Roman Republic AR Serrate Denarius(3.72g, 19mm). C. Naevius Balbus, moneyer, 79 BC, Rome mint. Diademed head of Venus right; behind, S•C / Victory in triga right; above, CCV; in exergue, C•NAE•BALB. Crawford 382/1b; Babelon Naevia 6; Russo RBW 1410.
Ex CNA XIV lot 693, March 20, 1991
Bigae and quadrigae are commonly seen on Republican coins, so common in fact that most collectors have at least a few types featuring each. The three-horse triga, however, only appeared on two issues, the first being the denarii of the moneyers Appius Claudius Pulcher, T. Manlius Mancinus and Q. Urbinius(Cr. 299/1a & 1b) in 111/110 B.C. and the second, the serrate denarii of the moneyer C. Naevius Balbus(Cr. 382/1a & 1b), minted 3 decades later, in 79 B.C. There are various theories about why these coins featured a triga and while I will admit not having read nearly enough on these types, I'll share my theory. The issues minted in 111/110 B.C. were minted in the names of 3 moneyers, and in my opinion, the choice that year may well have simply been an allusion to this type bearing three names.
Fast forward 3 decades, the consul in 79 B.C. is none other than Appius Claudius Pulcher, one of the three moneyers of the earlier issue, who had been exiled by Marius in 88 B.C., later returning after the death of Cinna in 84 B.C. The similarities in the trigas used on each of the issues leads me to believe that this might be a sign of support for the Consul(and thus, Sulla) by this moneyer. This is all my take on the issue based on minimal research, so if anyone has any corrections, additional information or their own theories about about the types, please feel free to comment below.