Eppillus Crescent. Triad Type. Sills class 1, dies 3 or 4/4. Regini & Atrebates. c.20BC-AD1. Gold quarter stater. 10mm. 1.16g. Central crescent, COMMI F EPPILLV around./ Horse right, star and pellet triad above, star below, beaded border. ABC−, VA 409, BMC 1009, DK−, S−. Good EF, scintillating rose gold, as fresh as the day it was struck. Well centred both sides, complete inscription, every letter sharply struck and clearly legible. A truly superlative example. EXCESSIVELY RARE only two others recorded.
This inscription on this beautiful quarter stater is one of the most finely engraved of any British Iron Age type (John Sills, Divided Kingdoms p. 352). Had it not been for Eppillus’ coins we would never have heard of him, nor been able to follow his impressive career in such satisfying detail (DK pp 351ff. and 769ff). This one was struck when he had charge, at Calleva, of the inland, Atrebatic district of his brother Tincomaros’ southern kingdom, before he moved to Kent to found a dynasty of his own. The Belgic style of his stater coinage (ABC 1145) was purely traditional, but lesser denominations presented neat, updated versions of regional motifs in a more Classical idiom, reflecting a treaty with Augustus that he probably made in c. 15 BC. Here, a protective, circular, shield-like obverse design is very much in the local tradition, with a leader’s name and the tribal high goddess’s crescent moon that can turn in the hand to both wax and wane. Likewise its reverse shows the usual tribal mare surrounded by propitious triplet dots and two stars to represent, here, perhaps the Heavenly Twins - healers, horsemen, and rescuers from peril on land and sea. Eppillus had to tread delicately between his own and the Roman world, neither of which wholly trusted the other, so in a gesture of respect for Augustus’ support, the inscription is in Latin, and this particular crescent moon comes from a denarius of 19 BC (Sear 1640).
Chris Rudd Auction 177
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