Featured Faustina Friday – The "All-Round" legends of December 160 – 163.

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Jun 25, 2021.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Well-Known Member

    Let's see your Antonine coins with "all-round" legends or anything you feel is relevant!

    As Strack notes,[1] a change in the style of inscriptions occurs in the gold and silver issues of the Antonine coinage in the very last tribunician year (TR POT XXIIII) of Pius' reign, December 160 – 17 March 161. Specifically, the inscriptions of this period are characterized by larger than normal letters, which are arranged all around the circumference of the coin, with no break above the portrait or reverse type. An example of a denarius of Antoninus Pius from this period with a reverse type relevant to the coins of Faustina II is illustrated below.[2]

    Antoninus Pius PIETATI AVG COS IIII Fecunditas denarius.jpg
    Antoninus Pius, AD 138 – 161.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.15 g, 18.1 mm, 11 h.
    Rome, December, AD 160 – March, AD 161.
    Obv: ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XXIIII, laureate head, right.
    Rev: PIETATI AVG COS IIII, Faustina II (as Pietas) standing left, holding a child on each arm; at each side of her, a child standing looking towards her and raising hand.
    Refs: RIC 313c; BMCRE 1013-14; Cohen 631; Strack 384; RCV 4098.

    This change also appears shortly thereafter in the coins of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus dated by tribunician or consular year to between 161 and 163. See, for example, Marcus Aurelius BMCRE 10, p. 387, of AD 161 and BMCRE 243, p. 417, of AD 163/4; Lucius Verus BMCRE 25, p. 389, of AD 161 and BMCRE 299, p. 425, of AD 163/4. However, by the end of the tribunician year 163/4, this practice had ceased, with the letters smaller in size and breaks reappearing in the inscriptions above the busts. See, for example, Marcus Aurelius BMCRE 253, p. 419 and Lucius Verus BMCRE 278 bis, p. 854.

    Martin Beckmann, in his 2021 die-linkage study of the aurei of Faustina II, has noticed that this inscriptional style is also seen on the aurei and denarii of Faustina issued between December AD 160 – 163.[3] He has identified five reverse types that appear with unbroken legends characteristic of this period: SALVTI AVGVSTAE (aurei only),[4] FECVND AVGVSTAE with four children, SAECVLI FELICIT with twin boys on a pulvinar, TEMPOR FELIC with six children, and VENVS standing holding either an apple or a dove and scepter. These are illustrated below. The hairstyle is typically a simple one, with the hair pulled back into a small bun (Beckmann type 5),[5] but specimens may depict her coiffure with a prominent wave at the brow (i.e. the SALVTI AVGVSTAE aureus below; Beckmann type 7).[6]

    Faustina Jr SALVTI AVGVSTAE aureus ANS.jpg
    Faustina II, Ꜹ aureus, SALVTI AVGVSTAE, Salus seated l. RIC 716. ANS 1944.100.49239.

    Faustina Jr FECVND AVGVSTAE denarius 1.jpg
    Faustina Junior, AD 147 – 175.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.32 g, 17.2 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, December AD 160 – early 161.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: FECVND AVGVSTAE, Fecunditas facing, head left, between two children (thought to represent Faustina III and Lucilla), holding two more in hand (thought to represent Fadilla and Cornificia).
    Refs: RIC 676; BMCRE 89-90; Cohen 95; Strack 520e; RCV 5251; CRE 178; MIR 10-4/10a.

    Faustina Jr SAECVLI FELICIT Denarius RIC 711.jpg
    Faustina Junior, AD 147 – 175.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.22 g, 17.0 mm, 12 h.
    Rome, End August AD 161 – 162.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: SAECVLI FELICIT, Throne, upon which are seated two infant boys, Commodus and Antoninus.
    Refs: RIC 711; BMCRE 136; Cohen 191; RCV 5260 var. (no stephane); CRE 221; MIR27-4/10a, b.

    Faustina Jr TEMPOR FELIC Denarius Naumann.jpg
    Faustina II, AR denarius, TEMPOR FELIC, Female figure standing l., holding two infants; at either side, two children standing. RIC 719. Naumann, Auction 21, lot 638, 7 Sept. 2014.

    Faustina Jr VENVS apple and scepter denarius.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147 – 175.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.09 g, 18.3 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, AD 161 – 163.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: VENVS, Venus standing left, holding dove in right hand and vertical scepter in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 728; BMCRE 166; RSC/Cohen 249; Strack 520g; RCV --; CRE 231: MIR 33-4/10a.

    Faustina Jr VENVS dove and scepter denarius.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147 – 175.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.36 g, 17.0 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, AD 161 – 163.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: VENVS, Venus standing left, holding dove in right hand and vertical scepter in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 730; BMCRE 167-68; RSC/Cohen 255; Strack 520i; RCV 5266; CRE 236: MIR 32-4/10a.

