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EGYPT, Alexandria.  Tiberius

Year 5, CE 18/9

AE obol, 20 mm, 4.45 gm

Obv:  bare head right

Rev:   hippopotamus right; TIBEPIοY above; [L] E in exergue

Ref:   Emmett 62.5, R1; Geissen 47; Dattari-Savio 102 (this coin); RPC 5082

ex Dattari collection (Giovanni Dattari, 1858-1923)

Savio, Adriano. Numi Augg. Alexandrini: Catalogo della Collezione Dattari, 2007, plate 4:

Giovanni Dattari's personal history is surprisingly scanty. Born in Livorno, Italy (1858), at some point his family moved to Egypt where he became enamored of Egyptian antiquities and ancient numismatics. He began collecting coins in 1891. By 1894 he had 2,602 coins, growing to 6,835 Alexandrians, 91 archaic Greek, 230 Alexander the Great, 910 Ptolemaic, 19,320 Roman coins, and 630 lead and silver coins by 1903. By 1913 those numbers more than doubled. 


Part of Dattari's collection may have been sold or donated while he was alive but in July 1951 his daughter offered donation of the remaining collection to the Italian state. The Italians procrastinated in completing the paperwork and the offer was withdrawn after the Egyptian army seized power and forced King Farouk into exile in July 1952. The chance to keep this astounding collection together in one place was thereby lost, and the collection was dispersed on the European market around 1970.


In 1901 his collection was published and although it was not a sophisticated book, it because a standard reference for Roman Egyptian numismatics, containing 6,580 coins. In 1999 Adriano Savio compiled a markedly expanded catalog of Dattari coins. The second edition of this book (2007) contains yet more "new" coins: 31 additional plates showing 701 Alexandrian coins that Dattari evidently acquired after making the rubbings of his coins that are published in the first edition. The 2007 book shows more than 13,000 coins!


The quality of the images is poor. The photographs are mostly of rubbings, which is how Dattari visually recorded the collection. Correlating a modern image with a Dattari plate coin can be challenging because many of the usual diagnostic features may not be visible in the rubbings (flan cracks, for example). 

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