An interesting twin issue of Valerian and Gallienus from Viminacium

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Claudius_Gothicus, Jul 20, 2021.

  1. Claudius_Gothicus

    Claudius_Gothicus Well-Known Member

    In Roman Imperial coinage, it's quite easy to find reverses that were used for both a senior emperor and his junior colleague; what's harder to come across, and undoubtedly far more interesting, are cases where the reverse, though similar, was adapted in a particular way to better fit each emperor. This is exactly what's going on with these two antoniniani from Viminacium; I have had the Valerian version for quite a while, and it featured on my Top 10 list for 2020, while the Gallienus came up for auction earlier this month at a really good price, and I've just received it:

    Gallienus (253-268), Antoninianus, Viminacium mint.
    Obverse: IMP GALLIENVS P F AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front;
    Reverse: VIC-T GE-RM, Victory walking left, holding wreath in right hand and palm branch in left hand, captive at her feet;
    RIC V 404, Göbl 845

    Valerian I (253-260), Antoninianus, Viminacium mint.
    Obverse: IMP VALERIANVS P F AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front;
    Reverse: VICT P-ART, Victory standing left, holding palm branch in left hand and resting right hand on shield, captive at her feet;
    RIC V 262, Göbl 847

    These coins are quite rare and the Valerian in particular is not that easy to find at a good price, due to the ironic nature of the reverse that makes it highly sought after, with the only similar example being the VICTORIA GERMANICA antoniniani of Decius, who met a similar end, though at the hands of the Goths. These antoniniani belong to the final emission of Imperial coinage from the Viminacium mint, and there are a few variants that deserve to be mentioned, though I lack an example to show: the Gallienus also exists with the obverse GALLIENVS AVG GERM (Göbl 848), while the Valerian comes with a cuirassed-only bust too, as well as the longer reverse legend VICT PARTI (Göbl 846). Together, I think they're a pretty nice set!

    The location of Viminacium in Moesia alongside other important cities in the region, with the administrative divisions of the 4th century (Wikipedia; Map made by user PANONIAN)

    Even though the Viminacium mint is mostly known for striking its famous bronze provincials coins (@Ocatarinetabellatchitchix made a great thread about them a while ago!), which were first struck under Gordian III in 239, when the city had received the status of colonia, it also produced several series of silver antoniniani and gold aurei, beginning with the usurper Pacatian, who had used the city as his capital; outside of a small issue for Philip I, the mint then only restarted the production of antoniniani under Valerian I, and it continued up until its closure around 257 AD, with some of its engravers possibly being sent to the newly opened mint in Trier, Gallienus' headquarters.

    A very rare antoninianus of Philip I from Viminacium, illustrating the mint's peculiar style of portraiture and lettering (Image courtesy of Auctiones GMBH)

    Despite being a relatively minor mint, it was still quite significative in the grand scheme of things, as it was the one which first produced Roman Imperial coins with a heroic bust (though they're extremely rare), as before then they had only been used on provincials!

    (Image courtesy of CNG)

    This coin belongs to the same emission as my VICT GERM, and both are referring to the third of Gallienus' five Germanic victories, as identified by this type emitted at the same time at Rome with TER in the reverse legend (it was sold a few days ago at Naumann, but unfortunately I was outbid by a lot):

    (Image courtesy of Numismatik Naumann)

    Unfortunately, we only know of the specific circumstances of the fifth, the defeat of an Alemannic invasion near Mediolanum. As for Valerian, his coin refers to his campaign in the East to recover the territories taken by Shapur a few years earlier, after the battle of Barbalissos; however, despite a few early successes, he was eventually defeated and captured at Edessa, with his subsequent whereabouts being unknown, the only emperor to experience such a fate.

    The mint also struck some antoniniani for Mariniana, Salonina and Valerian II, but they're not as interesting, in my opinion. While listed in RIC V, they're usually attributed to the wrong mints, and Viminacium was instead given the first two Antiochene emissions of Valerian and Gallienus (it was Göbl who finally ordered them correctly). Here's one of Salonina:

    Salonina (253-268), Antoninianus, Viminacium mint.
    Obverse: CORN SALONINA AVG, diademed and draped bust right, on crescent;
    Reverse: IVNO REGINA, Juno standing left, holding patera in right hand and sceptre in left hand;
    RIC V 28 (misattributed mint), Göbl 847

    Some of her types are relatively common, while others are very rare; still, despite losing out on one in Naumann, I'm still determined to collect all the ones from this mint and create a type set.

    That's all for now; post your "twin issues", your coins of Viminacium, your coins referencing important victories, or anything else you think might be relevant :)!

