Cunobelinus (Agr?)No Branch Type. Sills class 4, rev. die 74. c.AD8-41. Gold stater. 15-17mm. 5.32g. Ear of barley without central stalk, crossbar and long ornate curvilinear tendrils at base, [CA] to left, MV to right./ Chubby horse galloping right, with long ears and beaded mane, pellet in front, small star above, CVNO below. ABC 2792, VA 2020, BMC 1825-26, DK 558, S−. Good VF, rich rose gold, ornate ear of barley, bold horse. An impressively important stater, possibly from one of Britain’s most important Celtic collections. EXTREMELY RARE type, only 15 others, including 3 in museums UNIQUE? obverse die.
Like the two examples in the celebrated collection of Sir John Evans, now in the British Museum (BMC 1825, 1826), this extraordinary stater was struck on an ovoid flan and may look a little lop-sided to you. However, its numismatic significance cannot be exaggerated. Firstly, the long ornate tendrils are most unusual and, in this case, the right-hand tendril is fully revealed (neither of Sir John Evans’s specimens show the terminals of the tendrils). Secondly, this obverse die appears to be the only one known; Dr John Sills says it’s an “unrecorded obverse die, unexpected in the context of this type as the other fifteen are all from obverse die 41” (pers.comm. 28.1.2020). Thirdly, the vendor tells us that he got it from a dealer who acquired it “forty years ago” from the colletion of war hero Henry Mossop DFC (1919-88), pioneer metal detectorist, distinguished numismatist and author of The Lincoln Mint (1970); we’re unable to verify this, but it’s not implausible because Mossop got a better centred example (CCI 73.0353, Mossop 320, ex Glendining’s, 10.11.1996, lot 6); which may have prompted him to sell this one in c.1980. Fourthly, and most importantly, this gold stater may have been struck on behalf of Cunobelinus by Agr, whom we believe to have been Cunobelinus’ first son and former heir apparent. We aren’t the only people to have considered the possibility that Agr struck a gold stater. Commenting on the No Branch Type Dr John Sills writes: “At first sight its position in the die chain makes it a candidate to be the companion to the CAM CVN quarters [ABC 2819, 2999, 3002], which have no equivalent stater, but there are no stylistic similarities between the two groups. Nevertheless, the No Branch type is an oddity within the stater series and its position adjacent to the A and AGR quarters [ABC 2999, 3002] – if the latter have been placed correctly – may be a sign of temporary disruption at the mint following the disappearance of AGR” (DK, p.627).