Alexandria Roman Tetradrachm - Help Please

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Marsyas Mike, Apr 21, 2019.

  1. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I just got a lot of two Roman tetradrachms while scrounging on eBay. One of them I figured out fairly easily, but this one I am not so sure of:

    Alexandria Tet Maximianus lot 2 Apr 2019 (2a).JPG

    This is as close as I came -

    Egypt Potin Tetradrachm
    Year 4 (289/290 A.D.)
    Alexandria Mint

    [A K M OVA MAΞI]MIANOC CEB, laureate, draped & cuirassed bust right / Nike advancing left holding palm & wreath, Δ L left field, star behind.
    (8.40 grams / 18 mm)

    I just cannot find another example or catalogue reference online anywhere. And I am not sure I have the right emperor. Any help greatly appreciated.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I'm quite sure it's Maximianus; the visible inscription matches no other emperor of the era. Emmett 4148 is of "Nike flying left" (without description of the attributes in her hand) and was issued during year 4. That's what I would catalog this one as -- Emmett 4148.
  4. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Roman Collector! I greatly appreciate the help on this. I'm slowly accumulating these Roman tets and as much as I enjoy them, sometimes the inscriptions are difficult for me to read/interpret (especially on the lower-grade ones I tend to get).
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    While I agree with the ID here because of the letters that show, the portrait struck me as Diocletian. Coins like this are why I avoid specimens that lack the wrong letters. A similar coin with fewer letters but including the ones definitely diagnostic would be more fun for a collector. Professional scholars have to learn them all but amateurs in it for the fun might avoid the hard ones.

    A big clue here, dating, narrows it down a lot. A coin dated year four can not belong to rulers that did not last that long. Those who deal mostly with photos may miss an important clue on these: size. Starting in the middle of the century (Philip or so) we see similar fabric on these tets but they get smaller as time passed. A photo of a coin of Probus, Tacitus etc. may look a bit like a Diocletian but, in hand, the later ones seem tiny. Often that makes the choices narrow down to just a couple so all we need is one significant letter. To be a Diocletian, we need a T before the IANOC that just is not there.

    I like the coins of Alexandria from this period but will point out that many on the market are in a condition that we should not pay much if we want the coin at all. I can see a specialist accumulating these if trying to build a complete run of the dates but people like me don't do that and save the ugly coin places in our collection for things we can't find better. I can not criticize your buying this one. I have worse (see my Volusian below).
    randygeki, arizonarobin, TIF and 3 others like this.
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Tribunicia Potestas

    Nice pick-up @Marsyas Mike - to be honest I don't see enough of the inscription to tell definitively. Here's my Diocletian and Maximian tets:




    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
    TIF, chrsmat71, Johndakerftw and 2 others like this.
  7. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for your imput. I got this specimen the way I got a lot of my coins - because it was cheap, and poorly photographed on eBay. Coins like this are for me a lot of fun because I can spend hours trying to figure out what they are (and pestering you fine folks on Coin Talk :angelic:).

    The OP was tough because of the missing legend - but because it had a Nike facing left and a delta, there was a limited number of examples I could find online (again, lacking Emmett, Milne, etc., my research was amateurish). For a while I thought it was Galerius, based on a Vcoins example I found:

    But the obverse legend didn't really seem to match...

    The OP came with another tet ($10 for the pair, nobody else bid). Despite some issues, I was really pleased with them - great chunky flans, interesting portraits:

    Alexandria Tet Maximianus lot 2 Apr 2019 (0a).jpg

    The one on the left is (I think):

    Egypt Potin Tetradrachm
    Year 5 (289/290 A.D.)
    Alexandria Mint

    A K M A OVA MAΞIMIANOC CEB, laur., dr. & cuir. bust right / Homonoia stg. l. holding branch & cornucopiae, star & EL left.
    Milne 4939; BMC Alex. 2564; SNG Cop 1038
    (8.77 grams / 17 mm)

    I also found another one at my local coin shop last week, $15 and probably not worth it, but I like to support local merchants!
    Alexandria Tet Maximianus Hom. A to Z Ap 2019 (0).jpg