    - RIC V;
    - "Die Munzpragung Der Kaiser Valerianus I./ Gallienus/ Saloninus 253-268 Regalianus 260 Und Macrianus/ Quietus 260-262", Robert Göbl, 2000;
    - "The numbering of the victories of the Emperor Gallienus and of the loyalty of his legions", The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Royal Numismatic Society, Andreas Alföldi, 1929;
    - ;
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2021
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Postumus with ORIENS AVG and Victorinus with INVICTVS AVG...same Sol but different legend. And by the way fantastic research and write-up !

  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Informative write-up, @Claudius_Gothicus! Well-researched and cool coins!

    Gallienus' coins from Viminacium are uncommonly encountered. Because I don't actively search auction listings for rare coins of Gallienus, as I do for Trebonianus Gallus or the Antonine women, I don't have any from this mint even though I have several dozen coins of Gallienus and Valerian. I don't even have a Victoria type of Gallienus to share. :(
    Claudius_Gothicus likes this.
  5. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    Great write up! Very informative. I really like coins of this era. I just wish we had more primary sources for the events of the 3rd century.

    Here’s a coin that had me stumped for awhile. This coin was minted with identical obverse and reverse legends at both Rome and Viminacium. When I looked at examples, it was hard for me to tell them apart (I don’t think many people cataloging these examples were sure many times either). Anyway, I finally got off the fence and decided it was more likely a Rome mint coin and went with that attribution.
    Valerian - VICTORIA AVGG - Rome - RIC 125
  6. Harry G

    Harry G Well-Known Member

    Very interesting thread! I only have one, which I got from eBay about a month ago.

    Valerian I, SALVS AVG valerian antoninianus-min.png
  7. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    That's a wonderful pair, and a wonderful writeup about a fascinating mint! Here's my first issue Valerian from Viminacium, which I'm quite fond of:
    first issue valerian.JPG

    My VICTORIA PART, which you know well, is from Antioch:
    valerian part.jpg
    It's extremely rare (possibly only the 2nd known) and I think it was issued very near to Valerian's capture in 260.

    My best victory coin for Gallienus is this one from Rome, which I chose for the portrait:
    gallienus vict.jpg

    Which Viminacium sets are you going for other than the Salonina?
  8. Claudius_Gothicus

    Claudius_Gothicus Well-Known Member

    Thanks! Those are some very nice coins, and this reverse type was one of the ones I was thinking about when reflecting upon "twin issues"; I wonder if anybody has other coins of this kind to post?

    Very nice coin! The details on both sides are excellent. The portrait style makes it easy to identify as a product of the Rome mint; as for the Viminacium version, I must admit I do not know of its existance. If you're basing yourself off RIC V, then I believe you might be thinking about RIC V 224, a rare type that RIC attributes to Viminacium but Göbl reassigned to the first emissions of Antioch on stylistic grounds, as I said in my thread. It's a rare coin, so I can only show this example from Vcoins:


    Great purchase! This type is quite rare with "P F" in the obverse legend, it's far more commonly encountered with just "P", like on the example I've just picked up from Naumann.

    Thanks for your answer @Severus Alexander, your first coin is a beauty! I must admit I have no clue as to why that's the only Viminacium emission to use a legend in the dative case, and I don't think anybody has ever written about it.

    I'm also very happy to hear that you've received that important Valerian! Huvelin mentions an example in "Trésor d'antoniniani en Syrie. La Victoria Parthica de Valérien. Les émissions d'Aurélien à Antioche et Tripoli", and Göbl lists it as 1604A; if I ever pick up his book, I'll let you know how many examples he lists.

    Finally, great Rome mint Gallienus too! The reverse, referencing three victories, is used at the very beginning of his sole reign and it's also connected to my thread, as it was discussed by Alföldi in the same article I used as a source; he believed that the three victories were those against Ingenuus, Regalianus and the Macriani, and while I'm not sure if this theory still holds amongst modern numismatists, I quite like it.

    As for my sets, I'm not really going after anything in particular from Viminacium except for Salonina's coins, though I will pick up all the nice and affordable examples from this mint I come across, like these two I recently bought from Naumann:


    (Notice the unusual flan on the first coin! Defects like this one are quite common on these antoniniani, I'm guessing the quality control wasn't that good there.)

