A Beautiful Example of the Enigmatic Persecution Follis

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by hotwheelsearl, Jul 28, 2021.

  1. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Maximinus II produced a series of the so-called "persecution quarter-follis"

    There were several designs produced in the East with pagan themes, and were proved to have been minted during the Great Christian Persecution, during 311-312.

    The idea is that the coins were produced to spread the word that paganism was still the law of the land.

    These are not rare, but not common, and finding high grade examples is pretty tough.

    This is an example of probably the most common type, the Apolloni reverse, featuring Apollo with a lyre.
    Maximinus II Van Heesch Antioch 3S.JPG

    The level of preservation here is astounding! Please share your persecution coins.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    That's a fine example @hotwheelsearl
    I prefer to call these anonymous civic issues
  4. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

  5. philologus_1

    philologus_1 Supporter! Supporter

    Wonderful examples above! Kudos @hotwheelsearl !

    Here are two from my collection . . .

    upload_2021-7-28_15-28-22.png '

  6. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    I don't have an example but I love the ones with Victory on them! Now I have to add that to my "want" list...Thanks a lot guys... :)
    ancient coin hunter and ominus1 like this.
  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    That is a nice one. Any of these that show detail in Apollo's robe are premium items in my opinion. Most are worn smooth. That detail does vary quite a bit from die to die but I don't recall anyone ever advertising one as special because of clothing variation. My favorite one has been shown here a hundred times so one more won't kill anyone. The coin is plated (front cover) in the late Victor Failmezger's book on Late Roman Bronze Coins
    and appeared on my 99 1/2 favorite coins page so, between those two claims to fame, it might be worth every cent it cost me from a Baltimore coin show junk box in 2000. If you believe the used prices, I should have bought a box of books instead of so many coins.

  8. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Here is a page on "The anonymous civic issues under Maximinus II":
    The page lists all the types and gives references. Here is an example of type #6 there.


    16-15 mm. 1.90 grams.
    DEO SANCTO SARAPIDI, head of Serapis with modius on head
    DEO SANCTO NILO, Nilus reclining left holding reeds and cornucopia
    ALE in exergue, for Alexandria.
    Sear IV 14930. van Heesch type 6, plate 11.9 (10 examples)

    The same types and legends appear on a coin with only 13 mm diameter (instead of 16 mm): van Heesch 7, plate 11.10 (Type #7 on that web page).
    The same designs also appear on a 13 mm coin with abbreviated legends:
    DEO SARAPIDI/SANCTO NILO, van Heesch type 8, plate 11.11 (Type #8).
    One more small type is c. 11 mm with this obverse design and legend DEO SARAPIDI
    and reverse GENIO ALEXAND, Alexandria reclining left with rudder in her right hand. van Heesch type 9, plate 11.12 and 13 (Type #9).

    Again, a link to the page:
  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I have a couple. Here's an ex- @dougsmit!

    Anonymous issue under Maximinus II.
    Roman billon quarter follis, 1.23 g, 14.3 mm, 11 h.
    Antioch, AD 311-312.
    Obv: IOVI CONS-ERVATORI, Jupiter seated left, holding globe and scepter.
    Rev: VICTOR-IA AVGG, Victory advancing left, holding wreath and palm; ANT in exergue, Γ in right field.
    Refs: RCV 14932; Van Heesch 2; Cohen (Julian II) 53; Vagi 2955.
    Notes: Ex @dougsmit collection.

    Anonymous issue under Maximinus II.
    Roman billon quarter follis, 1.35 g, 16.3 mm, 11 h.
    Antioch, officina 10, AD 311-312.
    Obv: GENIO ANTIOCHENI, Tyche of Antioch seated facing; river god Orontes swimming below.
    Rev: APOLLONI SANCTO, Apollo standing left holding patera and lyre; S in right field, SMA in ex.
    Refs: RCV 14927; Vagi 2954; Van Heesch 3(a); McAlee 170f.
  10. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Here's my one example, which I have been persuaded by David Kalina not to call a "persecution" follis, for the reasons set forth at the link cited below.

