RPC-2273 #09216-43 Lampsacus Julius Caesar Janus Prow As
As. 45BC. 4.28grams. Lampsacus mint. Caesar. RPC P/2273 Lampsacus Julius Caesar . Obverse: hd Janus, CGIL. Reverse: prow r, Q LVCRETI L PONT II VIR COL DED PR. Extremely Rare. See andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Provincial.html#Lamps for an illustrated story about this coin.
Early Provincial coinages sometimes commemorated the founding of a city that later hardly appears in the numismatic record. Being commemorative, founding coins might be of higher artistic and manufacture quality. A classic example is the twin sets of coins inscribed CGIP and CGIL from the Propontis of Asia Minor, some bearing the head of Julius Caesar as well as magistrates names and titles that suggest a founding event. The coin above is a specially magnificant example, a 16mm bronze like a small rosebud that gradually unfolds to reveal more beautiful petals than one could imagine from such a tiny source.
To start with, this is one of the most finely engraved bronze of such small module in the Republican series. The head of Janus is all of 5mm in width, the delicate lettering C.G.I.L. would not stand more than weeks normal circulation, the reverse is a wealth of details, the flan is round, thick and even, the strike well centred and strong from unworn dies. Next the types. It cannot be anything except an As, whose Janus/prow types have a genesis two centuries earlier when it weighed some 100 times as much with the same nominal face value.
But by the time of Julius Caesar, no Janus/prow Aes had been struck since that of Sulla some forty years earlier. The Janus-prow type was familiar as a monetary concept but not as new currency. In fact other than rebellious issues of Sextus Pompey, no further Janus-prow bronzes were ever to be struck with the exception of an excessively rare type of Mark Antony, Crawford 530. So this is remarkable, commemorative and with an ancient type quite appropriate for a founding coinage and apparently issued in very small quantities. RPC2273, which is the type, is cited in only two examples, one acquired by the British Museum in 1866, the other in collection RW. Both these coins, as well as this third example, share a single obverse die with another equally rare issue. This is rather nicer than the RPC illustrated BM example.