    Exceptions to the Rule

    The bronze coinage does not employ the all-round obverse legend. Beckmann postulates, "presumably the die-engraver responsible for the precious metals did not work on dies for the bronze."[7] This is illustrated on this sestertius of the FECVND AVGVSTAE reverse type.

    Faustina Jr FECVND AVGVSTAE S C Sestertius.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147 – 175.
    Roman oricalchum sestertius, 22.36 gm, 33.7 mm, 12 h.
    Rome, December AD 160 – early 161.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: FECVND AVGVSTAE S C, (Faustina as) Fecunditas standing left, between two children (thought to represent Faustina III and Lucilla), holding two infants in her arms (thought to represent Fadilla and Cornificia).
    Refs: RIC 1635; BMCRE 902-904; Cohen 96; Strack 1336; RCV 5273; MIR 10.

    The obverse inscriptions are broken when Faustina appears wearing a stephane, presumably to make room for this item of headgear without making the overall portrait too small. This is illustrated on this denarius of the SAECVLI FELICIT reverse type.

    Faustina Jr SAECVLI FELICIT Denarius RIC 712.jpg
    Faustina Junior, AD 147 – 175.
    Roman AR denarius; 3.36 g, 17.1 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, End August AD 161 – 162.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust, right, wearing stephane.
    Rev: SAECVLI FELICIT, Throne, upon which are seated two infant boys, Commodus and Antoninus.
    Refs: RIC 712; BMCRE 139; Cohen 191; RCV 5260; CRE 222; MIR 27-4/10a, b Diad.

    The reverse inscription on the two VENVS reverse types is broken, though the obverse inscription remains "all round." These two types are illustrated above, but I'll demonstrate this again, below.

    Faustina Jr VENVS dove and scepter denarius.jpg



    1. Strack, Paul L. Untersuchungen Zur Römischen Reichsprägung des Zweiten Jahrhunderts. Kohlhammer, 1937, p. 11.

    2. Apart from the SALVTI AVGVSTI aureus and TEMPOR FELIC denarius illustrated below, all coins shown are from my own collection.

    3. Beckmann, Martin, Faustina the Younger: Coinage, Portraits, and Public Image, A.N.S. Numismatic Studies 43, American Numismatic Society, New York, 2021, pp. 56, 58-59.

    4. As Beckmann's die study (op. cit.) indicates, the SALVTI AVGVSTI aurei were issued over a period of several years beginning before the inscriptional change of AD 161 and continuing after the reappearance of the broken legends in AD 163.

    5. Beckman, op. cit., pp. 83-84, 90.

    6. Beckman, op. cit., p 90.

    7. Beckman, op. cit., p. 57.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2021
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  3. Sulla80

    Sulla80 Well-Known Member

    @Roman Collector - thanks for an interesting post and great examples - this is one from later (AD 166) after the "All Round" period - a favorite portrait of M.A. and with smaller lettering and small breaks at the top.
    Marcus Aurelius Pax.jpg
    Marcus Aurelius (161-180), AR Denarius, Rome, struck AD 166
    Obv: M ANTONINVS AVG ARM PARTH MAX, laureate head right.
    Rev: TR P XX IMP IIII COS III / PAX, Pax standing left, holding cornucopia and branch.
    Ref: RIC 164
  4. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status

    Anther great post RC! I think that YOU are an all around legend:) (you see what I did there?)
    Here is my all around good emperor Marcus Aurelius:
  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Well-Known Member

    Excellent! A PROV DEOR of the time period under discussion!
    Ryro likes this.
  6. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    @Roman Collector......Interesting write up!
    Here's my MA...
    Marcus Aurelius denarius.Rome AD 161-162 (18MM....2.55gr)
    Obverse....IMP M AVREL ANTONINVS AVG, bare head right
    Reverse... PROV DEOR TR P XVI COS III, Providentia standing facing, head left, holding globe and cornucopiae.
    RIC#50 RSC 519.

  7. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Thanks for another interesting Faustina Friday article, RC. :)

    Looks like I only have one coin with the "all round" legend.
    It is a Marcus Aurelius denarius.

    Scanning through some of my Faustina Junior denarii, I guess the engravers just make the portraits too big, and have to split the legends.
  8. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Well-Known Member

    That's a great illustration of the usual (not "all round") type for comparison. Nice coin!

    Thanks for the kind words! That's a handsome specimen! Good example of the "all-round" inscription, too.