    Anonymous civic issue, reign of Maximinus II, AE quarter follis [?][Sear] or 1/12 nummus [?][McAlee], Antioch Mint (3rd Officina), ca. 311-312 AD. Obv. Tyche (city-goddess of Antioch) wearing mural crown, seated facing on rock, holding wheat or grain ears with right hand and, with left hand, holding a two-handled basket (filled with wheat or grain ears[?]) resting on ground to right, river god Orontes swimming below, GENIO ANTIOCHINI / Rev. Apollo standing left, pouring libation from patera held in right hand, and holding lyre in raised left hand, Γ [gamma, signifying 3rd Officina] in right field, APOLLONI SANCTO around; in exergue, SMA [meaning Sigmata Moneta Antioch (money struck at Antioch) or Sacra Moneta Antioch]. [Not in RIC; see http://www.notinric.lechstepniewski.info/6ant_civ_4v.html.] Sear RCV IV 14927 (ill); Vagi 2954; McAlee 170; Van Heesch Type 3 [Van Heesch, J. "The last civic coinages and the religious policy of Maximinus Daza (AD 312)" in Numismatic Chronicle (1993), pp. 63-75 & Pl. 11]; ERIC II, “Anonymous Religious Coinage of the Fourth Century,” pp. 1198-1199, No. 2. 16 mm., 1.35 g. [Struck either (1) to promote propaganda against Christians and aid in their persecution (and thus traditionally denominated the “Persecution issue”; or (2) as proposed by David Kalina, for use in festivals, including the Festival of Apollo at Daphne, held in conjunction with the Olympics in Antioch in 312 AD. See Kalina, David, “Anonymous Civic Coinage,” Series 1, at http://allcoinage.com/anonymous_civic.php.]

    Maximinus II persecution issue AE16 Antioch (Tyche-Apollo), McAlee 170, Sear 14927  jpg issue.jpg
  11. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    A nice coin @hotwheelsearl. McAlee calls this a 1/12th nummus citing van Heesch : Although these coins appear to be a 1/4 nummus by weight, this does not take into account the silver content of the ("follis") :

    "Ce résultat permet d'avancer, mais sous toute réserve, que les grandes pièces représentent 1/12 du follis."
    "This result allows us to advance, however with all reservations, that the large pieces represent 1/12 of the follis."
    - Van Heesch, J. (1975), Une frappe semi-autonome sous Maximin Daza, Revue Belge de Numismatique, 121, 1975, p. 91-108.

    Van Heesch updated his overview of these coins and revised the dates and context in this 1993 paper:
    ' ... But as for those who have persisted in the abominable cult, let them be separated, just as you ask, far from your city and territory, and be removed, whereby, in accord with the praiseworthy zeal of your petition, your city, separated from the stain of every impiety, may respond, as it has been accustomed, to the sacred rites of the immortal gods with the worship which is owed to them.'
    - Colbasa (issued 6 April 312) see VAN HEESCH, J. (1993). The Last Civic Coinages and the Religious Policy of Maximinus Daza (AD 312). The Numismatic Chronicle (1966-), 153, 65-75.

    persecution .jpg
    Anonymous Æ 1/12th nummus, time of Maximinus II, Antioch, AD 310-313, 'Persecution Issue'
    Obv: GENIO ANTIOCHENI, Tyche seated facing, river-god Orontes swimming below
    Rev: APOLLONI SANCTO, Apollo standing left, holding patera and lyre; S in right field, SMA in exergue
    Ref: McAlee 170f
  12. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

  13. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    A ton of great coins and information, all!
    philologus_1 likes this.
  14. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    David@PCC has several of these little ones that appear to be significantly silver content. Mine appears to be just bronze, as do most others. Guess we can split the difference and go with a generic billon designation.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  15. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    I'm glad to see the Tyche's dating to 312 gaining traction especially among some dealers. Of course this all depends on RIC getting the dating of the workshops correct. Lots of folks still use Van Heesch as the primary reference, but he does not consider himself the best reference of these types. In fact he is more involved in coins relating to the festival of Isis and Constantine.

    That is probably just the result of my amateur lighting set up. These should be considered Ae and the denomination is anybodies guess, for which I use the term Ae "fraction". I still have to write parts 3 & 4 of my theories on these coins but I don't believe the type posted by @Valentinian should be connected to the types minted at Antioch even if they served a similar function.
  16. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    I'd be interested to read your theories, but to me it seems the Alexandrian coins have too much in common, both with each other and with those from the other cities, not to be part of the same series.

    The coins from all three issuing cities/mints (Nicomedia, Antioch, Alexandria) all follow the same pattern, with one side having the form [DEO] [SANCTO] <deity>, and the other side GENIO <city>.


    The Alexandrian coins all share the same reclining Nilus reverse, with the Nile river arguably being of more importance to Alexandria/Egypt than their city genius. The rare "GENIO ALEXAND" type seems to have been issued following the pattern all mints were told to follow, then rapidly replaced/augmented with the more logical "SANCTO NILO" where the legend now matches the design.

