Wednesday, 4 December 2013

An itinerant die cutter

Xn Series Class I
The Armorican Celtic coin Series Xn, which was formerly attributed to the Abrincatui, seems to have been made from spare parts. It is a confusing issue with wildly erratic die links and some of the dies were used until they were badly damaged.

The obverse die of the coin on the right was made by the same die cutter who made dies for the earliest Coriosolite coinage. Through a stylistic analysis, we can see that the die was cut prior to the start of the Coriosolite coinage.

The key is the the design of the nose and the design elements which connect to it: at the top of the nose, a lock of hair is set too far forward, and a beaded line also connects to the area in a clumsy manner.

This unsatisfactory arrangement must have been on his mind when starting the Coriosolite dies because he revised the design so that the front lock of hair then formed the design of the upper part of the nose,

Coriosolite Group A design
and the start of the beaded line was moved to a lower position. Eventually, the beaded line was integrated with the ornamentation of the top of the nose and later still, the beads were replaced by solid lines.

We can only speculate on why Series Xn is so confused. Perhaps they could not afford to hire a die cutter to develop the entire coinage and had to rely on a few "sample dies" from die cutters eager for new clients and who had moved on before the issue was completed. As the dies became too damaged to use at all, other less-worn dies were reused.

The evolution of the design can be followed here and on the subsequent pages.

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