A gold Gallic chief

On 15 July 2019, by Anne Doridou-Heim

By Toutatis… The great historic interest of this gold stater dating from the time of Vercingetorix pushed up the bidding.

Arvernes, Vercingetorix (died 46 BC), gold stater, bare, beardless head on left obverse with the inscription "VERC{INGE}TORIX", galloping horse on the reverse, weight: 7.29 g.
Result: €102,920

Vercingetorix (ca. 72-46 BC) helped to forge French history and had a special place in the heart of the Gauls, perhaps for his defiant character. So when a gold coin from a dig at Siaugues-Saint-Romain (Haute-Loire) dating from his period appeared, numismatists geared up for battle. One eventually paid €102,920 for it. In 1852, an Auvergne farmer found a stash of 200 to 300 Gallic coins, known as the Pionsat hoard. They were quickly scattered. Many of the 51 specimens listed today are in museums (the National Library of France, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Lyon Museum of Fine Arts, etc.) and some rare examples feature the name Vercingetorix on the right. The sale’s expert called this coin legendary: it helped to unify the Gallic peoples against Caesar. The Arvernes issued many gold staters to pay neighbouring tribes to join the fight against the Romans. The question of the profile shown did not discourage bidders. Before, it was thought that Vercingetorix had a beardless, youthful face and curly hair. Today it is less certain. That might explain the famous Greek nose, which is rather surprising for a Celtic chief.

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