    The "DEO SANCTO NILO" type posted by @Valentinian is then just a further variation on the "SANCTO NILO" type.

    The whole series is full of inconsistencies (such as the Antioch IOVI!), but the "GENIO ALEXAND" type seems to very clearly follow the pattern, and IMO it's hard to see much daylight between that type and the other Alexandrian ones.

    Edit: Just replaced some text with an image since the formatting was lost.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2021
  17. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    I agree on most of your points especially that all the Alexandrian issues are connected to each other. For me the commonality of deities and inscriptions between the 3 cities is only as coincidental as previous themes in Roman provincial coinage. What I mean by that is the Roman pantheon of gods is a common theme on provincial coins and that they are not necessarily connected to other cities other than they share the same deities.
    As far as the genio inscriptions, cities would have been proud to boast themselves on coinage especially after Diocletian's reform. In my research, it's not what I have found but what I have not found that link's these 3 groupings of coinage together. Certainly Christian persecution was occurring during this period but I do not believe that or some other common purpose was involved in the striking of these.
    Now Certainly as you have pointed out, I believe there is a common purpose within each mint, but not between the 3. So if there is is no clear connection, then why were these made I'm sure everyone is asking? I still adhere that all of these were made because of various local festivals dependent on the municipality in which they were occurring, the evidence I present is in the link provided on the bottom of Donna's post but Nicomedia and Alexandria are yet to be completed.
    Spaniard, Heliodromus and DonnaML like this.
  18. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    It certainly seems possible these were made for some use associated with local festivals, but I do think the common SANCTO CERERI/APOLLONI/SARAPIDI + GENIO NICOM/ANTIOCHENI/ALEXAND pattern has to be more than a coincidence. I’d expect that whatever the usage/occasion(s) were it would been similar or the same at all three cities.

    Van Heesch’s theory of these being related to the persecutions and a reflection of Maximinus Daia’s “religious policy” seems highly speculative. If these were meant as imperial propaganda, then why would they not have imperial obverses, or include Daia’s Cyzicus mint ? Other than the lack of imperial obverses, what stands out about these coins isn’t the use of pagan deities, but rather the localized nature of the legends and types.

    The closest parallel to other coinage/tokens from this period might be the Festival of Isis / Vota Pvblica pieces, especially the later (post-Valentinian) anonymous ones, which while being struck at the imperial mint may well have been sponsored by wealthy pagans rather than being imperial coinage. Perhaps that was the case here too – tokens commissioned by wealthy pagans for local celebrations.

    The multiple mintmarks and types for both Antioch (ANT, SMA) and Alexandria (ALE, SM) could support the theory of these being multiple issues for some recurring festival. At Antioch we have different types associated with the different mintmarks (ANT/IOVI, SMA/APOLLO), and on closer inspection I realized we have the same at Alexandria (ALE/Nilus, SM/Tyche). Nilus holds a reed and cornucopia, and reclines against a sphinx, while Tyche holds a rudder and reclines against some unidentifiable object.

    Daia originally only controlled Antioch and Alexandria, then gained Nicomedia and Cyzicus after the death of Galerius. It’s certainly tempting to date these all to the time of Daia, given that it’s his mints involved, so perhaps there was one or two annual issues at Antioch and Alexandria before the death of Galerius, then another now including Nicomedia (OPA/CERERI) after that. I don’t think we need to take the “VICTORIA AVGG” legend as an indiction of there only being two augusti (AVGG) at the time, since we also see Licinius using AVGG (vs AVGGG) for all three of himself/Daia and Constantine.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2021
    Roman Collector, DonnaML and Spaniard like this.
  19. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    The connection to FOI tessera/coins is present and that helped draw me to the conclusion these were also used for festivities. If the 3 cities in question did have a precise purpose for these other than parties and debauchery, I would greatly like to know what that is. I still have a ways to go down the rabbit hole, especially with Alexandria and a solution may present itself particularly with Isis.
    DonnaML likes this.
  20. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    Great information and wonderful coins shown in this thread. I only have the two common types

    Screenshot 2021-07-30 at 10.00.12.png
    Screenshot 2021-07-30 at 10.00.28.png

    Screenshot 2021-07-30 at 10.00.47.png
  21. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper


    Obverse: ISIS Farina

    Reverse: VOTA PVBLICA, Anubis standing left holding systrum in right hand
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page