An Unassuming Mystery Coin

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Aug 4, 2020.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

    I came across the following coin recently, which apparently flew under the radar on eBay for quite sometime. Perhaps everyone else just saw a cruddy 'provincial' not worth their time?

    Æ20, 4.37g
    Ephesus (?) mint, 77-78 AD
    Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPASIAN AVGVST; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
    Rev: PON MAX TR P P P COS VIII CENS; S C low in field; Caduceus, winged, between crossed cornucopiae
    RIC 1508 (R2). BMC -. BNC -. RPC -.
    Acquired from eBay, July 2020.

    A year or so after a mysterious mint in Asia Minor (dubbed the 'o' mint) struck a rare series of denarii an even rarer issue of bronze appeared in the same region. The two issues are linked by similar circulation patterns and somewhat similar styles. The bronzes are imprecisely dated to the 77-78 time period but were likely struck for only a brief time, judging by their extreme rarity. Three denominations were produced in orichalcum apparently using a provincial weight system. The unique legends are in Latin and the reverse types copy those struck in Rome, but many have obvious 'Eastern' themes. The crossed cornucopiae seen on this coin likely echos a similar 'Eastern' themed reverse struck in Rome and on other eastern civic issues.

    Admittedly, the link to the infamous 'o' mint is tenuous at best, but it is the most sound theory proposed so far (M. Grant, 'Asses of Orichalcum', Centennial Publication of the American Numismatic Study, pp. 285-302).

    Feel free to post your 'unassuming' mysteries.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
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  3. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    I admit quite readily David that this one flew by me as well. That is a very nice catch and a just reward for the study you have invested.

    Here is a coin that no one apparently wanted in a Savoca auction a while ago. While it is very worn it is very rare. All left facing denarii of Domitian are rare but this one is exceptional because it was issued for him as Caesar under Vespasian.

    Domitian RIC 1085 [Vespasian].png
  4. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Nice catch @David Atherton, I like how you are able to pick out special coins like this. (And I like that your write ups almost always lead me to google translate and enrich my knowledge of the English language!)

    I had a sort of mystery coin, but I think the mystery was solved with help from the seller. It perhaps says more about my knowledge then it being an actual mystery?
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