is just as rich, and I look forward to sharing more as I continue to work through the materials.

The Denarius of Gaius Antonius

Hersh’s Die Study of the Denarius of Gaius Antonius
Figure 1. ANS 1967.153.26. This is specimen number 8 in Hersh’s die study, obverse die II, reverse die D. See below.

Bernhard Woytek places this coinage in very early 43 BCE before the capture of Gaius Antonius by Brutus and considers Illyrian Apollonia (modern Pojan, Albania) to be the most likely mint.

Gaius was Mark Anthony’s brother and had served as praetor in 44 BCE. When Brutus, then urban praetor, withdrew from Rome in the aftermath of the murder of Julius Caesar, it was Gaius who took up all the tasks typically assigned to that office. On November 28, 44 BCE, the Roman Senate assigned Gaius the province of Macedonia with proconsular powers for the coming year. That meeting was presided over by his brother. In the new year, Gaius crossed the Adriatic to try to take up his province. He had only one legion and failed to convince Publius Vatinius, the proconsul of Illyricum (45-43 BCE), to combine forces. In March, Brutus captured Gaius and Apollonia. Gaius never set foot in his province.

Even so, these coins struck in Illyricum celebrate his proconsular assignment to Macedonia. The figure on the obverse is rightly identified as a personification of Macedonia on the basis of the causia. A causia is a distinctive felted wool hat long associated with Macedonia and especially its military (figs. 2 and 3).

Hersh’s Die Study of the Denarius of Gaius Antonius
Figure 2. A detail of a fresco from the Villa of Publius Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale dating to the first half of the first century CE, now on display at the Naples Archaeological Museum. The middle figure is a personification of Macedonia wearing a causia. Image in the public domain.
Hersh’s Die Study of the Denarius of Gaius Antonius
Figure 3. Details of the fourth century BCE Tomb of Agios Athanasios (Thessaloniki, Greece) showing some of Macedonian warriors wearing the causia. Images in the public domain.

The title PROCOS had been used already on the coins by many governors in other regions, most famously on the cistophoric coinage of the governors of Asia and Cilicia (fig. 4). Woytek points out that it was also used on the coinage of Dium struck by Quintus Hortenius, praetor of 45 BCE and governor of Macedonia from 45 until his death in 42 (fig. 5). Hortenius retained his control to the detriment of C. Antonius by siding with Brutus but was ultimately executed after the Battle of Philippi.

Hersh’s Die Study of the Denarius of Gaius Antonius
Figure 4. ANS 1951.5.97. A cistophorus of C. Pulcher struck at Pergamum. Pulcher served as governor of Asia from 55-53 BCE. He was a brother of Cicero’s enemy Clodius and appears regularly as a character in Cicero’s letters especially in the late 50s.
Hersh’s Die Study of the Denarius of Gaius Antonius
Figure 5. ANS 2015.20.2222 with relevant portion of obverse inscription highlighted in yellow. See RPC I 1509 for further examples of the type. The mint attribution has been made more secure by multiple finds in the excavations at Dium.

The reverse celebrates Gaius’ election to the college of priests. Jörg Rüpke places this event in 45 BCE as part of Caesar’s policy of rewarding the loyal supporters of his dictatorship. The use of such priestly implements, especially the axe and culullus, was aFigure 7. ANS 1937.158.333. RRC 500/7. 43-42 BCE, Mint uncertain. common feature of the coinage of Julius Caesar and their appearance here likely echoes that usage (Fig. 6).

In turn, Gaius’ usage may have also inspired Brutus’ own use of the imagery (Fig. 7).

Figure 6. Berlin 18217123. RRC 465/1b. Compare also Caesar’s famous elephant coinage (RRC 443/1) which also has an axe and culullus.
Figure 7. ANS 1937.158.333. RRC 500/7. 43-42 BCE, Mint uncertain.

After Gaius’ capture, he was detained by Brutus, who initially allowed Gaius to retain his lictors and insignia. When Gaius attempted to inspire a mutiny, the only consequence was a closer guard. Then, in early 42 BCE when news reached them of the proscriptions following the formation of the triumvirate, Brutus ordered his execution.

Hersh and His Study

I presume Hersh was inclined to take up the study of this issue by both its small size and unique historical context. The die study itself can be cited as follows:

C. A. Hersh. 1994–. “Unpublished die study for RRC 484.” American Numismatic Society Archives, box 5, file 5.

To summarize his findings, there are 13 known die combinations from a total of seven obverse dies and nine reverse dies. Die combinations are tightly interconnected such that Hersh was able to propose a likely sequence in which they were used (fig. 8).

We provide a transcription of the most complete draft of the die study, a total of three handwritten pages. The transcription was undertaken by Jonathan Garcia, a Brooklyn College undergraduate earning college credit by working as my research assistant at the ANS this semester. Garcia also completed the scans for this blog post and continues to assist me in preparing a finding aid for the archive.