    However, I must mention that I've just discovered the existance of another one of these Victory types from Viminacium's last issue:


    It copies my VICT PART's reverse design, but uses the generic legend VICT AVGG instead; it's quite rare, so if I find one for sale I'll certainly pick it up.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2021
    Curtisimo, Orielensis, Bing and 6 others like this.
  9. curtislclay

    curtislclay Well-Known Member

    Were Göbl's "Viminacium" coins really struck at that mint? I raised doubts in two Forum posts of 2005:

    I think VIRTVS AVGG does occur with that early obv. legend of Valerian (IMP P LIC VALERIANO AVG), though very rarely and perhaps only as a mule. Göbl pl. 63, 795 illustrates such a coin, said to be in BM, though it is not in his catalogue. His no. 795 as described, with second obv. legend, is accordingly not illustrated in his plates.
    Isn't it astonishing that Valerian had access to die engravers of this quality during the first week or two of his reign, when he had not yet elevated Gallienus to be his co-emperor and had obviously not yet captured Rome, where in contrast Gallienus appears in the coinage from Valerian's very first issue on?
    In my opinion there is only one possible explanation: these coins of Valerian are the continuation of the IMP C C issue of Gallus and Volusian, which accordingly must have been a branch mint staffed with engravers from the mint of Rome, set up to finance Valerian's campaign in Raetia and Germany. When Aemilian revolted and killed Gallus and Volusian, causing Valerian to proclaim himself emperor against Aemilian, naturally Valerian had immediate access to the branch mint that had been set up to support his expedition!
    That mint, then, can quite definitely not have been Viminacium, which was the starting point of AEMILIAN'S revolt and was clearly still in Aemilian's hands when Valerian revolted in Raetia!
    I ask myself, what moved Elmer to mislocate this mint at Viminacium, and why has this misattribution enjoyed such widespread acceptance for the past sixty years?

    Ed Flinn: I'll speculate that one reason for assigning the coins to Viminacium was that IMP P LIC VALERIANO AVG is also seen on provincials from Dacia and from Viminacium.

    Good suggestion, Ed! The Viminacium bronzes are obviously related to the antoniniani of this series, with which they share three obv. legends, not only IMP P LIC VALERIANO AVG as on your two coins, but also IMP VALERIANVS P AVG and IMP GALLIENVS P AVG, AMNG 188, 190, 193.
    This could have no geographical meaning at all: Viminacium simply copied these Raetian/Northern Italian antoniniani which may have circulated preferentially in all of the Danube provinces since their mint was nearer than Rome.
    On the other hand, my argument that the antoninianus mint cannot originally have been at Viminacium does not exclude the possibility that Valerian might have transferred it there after defeating Aemilian!
    However, we need firm proof for the location of this mint, not just an assertion or an unreliable deduction such as "The obv. legends of the bronzes are the same, so the antoninianus mint must have been transferred there." Especially since Elmer based a major historical conclusion on the supposed location of this mint at Viminacium: that Gallienus campaigned on the Danube for a couple of years before transferring both his activities and the mint to Gaul and the Rhine.

  10. Claudius_Gothicus

    Claudius_Gothicus Well-Known Member

    Thanks a lot for you very detailed answer, @curtislclay! Your contributions are always very thoughtful and enjoyable to read. I think that your reflections on the coinage attributed to this mint have a lot of value, and I'll certainly go look for the original thread in which you posted them, as well as any publication or article about these coins.

    However, I feel like I only agree with them partially: on the one hand, the Valerian antoniniani considered to be Viminacium's first issue don't really fit in with the following emissions, due to both the portrait style and the use of the dative and I've had some doubts about this classification too, so it makes sense, in my opinion, to believe that they were struck somewhere else; this is the first time, though, that I've seen them attributed to Gallus' branch mint, and I think it might be plausible on stylistic grounds, though it doesn't explain the use of the dative, which was never employed by Gallus but only by Volusian, and only at Rome and Antioch.

    A comparison between a Branch Mint Gallus (Image courtesy of CNG) andd @Severus Alexander's Valerian I from "Viminacium"

    A Volusian from Antioch with dative obverse legend

    As for the other issues attributed to Viminacium, though, I think that it might not be such a far fetched hypothesis for them to have been struck there. While we might never get a definitive answer unless we find an antoninianus that explicitly names the city (however, it would be interesting to see if there were any hoards found in the region comprising mostly of these coins - it could be an important clue), I think that there's definitely some stylistic similarities between those antoniniani, the ones struck in the city by Philip and Pacatian, and the provincial bronzes of Viminacium; not only that, but a Danubian mint would make sense from a strategic point of view, considering the many times during which the limes in that region had come under attack - it would be necessary to be able to strike quickly when new troops were moved there. Finally, I think we should consider the very rare antoniniani with the first heroic bust: the provincials with this bust type were mostly made in Thrace and western Anatolia, so even if the mint was not located in Viminacium, it still must have been nearby, in an area where these provincials circulated and could have been handled by the engravers.

    A provincial coin of Gallienus from Perinthus in Thrace with an heroic bust (Image courtesy of CNG)
  11. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Nice coins and a fantastic write-up, @Claudius_Gothicus !

