First all-Celtic coin auctions in Britain

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March 12, 2015 – Chris Rudd, the Celtic coin specialist based in Norfolk, former land of the Iceni and their rebellious leader Queen Boudica, plans to hold six e-Auctions a year which are dedicated exclusively to Ancient British coins. The first of these all-Celtic coin auctions will be online from Monday 2 March, closing on Sunday 15 March, and will be accompanied by a printed catalogue.

First known portrait of a British king? Lister’s Celtic Head silver unit, c.50-40 BC, ABC 2478. Chris Rudd, 15.3.2015. Estimate: £1250.

Among the forty Ancient British coins to be auctioned in March is an extremely rare silver unit possibly struck by Cassivellaunos (‘bronze commander’) who led Britain’s military coalition against Julius Caesar in 54 BC. Only fourteen other examples are known. The coin was found at Meldreth, Cambs., 31 March 2014, and is named Lister’s Celtic Head after a well known collector Major Clem Lister, who published the first recorded example in 1959. Lister says: “Julius Caesar records that the inhabitants of Britain wear their hair long and have every part of their body shaved except the head and upper lip. This coin, almost alone among British coins, bears out this description. The hair and moustache are long and the chin clean shaven. The head is likely to be that of some British or Belgic deity following the Roman pattern, though it might be argued that it could be of a tribal king” (British Numismatic Journal 29, 1959, p.5-6). If indeed the shaggy moustachioed head on this coin is that of Cassivellaunos himself, king of the Catuvellauni, then it could well be the first known portrait of an ancient Briton, according to Chris Rudd.

Possible coins of Cassivellaunos may indicate that he perhaps had plaited hair, a winged helmet and a winged sceptre. Illustration by Jane Bottomley.

Elizabeth Cottam says: “Our new all-Celtic e-Auctions are a logical extension to the mail-bid and phone-bid auctions we introduced in 2000. The major difference is that, whereas only a few of our rarest coins were sold by auction, all coins in the bi-monthly Chris Rudd List will now be sold by e-Auction. However, for those collectors who don’t like bidding for their coins, all the coins in Liz’s List, which I launched 12 years ago, will continue to be offered at fixed prices.”

Further information about Chris Rudd and the new all-Celtic auctions will be available on their newly updated website.

More about Cassivellaunos you may learn here.

And here you can enjoy a CoinsWeekly cartoon on the ancient Catuvellauni.