Silver 10 Asses, circa 300-250 BC.
Obverse: Laureate male head facing left, slightly bearded; X behind Reverse: No design.
(EC I, 70.70 (this coin); HN Italy 168).
About Extremely Fine; beautiful cabinet tone with iridescence.
This coin published in I. Vecchi, Etruscan Coinage Part 1 (2013);
Ex Fritz Rudolf Künker GmbH & Co. KG, Auction 277, 21/6/2016, lot #7 (hammer: EUR 2,400);
Ex C. Crippa (Milan), listino 4, 1969, #158.
Etruscan coins are unlike any others to have emerged from the ancient world. Most are instantly recognizable due to their uniface nature. Extactly why the Etruscans neglected to grace the reverses of many of their coins with designs is uncertain.
Populonia’s economy was underpinned by extensive reserves of iron ore and its close proximity to the sea. According to Strabo, writing in the 1st Century BC, it was the only coastal Etruscan city, a city which controlled territory rich in natural resources, from fish to salt. It was these characteristics which made Populonia the prime candidate for issuing a currency which, by Etruscan standards, was extensive.
While coins from Populonia featuring both obverse and reverse designs do exist, many silver and gold coins from the city were struck directly onto a flat surface (likely a stone slab), the result being a design appearing on only one side of the coin. Some examples bear marks from the surfaces of the stone slab on which they were struck.
This silver 10 Asses Piece features the portrait of a young man wearing a laurel wreath. It is possible the deity in question is Apollo. He is portrayed in a style which is notably more refined and classical than other Etruscan coins struck in Populonia at the time (c. 300-250 BC), which often feature the heads of Metus in distinct archaic style, well in to the classical period.