100 Greatest ... Roman Denarii

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by rg3, Jan 14, 2017.

  1. rg3

    rg3 Well-Known Member

    Having purchased Berk's book last year, and finding it extremely informative, I wonder what are your top 10 (or top 5 or top 3) favorite examples of Roman denarii? I am guessing the EID MAR Brutus and Tribute Penny Tiberius may be high on some lists. If you find this too broad, how about top 5 of your favorite emperor (or empress or moneyer). If this is too much, how about just one that would be in your top 100?

    My first 2017 purchase of Augustus with Mars Ultor temple reverse RIC 105b (or one like it, commemorating the return of Crassus' standards)


    would make my top 100 list (but probably not my top 10). Interested in learning about your favorites.
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  3. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    I'll limit myself to the top 5 Roman Republic denarii in my personal collection, as my overall collection of Roman denarii is too extensive, and full of too many good ones to limit myself to a Top 5...I don't think I could do that.

    So without further delay, my top 5 Republic era denarii (even compiling this list was difficult due to the fact I love all of my Roman Republic denarii so much).

    #5: L. Thorius Balbus

    L Thorius Balbus.jpg
    Goat skin and bull. Total winners.

    #4: M. Scaurus

    M. Scaurus Denarius (white).jpg
    It doesn't look anything like a typical RR denarius, which is why I love it. It's unusual, and it's got a begging foreign king, a camel, horses, and a scorpion. Lots of win.

    #3 P. Phillipus L. Philippus denarius 113-112 BCE.jpg
    Again, it's got a colorful foreign king, and this time a beautiful equastrian statue that sadly does not survive to modern times, but I bet it must have looked impressive 2,100 years ago.

    #2: L. Capurnius Piso L Capurnius Piso Frugi.jpg
    This is such an iconic RR denarius. Probably one of the first coins that comes to most people's minds when they think of Roman Republic coinage.

    #1: M. Junius Silanus

    M Junius Silanus denarius RR.jpg this was my first RR denarius ever. For that alone is #1, but also because it depicts the ultimate classic theme of Republican silver coinage, Rome on the obverse and the Discouri in the reverse. Add the head of an ass behind Roma and this denarius' wow factor skyrockets to a whole new level.
  4. rg3

    rg3 Well-Known Member

    awesome choices! i'll have to read up on piso.
    these are the type of tidbits i was hoping you
    would share. :)
    "Probably one of the first coins that comes to
    most people's minds when they think of Roman
    Republic coinage"
    thank you!

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  5. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Hmm. Well, there are so many fantastic types not in my collection. Here are the favorites from what I do have:

    TOP 5 REPUBLICAN/IMPERATORIAL (I'll do Imperial separately):

    5. M. Piso M.f. Frugi; not the usual Frugi :). This was an unappreciated coin in its auction. I was very very happy to snap it up under its true value.

    ROMAN REPUBLIC, M. Piso M.f. Frugi
    58 BCE (redated from Crawford's 61 BCE by Hersh and Walker, 1984)
    AR denarius, 20 mm, 3.94 gm
    Obv: terminal bust of Mercury right, wearing winged diadem; calix below chin; to left, star above wreath; dotted border
    Rev: M·PISO·M·F / FRVGI above secespita (sacrificial knife) and patera; all within laurel wreath
    Ref: Crawford 418/2b; Sydenham 825; Calpurnia 23
    formerly slabbed, NGC XF, 4/5 strike, 4/5 surface
    One possibly good thing about slabbed ancients: The few auction houses which slab almost everything seem to attract buyers who pay moon money if the label says MS or AU. Coins will "mere" XF and below sometimes go unnoticed regardless of rarity, desirability, and quality relative to the type. I think that was the case here.

