Featured Barbarous fourée denarii of Elagabalus and Soaemias

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Nov 24, 2019.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Elagabalus CONCORDIA imitative denarius.jpg
    Elagabalus AD 218-222, 3.28 g, 18.2 mm, 6 h.
    Fourrée Denarius, imitative issue, (after AD 250?).
    Unknown (Sarmatian?) mint.
    Obv: ΛNTONINVS PIVS FEL ΛVG; Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right.
    Rev: CONCORDIΛ; Two standards between two aquilae; NILIT in exergue (sic, the N backwards and replacing the correct M, and the L looking like an upside-down T).
    Refs: imitation of: RIC 187; BMC 275; C 15; Thirion-344.
    Notes: See CNG E-Auction 281, June 20, 2012, lot 369 (same dies).

    Soaemias VESTA Seated imitative denarius.jpg
    Julia Soaemias, AD 218-222.
    Fourrée Denarius, imitative issue, (after AD 250?).
    Unknown (Sarmatian?) mint, 3.12 g, 18.6 mm, 5 h.
    Obv: IVLIA SOAEMIAS AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: ΛESIA (sic), Vesta seated left, holding simpulum and scepter.
    Refs: cf. RIC 247-248; BMCRE p. 539, f (ancient forgery); RSC 22a.
    Notes: See CNG E-Auction 281, June 20, 2012, lot 373 (same dies). Correctly identified in the BM catalogue as a hybrid with a reverse of Julia Domna, although the authors of RIC accept it without comment as an official type of Soaemias.


    These coins are so crude in artistic style that they would never have fooled a citizen of the empire, so they must have been produced for use outside of it. Curtis Clay of Harlan J. Berk notes, "The 'barbarous' style and poor engraving of some letters (notably, A is consistently rendered as Λ, V in VESTA is upside down, and T has an 'extra' crossbar at its bottom) reveals these denarii of Julia Soaemias and others of Elagabalus found with them to be ancient imitations, not products of the eastern mint that struck the prototypes. Also indicative of an unofficial issue is the wide variation of weight, ranging from 2.91 g to 3.66 g in the sample we obtained."

    AMCC notes, "The style is similar to imitations found in relatively large numbers in the region of modern Ukraine and Moldova, though these are not usually fourrée. In the 2nd century and later this corresponds to territory held by the Sarmatian tribe known as the Roxolani."

    These coins come from a group of plated ancient forgeries that came onto the market several years ago, apparently struck from just two die pairs: Elagabalus / Four Standards and Julia Soaemias / Vesta seated type of Julia Domna. They are somewhat controversial as to their authenticity. While the firms CNG (the source of these coins), Harlan J. Berk (Curtis Clay), and others are of the opinion that they are authentic ancient imitations, several knowledgeable German collectors and dealers have expressed doubts. Please see the thread at bit.ly/elagjsom for discussion.

    AMCC notes: "We have seen five examples, and some have extremely hard red deposits that would be difficult to reproduce. Some green deposits came off relatively easily. The silvering is extremely thin, so if they are authentic, they must have been produced after about 250 CE when at least one method of applying thin layers of silver (perhaps via mercury amalgam) was widely known, and used in official mint products. The style is difficult to evaluate, and their condition and state prior to cleaning is consistent with a hoard find with multiple coins sharing dies."
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  3. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Hmmm. These are interesting, to be sure, but with no expertise in the matter, I think I am in the "suspicious" camp. Die-matched fourrees seem suspicious at the very least. I'm not crazy about the "barbaric" style either - they just seem a little too good to be true. But what do I know?

    In any case, Curtis Clay knows a lot more than I do. I have an odd-ball fourree in my collections of Otacilia Severa with a blundered reverse legend and Curtis Clay comments (on the "Carpic mint", not the barbarous copy) that I found online -

    Ot Serv lot June 2019 (0).jpg

    Otacilia Severa Fourrée Ant.
    (wife of Philip I the Arab)
    (c. 245-247 A. D.)
    Carpic Campaign Aux. mint or Trajan Decius era imitation

    MARCIA OTACIL SEVERA AVG diad. dr. bust on crescent / IVNO CONSEAVΛT (sic), Juno standing l. w. patera & sceptre.
    RIC 127 (imitation/variation)
    (3.91 grams / 20 mm)

    Attribution Notes:

    "I have been shown two other specimens of this obverse with a blundered reverse legend. Both other specimens are fourees...As this obverse (sic) die has been used for reverses issued under Trajan Decius, it was probably struck during or after his reign."

    "According to Curtis Clay, these coins could have been minted during Carpic
    Campaign (AD 245-247) by auxiliary mint of the mint of Rome." (RIC 127)

  4. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    @Roman Collector - interesting coins, whether they are ancient or modern forgeries! Interesting also to see the variations on the 12 of these that show up in ACSearch going back to 2010.
  5. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Fascinating coins @Roman Collector . I wish I knew enough to have an opinion on the authenticity. Seems like there are a lot of very knowledgeable people in the “ancient forgery” camp. Though in fairness there may be a lot of knowledge in the “modern” camp as well for all I know. I assume since you bought them and didn’t say otherwise that you are of the option that they are genuine ancient fourees?

    I wonder if NGC has had to weigh in on any of these examples yet?
  6. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I believe they are ancient and from a single hoard.
    benhur767 and Curtisimo like this.
  7. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    I bought a group of these from CNG and have three left, one Soaemias and two Elagabalus. Interestingly one of the two Elagabalus features a different reverse type, Pietas with an altar, which is properly a reverse of Maesa. I don't have a photo, but it's like this one (although nicer):


    It looks to me like the plating on these was done after striking. What do you think, RC?
    benhur767, Roman Collector and Bing like this.
  8. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I think it was added as a wash after striking.
    benhur767 and Severus Alexander like this.
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