Faustina Friday – A Sestertius Featuring a Stephaned Bust and Laetitia

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

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter



    This is a new arrival to my Numophylacium Faustinae. I purchased it because it depicts the empress wearing the stephane,[1] an example of which was lacking in my collection on a sestertius of this particular reverse type, that of Laetitia.

    Isn’t she lovely?

    Her portrait was crafted by a very talented die-engraver.

    Faustina Jr LAETITIA S C standing left sestertius diademed.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman orichalcum sestertius, 24.80 g, 32.6 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, AD 161-164.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right, wearing stephane.
    Rev: LAETITIA S C, Laetitia standing left, holding wreath and scepter.
    Refs: RIC 1653; BMCRE 928; Cohen 150; RCV 5279 var. (bust); MIR 21-6/10b diad.

    The Latin noun laetitia roughly means "happiness." Specifically, the word connotes a feeling of joy, exultation, rejoicing, gladness, pleasure, or delight.

    The Laetitia reverse type was large issue, issued under Marcus Aurelius AD 161-164, which I have previously discussed. The issue possibly refers to the birth of M. Annius Verus in AD 162,[2] but this is far from certain. This reverse type was used for the aureus, denarius, sestertius, and middle bronze denominations. Not only may the empress appear bare-headed, wearing a single or double strand of pearls, or a stephane, but Laetitia may appear standing right or left, with mirror-image reverse types.

    In the sestertius denomination, the bust type depicting the empress wearing one or two strands of pearls is the more commonly encountered in the market; the stephaned variety is quite rare. After a comprehensive internet and literature search, I have compiled the following inventory of known examples:

    1. Roma eSale 1, lot 493, 31 August, 2013; same coin sold again in eSale 63, lot 821, 11 July, 2019.
    2. British Museum, BMCRE4 928.
    3. ANS 1957.172.1756.
    4. Thüringen Museum for Pre- and Early History 4956/00.
    5. M. Rollin collection, cited by Cohen.
    6. This coin, Artemide Kunstauktionen eLive Auction 17, lot 454, 27 March, 2021.

    If you are aware of any other examples, I’d appreciate you posting a photo or link. Let’s see your coins of Laetitia, Faustina wearing a stephane, or anything you feel is relevant!



    1. I have previously discussed the role of the stephane on Roman coins.

    2. Szaivert, Wolfgang, Die Münzprägung der Kaiser Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus und Commodus (161/192), Moneta Imperii Romani 18. Vienna, 1989, p. 230.
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  3. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Nice writeup, RC.

    I like the portrait of your Faustina coin, especially on a Sestertius. :)
    Roman Collector likes this.
  4. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Great coin and tune!:artist::singing:
    My favorite Stephane wearing Faustina is named Livia:smuggrin:
    share759235386592046260.png IMG_5557.jpg
  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I subscribe to the Vipsania, mother of Drusus, theory on coins of that series.

    Tiberius, AD 14-37.
    Roman orichalcum Dupondius, 14.32 g, 29.15 mm, 1 h.
    Rome, AD 22/23.
    Obv: PIETAS, veiled, diademed and draped bust of (Vipsania? as) Pietas, right.
    Refs: RIC Tiberius 43; BMCRE Tiberius 98; CBN Tiberius 74; Cohen 1; RCV 1741.
  6. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks! The Roma one is the same coin listed in my inventory of known specimens. They've sold the same coin, what, three times?! :eek:

    But the Ibercoin one is new to me. It's gorgeous, isn't it?:wideyed:
    Sulla80 likes this.
  8. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    It is in general a beautiful type - it may just be the photo, but I prefer the olive patina and surfaces of your coin.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  9. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Lovely coin, RC. And another informative post, as ever.

    I have a non-stephane sestertius (which I seen now needs some date-honing based on the information you provided):

    Faustina II - Sest. LAETITIA Feb 2018 (0).jpg
    Faustina II Æ Sestertius
    (161-176 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    [FA]VSTINA AV[GVSTA], draped bust right, double circlet of pearls / L[AETITI]A S C, Laetitia standing left holding wreath and scepter.
    RIC 1654; Sear 5279
    (26.54 grams / 31 mm)

    Here's a Faustina II Laetitia denarius - perhaps my favorite (in my collection) of this empress - I like the artwork:

    Faustina II - Laetitia den Apr 2018 (0).jpg
    Faustina II Denarius
    (147-149 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL, draped bust right / LAETITIAE PVBLICAE, Laetitia standing left, holding wreath and sceptre.
    RIC 506b; RSC 155a.
    (2.95 grams / 18 mm)
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