A Perfect Coin for an Imperfect Emperor

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Sep 20, 2019.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Moneta is one of the most common types seen on Domitian's coinage for a very good reason. My latest arrival gives me an opportunity to explain why.

    Æ As, 9.49g
    Rome mint, 85 AD
    RIC 383 (C3). BMC -. BNF 374.
    Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM COS XI CENS POT P P; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r., with aegis
    Rev: MONETA AVGVST; S C in field; Moneta stg. l., with scales and cornucopiae
    Acquired from Musa Numismatic, September 2019.

    In 82 Domitian reformed the coinage by increasing the weight of the gold and fineness of the silver. Production of the bronze coinage was suspended while the mint was reorganised and resumed in 84 with new reverse types and a higher artistic standard. Appropriately, one of the first types struck on the bronze after the coinage reform was Moneta, 'mint goddess of the emperor'. H. Mattingly believes Moneta in this context can be seen as symbolising Domitian's control of the mint and as paymaster to the empire. A fitting reverse design for an emperor who cared so much for his coinage. Mirroring the silver, many of the bronze coins struck in the first year or so after the coinage reform have portraits with an aegis, an extra detail likely due to Domitian's attentive care. Under Domitian Moneta became a regular feature of the coinage and was struck year after year on the As issues. This example from 85 is one of the most common types struck for the As that year. Oddly enough, it is missing from the BM.

    One gets the impression that Domitian was quite proud of his coinage reforms and Moneta was a symbolic reverse celebrating that achievement.

    Also, this coin came with an older tag. Does anyone recognise what dealer/auction house it is from?


    Feel free to post your 'perfect' coin matches.
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  3. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Nice catch David I think the portraits from around 85 are the best issues in his name. They have great style
  4. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I suppose any emperor might be paired with Moneta since it took money to buy your way into the graces of the army and people. However, Septimius Severus was a man of the army and came to power with the support of many legions. He must be represented by a type associated with the legions. Legions that declared support for him from the beginning were honored with an issue of coins showing their legion number and name. Here, I'll show what is probably a Legion I Italica variant. The usual dies for this legion read LEG I ITAL but this one either lacks the numeral reading LEG ITAL. Some will say the I is there but runs along or was erased by the eagle wing. The presence of a dot after LEG and another before ITAL suggests the wing hides the I below.

    If you are to have just one Septimius, the best choice is a Legionary......but how could you have just one?
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  5. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I understand that he was unable to keep up the silver content of the denarius and that a few years later in his reign the coin was once again reduced in fineness to the latter Neronian fineness. The quality the images remained high throughout his reign.
  6. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Personally, I would expand this exceptional style from 84-88.

    This is from 88.

    AR Denarius, 3.12g
    Rome mint, 88 AD
    RIC 568 (R2). BMC 139. RSC 27. BNF 129.
    Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERMANIC COS XIIII; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
    Rev: CENS P•P•P• across field; Minerva stg. l., with thunderbolt and spear; shield at her l. side (M3)
    Ex Harry N. Sneh Collection.
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  7. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Agreed. It wasn't just the technical aspects that improved. The artistic quality after the reform is quite impressive, at least until the early 90s.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  8. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Great write up David, here's my Moneta As :

    Domitian Moneta.JPG
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