Domitian denarii of 85 CE

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Orfew, May 4, 2021.

  1. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Thanks to another board member I was able to ad 2 very rare Domitian denarii to my collection. Before the reveal however I want to provide some information about the rare Domitian denarii of 85 CE.

    There were 6 issues of precious metal coinage of Domitian in 85 CE. The coins that I have pursued are from the fourth, fifth and sixth issues. All of these coins are rare to extremely rare. The fourth and fifth issues all feature CENS POT in the reverse legend. It was in 85 CE that Domitian added the title of censor to his many other titles.

    I am always looking for denarii with CENS POT in the reverse legend. These coins are all rare and they do not show up in the market very often. in fact, it is not easy to add any Domitian denarius from 85 CE. The CENS POT coins mark the debasement of the denarii. It was at this point that the denarii were debased to the standards of the Neronian silver coins. According to RIC the denarii remained at this standard of fineness for the remainder of Domitian’s reign.

    Domitian. Denarius. Rome 85 CE. (Fifth Issue)
    (20.54mm 3.44g)
    Obv: Head laureate r; IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TR P V
    Rev: Minvera advancing r with spear and shield; IMP VIIII COS XI CENS POT PP
    RIC-342 (R2). BMC –
    Jesus Vico Mail bid auction # 153 Lot 3136 March 7, 2019
    Coin depicted on the Wildwinds database


    I only have one denarius from the fifth issue. However, I have been able to add some great coins from the fourth issue. There are seven CENS POT denarii in this group. I happen to own 5 of these. For me the fourth issue is much more interesting because of the seven CENS POT denarii, four of these feature Aegis on the portrait of Domitian. At the moment I own 3 of the aegis portrait denarii. The only one I need is RIC 332. Aegis appeared only rarely on the denarii of Domitian.

    Domitian AR Denarius (85 CE) (Fourth issue)
    (20.5 mm 3.22 g)
    Obv: Laureate head r, IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TR P IIII
    Rev: Minerva stg r on capital of rostral column, with spear and shield; to r owl
    RIC 333 (R2); BMC 78(cross symbol), Cohen 180 RSC 180
    Purchased from Phillipe Saive Numimatique March 15, 2019
    Coin depicted on the Wildwinds database

    Domitian_RIC_333_New-removebg copy 2.png

    Domitian AR denarius 85 CE
    (19mm, 3.50 grams)
    Obv: Head laureate right with Aegis; IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TR P IIII
    Rev: Minerva standing right on capital of rostral column with spear and shield to right owl; IMP VIIII COS XI CENS POT P P
    RIC: 334 (R2)
    Ex Dr V.J.A Flynn collection, Noble Numismatics Auction 120 Lot 3222 (part)
    Ex: Ye Olde Coin dot au
    D334 new.jpg

    Domitian, 81-96. Denarius 85 CE Fourth Issue
    (Silver, 20 mm, 3.32 g, 6 h), Rome.
    Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P IIII Laureate head of Domitian to right, wearing aegis.
    Rev. IMP VIIII COS XI CENS POT P P Minerva standing front, head to left, holding thunderbolt in her right hand and a spear in her left; behind her, shield.
    BMC 79. Cohen 178 var. (without aegis). RIC 336 (R2).
    Leu Numismatic E-Auction 8 Lot 1038 June 30, 2019.

    Domitian RIC 336 Leu.jpg

    Domitian AR Denarius 85 CE (fourth Issue)
    (20.00 mm 3.35 g)
    Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG – GERM P M TR P IIII, laureate head right, wearing aegis
    Rev: IMP VIIII COS XI – CENS POT P P Minerva standing left, holding spear in right hand
    Ref.: RIC II 339 (R2), RSC 180a, BMC 80
    Ex: Michael Kelly Collection
    Ex: Spink numismatic e-circular 1 Part 1 Ancient Coins Auction 20120 Lot 228 (part). February 13, 2020.
    Purchased from Germania Inferior Numismatics on Vcoins February 22, 2020.


    In the fourth issue, the 4 Minerva types appear for the coins with Aegis and for the types without. There is one exception to this. RIC 332 is an M1 Minerva (advancing right with spear and shield). It is also an Aegis coin. There is, however, no corresponding M1 without Aegis. This is not terribly surprising given the overall rarity of the coins in this issue. Moreover, I would not be surprised at all if a non-Aegis version was discovered in the future.

    As to my new additions, this first coin is very elusive. Also, I really like the portrait on this coin. There were some excellent portraits of Domitian on his denarii between 84-88 and this is one of them. So it is both rare and lovely, and this is a combination I like very much. However, depending on the coin I am also happy to add coins that are rare or lovely and not both.