    4. L. Cornelius Lentulus and C. Claudius Marcellus; triskeles/Jupiter

    L. Cornelius Lentulus and C. Claudius Marcellus

    Military mint in the East (Apollonia and Asia), 49 BC
    AR denarius, 19 mm, 3.8 gm
    Obv: Triskeles, with winged head of Medusa facing at center; stalk of grain between each leg
    Rev: Jupiter standing facing, head right, holding thunderbolt in right hand and eagle on left; LE(NT) (MAR) upward to left, COS upward to right
    Ref: Crawford 445/1b; Sydenham 1029a
    formerly slabbed, NGC ChVF*, 5/5, 5/5

    3. L. Mussidius Longus, shrine of Venus Cloacina, goddess of the Great Sewer (I have another Concordia obverse and one with Sol obverse. I love them all; toss-up between this one and the Sol in terms of favorites. T

    Moneyer issues of Imperatorial Rome
    L. Mussidius Longus, 42 BCE

    AR denarius, Rome mint.
    Obv: Diademed and veiled head of Concordia right; CONCORDIA upwards behind; star in right field under chin
    Rev: Shrine of Venus Cloacina: Circular platform surmounted by two statues of the goddess, each resting right hand on cippus, the platform inscribed CLOACIN and ornamented with trellis-pattern balustrade, flight of steps and portico on left; L • MVSSIDIVS • LONGVS around above.
    Ref: Crawford 494/42b; Bab. 6; BMC 4244; Crawf. 494/42 b; Syd. 1093a

    2. L. Julius L.f. Caesar, Venus Genetrix driving a Cupid biga :D

    moneyer L. Julius L. f. Caesar, 103 BCE
    AR denarius, 17mm, 3.9 gm
    Obv: Helmeted head of Mars left; CAESAR; ・retrograde C or L above
    Rev: Venus Genetrix in chariot left, drawn by two Cupids; lyre to left; ・retrograde C or L above
    Ref: Crawford 320/1
    Jencek E-auction 26, lot 58, 14 October 2014. Ex CNG XXXI lot 699, September 1994; ex RBW Collection

    1. Crepereius hippocamp biga :)

    moneyer Q. Crepereius M.f. Rocus
    69 BCE (revised from Crawford's 72 BCE)
    AR serrate denarius; 3.99 gm
    Obv: draped bust of Amphitrite seen from behind, with head turned r.; behind, sea anemone; horizontal I to right of right shoulder (only partly visible on this coin)
    Rev: Neptune in biga of hippocamps right, holding reins and brandishing trident; above, I and below, Q·CREPER·M·F / ROCVS
    Ref: Crawford 399/1b; Babelon Crepereia 1. Sydenham 796a. Rare.
    from HJB BBS 200, October 2016
    ex NAC 78 lot 1828, from the JD Collection of Roman Republican Coins
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2017
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  6. ro1974

    ro1974 Well-Known Member

    My favorite! denarius

    THE REPUBLIC (280 BC to 27 BC ) Denier
    Kwaliteit : VF | Afkortingen
    Katalogus : B.139 (Julia ) BMC / RR.33 (Africa) BMC / RR.33 (Africa) CRR.1338 (3) RRC.540 / / 2 RSC.90

    Gewicht: 3.81 g
    OCTAVIAN Denier c . 36 AC . Or R2 silver Rome Italy
    Obverse: IMP. CAESAR DIVI . F. III . VIR . ITER. [R. PC] bare head of Octave right, slightly bearded (O ° )
    Reverse : COS ITER AND TER DESIG / DIVO IVL Temple of the Divine Julius tetrastyle with triangular pediment decorated with a star ( Iulium residues ) and inscription in the architrave
  7. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Though much humbler than many of the great submissions listed above I will post my #1 as my first ever Roman denarius.
    Attribution: RIC IV 153
    Date: 218-222 AD
    Obverse: IMP CAES ANTONINVS AVG, Laureate draped cuirassed bust right
    Reverse: VICTOR ANTONINI AVG, Victory advancing right, holding wreath and palm branch
    Size: 20.29 mm
    Weight: 3.26 grams

    In hand this is a better coin than the photo indicates. All around great detail.

