Sunday, 11 February 2018


I have a thing about Roman usurpers and in particular the Palmyrene revolt of  the 270s. I have always promised myself that if ever I get a boat I will name it Zenobia after the wife of Odenathus and mother of Vabalathus, the ruling family of the time.

Most of the coins of Vabalathus name him as VCRIDR, acknowledging him as a client king. Vabalathus is laureate and therefore clearly subordinate, iconographically, to the Roman emperor, Aurelian, with a spiky radiate crown, who appears on the other side

There is a very rare series, however, where Vabalathus is acknowledged as emperor and a series of deities appear on the reverse. I have just acquired a second example with Hercules on the reverse, holding a club and the apples of the Hisperides.

The revolt was quickly crushed in 272AD. Vabalathus and Zenobia were taken to Rome. Accounts vary as to his fate, some say he died en route while others say he was paraded with Zenobia, his mother, and Tetricus senior and junior who had revolted in Gaul.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Early mechanical carriages

A number of years ago I acquired a run of The Antiquary journal from the late 19th century. One of the articles in there, spread over several parts, appeals to my “steam punk” nature. In the volume for 1896 the title is Early Mechanical Carriages by Rhys Jenkins.

It is a series of descriptions of weird and quirky prototypes for vehicles, accompanied by woodblock prints from the seventeenth century through to the nineteenth century. I really doubt that man of these ever progressed beyond the drawing board phase and were ever built. They look like the entrants in a Victorian “Wacky Races” event.

Several years ago I offered the article on eBay, quite cheaply, thinking that people would be interested in buying it and framing the diagrams. Luckily it didn't sell and is still intact. Hope you enjoy the pictures.


Monday, 13 November 2017

An eastern antoninianus of Valerian I

Valerian I, antoninianus, Samosata mint, Göbl 1682e

I recently acquired this coin of Valerian I (253-60AD). Struck at the mint of Samosata (Samsat in Adiyaman province, southeastern Turkey) the reverse is quite clearly is referencing eastern events with two victories affixing a shield to a palm tree and with the legend VOTA ORBIS.

It may be marking the dedicatory vows anticipating the military campaign in the easy against the Sasanid ruler Shapur I, a campaign that was to end in disaster through the treachery of one of Valerian’s military commanders. Valerian was captured, in AD 260, by Shapur and was never to be seen alive again, having been reputedly killed, stuffed and used by the Sasanid ruler to mount his horse.

The capture of Valerian in 260 was seemingly the catalyst for a number of revolts right across the Roman empire that were to set the tone for the next fifteen years.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Mauseus on Facebook

Mauseus is now on Facebook.

Mauseus Facebook site

All Hallows Church, Bardsey

Today I got to the village church in Bardsey. Oddly, having lived in the vicinity for forty years or so, I have only just learned of it's antiquity. The church is undoubtedy ancient, All Hallows church includes elements of an Anglo Saxon church dating between 850-950 AD with impressive Saxon tower and, in all probability, is the finest Saxon building in West Yorkshire.

The remnants of the successive changes are all evidenced within the building as it stands today.

 What really drew me to the site were the small stone relics in the church that include 11th century grave marker inscribed with a crudely carved Latin cross and probable include Saxon and Viking era carvings.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

New sales website

I have changed my selling platform for the ancient coins and antiquities. The link on the left to Mauseus Sales wil take you there. There are rare and interesting genuine ancient items on offer should you wish to take a look like this "DEO ET DOMINO...." coin of Aurelian.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Prehistoric plants

Five years ago (almost to the day) I posted an ancient Greek coin that had the extinct silphium plant as its reverse design. I have a group of other extinct plants that I have been meaning to post for a while and have finally got around to photographing the early plant fossils. They are all horsetails or club mosses (or relatives of them) and date to the Carboniferous period, approximately 360-300 mybp.

Annularia is a plant fossil belonging to the order Equisetales or Horsetail. Whorls of small leaflets are arranged concentrically around a thin stem. These were indicative of humid to wet habitats such as along rivers and lake shores.

Sigillaria (relative of club moss)
Sigillaria is a genus of extinct, spore-bearing, arborescent (tree-like) plants. It was a lycopodiophyte, and is related to the lycopsids, or club-mosses.

Reaching a height up to 30 metres, with a tall, single or occasionally forked trunk that lacked wood. Support came from a layer of closely packed leaf bases just below the surface of the trunk, while the centre was filled with pith. The long, thin grass like leaves were attached directly to the stem and grew in a spiral along the trunk. The old leaf bases expanded as the trunk grew in width.

The trunk was topped with a plume of long, grass-like, microphyllous leaves, so that the plant looked somewhat like a tall, forked bottle brush. The plant bore its spores (not seeds) in cone-like structures.

 Lepidodendron cone/strobilus
Lepidodendron (related to club moss)
Lepidodendron had tall, thick trunks that rarely branched and were topped with a crown of bifurcating branches bearing clusters of leaves. These leaves were long and narrow, similar to large blades of grass, and were spirally-arranged.

Lepidodendron has been likened to a giant herb. The trunks produced little wood, being mostly soft tissues. Most structural support came from a thick, bark-like region. This region remained around the trunk as a rigid layer that grew thicker, but did not flake off like that of most modern trees. As the tree grew, the leaf cushions expanded to accommodate the increasing width of the trunk.

Lepidodendron likely lived in the wettest parts of the coal swamps that existed during the Carboniferous period. They grew in dense stands, likely having as many as 1000 to 2000 plants per hectare. This would have been possible because they did not branch until fully grown, and would have spent much of their lives as unbranched poles.

They sometimes reached heights of over 30 metres, and the trunks were often over 1 metre in diameter.

Calamites (horsetail)Calamites is a genus of extinct arborescent (tree-like) horsetails to which the modern horsetails (genus Equisetum) are closely related. Unlike their herbaceous modern cousins, these plants were medium-sized trees, growing to heights of more than 30 metres (100 feet).

Club moss
Club mossThe climate supported lush, swampy forests. Club moss (Lycopods) made up the largest component of these forests and achieved gigantic size, growing to heights of more than 40 metres with supporting trunks measuring up to 2 metres or more in diameter.