105 - British Ad2 Geometric

Copyright tcx3.co.uk

Unique ID: 105

Technical details


Quarter Stater







Issuing Authority









Scarce (51 to 100)


70 BC to 55 BC (see note about dating)

Obverse Legend

No Legend

Reverse Legend

No Legend

Obverse Description

The obverse shows a boat with two figures. A pellet rosette appears to the left, although it’s off-flan on this coin. A spiky thorn motif and rays appear at the stern of the boat, and these can also be seen on obverse 1 of the Insular Cf2 quarter (see 41), although they are hard to see on most of the coins. The thorn motif can also be seen on some of the associated British Ad1 “Tarring” stater obverses (see 104).

The obverse is sometimes rotated 180 degrees and described as a stylised animal (normally a boar but sometimes a wolf), but the arguments for this are unconvincing and the text required to describe the design as a boar or other abstract animal becomes increasingly convoluted.

A possible interpretation of the boat and its passengers was presented by Daphne Nash Briggs in "Reading the images on lron-Age coins: I. the sun-boat and its passengers".

Reverse Description

The orientation of the reverse is unclear. I’ll describe it with the orientation matching the Insular Cf2 Class 2 quarters (see 29) where the anenome is above a horizontal crooked line, but it could be validly rotated 90 degress clockwise to match the orientation of the Duro Boat Gold quarters (see 7, 8, 12, 16, 42, 51, and 112) where the anenome (the bird) is to the right of a vertical crooked line.

The reverse is split horizontally by a crooked line in two segments, linked in the gap by the faintest trace of a small, thin, line. Above to the left is the anenome object, and above, coming in from the right, is a straight bar. Below the crooked bar, on the left, is a bar ending in a Y shape, although the lines are very faint.

Compared to the Insular Cf2 Class 2 quarters (see 29), the crooked line is much more angular (and split), the anenome has moved to the left and become more like its original shape, and the Y shaped bar has returned to its Y shape and become much more angular.

If we rotate it 90 degrees clockwise and compare to the Duro Boat Gold quarters (see 7, 8, 12, 16, 42, 51, and 112), then the anemone (bird) has moved to the top right of the coin from the bottom right, the Y shaped bar has moved from the bottom left to the top left, and the bar on the right has moved from the top right to the bottom right, and isn’t a Y shape.

CCI 20.0811

Bought (indirectly) from finder (2020)

Found Tortington, near Arundel


ABC 533. Phallic Geometric

Divided Kingdoms

DK 135 – 137. British Ad2 Class 3 – Geometric

Most “Phallic Geometric” quarters were struck from a worn Insular Cf2 obverse die (this coin for example) which, when viewed from a certain angle with a certain imagination, looks phallic. This coin comes from a previously unknown obverse die. While the imagery on it has had many descriptions over the years – two men in a boat, a wolf, a wolf suckling twins, a boar, an indeterminate animal, a horse’s head with the rising sun behind it, a bad copy of Apollo’s head, and (I kid you not) a “rayed dolphin on stilts” – no one seems to have claimed it to be a gentleman’s sausage, validating the decision to rename it in “Divided Kingdoms” to British Ad2 “Geometric”.

The “two men in a boat” motif is used over a wide range of quarter staters, but the defining features on this rendition are the rays to the right of the boat, and the “spiky thorn” object at the stern of the boat (the right hand side of the coin). Similar devices appear on obverse 1 of Insular Cf2 (see 41), which is the predecessor of this coin, and the “spiky thorn” object is prominent on the associated British Ad1 “Tarring” stater (see 104).

The die chain for these coins published in “Divided Kingdoms” doesn’t allow for this obverse die because the reverse appears near the start of the chain. However, they are complex to sequence because the obverse die is so worn, so they were likely sequenced by weight where there was doubt in the ordering. I have undertaken my own die study and I have been able to place this obverse at the end by paying extra attention to the obverse of the coins.

The reverse design derives from Insular Cf2 (see 29 and 41), but is much more angular and has more in common with the Duro Boat Gold quarter staters (see 7, 8, 12, 16, 42, 51, and 112) which, based on average weight and alloy composition, were contemporary or perhaps slightly earlier. It dates to the 70-55 BC band, but will probably be towards the middle or end of that range.

This is one of four in the collection (see 49, 106, and 108).