    Attached Files:

  8. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    A couple of my favorites:

    fulvia denarius.jpg
    L. Mussidius Longus
    Rome mint, 42 BC
    17.0 mm; 3.5 gm
    Obv: Bust of Marc Antony's 3rd wife, Fulvia, as Victory, r., draped.
    Rev: L MVSSIDIVS LONGVS, Victory in biga, r., holding reins.
    Refs: Sear 1517; BMCRR 4229; RRC 494/40; Sydenham 1095; RSC Mussidia 4; Banti Mussidia 613

    Julia Titi VENVS AVGUST denarius.jpg
    Julia Titi
    Rome, AD 79-81
    3.2 gm, 20.0 mm
    Obv: IVLIA AVGVSTA TITI AVGVSTI F, diademed and draped bust, r.
    Rev: VENVS AVGVST, Venus, naked to waist, standing r., holding helmet and scepter, resting l. elbow on column.
    Refs: RIC-56; BMCRE-141; Sear-2612

    Domna Mater Deum Denarius.jpg
    Julia Domna, issued under Septimius Severus
    Rome mint, AD 198
    3.43 gm; 18.8 mm
    Obv: IVLIA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, r.
    Rev: MATER DEVM, Cybele enthroned l., flanked by two lions, holding a branch and scepter, resting on drum.
    Refs: RIC 564; Sear 6593; BMCRE 51; Hill 340

    Domna Four Seasons Denarius.jpg
    Julia Domna, issued under Septimius Severus
    Rome mint, AD 207
    3.24 gm; 19.8 mm
    Obv: IVLIA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, r.
    Rev: FECVNDITAS, Terra reclining l. under tree, left arm on basket of fruits, right hand set globe, spangled with stars, in background, four children advancing r., representing the four seasons.
    Refs: RIC 549; BMCRE 21; Sear 6579
  9. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    For me, it's a Vespasian Judaea Capta, regardless of variety--a coin that is currently at the top of my wish list. Perhaps it's a bit silly to claim that one coin is more "historical" than another; each coin is struck in its historical moment. But to me there is the world before the Sack of Jerusalem and the world after it. This coin marks the beginning of the Jewish Diaspora, which touches everything, even to our present day. FWIW, I'm not Jewish. I suspect if one were, that denarius would be especially resonant.
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  10. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    I have a bunch of Roman Denarii. However, THESE are from the Social War. They FOUGHT the Romans because they wanted and DESERVED to be Roman. Rome actually LOST the War, because the Marsic Confederation WON all of their demands. Unfortunately they lost the War militarily...

    For a quick Wiki synopsis:


    Marsic Confederation
    AR Denarius
    Bovianum(?) mint, 89 BC.
    3.93g, 20mm, 3h
    Obv: Laureate head of Italia left, VITELIV = ITALIA in Oscan script
    Rev: Soldier standing facing, head right, foot on uncertain object, holding inverted spear and sword, recumbent bull to right facing; retrograde B in exergue.
    Ref: Campana 122 (same dies); HN Italy 407
    Ex: Eucharius Collection.

    Marsic Confederation
    AR Denarius.
    Corfinium mint - renamed Italia by the Confederation (Capital of the Marsic Confederation), 89 BC.
    3.60g, 20mm, 8h
    Obv: Laureate head of Italia right, wearing pearl necklace; ITALIA behind, X (mark of value) below chin
    Rev: Italia, seated left on shields, holding sceptre in right hand and sword in left, being crowned with wreath by Victory who stands behind; retrograde B(?) in exergue.
    Ref: Campana 105 (same obverse die); HN Italy 412a
    Comments: Cleaning marks to rev.
    Very Rare.

    Marsic Confederation
    Social War 90-88 BCE
    AR Denarius
    19x17.9mm, 3.7g
    Anonymous Issue, Corfinium Mint - renamed Italia by the Confederation (Capital of the Marsic Confederation),
    Obv: Italia head, l, ITALIA behind
    Rev: Oath-taking scene with eight warriors, four on each side, pointing their swords towards a sacrificial pig, which is held by an attendant kneeling at the foot of a standard.
    Comment: The reverse is based on the gold Stater and Half-Stater from the Second Punic War
    Ref: Sear 227; SYD 621

