Verica Vine Leaf. Leaping Horse Type with Triple Stranded Tail. Sills class 5c, dies 19/35. c.AD10-40. Gold stater. 17mm. 5.34g. Centrally positioned vine leaf on plain field, VI to left, R[I] to right./ Cavalryman mounted on a right-facing horse with beaded mane, bridle rein and triple-stranded tail, CO F around, beaded border. Apart from his bowl-shaped helmet, the horseman appears to be naked and riding bareback; an elliptical shield with a vertical beaded line and what looks like a ?javelin, are slung over his left shoulder. The horse’s forelegs and hindlegs are precariously perched on two inward-tilting angles, seemingly bridging a chasm and giving the horseman an almost statuesque quality, frozen in action in a moment of time. ABC−, VA 520-5, BMC 1168-74, DK 367 (text), S–.CCI 15.0535 (this coin). Good EF, virtually as minted, lustrous rose gold with absolutely unblemished satin-like surfaces, complete vine leaf centrally situated, magnificent parade-style horseman, crisply cut inscription. An exceptionally elegant example, possibly the finest we’ve had of this fascinating Leaping Horse Type. A well documented pedigree piece from the celebrated Celtic collection of Geoff Cottam, Spink 232, 2 December 2015, lot 150; ex Classical Numismatic Group 10 October 1999. RARE type with triple stranded tail, only 44 others recorded including 15 in museums.
Historically this is a significant specimen of the Leaping Horse Type because both right-angle plinths can be clearly seen and because, with equal clarity, the plinths were placed there for a purpose. Over the last seventeen years we have speculated as to what purpose King Verica and his engraver may have had in mind. In 2002 we said: “The statuesque setting for the horseman is undoubtedly deliberate, placing him literally on a pedestal; which leads me to believe that he may be intended to be viewed as Verica himself, or his revered ancestor, Commios. An alternative reading of the image might be that the cavalryman is jumping over a chasm or – even more fanciful – that Verica bridges the time-gap between Commios and himself, and that he may therefore be seen as a worthy successor to the Atrebatic throne.” In 2016 we sold a Leaping Horse stater which had cross-hatched plinths (same dies as BMC 1167), saying: “The two cross-hatched mounts might also be seen as two pieces of land – Atrebatic and Regnan? British and Gaul? – which are bridged by the powerful, unifying, cross-channel-trading Verica.” Dr John Sills says the Leaping Horse Type “is so named from the unusual attitude of the horse, which is shown leaping from one square embankment to another. It may represent the king straddling the northern and southern halves of his territory, portray a particular event in his reign, or simply be a die-cutter’s whim” (DK, 2017 , p.379). Today we feel the most plausible interpretation of the two plinths is that Verica has united the two halves of the southern kingdom (Atrebatic and Regnan), previously split between Tincomarus and Eppillus. The sensational, near mint-state condition of Geoff Cottam’s stunning stater suggests that it may have come from a hoard, perhaps from the Burchett’s Green hoard, Berkshire, 1991? See Coin News, April 2016, p.36.