Faustina Friday – A Late Middle Bronze with an Early Obverse Legend

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Jan 28, 2022.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    [​IMG]

    TGIFF, everybody!!

    Today we're going to talk about obverse legends and why using them to date coins has its pitfalls. For example, we have seen how the FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII FIL legend was used at two different times on the early coinage for Faustina the Younger. More relevant to today's installment of Faustina Friday, we have seen how the DIVA AVG FAVSTINA legend was used at two different times on the aurei and denarii for Faustina the Elder.

    This same phenomenon occurs on this reverse type, which was only issued in the middle bronze denomination. The coin bears the early DIVA AVG FAVSTINA obverse legend paired with a late reverse type.

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Pietas and altar MB DIVA AVG FAVSTINA Zeus.jpg
    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Roman Æ as or dupondius, 10.88 g, 25.6 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, later 150s AD.
    Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: AETERNITAS S C, Pietas standing left, dropping incense over altar with right hand and holding incense box in left hand.
    Refs: RIC –; BMCRE –; Cohen –; Strack –; RCV –.

    Compare it to the usual variety, which bears the later DIVA FAVSTINA obverse legend.

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Pietas and altar MB.jpg
    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Roman Æ as or dupondius, 11.92 g, 26.5 mm, 12 h.
    Rome, AD 153-55.
    Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: AETERNITAS S C, Pietas standing left, dropping incense over altar with right hand and holding incense box in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 1161; BMCRE 1558; Cohen 43; RCV 4641; Strack 1271.

    An inventory and die study of known examples

    This reverse type was unknown until recent decades, is absent from the major museum collections of Europe and the US, and is unlisted in RIC, BMCRE, Cohen, Strack, and Sear. Our own @curtislclay has noted such asses have been "turning up quite frequently among coins from Bulgarian sources."[1] I have identified eight examples, struck from four obverse dies and five reverse dies, which I examine below.

    Obverse die 1, reverse die A:

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Pietas and altar MB DIVA AVG FAVSTINA Forum.jpg
    Forvm Ancient Coins (Web Shop), 1.1.1970, lot 28948 (unfortunately this coin is no longer listed on the website).

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Pietas and altar MB DIVA AVG FAVSTINA Rauch.jpg
    Auktionshaus H. D. Rauch GmbH, E-Auction 12, lot 502, 22 March 2013.

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Pietas and altar MB DIVA AVG FAVSTINA Zeus.jpg
    The example in my collection as noted above. Zeus Web Auction 22, lot 632, 23 January 2022.

    Obverse die 2, reverse die B:

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Pietas and altar MB DIVA AVG FAVSTINA Gorny Mosch.jpg
    Gorny & Mosch Giessener Münzhandlung, Auction 130, lot 2196, 8 March 2004.

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Pietas and altar MB DIVA AVG FAVSTINA cgb.jpg
    CGB.fr, Monnaies 32, lot 255, 6 December 2007.

    Obverse die 2, reverse die C:

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Pietas and altar MB DIVA AVG FAVSTINA Pegasi.jpg

    Obverse die 3, reverse die D:

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Pietas and altar MB DIVA AVG FAVSTINA Timeline.jpg
    TimeLine Auctions, February 2019 Antiquities & Coins Auction, lot 3378, 26 February 2019.

    Obverse die 4, reverse die E (tooled and must be interpreted accordingly):

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Pietas and altar MB DIVA AVG FAVSTINA Peus-Hoehn.jpg
    Dr. Busso Peus Nachfolger, E-Auction 9, lot 109, 6 July 2019.

    The implications of this coin type and the die study

    The obverse legends used on the posthumous coinage for Faustina I fall into two broad categories:

    1. DIVA AVG(VSTA) FAVSTINA
    2. DIVA(E) FAVSTINA(E)

    Both Mattingly and Strack[2] believed that the obverse inscription with the title Augusta was confined to the early issues for Diva Faustina. Specifically, Mattingly dates the coinage bearing the first inscription to "A.D. 141 and immediately afterwards."[3] He is less specific in his dating of the coinage bearing the second title but states that the title Augusta was no longer in use after AD 147, "because that title has passed on to her daughter."[4] However, Martin Beckmann, in the course of his die-linkage study of the aurei of Faustina I, determined that the movement of AVGVSTA from obverse to the reverse of Faustina I's coinage was connected to Faustina the Younger's "marriage to the young Caesar Marcus Aurelius in 145."[5]

    Interestingly, in the course of his die-linkage study of the aurei of Faustina I, Beckmann also discovered a very unexpected development in the obverse legend at the very end of one of the die-chains: the abbreviation AVG reappears on two dies in the chain. Beckmann dates these obverse dies to "the later 150s AD."[6] Beckmann postulates that this was a mint error. "The reason for this accident may have been that the same die engravers were responsible for the production of dies for both Diva Faustina and for her daughter Faustina the Younger, whose coins normally did bear the title Augusta. That a handful of dies bearing this title could be carved and used in production for Diva Faustina shows that control of this coinage must have become very relaxed."[7]

    However, Beckmann was postulating about the use of these dies in the production of aurei. And while he acknowledges a similar use of DIVA AVG FAVSTINA obverse dies in the production of denarii,[8] his die-linkage study was confined to the aurei and sestertii of Diva Faustina and the middle bronze discussed here thus falls outside of the purview of his research. One thing is clear: the DIVA AVG FAVSTINA legend was used in the late 150s AD on certain aurei, denarii and middle bronze issues and using multiple obverse dies and its use was no accident or one-off mint error.