    BTW, I MISS @Mikey Zee , where is he?
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2017
  11. stevex6

    stevex6 Random Mayhem

    Yummy-yummy thread ... wow, I always have such a hard time pruning my collection down to 5 examples

    Ummm, but here are 5 AR-RR denarius examples (denarii) that tickled my fancy (for today)

    Sextus Pompey (Sicily, Messana)
    Sextus Pompey.jpg

    Lucius Axius L.f. Naso
    Lucius Axius.jpg

    M. Caecilius Q.f. Q.n. Metellus
    M caecilius.jpg

    M. Plaetorius M.f. Cestianus
    M Plaetorius Mf Cestianus.jpg

    p nerva.jpg

    Oh, and fantastic examples, gang!! (simply an awesome bunch of friends, with super cool coins!)
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
  12. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    Since some of you are also including Imperial coins, I'll just leave this one here: :D

    Trajan Mars  Denarii.jpg
  13. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I don't have a ton of Imperial coins but am fortunate to have acquired some doozies :)


    5. Trajan's column denarius

    Rome mint, CE 114-115
    AR denarius, 18 mm, 3.7 gm
    Obv: IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC. Laureate and draped bust right
    Rev: P M TR P COS VI P P S P Q R. Trajan’s column surmounted by statue of Trajan, holding patera and scepter; two eagles at base
    Ref: RIC II 35

    4. Nero sestertius with Annona and Ceres, because the reverse scene is so richly rendered:

    struck in Rome, CE 63
    Orichalcum sestertius, 34 mm, 26.7 gm
    Obv: NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GERM P M TR P IMP PP; laureate head right, wearing aegis
    Rev: ANNONA AVGVSTI CERES; Ceres, veiled and draped, seated left, holding corn ears and torch, her feet on stool, facing Annona standing right, holding cornucopia; between them, modius on garlanded altar; in background, stern of ship
    Ref: RIC 98. Cohen 24
    Heritage, CICF World and Ancient Coin Signature Auction, Apr 2014. Removed from NGC slab.

    3. Septimius Severus, Circus Maximus denarius

    Septimius Severus
    Rome, CE 206
    AR denarius, 3.41 gm, 20 mm, 12h
    Obv: SEVERVS PIVS AVG, laureate head right
    Rev: LAETITIA TEMPORVM, the spina of the Circus Maximus decorated as a ship facing left, with the turning posts at its prow and stern, a sail mounted on the central obelisk, and the spina's other monuments visible in between; above the ship, four quadrigas racing left; below, seven animals: an ostrich at left and a bear at right; between them a lion and a lioness chasing a wild ass and a panther attacking a bison
    Ref: RIC 274; BMC 343.
    ex Colosseo Collection

    2. Julia Domna denarius, Fecunditas; Four Seasons depicted as children

    Julia Domna
    AR denarius, 19.5mm, 3.17 gm, 6h. Rome mint
    Struck under Septimius Severus, circa AD 207-211
    Obv: IVLIA AVGVSTA; draped bust right
    Rev: Fecunditas or Tellus (Earth) reclining left under tree, resting arm on basket of fruit and placing hand on celestial orb; standing before her are four children representing the Four Seasons
    Ref: RIC IV 549 (Septimius Severus); RSC 35
    ex R.H. Collection
    This was a tough coin to photograph. It is very reflective. Perhaps the images I took without reflections show the details better, but I like having some brightness in the fields.

    1. Not my finest but still my favorite because it's a great "story coin" and because I had so much fun making the diorama... Elagabalus transporting the Sacred Stone of Emesa :) Needs a reshoot.

    AR denarius, 19.4 mm, 3.5 gm
    Antioch, CE 218-219
    Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS FEL AVG, Laureate draped cuirassed bust right
    Rev: SANCT DEO SOLI / ELAGABAL, Quadriga right, bearing sacred Baetyl stone, flanked by four parasols
    Ref: RIC IV 195
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  14. stevex6

    stevex6 Random Mayhem

  15. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Favorite imperatorial coins

    Sextus Pompey-Pompey the Great on the obverse

    Pompey 511:3a.jpg

    Marc Antony quinarius-I love the raven on this one

    M Ant quina.jpg
    Marc Antony- a rare named legion

    MA Antiquae.jpg

    Marc Antony- I love the portrait on this one

    MAntony small.jpg

    Julius Caesar-How could I forget this one? It also has the E.E. Clain Stefanelli provenance

    JC elepahnt denarius NN.jpg
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2017
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  16. Mikey Zee

    Mikey Zee Delenda Est Carthago

    Fantastic posts everyone!!!

