Saturday, 24 March 2018

Martial's Epigrams

Working now in the centre of York I can regularly call into a number of my favourite haunts. On one such lunchtime trip I came across a cheap, rather tatty copy of Martial's Epigrams. I wasn't intending to buy it when I picked it up to look through it but  I saw it contained over twenty plates of Roman coin engravings.

This book was originally published for the education of the Dauphin (Delphinus), the young crown prince of France, the future king Louis XV. Great care was bestowed on the editing and printing of the series. 39 editions of Latin authors, from Cicero to Ausonius, also difficult ones like Festus and Manilius, were published by leading or promising French scholars. They were also meant for a broad public and offered introductions, reliable and readable texts, easy interpretations, and philological, educational and historical notes without too much philological niceties, or textual criticism. The series was a huge success. This particular edition of Martial was a weak link in the series, and had consequently little success, for it was reissued only once, in 1701. It was originally produced by the otherwise unknown French jurist Vincentius Collesso, or Vincent Collesson, and was first published in Paris in 1680. 

This edition of 1701 is the only reissue of the Martial of Collesso. It was produced by the Dutch scholar Ludolf Smids, who enriched and elucidated the text with engravings of numerous coins. At the end, as in the original edition of 1680, we find on 56 pages the 'epigrammata obscoena'. Ludolf Smids, 1649-1720, became Doctor of Medicine in 1673 in Leiden. He went to live in Amsterdam, where he spent more time on the study of history, antiquities, poetry and numismatics than as medical practioner. He wrote plays, poetry, and several books on numismatics.

Sunday, 11 February 2018


I have a thing about Roman usurpers and in particular the Palmyrene revolt of  the 270s. I have always promised myself that if ever I get a boat I will name it Zenobia after the wife of Odenathus and mother of Vabalathus, the ruling family of the time.

Most of the coins of Vabalathus name him as VCRIDR, acknowledging him as a client king. Vabalathus is laureate and therefore clearly subordinate, iconographically, to the Roman emperor, Aurelian, with a spiky radiate crown, who appears on the other side

There is a very rare series, however, where Vabalathus is acknowledged as emperor and a series of deities appear on the reverse. I have just acquired a second example with Hercules on the reverse, holding a club and the apples of the Hisperides.

The revolt was quickly crushed in 272AD. Vabalathus and Zenobia were taken to Rome. Accounts vary as to his fate, some say he died en route while others say he was paraded with Zenobia, his mother, and Tetricus senior and junior who had revolted in Gaul.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Early mechanical carriages

A number of years ago I acquired a run of The Antiquary journal from the late 19th century. One of the articles in there, spread over several parts, appeals to my “steam punk” nature. In the volume for 1896 the title is Early Mechanical Carriages by Rhys Jenkins.

It is a series of descriptions of weird and quirky prototypes for vehicles, accompanied by woodblock prints from the seventeenth century through to the nineteenth century. I really doubt that man of these ever progressed beyond the drawing board phase and were ever built. They look like the entrants in a Victorian “Wacky Races” event.

Several years ago I offered the article on eBay, quite cheaply, thinking that people would be interested in buying it and framing the diagrams. Luckily it didn't sell and is still intact. Hope you enjoy the pictures.


Monday, 13 November 2017

An eastern antoninianus of Valerian I

Valerian I, antoninianus, Samosata mint, Göbl 1682e

I recently acquired this coin of Valerian I (253-60AD). Struck at the mint of Samosata (Samsat in Adiyaman province, southeastern Turkey) the reverse is quite clearly is referencing eastern events with two victories affixing a shield to a palm tree and with the legend VOTA ORBIS.

It may be marking the dedicatory vows anticipating the military campaign in the easy against the Sasanid ruler Shapur I, a campaign that was to end in disaster through the treachery of one of Valerian’s military commanders. Valerian was captured, in AD 260, by Shapur and was never to be seen alive again, having been reputedly killed, stuffed and used by the Sasanid ruler to mount his horse.

The capture of Valerian in 260 was seemingly the catalyst for a number of revolts right across the Roman empire that were to set the tone for the next fifteen years.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Mauseus on Facebook

Mauseus is now on Facebook.

Mauseus Facebook site

All Hallows Church, Bardsey

Today I got to the village church in Bardsey. Oddly, having lived in the vicinity for forty years or so, I have only just learned of it's antiquity. The church is undoubtedy ancient, All Hallows church includes elements of an Anglo Saxon church dating between 850-950 AD with impressive Saxon tower and, in all probability, is the finest Saxon building in West Yorkshire.

The remnants of the successive changes are all evidenced within the building as it stands today.

 What really drew me to the site were the small stone relics in the church that include 11th century grave marker inscribed with a crudely carved Latin cross and probable include Saxon and Viking era carvings.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

New sales website

I have changed my selling platform for the ancient coins and antiquities. The link on the left to Mauseus Sales wil take you there. There are rare and interesting genuine ancient items on offer should you wish to take a look like this "DEO ET DOMINO...." coin of Aurelian.