World Coins

Dacian gold stater offered in October sale

A gold stater of Koson, possibly a Dacian king, likely minted from looted gold, imitates Roman Republic coin designs and appears in Künker’s Oct. 18 and 19 auction

Images courtesy of Fritz Rudolph Künker.

An ancient gold coin from Dacia, modern-day Transylvania, is a curious tale of imitation coinage.

An example of this coinage is offered in Fritz Rudolph Künker’s Oct. 18 and 19 auction.

This gold stater of Koson, who is perhaps an otherwise historically unrecorded Dacian king, was struck before 25 B.C. Koson could be the same person identified as Cotison when mentioned by Horace and Suetonius, Roman authors of antiquity.

Coins inscribed KOSON were discovered in several large stashes in Transylvania. The biggest group was discovered in 1543, and contained several thousand coins and objects made of gold.

The example in the October auction shows on its obverse a magistrate walking between two lictors with a monogram in front, and on the reverse an eagle with wreath and scepter. These designs imitate Roman denarii of the late Republic.

The obverse is inspired by a denarius that M. Iunius Brutus had minted in 54 B.C. to commemorate the expulsion of the Tarquins by his ancestor L. Iunius Brutus.

The reverse is based on a denarius by Q. Pomponius Rufus, minted in 73 B.C.

This interesting gold imitative coin has been known since 1520, when Erasmus of Rotterdam tried to explain it, the auction house said.

Why the imitation?

This imitation of Roman Republican coins did not happen by chance.

The auction house said it was previously long assumed that Koson (regarded as a king of the Thracians) was an ally of the murderer Brutus in the civil war against Marc Anton and Octavian (Augustus).

The connection to the Dacians (today’s Romania, more precisely Transylvania) was developed by O. Iliescu in Quaderni Ticinesi, published in 1990.

Monogramless staters of Koson are known, and were apparently minted from looted gold from Bratislava. Pieces with monogram (like the example in this auction) may have been minted earlier and the gold is likely to have come from another raid by the Dacians.

Graded Almost Uncirculated by the auction house, the coin has an estimate of €500 ($497 U.S.).

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