Domitian's Last Coin?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Mar 19, 2019.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    How often can you narrow down a coin's date to just four days? Most Roman coins can only be narrowed down to a year or so, perhaps a few months. My latest addition can be dated to just a few days.

    AR Denarius, 3.42g
    Rome mint, 96 AD
    RIC 821 (R2). BMC 237D. RSC 297b.
    Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P XVI; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
    Rev: IMP XXII COS XVII CENS P P P; Minerva, winged, flying l., with spear and shield
    Ex eBay, jerusalemhadaya2012, 4 March 2019.

    Domitian achieved tribunician power for the 16th time on 14 September 96 AD. He was assassinated in a palace plot four days later on the 18 September. In between those two dates the mint struck only one issue of denarii recording Domitian as TR P XVI, needless to say they are extremely rare! The Senate decreed Damnatio Memoriae within a day of Domitian's assassination which would have quickly halted production at the mint for his coinage. The months leading up to Domitian's assassination saw the mint at Rome experimenting with many new reverse designs (altar, winged Minerva, Maia, temple reverses), breaking the monotony of the four standard Minerva types that had previously dominated the denarius. These new types are exceedingly rare and were perhaps experimental in nature. This denarius shows one of these new reverse types, Minerva Victrix, a more warrior like attribute of the goddess. The fact that this new type which originally appeared on the denarius when Domitian was TR P XV carried over to the briefly struck TR P XVI issue may hint that there was indeed change in the air at the mint. Perhaps the new types hint at a transition regarding the typology on his precious metal coinage? Regardless, the experiment was cut short by an assassin's blade, so we shall never know. This denarius may very well be the last coin ever struck for Domitian. Same dies as the BM specimen.

    This is only the second denarius I've been able to acquire from the elusive last issue (my other example being the Minerva standing left with spear, RIC 820). While doing research on my new Minerva Victix, I came across the Triton XVI example of the type. I didn't pay nearly that amount for mine because it was misattributed. A very good thing it wasn't in a high profile auction! The CNG coin write-up notes there is a 'trace of an aegis' at the point of the bust. My example, although from different dies, shows the same thing. However, I believe these are not aegises at all, but rather just the manner in which the neck lines were engraved.

    Please post your narrowly dated coins!

    Special thanks to @Jay GT4 for photographic assistance.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  3. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    That's an awesome coin David, fantastic to be able to narrow down the coin's mintage within a few days, wow what a catch!!!!!
    David Atherton likes this.
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Love it, especially historical ones like this.
    David Atherton likes this.
  5. Orfew

    Orfew Supporter! Supporter

    A wonderful capture David. Congrats on adding this rarity to your collection. This would make an excellent coin for a writeup in KOINON.

    The period of production for the following coin is estimated at 4 days (October 30-Nov 2 of 88 CE) This coin is IMP XVI. There is a diploma dated Nov 7 of 88 which already has Domitian as IMP XVII.

    This type is very rare. There is no RIC plate for this coin and the British Museum is missing an example of this particular type.

    Domitian Minerva. Rome, AD 88. Silver denarius. (88 14thSeptember – 89 13thSeptember) (First Issue)
    19mm. 3.28g.
    Obv: Laureate head right, IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TR P VIII, beaded border.
    Rev:Minerva standing left holding spear, IMP XVI COS XIIII CENS P P
    RIC 655 (R2) BMC--
    Good VF, bright silver, bold head.
    Purchased from Chris Rudd January 31, 2019

    Domitian RIC 655 new.jpg
  6. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    Important historical types, just amazing!


