horses in history

Very Rare Celtic Coin of the Cantii

This gold quarter stater is from the reign of Dubnovellaunus and was struck circa 25 BC to AD 5. Obverse: ‘Pentagram’ type, blank die with banding. Reverse: Horse right, ring-pellet above, pentagram below, dispersed pellets in field.

The Cantii or Cantiaci were an Iron Age Celtic people living in Britain before the Roman conquest, and gave their name to a civitas of Roman Britain. They lived in the area now called Kent, in south-eastern England. Their capital was Durovernum Cantiacorum, now Canterbury. They were bordered by the Regnenses to the west, and the Catuvellauni to the north. Julius Caesar landed in Cantium in 55 and 54 BC, the first Roman expeditions to Britain. He recounts in his De Bello Gallico v. 14: “Ex his omnibus longe sunt humanissimi qui Cantium incolunt, quae regio est maritima omnis, neque multum a Gallica differunt consuetudine.”  - Translation - “Of all these (British tribes), by far the most civilised are they who dwell in Kent, which is entirely a maritime region, and who differ but little from the Gauls in their customs.”

Dubnovellaunus or Dumnovellaunus was the name of at least one, and possibly several kings of south-eastern Britain in the late 1st century BC/early 1st century AD, known from coin legends and from a mention in the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, the funerary inscription of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, giving a first-person record of his life and accomplishments.


A Funny, Rare & Unusual Ancient Greek Coin, Near Mint State!

This silver nomos was struck circa 240-228 BC at Tarentum, Calabria. It shows a young horseman with his head thrown playfully back while riding a leaping horse.  ΖΩΠΥΡΙΩΝ is written below the horse along with a  ΣΩ above a bukranion. The reverse shows Taras astride a dolphin, holding a hippocamp in his extended right hand and a trident in his left. There is a mask of Silenos behind him with a monogram and TAPAΣ is written below.

This coin is very rare and in a near mint state. It is unusual in that the rider’s head is thrown so far back and facing the viewer of the coin. It is a unique, ancient numismatic treasure.

The pasture lands in the vicinity of Tarentum produced a fine breed of horses and the Tarentine were famous for their cavalry and horseback skills which is why horses and riders appear on the coins of Tarentum.

Ancient legends says that Taras, the founder of the first Iapygian settlement on at Tarentum, was miraculously saved from shipwreck by the intervention of his father Poseidon, who sent a dolphin, on whose back he was carried to the shore. This mythology found its way onto Tarentine coinage as well.


The Iron Dobbin,

Invented in Italy in 1933, the Iron Dobbin was a mechanical horse originally developed to train young children how to ride.  Powered by a gasoline engine, the Iron Dobbin was essentially a four legged walker, its legs being made from steel pipes.  The Iron Dobbin was supposed to mimic the movement of a horse, and supposedly was able to traverse rough terrain.  Originally the Iron Dobbin was intended to train children of the Italian Fascist Youth Movement to ride, and the Italian Army considered the machine to replace draft horses and donkeys.  However the Italian Army deemed the design impractical.  The German Army also developed their own version called the “Panzerpferd”, or Armored Horse, but it too was found to be an impractical design.  The Iron Dobbin was featured in the April, 1933 edition of Popular Science.