Faustina Friday – An Unusual Pulvinar and Peacock Denarius

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Jul 30, 2021.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Last week's Faustina Friday was a superficial overview of nine different reverse types. Superficial can be good, but sometimes we need to go deeper.

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    Sometimes we need to pull out a microscope.

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    Yep, I'm talking about flyspecking – minor variations in design, die-studies, the works!

    I've written about these types before. I've discussed these here and here, as well as a left-facing bust variety here. But this one is a different design variety. There is a strange, ovoid object on the seat of the throne, there is no scepter leaning against the throne, and the peacock faces left, not right. Strack describes the object on the throne as a "diadem," but it differs entirely from the crescent-shaped struppus (RIC describes it as a "wreath") of the similarly-designed RIC 377.[1] Dinsdale believes the object most resembles a globe,[2] but it seems too flattened to be a globe, in my opinion, and the object is intended to be a cushion. The type of throne here is a pulvinar, a cushioned seat of a god placed before their statues and altars at the lectisternium. The term comes from pulvinus, the Latin word for cushion, and I can think of no better explanation.

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock under Throne denarius no scepter Agora.jpg
    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.58 g, 16.1 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, AD 140.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: IVNONI REGINAE, the pulvinar of Juno, upon which rests a cushion(?); in foreground, peacock standing left, with tail in splendor.
    Refs: RIC –; BMCRE 139n (citing Strack); RSC 221b (citing Strack); Strack 406; RCV –; CRE 134.
    Notes: Ex- Tom Mullally, illustrated at http://dirtyoldbooks.com/roman/id/faustina/fa088.jpg (www.dirtyoldcoins.com). @Suarez ERIC II plate coin, type 107, p. 224.

    The coin is scarce. Strack cites five museum specimens: the Staatliches Münzkabinett in Berlin, the Staatliches Münzkabinett in Stuttgart, the Herzogliches Münzkabinett in Gotha, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, and a single specimen from the Rēka Devnia hoard in the Nationalmuseum in Sofia. Strack illustrates the Berlin specimen (see below), but unfortunately, I am unable to find any photos online of the other four specimens he cites. I have, however, been able to find an additional four examples in online databases and print publications. The coin seems to have been struck with three different reverse dies, so the variations in the design do not merely represent a single erroneously engraved die intended to be RIC 339a (BMCRE 139).

    Three are reverse die-matches to my coin. On this die, the reverse legend is broken by the back of the throne and the wave decoration on the top of the back of the throne is taller on the left than the right.

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock under Throne denarius no scepter ANS.jpg
    American Numismatic Society 1944.100.48325.

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock under Throne denarius no scepter Solidus.jpg
    Solidus Auktion 11, lot 276, 14 January 2017.

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock under Throne denarius no scepter Naumann.jpg
    Naumann Auction 74, lot 342, 3 February 2019.

    The plate coin in Strack was struck with a similar die, but the wave decoration on the top of the back of the throne is taller on the right than the left.

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock under Throne denarius no scepter Strack pl 6, 406 Berlin.jpg
    Strack 406, pl. 6.

    The plate coin in Tameryazev & Makarenko[3] was struck with a die featuring an unbroken reverse legend, though the artwork on the devices is so similar as to have been engraved by the same hand as previous two dies.

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock under Throne denarius no scepter CRE.jpg
    CRE 134 (private Eastern European collection).

    I hope you enjoy these weekly articles about my favorite two empresses. If you know of any other examples of this coin, I'd love to see them to further my die-study.


    As always, comments are welcome. Post anything you feel is relevant!


    And TGIFF!!

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    ~~~

    Notes

    1. Strack, Paul L. Untersuchungen Zur Romischen Reichspragung Des Zweiten Jahrhunderts. vol. 3, Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit des Antoninus Pius. Stuttgart, Kohlhammer, 1937, s.v. no. 406.

    2. Paul H Dinsdale, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius Caesar AD 138-161, Second Revised Edition. Leeds, 2021, p. 109, n.4.

    3. Temeryazev, S. A., and T. P. Makarenko. The Coinage of Roman Empresses, 134, p. 52.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2021
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  3. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    I agree, I immediately thought it must be a cushion of some sort. Interesting variety that I've not seen before.
     
    Roman Collector likes this.
  4. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Fantastic coin and write-up as always @Roman Collector.

    Titus and Domitian both struck pulvinar issues, likely for the opening games of the Colosseum. Here is my favourite type from the series honouring Neptune.


    T112.JPG
    Titus
    AR Denarius, 2.87g
    Rome mint, 80 AD
    Obv: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, r.
    Rev: TR P IX IMP XV COS VIII P P; Dolphin coiled around anchor
    RIC 112 (C2). BMC 72. RSC 309. BNC 60.
    Ex Harlan J Berk 143, 18 May 2005, lot 177.
     
  5. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

  6. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

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