    Laureate head right

    Minerva advancing right with spear and shield

    January 1- September 13, 88 AD



    RIC 591 (R2)

    IMP XV is a rare acclamation for Domitian, apparently soon superseded by IMP XVI. Only four denarii with that title are recorded, all rated R2 by RIC
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
  7. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Nice catch! You know it's rare when I don't have an example! ;)
  8. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Nice one Jay! To give some context, here is a little blurb I wrote for my example:

    '88 was a busy year for Domitian. A war against the Dacians was being fought to avenge the defeat of Cornelius Fuscus (earlier in 86) by Domitian's legate Tettius Julianus, resulting in a victory at the Dacian capital of Tapae late in the year. Also, the Secular Games were held mid to late year and commemorated on the coinage after September. On 1 January 88 Domitian still held his 14th imperial acclamation, but soon he was to rack up three more by the year's end. This coin is dated by his 15th imperial acclamation, presumably from the Dacian campaign, awarded sometime in late summer just before the new title TR P VIII is recorded on the coinage in mid September. The issue this coin is from is quite rare, indicating a very small period of time it could have been struck.'
    Jay GT4 and arizonarobin like this.
  9. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Fascinating coin, but IMO even more fascinating that the Imperial mint was able to learn about the acclamation, make dies, and start churning out coins in just four days! I'm lucky if I can get that kind of turnaround time on an email at work.

    My Domitian I believe is the ordinary type, TRP XV, IMP XXII, COS XVII, boring Minerva type
    Domitian denarius minerva.jpg

    I do however have a few with narrow date frames:

    Marcus Aurelius
    M ANTONINVS AVG GERM SARM, laureate head right
    TR P XXXI IMP VIIII COS III P P, Jupiterseated left, holding Victory and sceptre.
    RIC 381
    Minted "Autumn" - December 9, 177 20171204_Aurelius-Denarius-Jupiter-Seated.jpg

    Mentioned only in RIC, no images, no examples in any auction database. They didn't even make dies specifically for the type; this coin uses a worn reverse die of RIC 371, modified by adding an extra stroke over Jupiter's scepter for the new acclamatio.

    Some first year coins:

    Trajan, January 27 - December 98 (Quite common, though)
    Trajan victory seated RIC10.jpg

    Hadrian, August 10 - December 117
    Hadrian denarius roma seated.jpg

    Last year coins:

    Maximinus Thrax (sold a few months ago) with TRP IIII, December 237 - not later than March 22 238
    Maximinus Thrax sestertius TR P IIII COS PP.jpg

    Volusian (amazing how someone can renew their tribunician power 4 times in 2 years!) December 252 - August 253
    Volusian Genius of Senate.jpg
  10. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    nice Domitian and its purdy neat you can narrow down to about when it was struck ..i don't know exactly when mine was struck and i owe thanks to my peep Anton for suggesting i get this for my 12 Caesar's in silver, altho is quite worn, it is one of none the less.:) phillip ll  domitian ass. denarius 008.JPG phillip ll  domitian ass. denarius 010.JPG
  11. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Fascinating coin, @David Atherton . Here's the one coin with the most narrow date range of mintage in my collection. Nerva's TR P II COS III coins were issued only from October - December, AD 97.

    Nerva, AD 96-98.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.37 g, 16.5 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, Oct-Dec AD 97.
    Obv: IMP NERVA CAES AVG P M TR P II COS III P P, laureate head right.
    Rev: IVSTITIA AVGVST: Justitia, draped, seated right on low backed chair, feet on stool, holding long straight scepter in right and branch extended in left.
    Refs: RIC 30; Cohen 103.
  12. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    It's hard to make out the reverse inscription, but your Domitian appears to read - Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P XI; Rev: IMP XXI COS XVI CENS P P P. RIC 733, struck between 1 January - 13 September 92. A very common coin.

    However, if the reverse legend reads: IMP XXII COS XVI CENS P P P then it is RIC 738, an exceedingly rare combination!
    Roman Collector and ominus1 like this.
  13. Orfew

    Orfew Supporter! Supporter

    Here is my RIC 738 for comparison.

    Domitian RIC 738 .jpg
  14. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

  15. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody...

    Great coin and lovely style!
    David Atherton likes this.
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