    I'm back!!!! :D ...I've been taking a 'rest' and focusing on fossils a bit. At my age it only seems natural;)

    Well, I'll throw in a few 'Republicans' as my favorites although I'm still yearning after a few that would be the '100 best'
    RR denarius censorinus apollo satyr.jpg Rr denarius censorinus satryr reverse.jpg Scipio military mint denarius.jpg RR  Mars and fighting soldiers.jpg Roma and dioscuri denarius.jpg roma and roma with suckling wolf (1).jpg rr geta denarius and boar.jpg
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  17. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    My 5 favourite imperial coins

    Augustus- I love the capricorn
    ric 126 augustus.jpg

    Tiberius- I looked for a while and bought 3 before I found one I liked

    NN tiberius lot 047 auction 25.jpg

    Galba- This was a replacement for one I had bought earlier. I looked at this coin for weeks before buying it and have not regretted it one bit.

    galba ric 193.jpg

    Vespasian-this one was an upgrade. I am very pleased to have this in my collection. IMHO both the obverse and reverse are great.
    vespasian ric 544.jpg

    Otho-the first ancient coin I ever bought. How could this not make the list.

    otho combined.jpeg
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  18. ro1974

    ro1974 Well-Known Member

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    How could i forget this two:facepalm:
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  19. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    We each might ask ourselves just what it is that makes one denarius more and another less worthy of our interest. I know many are enamored by Brutus while others judge mostly by condition. We have a member who likes Hadrian as much as I like Septimius Severus. I suppose I could select my 100 favorite Septimius denarii but few others would place even one of them in their hundred favoring instead a hundred Republicans or Hadrians or assorted 12 Caesars. All said, I believe my most impressive denarius is not my favorite coin but one you don't see every day.

    Septimius Severus, Alexandria mint, Venus reverse

    Some who believe all mints must follow the rules of Rome would consider this a mule with reverse of Domna but I believe the percentage of such crossovers is high enough that they were not accidents but just failure to recognize that collectors of the future would expect them to adhere to rules not there or then understood.

    For equal time, I'll show a Domna with VICTOR IVST AVG reverse that some consider inappropriate for a girl. I would be more impressed with their belief that the coin is a mule with reverse of Septimius or Pescennius Niger had either of the gentlemen had a coin with this type. Show me one if I am wrong.

    I stop now lest I bore you even more with the rest of my favorite Severans. We all differ in our tolerance level for such things. I really would appreciate it, however if you would show me photos of your examples of these two coins or those in any museum to which you have access. I can find dozens of images of Brutus denarii but no one who has coins like these two seems to want to show them. Ashamed?
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  20. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES!

    my 3 favorite are all republican, imperial versions are kind of a weak spot in my collection. i'll try to pick up a couple nice ones this year.

    here's my 3 fav..



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  21. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    The problem with some imperial denarii is that there was no consistency. This Neptune issue for S. Severus while he was on campaign in Britania seems to have the best and most life-like obverse I have ever seen of Seprimius, but the reverse sucks.

    And it's not just my coin. I've compared it to the same type of coin which other here also have, and it seems to be an issue all the way around with this type of denarii. Oh well, it's still worth showing off as the best portrait style for this Emperor.

    Septimius Severus Neptune denarius.jpg

    That being said, Roman Republic mint officials were not perfect either. Look at the nose on my latest Republican denarius. Le ouch! LOL:D She looks like she got a beating worse than Ronda Rousey.

    Servilius M.F. Rullus denarius (100 BCE).jpg

    But hey, even less than perfect coins can be great to own, and they need a little love too. Am I right?
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2017
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