Begin Transcription:

Babelon, Antonia 148; Sydenham 1286; Crawford 484

O-I, R-A 1. Bahrfeldt 2 = American Numismatic Society =
Gans (March 9, 1954), 537 =
Hirsh 33, 1073 (November 17, 1913) Baron Friedrich Von Schennis =
Hirsh 22, 22 (November 25, 1908)

O-I, R-A 2. Bahrfeldt 7 = Barcelona ANE (June 26, 1973), 196 =
Glendining (March 5, 1970), 369 =
Bourgey (November 4, 1913), 765 Vidal Quadras y Ramon

O-I, R-B 3. Riva 848

O-I, R-C 4. Bahrfeldt 5 = Hess 194, 664 (March 25, 1929) Vogel =
Hess (March 11, 1912), 306 Count Jean Tolstoi

O-I, R-C 5. Ratto (January 23, 1924), 1418 Dr. Pompeo Bonazzi

O-II, R-C 6. Numismatica Ars Classica/Spink Taisei (November 16, 1994), 80. Gilbert Steinberg =
Stack’s (May 3, 1978), 711 Frederick Knobloch =
Hess/Bank Leu 45, 448 (May 12, 1970)

O-II, R-C 7. Forli, Carlo Piancastelli Collection, 155 =
Baranowsky, 1929 Fixed Price List, 1439 =
Schulman (March 5, 1923), 545 M.L. Vierordt

O-II, R-D 8. American Numismatic Society Adra Newell Collection =
Glendining (March 9, 1931), 84 E. Nordheim*/A.J. Evans =
Naville 11, 197 (June 18, 1925) Howard C. Levis =
Feuardant (July 8, 1919), 698 W. Talbot Ready =

O-II, R-D 9. Bank Leu 28, 349 (May 5, 1981) =
Münzen Und Medaillen 17, 340 (December 2, 1957) =
Sambon (May 27, 1925), 275 =
Sangiorgi, Rome (January 18, 1893), 96 Bartolomeo Borghesi

O-III, R-D 10. Bahrfeldt 8 = British Museum, East 37 George Nott Collection

O-III, R-D 11. Riva 908

Page 2

O-III, R-D 12. Bahrfeldt 6 = Hersh Collection =
Glendining (December 7, 1950), 313 Laurie A. Lawrence =
Bourgey (December 10, 1923), 32 J. Favre =
Egger 39, 628 (January 15, 1912) Vienna Duplicates

O-III, R-E 13. Bahrfeldt 3 = Bank Leu 17, 776 (May 3, 1977) Dr. E. Nicolas =
Glendining (January 14, 1953), 436 John C.S. Rashleigh =
Hirsh 24, 779 (May 10, 1909) Consul Eduard Weber

O-III, R-E 14. Polisseni Collection =
Leu 2, 346 (April 25, 1972) =
Kunst Und Münzen 5, 105 ( [vacat] 1970)

O-IV, R-E 15. Hess/Leo + Co. (March 27, 1956), 349

O-V, R-F 16. Vienna 690 Bachofen Von Echt

O-V, R-G 17. Coin Galleries, New York (November 20, 1975), 1413

O-V, R-H 18. G. Mazzini Collection, Caius Antonius I (Plate II) =
Glendining (July 19, 1950), 698 Henry Platt Hall

O-V, R-H 19. Münzen Und Medaillen (June 19, 1975), 513 =
Münzhandlung Basel 6, 1511a (March 18, 1936) Prince Waldeck Von Donaueschingen

O-VI, R-H 20. Bahrfeldt 1 = Sternberg (November 30, 1973), 26 =
Glendining (November 20, 1969), 18 Albert Henry Frederick Baldwin
Hirsh 12, 417 (November 17, 1904) Professor K

O-VI, R-H 21. Cahn 75, 840 (May 30, 1932) Prince Waldeck/Ernst J. Haeberlin*

O-VII, R-J 22. Bahrfeldt 4 = Naville 17, 1143 (October 3, 1934) Sir Arthur J. Evans =
Hirsh 33, 1074 (November 17, 1913) Baron Friedrich Von Schennis = H
ess (May 20, 1912) 384 Theodore Prowe

Page 3

Forgery Bahrfeldt 9 = Egger 43, 107 (April 14, 1913) Herzfelder

C. Hersh

End transcription.

Figure 10. Hersh’s earlier drafts and notes
Figure 11. A letter from Alan Walker with Hersh’s annotations. Walker gave his kind permission
Figure 12. Photographs of specimens found in the same file (envelopes not illustrated). Hersh appears to have used a consistent and unique numbering system to indicate the original source for each coin image clipping. Thus far I’ve not found a guide to this numbering system amongst his papers, but my survey is not yet complete, and thus I continue to hope it will be found.

Richard Schaefer has also been collecting images of this issue and assigning them die names. His work was digitized and linked to the CRRO entry as part of the RRDP. One envelope containing the majority of the image clippings had Schaefer’s name on it. Schaefer tells me he did not send these images to Hersh and thus we both presume that Hersh had intended to share these with Schaefer once his own work was complete.

* * *

American Numismatic Society (ANS)

American Numismatic Society
American Numismatic Societyhttps://numismatics.org
The American Numismatic Society (ANS), organized in 1858 and incorporated in 1865 in New York State, operates as a research museum and is recognized as a publicly supported organization. "The mission of The American Numismatic Society is to be the preeminent national institution advancing the study and appreciation of coins, medals and related objects of all cultures as historical and artistic documents, by maintaining the foremost numismatic collection and library, by supporting scholarly research and publications, and by sponsoring educational and interpretive programs for diverse audiences."

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