A Titus Sestertius Verified!

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Sep 25, 2021.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Tracking down coins from Titus first bronze issue struck at Rome soon after his elevation to the purple can be extremely difficult. Luckily, I was recently able to acquire one of these most elusive coins!

    Æ Sestertius, 22.71g
    Rome mint, 79 AD
    Obv: IMP TITVS CAES VESP AVG P M TR P COS VII; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, r.
    Rev: VESTA in exergue; S C in field; Vesta std. l., with palladium and sceptre
    RIC 66 (R2). BMC -. BNC 146.
    Acquired from Marti Numismatics, September 2021.

    The coins from Titus's first bronze issue as emperor are so rare that many are known from only one or two examples. This Vesta type struck for the sestertius is no exception. In the new RIC II catalogue the only specimen known to the authors is footnoted with the following caveat: 'Paris 146 has evidence of re-engraving to the date, so the entry requires confirmation.' Since RIC's publication two others have shown up in trade that indeed clearly verify the reading of COS VII, thus confirming the existence of the type for the first bronze issue. The first new specimen turned up in Bertolami 29 in 2017 and the second is the present coin, both are unsurprisingly reverse die matches with the Paris specimen.

    Vesta frequently appears on the bronze coinage with her message of religious piety and security. Her main attribute here is the palladium - a wooden cult image of Pallas Athena which oversees the safety and well being of Rome. Ironically, not long after this coin was struck Mount Vesuvius erupted, a fire broke out in Rome, and a plague befell the city. Perhaps Titus's moneyer's should have struck more of the type?

    Feel free to share your Vesta coins, or indeed any that verified the existence of a rare type!
    Marsyas Mike, Jay GT4, PeteB and 24 others like this.
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    How wonderful you were able to acquire such a rarity, @David Atherton! By now, you must have one of the most complete collections of Flavian coins.

    It just so happens that I have a Vesta coin that verified the existence of a rare type!

    Faustina Sr AVGVSTA S C Vesta standing As veiled.jpg
    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Roman Æ as, 9.03 g, 24.4 mm, 5 h.
    Rome, AD 145.
    Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, veiled and draped bust, right.
    Rev: AVGVSTA S C, Vesta veiled, standing left, holding palladium and scepter.
    Refs: Dinsdale 021525 (@Orielensis's coin); RIC --; BMCRE --; Cohen --; Strack --; RCV --.

    A middle bronze with this Vesta reverse and a veiled bust had been unknown before @Orielensis acquired one for his collection. He was unable to attribute it because it was unlisted in RIC. He posted it here because its identity was a mystery and wondered if it should be considered an unpublished variant or a mule.

    Middle bronze owned by Orielensis, 9.05 g, 27 mm.

    In reply, I consulted other references (BMCRE4, Cohen, Sear, and Strack) and performed an internet search of specimens from various museum collections at OCRE and those at The Coin Project and Wildwinds. A search at acsearchinfo yielded no examples with veiled busts, either.

    The question continued to puzzle Orielensis and he posted again early last year, citing his lack of progress at attributing the coin. I again performed an internet search and noted my friend Paul Dinsdale, (@paulus_dinius) who maintains a very complete database of Antonine coins, made no mention of a veiled bust variant in his catalog. Orielensis and I contacted Paul and he confirmed he had never encountered the coin previously and he added it to his book, citing Orielensis' specimen.

    Later this year, a second specimen surfaced when it was consigned to AAMC Auction 3 (24 July, 2021) as lot 219. It had been previously part of the JB collection and "purchased in Toronto, Fall 1999." The auctioneer (@Severus Alexander) noted that he knew "of one other example in a private collection, which is the coin referenced by Dinsdale" (Orielensis' example). I had the good fortune of being the high bidder and acquired the coin for my own collection.

    My specimen is an obverse die match to Orielensis' but not a reverse die match. This argues against the coin being an accidental mule of the reverse die with an obverse die intended for another issue.

    To the best of my knowledge, Orielensis and I own the only examples of this coin.
    Marsyas Mike, Jay GT4, PeteB and 16 others like this.
  4. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Congrats David.

    Sabina VESTA stephane b.jpg P1160287cleaned.jpg
    Marsyas Mike, Curtisimo, Ryro and 8 others like this.
  5. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    I have 3 Vesta reverses.
    First of them will not win any beauty contests, but it is a Vitellius so fully collectable

    Vitellius (69) AR Denarius, Rome
    A VITELLIVS GERM IMP AVG TR P - laureate head of Vitellius right.
    Rev: PONT MAXIM - Vesta, veiled, seated on throne right, holding patera and scepter
    RIC 107
    2,83 g, 19 mm

    Julia Mamaea

    Julia Mamaea. Augusta AD 225-235. Rome
    Denarius AR 20 mm., 2,26 g.
    Daughter of Julia Maesa, mother of Severus Alexander.
    RIC IV Severus Alexander 360
    Date Range: AD 225 - AD 235
    Obverse Legend: IVLIA MAMAEA AVG; Type: Bust of Julia Mamaea, diademed, right
    Reverse Legend: VESTA; Type: Vesta, veiled, draped, standing left, holding palladium in right hand and up-right sceptre in left hand

    Antoninus Pius


    Antoninus Pius AD 138-161. Rome
    Denarius AR
    17 mm, 3,21 g
    RIC III Antoninus Pius 203
    Obverse Legend: ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XV
    Type: Head of Antoninus Pius, laureate, right
    Reverse Legend: COS IIII
    Type: Vesta, veiled, draped, standing left, holding simpulum lowered in right hand and palladium at shoulder in left
    Marsyas Mike, Curtisimo, Ryro and 7 others like this.
  6. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

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