Roman Republic AR quinarius(2.16g, 16mm, 9h). Anonymous. ca. 212-196 B.C. Apulian mint. Helmeted head of Roma right, V behind / ROMA, the Dioscuri riding right, each holds a spear; H below. Crawford 85/1a; Sydenham 174; RSC 33b; Russo RBW 348/NAC 61 lot 356(these dies)
This quinarius comes from the Second Punic War-era "H" series which Crawford assigns to the earliest period of the denarius coinage circa 211-210 B.C.. The real picture however is a bit more complex than that, as the series has been shown by Andrew McCabe(cf. A. McCabe INC Taormina 2015) to actually include 3 distinct phases of bronze issues rather than one single issue. While McCabe's work focused on the bronze, published examples suggest multiple stylistic groups for the quinarius of the series as well and comparing these stylistic differences with the hoard evidence suggests that these phases were minted at different times. Compare the style of this example(my "late" example) with another example in my collection that I will refer to as my "early" example.
Comparing my "late" and "early" examples some differences immediately pop out. The "late" example has a helmet with visor that ends in three unconnected lines, with the bottom two ending roughly parallel and the top diverging, whereas the "early" style ends in three divergent lines terminated by a single nearly-perpendicular line. The back oft he helmet on the "late" example exhibits large "spikes" whereas the "early" example's are smaller. Roma's necklace is also of different style, among other things. On the reverse, the leftmost horse's tail is limp and sticks down on the "late" example, whereas the "early" example has it sticking straight back. The leftmost rider's cape on the "early" example terminates in a single point whereas the "late" example does not come to a point but instead has a flatter end.
At first glance, it may be tempting to ascribe these differences to different engravers working at the mint, but I do not think that is the case. I compared over 65 different examples of the type and was unable to find any cases where the obverse style of my "late" example was combined with the reverse style of my "early" example. Additionally, the hoard evidence seems to suggest that this is not a case of multiple workshops within the same mint either. This style of H quinarius is not in the Taranto hoard(cf. C. A. Hersh, NC 1972 p. 75-88) which was found circa 1971 near Taranto, Italy(the ancient city Tarentum, Calabria) and included 12 "H" quinarii, some with considerable wear, all with the style of helmet from the "early" example above. It is also missing from a silver hoard found circa 1974 in Sicily(cf. C. A. Hersh, ANS 1976 p. 59-65) which contained 22 "H" quinarii(from a total of 700 AR), all reportedly with the helmet style of my "early" example listed above. The fact that the style of my "late" example appears in neither of these hoards is, to me, the best evidence that these styles absolutely cannot have been contemporary and that those with the style of my "early" example must have come first with those with the style of my "late" example coming later, perhaps by a decade or more.
As an addendum, I will add that the two styles illustrated above are not the only two styles exhibited by the quinarii of this issue. There is also a type with "H" behind the horses and another stylistic example with the "H" below the horses(like both of my examples), and a die link is known between these two(cf. BMCRR Vol. 2, p. 194, coins 200 and 201). The style is closer to my "early" example listed above and my gut feeling is that they fall in between my "early" example and my "late" example, and Hersh specifically mentions that neither were in the Taranto hoard, nor are they reported in the Sicilian hoard, but given the lack of hoard evidence including these issues I am less certain as to where they should be placed.