Tuesday, April 8, 2008

An “Ugly Duckling” of a coin

AR Denarius. Marcus Porcius Laece 125 B.C. Rome (16mm, 3.58g)
Obv: LAECA Helmeted head of Roma right, ? (XVI monogram) in right field. “sexy” Banker marks on face and right field
Rev M. PORC Libertas in fast quadriga right, crowned by Victory flying left, ROMA in exergue. Bankers marks
Sear 146, RRC 270/1, CRR 513, RSC Porcia 3
Ex Vel Garnet collection

This rather rough but interesting coin, this “ugly duckling”, is one of my favorites for a couple of reasons. First, it was a Christmas Gift (2006) from my wife. It was the first coin she ever bought me. She has told me that I’m hard to buy for. (I don’t think I am!) I suggested that she pick out a coin she liked on Vcoins and make that my gift. She enjoyed the experience and has since given me other coins as gifts. It’s fun because I never know what I’m going to get! My two sons have also purchased coins for me (with Mom’s help!), it adds to the enjoyment of my collection.

Another reason I like it is that it is so ugly it’s beautiful! It possesses a certain “eye appeal”. We all enjoy pretty coins, nice fully struck, centered and detailed beauties. I enjoy the less than pristine examples also. I appreciate the nice ones for their beauty, the ugly ones I enjoy for their “character”. This denarius has character! The wear, scratches, banker marks and tarnish are all badges of honor this coin has earned in its 2000+ year journey. I can imagine the coin in a busy market place, the merchant and the coins owner transacting business, the coin changing hands, the cautious merchant punching the coin to make sure it’s good. I look at the coin and I can imagine it happening!

I also enjoy the history of it. It was minted by the moneyer Marcus Porcius Laece. Here we are 2000+years later and we know his name because it is there on the coin. How cool is that! Seaby notes "This moneyer was a descendant of P. Porcius Laeca, praetor in 195 BC, who proposed and carried the Lex Porcia de Provocatione. This granted the Roman citizen residing outside the city right of appeal in criminal matters against the magistrates acting in their military capacity and is commemorated by the reverse type." Ahh yes, propaganda, “Hey look how cool my ancestor was, I’m just as cool.” What good is being a moneyer if you can’t toot you own horn a bit? Little has changed in the world of politics in the last 2000 years!

So, this one little “ugly duckling” has brought joy and learning to me at several different levels. I have a special gift from my wife. That gift bears the marks of its journey through the centuries, sparking my imagination. The coin itself tells me who caused it to be made. I learn the story of his ancestor, and see that human nature hasn’t changed all that much over the centuries. This one ugly duckling sure is a swan in my eyes!

3 comments:

nolan said...

hey kevin this is nolan keep up the work i read your article about "ugly duckling" of a coin

Joe Sweeney said...

Have you ever ripped anyone off on and ebay purchase????????

Kevin said...

No Joe, I haven't.