UNCERTAIN GERMANIC TRIBES, Pseudo-Imperial coinage. Mid 3rd-early 4th centuries. 'Quinarius' (Gold, 14 mm, 3.22 g, 7 h). IVIIΓIΛIII I IICIVIIΛ Bare imperial head to left. Rev. IΘIIICIΘII / IΠI Bear, upright, standing left, presenting basket (?) to male figure seated right, leaning his right hand on ground and extending his left toward the bear. A highly unusual and most interesting coin, with a wonderful and unparalleled reverse. About extremely fine.
From the Aurum Barbarorum Collection.
This is unquestionably the most exciting coin in the Aurum Barbarorum Collection. What it represents is unclear: the reverse, which shows a bear presenting an uncertain object (a basket?) to a sitting male figure, is without parallels in ancient coinage and thus in all likelihood a genuinely German motive. Does it portray a local tale, in which a bear comes to the rescue of a human, or is it the artist's rendering of the epiphany of a German god in the form of a bear, much like Zeus used to appear in the guise of various animals in Greek mythology? We shall, unfortunately, never know, but it certainly is an astonishing and wonderful coin and of the greatest historical interest.