75 - Horse Geometric

Copyright tcx3.co.uk

Unique ID: 75

Technical details


Quarter Stater







Issuing Authority









Very Rare (16 to 30)


57 BC to 54 BC (see note about dating)

Obverse Legend

No Legend

Reverse Legend

No Legend

Obverse Description

The obverse shows a triple tailed horse facing left. The horse appears to be segmented, with a small, sleek, rear and a large muscular front. The tail is rendered as three lines radiating from a common point, reminiscent of the triple tailed horses common on coins of this time. The two rear legs are hooked crescents. One of the front legs appears in a group with the rear legs and is formed by an inverted “foot” shape which ends with a crescent, giving the effect of a hook or sickle. The second front leg is raised and is formed by a distorted “M” shaped object. The head and neck can be hard to spot, but on the best coins the shape is distinct and ends with a clear muzzle. An indistinct “S” shaped object appears in front of the horse’s muzzle, and a crescent object with three rays (five on later coins) appears in front of, and above, the horse’s head. The ten pellets that appear above the horse are reminiscent of the pellet clusters above the horse on other staters, such as the Belgae Chute staters (ABC 746) or the British Ad1 Tarring staters.

Reverse Description

The reverse consists of two vertical “fish” shaped objects which are slightly offset from each other horizontally. Two “hair lock” style objects and two “hammer” style objects appear in pairs in the upper right and lower left quadrants. Pellets connected by arcs make up the rest of the image. It has been described as a “fisherman’s catch” consisting of nets, fish and lobsters.

The imagery on the reverse seems at first glance to be unique amongst Celtic quarter staters, but it is actually quite faithful, in the round, to the “geometric” quarter stater designs that derive from GB-Ca2, specifically the British Ad2 Geometric and the Duro Boat gold quarters. These are characterised by two offset vertical lines with Y shaped objects in the lower left and upper right quadrants, with an object in the lower right with lines radiating from it.

Bought from finder (2019)

Found in Wiggonholt West Sussex, near Pulborough

Despite the fact that the first Horse Geometric (previously Bearded Head) quarter stater was sold in 1993, you still won’t find it 27 years later in any reference books. Cutting a long story short, it appears that the original finder(s) lied about the findspot to hide an undeclared hoard. This, along with the highly unusual obverse design (it was initially thought to be a bearded head), the paucity of dies, and some other factors, has led some to doubt the authenticity of the coins.

If the coins are fake then we would hope to find some evidence of that on the coins themselves, but even as late as 2018, a meeting between Chris Rudd Ltd., Dr. Philip de Jersey, and Dr. John Sills, failed to reach a conclusion. Stated another way, in the quarter of a century after the first coin was sold, the premier experts in the field, along with other respected dealers who have sold these coins, have been unable to identify anything that condemns any of the coins. Despite a detailed analysis of the coins individually and as a group, it appears that there is nothing actually wrong with them.

Horse Geometric quarter staters have been found in recent years by metal detectorists who are not all known to each other and have no connection to the original finders. Additionally, all of the arguments I know of (apart from one) which have been used to cast doubt on them have been refuted and can be ignored. For example:

  • the argument that they all come from the same reverse die fails because one of the coins was struck by a different reverse die
  • the argument that they are “curiously well centred” fails when the displacement of the die centre from the flan centre is measured. It turns out that these coins have worse centring than another quarter stater type that is known to be genuine
  • the argument that no one will record them with PAS (Portable Antiquities Scheme) is no longer true as two are now recorded. More would be recorded, but as the finder of mine said “it would just be marked as authenticity uncertain so there is no point sending it to them”

Other arguments have been made, but the ones above are the strongest ones. The remaining point of doubt is that the orginal coins were found around the same time (early 1990s) as a group of fake Cheriton Smiler staters which were possibly copied from real finds (I haven’t been able to confirm the details). It’s possible that the original Horse Geometric finders did something similar, but that only allows doubt to be cast on some of the original coins. Ones found in recent years by independent detectorists can be assumed to be genuine.

The coins were originally named “Bearded Head” because of the abstract bearded head that appears on the obverse. However, this appears to have been an optical illusion caused by circulation and die wear on the coin sold by Chris Rudd who named the type. There’s very little on the obverse to suggest that this is a head, and the standard hair bar, wreath, hair locks, hair curls, and face are all missing. I have been unable to see a head on any of the coins apart from the original Chris Rudd coin (it is very clear on that coin).

Another interpretation of the obverse exists if the coin is rotated 90 degrees anti-clockwise. In this orientation an abstract horse with one of its forelegs raised can be seen. While it is certainly strange to have a horse on the obverse of a gold Celtic coin rather than Apollo’s head, we can consider this as an experiment that didn’t lead anywhere. After all, the “two men in a boat” quarters don’t follow the traditional Apollo’s Head iconography, and if you subscribe to the argument that the boat should be rotated and be described as an “abstract beast”, then that certainly doesn’t follow the traditional iconography either (and it provides an opening for an abstract horse). Neither do many other types. The British C Yarmouth stater shows definite experimentation, and later coins dispensed with Apollo’s head altogether. The Huxtable’s Eagles quarter stater (ABC 782) is particularly interesting as it has two horse heads, two eagles, and a pellet infill on the obverse.

The reverse of the coin shows an intricate rendering of the standard “geometric” designs that derive from GB-Ca2 quarters. Quite what it represented is unknown, but someone (a trawlerman) who saw it said straight away that it was a fisherman’s catch. There is a theory that quarters staters were used to pay sailors and staters used to pay soldiers, so a fishing theme would fit nicely with that, especially if the GB-Ca2 quarters (and their derivatives) do show two men in a boat on the obverse.

The metal content of the one coin analysed is 24.8% gold, 44.5% silver, and 30.4% copper, which suggests that this is the companion quarter to the British C Yarmouth stater (see 101), which is 28.9% gold, 47.4% silver, and 23.6% copper. They are found in the same areas, and the Yarmouth stater is renowned for being visually “weird”. Until further information comes to light, I’ll consider this to be British C2 and a product of the Regini tribe, or whoever minted the Yarmouth staters.

For more information on these coins, see Bearded Head Quarter Staters - Fact or Fiction.