CELTIC, Central Europe. Vindelici. Late 3rd or very early 2nd century BC. 1/24 Stater (Gold, 7 mm, 0.34 g, 5 h), 'Januskopf II' type. Head of Janus with thick strands of hair. Rev. Horse galloping to left with the head of a rider on its back. Flesche 344. Kellner, Manching, 2199. Steffgen/Ziegaus, JNG XLIV (1994) pl. 2, 18 (same dies). Extremely rare. A splendid and beautifully centered piece of enchanting Celtic style, perhaps the finest of very few genuine examples known. Tiny scratch on the obverse, otherwise, good extremely fine.
From an important collection of Central European Celtic coins.
The late 3rd BC century saw heavy fighting between the Romans and the Celtic tribes of northern Italy. The war of 225-222, incited by the Roman expansion into the Padan Plain, was followed by the invasion of Italy by Hannibal in 218-203, during the course of which Celtic mercenaries fought as auxiliaries on either side. After the decisive victory of Scipio at Zama in 202 BC, the resumption of the Roman conquest of the Po Valley eventually resulted in the expulsion of many Celts from Italy. The sequence of these events led to a growing Roman influence on Central Europe, which also reveals itself in contemporary Celtic art such as on this coin. Its types are based on a Roman litra dating to circa 225-212 BC (Crawford 28/5) and showing Janus on the obverse and a horse to the right on the reverse. Could this prototype - which was even more closely copied on the 'Januskopf I' type (see above, lot 11) - have found its way north as part of payments to mercenaries of the Hannibalic war, or in the belongings of Celtic refugees fleing the Roman conquest of northern Italy? We shall, of course, never know, but there can be no doubt that the remarkable 'Januskopf' issue stands at the very beginning of the coinage of the Vindelici. At least one example was found in a La Tène burial site in Biel, Switzerland, but other find spots show that the coins mostly circulated in southern Germany. They may, in fact, have been struck in the famous oppidum at Manching.