    I found 3 of these on acsearch, 0 on OCRE, 0 at CNG, 2 mentioned in RIC and 2 on Forum Ancient Coins (this coin is one of those in the forum galleries). Also, acsearch mentions 4 coins as D338 when in fact one of the examples is D339 instead because it has Aegis on the portrait.

    My sincere thanks to Jay for letting me buy this one. It has gotten me closer to my goal of adding all of the Minerva series denarii from the fourth issue of 85 CE to my collection.

    Domitian AR Denarius 85 CE (Fourth issue)
    Obv: Laureate bust right, IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TR P IIII
    Rev: Minerva standing left with spear; IMP VIIII COS XI CENS POT PP
    RIC 338
    Ex: Aegean store on Vcoins
    Ex: Savuto collection


    The coin below is another very rare coin, but not as rare as the coin above. This coin has the rare dating combination of IMP XI COS XI. In the sixth issue there are only 3 types of denarii. Normally, one would see all four Minerva types in each issue. Minerva with thunderbolt is missing from this group. Like the M1 denarius without Aegis in the fourth issue, it is quite possible that this Minerva type will be discovered at some time in the future. I very much hope that I can add more of these sixth-issue denarii in the future. Thanks again to Jay for selling me this interesting rare coin.

    Domitian AR Denarius 85 CE (Sixth issue)
    Obv: Laureate head right; IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TR P IIII
    Rev: Minerva standing left with spear; IMP XI COS XI CENS PP P
    RIC 393; BMC 87; RSC 189
    Ex: Calgary coin
    Ex: Savuto collection
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  3. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    My pleasure Andrew! I'm focusing more on Vespasian and Titus so it was relatively easy to let them go to a Domitian specialist like yourself. I must admit I thought twice about letting RIC 393 go, it has such a wonderful portrait.
  4. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Great additions Andrew!
    The coins from 85 AD are indeed very interesting. The many changes in legend spellings suggest some kind of experimentation.

    I find the fourth issue of 85 AD from which you hope to get all the coins particularly interesting. This is the issue in which the Aegis portraits are canceled and the Germania reverse disappears on the silver. It is important to note that the Germania reverse does not appear with the non-aegis portraits from the fourth issue. Since all coins in the second and third issues of 85 AD have aegisses and the Germania reverse also occurs in these issues, I think it is fair to say that the coins with Aegis portraits from the fourth issue were struck first and that halfway through the fourth issue there was a change at the mint. At that moment both aegisses and the Germania reverse dissapear from te silver.
    From then on, only denarii were struck without aegisses, except for special issues (88,95-96).

    If you have a representative number of coins from the fourth issue for research, you could roughly calculate when the mint stopped minting coins with aegisses. It seems interesting to research, but I don't know how easy it is to have a representative quantity.

    Alberto has an unpublished one without aegis in his gallery.

    I will also be showing my latest Domitian from 85 AD here. This is a duplicate of Ric 333, which I won in an auction entirely against expectations.

    Domitian 81-96
    AR denarius
    Struck 85 AD (Fourth issue)
    Head of Domitian, laureate
    Minerva standing right on capital of rostral column, holding spear and shield, owl at foot right (M2)
    Ric 333(R2)
    Ex Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger
  5. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Thanks very much for the kind comments and the interesting ideas concerning the fourth issue. Thanks also for linking to Alberto's coin. I knew that one should exist but I did not know that one had surfaced. Maybe I can find one of those for myself one day.

    Also, your D333 looks like an obverse die match to mine. Not surprising given the rarity of these coins. Congrats on adding that one to your collection.
    Parthicus Maximus likes this.
  6. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    Interesting that the bronze of 85 have the CENS POT title and are not particularly rare


    Laureate head right with Aegis

    Mars advancing left with Victory and trophy

    Rome, 85 AD


    RIC 387 (C)

    Holed in antiquity and plugged in the late 19th century?

    Ex-Manfred Olding 2019 n 184; Ex-Sammlung Heynen 1976;Ex-Paul Schürer (1890-1976); Ex-Fritz Reusing (1874-1956)
  7. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Congratulations on your win Orfew.

    I wonder, the devision into groups, issues, etc., you mention, where does it come from? Is it from the RIC volume? Yes, perhaps a silly question, but I do not own awritten copy of any volume of RIC, and don't see this devision in e.g. my Sear book. And does this kind of devisions only apply to Flavian coinage, or other emperors as well?
  8. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Hi, thanks for the questions. Yes, the groups come from RIC. Each reference work has its own system for cataloguing the coins. RIC 2007 is only for the Flavian emperors.

    The fact that reference works like RPC BMC or RIC are written down may give the impression of certainty. That is not true. Cataloguing these coins means many judgement calls have to be made. This is why updates happen. A new discovery provides new insights and this means a rearrangement of some catalogue entries.
    Ryro likes this.
  9. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Here are my own pics of the coins.
    D338 new.jpg D393 new.jpg
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