ABC 1516 -
Ape Face. Dandelion. Talbot Bury D, dies B/4. c.50-15 BC. Silver unit. 15mm. 1.23g. Bearded head l, corn-ear hair, beaded line around face culminating in large curl, thin line from mouth with ringed-pellet at end, dots and ringed-pellets in front./ Horse l, large multi-rayed ‘dandelion head’ above, beaded ring in front, ringed-pellet below. ABC 1516, VA−, BMC−, S−. CCI 17.0305 (this coin). Ex John Follows collection. Very rare - only four others recorded, including a broken one. Not in Van Arsdell, BMC nor Spink. Images: © Chris Rudd Ltd, www.celticcoins.com
Found in 2014, probably in Norfolk, this most unusual and remarkably rare silver unit shows a wizen-faced monkey-like man with what looks like a pipe or bent cigarette in his mouth. Other early Icenian heads appear to have stalks – some straight, some curled – coming out of their mouths (e.g. ABC 1513; Talbot Large Flan A, dies A and C; Talbot Large Flan C, die C); an early head of the Regini (ABC 680) also seems to be ‘smoking’. So, who is this strange deity on John Follows’ silver unit? The curved corn-ear in his braided hair, his large lentoid eye – just like a grain of wheat – and the stalk emerging from his mouth all suggest to us that he is a fertility god, an Iceni god of growth, a corn god, a male Ceres if you will, an Iron Age version of the medieval Green Man, like the one in Norwich Cathedral. Corn ears can clearly be seen on many Icenian coins, both gold and silver. Probably "Ape Face" is a god of growth, a god of fertility or, perhaps more specifically a corn god. Commenting on this extraordinary coin Dr John Talbot says it is “an excellent example of a very rare type also known as Bury D, normally only found in west Norfolk. The head is remarkable. The crude beard cut into the chin is unique in Icenian coinage. There are only two known obverse dies and this coin is only the third known, and by far the best, of those struck by the second of these dies.” Published in Coin News, April 2020.