Call it a Grail, a white whale or both...

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Orfew, Apr 16, 2021.

  1. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    I was only able to get this one because I was alerted to it by @Parthicus Maximus
    He sent me a pm telling me that he spotted it. Less than 3 minutes later I had it paid for.
    Thanks very much.

    So this is yet another Domitian denarius so what is the big deal? As I have mentioned before the coinage of Domitian is dominated by Minerva so the chance to get a non-Minerva reverse is always welcomed. (Of course, this does not mean I ignore the Minerva denarii. There are plenty of very interesting rarities and variants sprinkled throughout the mostly Minerva denarii).

    Okay, so this coin is also special because it is a secular games issue. I have several but there are others I want so I am always looking for the ones I do not have.

    However, ticking that box is not as important as some more important features. One of the most remarkable aspects of this coin is the left-facing portrait. I have said before that these are very rare to extremely rare, and that an opportunity to purchase one should not be bypassed if one is so inclined. When these appear the competition can be fierce because of their scarcity.

    Perhaps @David Atherton and or @curtislclay can confirm or add some information to the discussion, but I think this coin may be the second known and the only one in private hands. The coin is listed in RIC as R3-one example known to the authors when RIC was published. The RIC plate coin is the only one I know of besides my coin. This coin resides in New York and is housed at the ANS.

    So, call it a white whale or grail, this coin is very desirable and I am thrilled it will have a home in my collection.

    Please post your own whale or grail.

    Domitian AR Denarius 88 CE September 14-December 31
    Obv: Head laureate left; IMP CAES DOMITIAN AVG GERM
    Rev: COS XIIII across field; Column inscribed LVD SAEC FEC; All within laurel wreath
    RIC 605 (R3)
    Purchased from Dr. Busso Peus Nach April 16, 2021

    domitian left bust.jpg
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Congratulations on the elusive new addition to your Numophylacium Domitiani! I love finding an unappreciated rarity. As you know, I search high and low for rare varieties of Faustina I and II coins. Among these is this rare left-facing variety. There are five known examples, including mine.

    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.17 g, 17.3 mm, 12 h.
    Rome, AD 140.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, left.
    Rev: IVNONI REGINAE, Throne, against which rests transverse sceptre; below, peacock with tail spread.
    Refs: RIC 339b; BMC 143; Cohen 220 (citing BMC); Strack 405 (citing BMC and Reka Devnia); Reka Devnia 1313; RCV --; CRE 132.
  4. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Is that the ex forum coin? I seem to remember telling you that I had that one in my sights because it was so unusual. I am glad it went to the right home afterall.
    +VGO.DVCKS and galba68 like this.
  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Sure is! I bought it within seconds of noticing it.
    Spaniard and Orfew like this.
  6. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    Very nice Andrew, only now it's no longer R3! :D It's where it belongs.


    Laureate head right

    COS XIIII across field; Column inscribed LVD SAEC FEC;
    all within laurel wreath


    Rome; September 14-December 31, 88 AD

    RIC 604 (C) Scarce

  7. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    A great addition Andrew! I'm glad that I was able to help you.

    As for these left busts on Domitian's silver. During the reign of Domitian himself (not his time as Caesar) I think there are four issues that have left busts in 81, 84, 87 and 88. Why they appear is unclear to me. Yet it must be said that Domitian had so much control over the mint that it seems unlikely to me that it was outside of him or any of his highest advisers.
    Moreover, it would appear more often on the silver if the engraving of these left busts fell within the artistic freedom of the engraver, I think.
  8. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    That coin was in my shopping basket, but alas, I was slow on the draw. I have both catalogue numbers on either side of RIC 605, unfortunately Fortuna (and @Parthicus Maximus) was not with me!

    Congrats on beating me to the punch!

    NB: I don't know of any other specimens.
    +VGO.DVCKS, galba68, Orfew and 2 others like this.
  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

  10. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic


    It also goes to show how small of a pond we swim in.
    +VGO.DVCKS, galba68, Orfew and 2 others like this.
  11. coloradobryan

    coloradobryan Well-Known Member

    You ancients guys and gals are a very knowledgeable bunch. Ive got a few, but just may start more seriously collecting once i get some reference material so i dont go in blind. Ive learned quite a bit just reading on here. Its a lot more interesting than the road rash penny post.
  12. rg3

    rg3 Well-Known Member

    Congratulations! These left facing secular games issues are on my hit list (eventually, if they present themselves). Very happy you were able to pick this one up to complement your left facing Dom with herald reverse.
  13. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Thanks very much for your kind words. I wish you luck in finding one for yourself. They are interesting coins. Here is the other one you mentioned.

    Domitian, as Augustus (AD 81-96). AR denarius
    (19mm, 3.54 gm, 6h). NGC VF 5/5 - 4/5.
    Rome, 3rd issue, AD 88.
    Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P VIII, laureate head of Domitian left
    Rev: COS XIIII-LVD SAEC / FEC, herald advancing left, wearing feathered cap, wand outward in right hand, round shield in left.
    RIC II.1 597. Extremely rare with left facing portrait.
    Ex: Harlan Berk Vcoins 2005 cc50283. This coin was sold to Phil Peck in May 2007. Morris collection is the Heritage Auctions name for the Phil Peck collection.
    2020 January 26 Ancient Coin Selections from the Morris Collection, Part III World Coins Monthly Online Auction #61151 Lot #97225.
    new d597.jpg
  14. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    The coin arrived today! The tone on the obverse is lovely and that portrait is amazing!
    d605 new.jpg
  15. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    @Orfew....Very nice coin!....Deserves a place in your impressive collection! Congrats...Paul
    Here's one you helped me with a while back with a 'Minervaless' reverse...
    Domitian. 81-96 AR Denarius (3.17 gm, 18mm). Rome mint. Struck 81 AD.
    Obv.: IMP CAES DOMITIANVS AVG P M, laureate head right.
    Rev.: TR P COS VII DES VIII P P, tripod surmounted by a dolphin right. RIC II 74.
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