    My Valerian attributed to Viminacium by Göbl is from an earlier emission. Its reverse refers to a victory over the Germanic tribes, while its obverse shows the unusual dative form "VALERIANO" ("to/for Valerian"):

    Rom – Valerian I, Antoninian, Victoria Germania.png
    Valerian I, Roman Empire, AR/BI antoninian, 253 AD, Viminacium (?) mint. Obv: IMP P LIC VALERIANO AVG Bust radiate, draped, cuirassed r. Rev: VICTORIA GERMANICA Victory standing l. holding palm and resting r. hand on shield; at feet, captive. 21mm, 4.08g. Ref: RIC V Valerian 264 (for Milan); MIR 36, 793d.

    My two "Germanicus" antoniniani for Gallienus both date to after 257, when the Viminacium mint supposedly moved to Cologne or another location in the west (maybe Trier):

    Rom – Gallienus, Antoninian, Köln, Germanicus.png
    Gallienus, Roman Empire, AE antoninianus, 258–259 AD, Cologne mint. Obv: GALLIENVS P F AVG; bust of Gallienus, radiate, cuirassed, r. Rev: GERMANICVS MAX V; trophy between two captives. 20.5mm, 3.58g. Ref: RIC V Gallienus (joint reign) 18; MIR 36, 872n.

    Rom – Gallienus, Antoninian, Germanicus, militärische Büste.png
    Gallienus, Roman Empire, AE antoninianus, 258–259 AD, Cologne mint. Obv: GALLIENVS P F AVG; bust of Gallienus, radiate, cuirassed, l. holding spear in r. hand and shield in l. hand. Rev: GERMANICVS MAX V; trophy between two captives. 20mm, 2.81g. Ref: RIC V Gallienus (joint reign) 18; MIR 36, 872m.
  12. curtislclay

    curtislclay Well-Known Member


    Thanks for posting your ideas.

    I am surprised, however, that you want to separate the first issue for Valerian alone as IMP P LIC VALERIANO AVG, from the later issues for Valerian and Gallienus together as, initially, IMP VALERIANVS P AVG and IMP GALLIENVS P AVG.

    After all, the later issues take over two of the first issue's three reverse types, namely FIDES MILITVM and VIRTVS AVGG, the second of which had only one G in the first issue because Gallienus had not yet been made joint emperor. There are however rare first issue coins with the double G, adding to the impression that it was the same mint that produced the VIRTVS AVG coins of the first issue and the VIRTVS AVGG coins of, mainly, the later issues. See Göbl pl. 63, 795 (BM), plus another specimen from different dies in my collection.

    Nothing about the style of the first issue coins has ever made me think that they must have been struck by a different mint than the later issues, and the same goes for the change from the dative to nominative obverse legends: I don't know why that change was made, but it certainly doesn't appear to me to be evidence for different mints.
    Claudius_Gothicus and Orielensis like this.
  13. Alegandron

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

    Great writeup and very nice coins, @Claudius_Gothicus !

    RI Aemilianus 253 CE AE24 Viminacium mint Moesia Bull-Lion - Damnatio Memoriae

    RI Hostilian 251 CE AE 27 Viminacium Moesia Bull-Lion
  14. Claudius_Gothicus

    Claudius_Gothicus Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your new answer; as far as the style goes, I must admit I've come to agree with you, as in this past couple of days I've been looking at more and more coins of this mint, and now I do see a progression in the portrait style that makes me agree with the idea that they were struck at the same place. I didn't know about the first issue coins with AVGG, but that seems to be quite significative evidence; just for curiosity, are there any confirmed reverse die matches between first issue and second issue VIRTVS AVGG coins?

    So, if all of the "Viminacium" coins come from the same mint, and that mint might have been the same as Gallus' branch mint, does that completely invalidate the Viminacium theory? Should these issues be attributed as a military mint somewhere on the Rhine? I will try to find any papers that discuss hoard findings of both these "Viminacium" coins and Gallus' branch mint, to see if they coincide and if they support this theory, which unfortunately doesn't really explain why this branch mint was the first to adopt heroic busts on antoniniani, if there were no provincials with that bust in the region.
  15. Claudius_Gothicus

    Claudius_Gothicus Well-Known Member

    Now that I finally have those two antoniniani in hand, I thought I would update the thread; they're quite nice in hand, especially the Salonina, and I also find it interesting how the edges of many antoniniani from this mint are unusually irregular:

    Valerian I (253-260), Antoninianus, Viminacium mint.
    Obverse: IMP VALERIANVS P AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front;
    Reverse: SALVS AVGG, Salus standing left, feeding serpent held in hands;
    RIC V 252, Göbl 825

    Salonina (253-268), Antoninianus, Viminacium mint.
    Obverse: CORN SALONINA AVG, diademed and draped bust right, on crescent;
    Reverse: VESTA, Vesta standing left, holding transverse sceptre and patera;
    RIC V 39, Göbl 859
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page