    In conclusion, although these late issues with the DIVA AVG FAVSTINA legend are scarce compared to their DIVA FAVSTINA counterparts, the use of the inscription on certain issues seems to have been purposeful. What that purpose may have been, however, remains elusive. Why the two inscriptions were used concomitantly on certain issues and not others is yet another unanswered question. I wonder if, just as certain Antonine reverse types were issued strictly for use in Britain, perhaps these DIVA AVG FAVSTINA issues were struck for use in the Balkans, where the middle bronze coins with that obverse inscription seem to be found.

    Everything with Faustina's coins becomes, as Alice in Wonderland says, curiouser and curiouser.

    [​IMG]

    As always, comments and coin photos are encouraged. Post anything you feel is relevant!

    ~~~

    Notes

    1. Curtis L. Clay, personal communication, 23 January 2022.

    2. Strack, Paul L., Untersuchungen zur Römischen Reichsprägung des Zweiten Jahrhunderts, vol. 3, Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit des Antoninus Pius. Stuttgart 1937.

    3. Mattingly, Harold, Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, vol. IV: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. Introduction, indexes and plates. London, BMP, 1968, p. 42.

    4. Mattingly, op. cit., p. lxi.

    5. Beckmann, Martin. Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces. American Numismatic Society, 2012, p. 51.

    6. Beckmann, op. cit., p. 71 and Die Charts 2 and 7.

    7. Beckmann, op. cit., p. 71.

    8. Ibid. See my previous discussion of these denarii at Coin Talk.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2022
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest



    to hide this ad.
  3. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Not Aeternitas / Pietas , but PIETAS rightaway, scarce ?

    P1180315Pietas (2).JPG
     
    DonnaML, Ryro, Spaniard and 5 others like this.
  4. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Thanks for another nice article, RC.

    No "AVG" here. Looks like my sestertius belongs to the later type. :)
    Faustina Senior-cutout.jpg
    (edit) I think mine has a different reverse design ...
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2022
    DonnaML, Ryro, Marsyas Mike and 6 others like this.
  5. Spaniard

    Spaniard Supporter! Supporter

    @Roman Collector......Another enjoyable write up thanks...
    An interesting surmise AVG = Balkans.
    I've actually just picked up my first Bronze of Faustina I.....
    It was cheap and although quite worn still depicts a nice portrait of the Empress and I also liked the Phoenix on globe reverse...
    Diva Faustina Senior. Æ Sestertius (32mm, 21.19 g.)
    Rome mint, struck under Antoninus Pius, circa AD 146-161.
    Obv. DIVA FAVSTINA draped bust right.
    Rev. AETERNITAS S-C seated left, holding scepter and globe surmounted by phoenix....RICIII #1103 (Antoninus Pius)
    Reddish-brown patina.
    What is interesting about this coin is its Ric reference. All the 1103s I've looked at have the S C in the exergue? Any ideas?
    fau sestertius.jpg
     
  6. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    I have zero coins to share, but would like to comment that your TGIFF threads are well written, educational, and highly entertaining. I haven't replied to any yet (again, no coins of Faustina to share), but I enjoy reading them. And I learned a new English word: concomitantly. :)

    So thank you for your threads, I really appreciate it.
     
    DonnaML, Ryro and Roman Collector like this.
  7. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    Always appreciate your sharing of knowledge and coins:
    share759235386592046260.png 2AA9B0B3-0F03-4A2A-A50B-889FBAF1F45B-3045-000004006B3560CA.jpg
    Faustina II
    Pietas Sestertius 154-156 AD. Rome mint. Obv: FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL legend with draped bust right. Rev: PIETAS AVG legend with S-C to fields and Pietas standing left, holding flower and cornucopia, child at foot left. RIC 1379; BMC 2177; Cohen 173; Sear 4715. 26.27 grams. 33.80 mm
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for the kind words, everybody!

    Lovely patina on that one! It's harder to come by than you might think. It dates from AD 143-145 and was issued in conjunction with the dedication of the Temple to Diva Faustina. Here's mine. I had to treat it for bronze disease.

    [​IMG]
    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Roman orichalcum sestertius, 24.87 g, 31.2 mm, 11 h.
    Rome, AD 143-145.
    Obv: DIVA AVGVSTA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: PIETAS AVG S C, Pietas, veiled, draped, standing left, dropping incense out of right hand over lighted 'candelabrum-altar', left, and holding box in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 1146Aa; BMCRE 1442-44; Cohen --; Strack 1241; RCV 4631; Hill UCR 382.



    That's a scarce one, @happy_collector! It was issued only in the sestertius denomination in AD 145 as part of an issue to commemorate the wedding of Faustina II to Marcus. It's unlisted in Cohen and RIC with this exact reverse (Pietas standing l. by altar, raising r. hand and with l. arm holding up fold of robe; no incense box). RIC —; BMCRE 1525; Cohen —; Strack 1291. Here's the British Museum example:

    canvas.png

    Often, S C will appear either on the fields or in the exergue on any given issue; these are just engravers' variations and they do not affect the catalog number. Here's my example of the coin:

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Aeternitas seated sestertius.jpg

    Thanks for the kind words! Here's my Pietas with a rug rat at her feet to the left.

    Faustina Jr PIETAS S C sestertius.jpg
     
  9. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your additional info, @Roman Collector. Wow! A coin to commemorate the wedding of Faustina II and Marcus Aurelius. I love it! The coin would be more important to me now. Let me add some notes onto the coin label. Thanks again! :)
     
    Roman Collector likes this.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page