Lot

27

Duck Helmet. Eastern. c.50-40 BC. Celtic silver unit. 14mm. 1.23g.

In Chris Rudd Auction 179

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Duck Helmet. Eastern. c.50-40 BC. Celtic silver unit. 14mm. 1.23g. - Image 1 of 2
Duck Helmet. Eastern. c.50-40 BC. Celtic silver unit. 14mm. 1.23g. - Image 2 of 2
Duck Helmet. Eastern. c.50-40 BC. Celtic silver unit. 14mm. 1.23g. - Image 1 of 2
Duck Helmet. Eastern. c.50-40 BC. Celtic silver unit. 14mm. 1.23g. - Image 2 of 2
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Norwich, Norfolk
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Norwich, Norfolk

Duck Helmet. c.50-40 BC. Silver unit. 14mm. 1.23g. Female head left with big round eye and beaded neck-lines, wearing crested helmet with J-shaped ear piece and duck’s head mounted in front, two dots in bill; before: duck swimming left, fish or worm in bill; fishtail frond; S-shaped stylised seal; small ring./ Double-annulate horse left, with ‘butterfly’ ears and bushy stranded tail; ringed corn ear above and below, latter with small ring either side, forming hidden face; two ring-triads over head; seal with dot eye above tail; other rings around. ABC 2380, VA−, BMC−, S−. Good EF, almost as minted, large round flan of clean bright silver, well centred both sides and boldly struck from freshly-cut dies, fine-style profile of helmeted goddess, duck-head, duck and seals all clearly and completely displayed. An exceptionally pretty piece, indisputably one of the finest on record. Recently unearthed and offered for public sale for the first time. Found near Barton le Clay, Beds., 2019. EXTREMELY RARE only ten others recorded, none in the British Museum. 

The iconography of this utterly delightful Duck Helmet unit – unquestionably one of the crispest known – is remarkably coherent. The stylised seal under the goddess’ chin is repeated on the reverse, this time with an obvious eye. The male theme of the two corn ears on the reverse is echoed by the two tiny grains of wheat in the bill of the duck’s head on the helmet. The two ringed corn ears are significant for two reasons: firstly, because they tie the Duck Helmet to the Middle Whaddon Chase gold stater, Curved Wheat Type, ABC 2445, which also has two opposed ringed corn ears; secondly, because bronze ducks from Gaul and Britain often have a grain of wheat in their bill, including the duck carrying Sequana (see p.1). The helmeted head is ultimately derived from Roma heads of early Roman Republican denarii; which favours Cassivellaunos as the issuing ruler rather than Addedomaros. The tribal attribution of this beautifully engraved coin is as uncertain as its regal attribution. What is beyond doubt is its exquisite and extraordinary excellence. Though the type has been known for 180 years, published by the Rev. Rogers Ruding in Annals of the Coinage of Great Britain and its Dependencies, 3rd ed, 1840, Appendix, pl.29.1, and by Joachim Lelewel in Études Numismatiques et Archéologiques, Type Gaulois, ou Celtique, Brussels, 1841, pl.8.34 (where it is classed as ‘Gallo-Breton’), only nine examples have been recorded. That’s an average of only one every 20 years. Can you afford to wait til 2041 for the next Duck Helmet to be found? Unlisted by Van Arsdell, BMC and Spink. The beaded neck is similar to that on the Crested Head silver unit, see Lot 12. For more information on this rare and beautiful type see Chris Rudd List 170, no.36, May 2020. Dr John Sills says: “This is the best example known” (pers. comm. 22.8 2021).

Duck Helmet. c.50-40 BC. Silver unit. 14mm. 1.23g. Female head left with big round eye and beaded neck-lines, wearing crested helmet with J-shaped ear piece and duck’s head mounted in front, two dots in bill; before: duck swimming left, fish or worm in bill; fishtail frond; S-shaped stylised seal; small ring./ Double-annulate horse left, with ‘butterfly’ ears and bushy stranded tail; ringed corn ear above and below, latter with small ring either side, forming hidden face; two ring-triads over head; seal with dot eye above tail; other rings around. ABC 2380, VA−, BMC−, S−. Good EF, almost as minted, large round flan of clean bright silver, well centred both sides and boldly struck from freshly-cut dies, fine-style profile of helmeted goddess, duck-head, duck and seals all clearly and completely displayed. An exceptionally pretty piece, indisputably one of the finest on record. Recently unearthed and offered for public sale for the first time. Found near Barton le Clay, Beds., 2019. EXTREMELY RARE only ten others recorded, none in the British Museum. 

The iconography of this utterly delightful Duck Helmet unit – unquestionably one of the crispest known – is remarkably coherent. The stylised seal under the goddess’ chin is repeated on the reverse, this time with an obvious eye. The male theme of the two corn ears on the reverse is echoed by the two tiny grains of wheat in the bill of the duck’s head on the helmet. The two ringed corn ears are significant for two reasons: firstly, because they tie the Duck Helmet to the Middle Whaddon Chase gold stater, Curved Wheat Type, ABC 2445, which also has two opposed ringed corn ears; secondly, because bronze ducks from Gaul and Britain often have a grain of wheat in their bill, including the duck carrying Sequana (see p.1). The helmeted head is ultimately derived from Roma heads of early Roman Republican denarii; which favours Cassivellaunos as the issuing ruler rather than Addedomaros. The tribal attribution of this beautifully engraved coin is as uncertain as its regal attribution. What is beyond doubt is its exquisite and extraordinary excellence. Though the type has been known for 180 years, published by the Rev. Rogers Ruding in Annals of the Coinage of Great Britain and its Dependencies, 3rd ed, 1840, Appendix, pl.29.1, and by Joachim Lelewel in Études Numismatiques et Archéologiques, Type Gaulois, ou Celtique, Brussels, 1841, pl.8.34 (where it is classed as ‘Gallo-Breton’), only nine examples have been recorded. That’s an average of only one every 20 years. Can you afford to wait til 2041 for the next Duck Helmet to be found? Unlisted by Van Arsdell, BMC and Spink. The beaded neck is similar to that on the Crested Head silver unit, see Lot 12. For more information on this rare and beautiful type see Chris Rudd List 170, no.36, May 2020. Dr John Sills says: “This is the best example known” (pers. comm. 22.8 2021).

Chris Rudd Auction 179

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Tags: Celtic, Stater, Coin, Gold Stater