    Egypt Potin Tetradrachm
    Year 3 (287/288 A.D.)
    Alexandria Mint

    A K M A OVA MAΞIMIANOC CEB, laur., dr. & cuir. bust right / Homonoia stg. l. holding branch & cornucopiae, L-Γ across fields.
    Milne 4855; BMC Alex. 2563; Curtis 2091; Geissen 3292.
    (5.84 grams / 18 mm)

    Again, thank you for the input.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  8. lehmansterms

    lehmansterms Many view intelligence as a hideous deformity

    How "Worth it" any given coin may be is a call only you can make for yourself. If you're happy with the purchase, you have defined "worth it" for yourself in this situation. These sell across a fairly vast range of pricing - there is no gray sheet in the sense that there is a market which can be specifically gauged by looking at the coin an looking it up on a grid. Depending on where you sell (or, in your case, buy) the price could vary drastically for a coin like your new Maximian.
    As for the portrait not "matching", as the artistic expectations about coin portraiture in general had deteriorated somewhat in the preceding half-century, so had the portraiture on these final-issue Alexandrian tets by the time of the Tetrarchy (and, on another tack, it was Diocletian's deliberate intention that all 4 of the tetrarchs be portrayed looking essentially the same. This was to try to avoid the "cults of personality" that had grown up around popular generals and which had been responsible for so many pretenders, usurpers and general chaos in the 3rd century.) In the 280's/290's coins in general no longer bore dependably "photo realistic" portraits in the way that earlier pieces had done.
  9. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Opinions will vary but I would pay more for the coin with clear name on a decent flan so all three are reasonable IMHO. The question is how many coins we want that were better deals but not better coins.
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  10. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

    I have a Diocletian and Maximan scrounged up from ebay as well.



  11. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I think those are some very nice looking Tets. I'd be happy to own them.

    While we're at it, I thought I'd share another ugly one I have that I got last month. This is an example of ugliness being trumped by my desire to get the type - Vaballathus & Aurelian. It was pretty cheap (just under $11.00). From other ones I saw online, these are usually pretty cruddy, so I doubt I'll find an affordable upgrade. I rather like Vaballathus' portrait - long-haired hippie kid with a headband, and grumpy old Aurelian on the other side.

    Egypt - Aurel & Vallabath tet Mar 19 a (0).jpg

    Egypt Potin Tetradrachm
    Aurelian and Vaballathus
    Year 2/5 (271-272 A.D.)
    Alexandria Mint

    AK Λ ΔOM AYΡHΛIANOC CEB, bust of Aurelian r., LB r. / YABAΛΛAΘOC AΘHNOV AVTCΡΩ, bust of Vaballathus right. L-E across fields.
    Emmett 3914; Milne 4330.
    (9.42 grams / 18 mm)
  12. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

    Hey yeah, nice portrait of the Vab man! He as been on my list for years!
  13. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    M. Mike's coin points out a matter I find interesting. Usually the year dates for Alexandria refer to the senior emperor even when the coin doe not show him. Here we have two rulers each with their own date. Vaballathus is year five and Aurelian only year two. Below is the other option showing year delta 4 and A 1. The other difference here is opinion. I consider Aurelian to be on the reverse. When the coin was issued, Vaballathus and Zenobia were in charge in Alexandria and issued coins honoring the Roman emperor rather than the other way around. Is there an example of a Roman emperor who shared a coin from a mint he controlled with a foreign ruler?
  14. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    That is a very nice example, Doug. As for the obverse/reverse, heck if I know. Maybe Zenobia wanted to keep it kind of ambiguous so as not to irritate Rome and yet flex her own muscle via her son?
    arizonarobin likes this.
  15. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter


    Difficult to pin down with certainty given its state of preservation, but I think it's:

    Maximian, 1st reign, AD 286-305
    Roman billon tetradrachm, 16.2 mm, 7.29 g
    Egypt, Alexandria, AD 289-290
    Obv: A K M A OVA MAΞIMIANOC CЄB, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust, right
    Rev: Dikaiosyne standing left, holding scales and cornucopiae; L in left field and Є (year 5 = 289/290) in right field
    Refs: Dattari 5850; Similar to BMCG 2550 and RCV 13345 (different placement of Є).
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page