CELTIC, Central Europe. Helvetii. Circa 75/50-25 BC. Quinarius (Silver, 15 mm, 1.80 g, 12 h), Vatico. Celticized bust to left, wearing torque with four pendants; to left, two circlets (?). Rev. VATICO Horse springing left; above, carnyx; below, shield decorated with star. D&T -. Frey-Kupper, Viros, Fig. 6.2. Nick p. 69-73 and Pl. 93, 5. LT -. SLM -. Of the highest rarity, apparently the fifth coin in the name of Vatico known. A tremendously important issue of great historical interest, very well centered and in exceptional condition. Minor marks, otherwise, about extremely fine.
From the Helvetii Collection, formed in the 1970s and 1980s.
Nick only records four coins bearing the name Vatico, two of which were found in the oppidum on the Bois de Châtel and one in nearby Avenches. The issue is known in two varieties, with left and right facing heads. Our example is the fifth recorded and the first to ever be offered in a public sale. It is similar to the coin in the Musée Monétaire in Lausanne, but from a new die pair with a slightly different rendering of the torque. The recorded find spots make an attribution of the issue to the oppidum on the Bois de Châtel tempting, but its close connection to the coins naming Viros (see the previous lot), three of which have been found in the oppidum of Altenburg-Rheinau while just one was found in Avenches, calls for caution. While further finds may shed new light on their origin, their historical importance is beyond any doubt. The adaption of both the Roman quinarius and the Latin alphabet by the Helvetii provides evidence of increasing Roman influence in an area that had been dominated by Celtic culture for several centuries. Viros and Vatico most likely were local noblemen or moneyers, who lived in a time of rapid intercultural influence and political change and may have been witnesses of the loss of Helvetian autonomy during the Roman expansion under Caesar and Augustus.