    Thanks for the kind words, @happy_collector! That Marcus Aurelius well-illustrates the type. And your many Faustina denarii with legend breaks demonstrate that the "all-round" legend is not a typical feature of her coins. You've got a nice collection of her hairstyles going there, too.
  9. Sulla80

    Sulla80 Well-Known Member

    Here's an interesting example that looks "all round" and pre-dates the period you mention. No break and smaller lettering - although other examples of this type seem to have, more often, a break in lettering. An early experiment in "all round"? or just an inexperienced lettering apprentice who also seems to have misspelled COS on the reverse and then corrected?
    Antoninus Pius annona.jpg
    Antoninus Pius, 138-161, AR Denarius, Rome, 154-155
    Obv: ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XVIII, laureate head of Antoninus Pius to right.
    Rev: COS IIII, Annona standing left, holding grain ears in right hand and left hand resting on modius set on prow
    Ref: BMC 833, Cohen 292, RIC 239
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2021
  10. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Here’s mine :)

  11. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Well-Known Member

    That's a nice Antoninus Pius denarius. Be sure to check out @Ryro's thread about his recent acquisition of a denarius from the same emission. See if you can figure out what is different about your coin compared to his and what that means in terms of the coin's message to the Roman people.
    Gam3rBlake and Ryro like this.
  12. curtislclay

    curtislclay Well-Known Member


    Thanks for the article and illustrations.

    As to the absence of continuous legends on bronze coins, did Beckmann overlook the BM sestertius of Faustina under Marcus no. 925, "(no break in legend)", their online photo of which I repeat below?

    Another worn specimen of the same type with unbroken obv. legend, but FaustinaSest LAETITIAobvUnbrBM925 (Wigan).png from a different obv. die, is in my collection.
  13. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    This was an especially interesting thread. Although I'd noticed the "continuous legend" aspect of some of my Antonine silver, I did not know that this was from a specific production run. Thanks for sharing this, @Roman Collector

    I have several of these, some of which I'd gotten several years before when I didn't photograph everything, so I shot 'em this morning:

    Antonine Silver Cont. Legends Jun 2021 (0).jpg

    1st Row:

    Faustina II: RIC 676 FECVND AVG.. 2 babies
    Faustina II: RIC 730 Venus standing
    Faustina II: RIC 711 SAECVLI FELICIT pulvinar

    2nd Row:

    Lucius Verus: RIC 482 PROV DEOR
    Marcus Aurelius: RIC 66 PROV DEOR (M ANTONINVS...)
    Marcus Aurelius: RIC 37 Concordia seated
    Marcus Aurelius: RIC 70 PROV DEOR (IMP M ANTONIVS...)
  14. MarcusAntonius

    MarcusAntonius Well-Known Member

    Faustina, Senior, wife of Antoninus Pius, Augusta, AD 138-141. AE Sestertius (32.3 g) minted at Rome. Lifetime issue.
    FASTINA AVG ANTONINI AV PII P P. Diademed and draped bust of Faustina right, her hair plaited and piled up; continuous legend around. Reverse: CONCOR - DIA AVG S C. Concordia (Harmony) standing left holding a patera and double cornucopiae, and leaning on column.
    Sear 4674; RIC 1076 var; Cohen 154 var.

    Faustina I.jpg Faustina 2.jpg
  15. MarcusAntonius

    MarcusAntonius Well-Known Member

    Egypt, Alexandria. Dattari. Faustina junior, daughter of Antoninus Pius and wife of Marcus Aurelius Drachma circa 150-151 (year 14), Æ 33.4mm., 21.89g. Draped bust r. Rev. Eirene standing, facing, head, l., holding two ears of corn and caduceus; in field, LI-Δ. RPC 1288.22 (this coin illustrated). Dattari-Savio Pl. 172, 9108 (this coin).

    Faustina Jr 1.jpg

    Faustina Jr 2.jpg
  16. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Something a bit different, are the oddly uncharacteristically rounded legends of Gratian.

    I always thought these looked a bit odd, something about the centering of the bust.
    Gratian AE3 RIC IX Siscia 14c.JPG
    Gratian Arles RIC IX 15 type xii a (2020_11_18 03_38_31 UTC).JPG
    They're tough to find in good condition for some reason. The Arles Gloria Romanorvm is about as good as they reasonably get. IDK why.
  17. Restitutor

    Restitutor Well-Known Member

    Now that is an “emperor in drag” empress coin! Nice beard :)
  18. DonnaML

    DonnaML Well-Known Member

    My only Faustina II with an all-round legend -- a coin that precedes the twin boys, so I didn't post it in the other thread:

    Faustina II [Junior) (wife of Marcus Aurelius & daughter of Antoninus Pius), AR Denarius, Rome Mint, Dec.160 AD. Obv. Draped bust right, hair in chignon behind, FAVSTINA AVGVSTA / Rev. Faustina as Fecunditas, standing front, head left, holding infant in each arm, two other young children standing beside her to left and right, holding onto her gown; FECVND AVGVSTAE. RIC III [Marcus Aurelius] 676, RSC II 95, Sear RCV II 5251, BMCRE 89, Dinsdale 005120 [Dinsdale, Paul H., The Imperial Coinage of the Middle Antonines: Marcus Aurelius with Lucius Verus and Commodus, Ch. 4, Faustina II - Undated, 158-176 (http://romanpaulus.x10host.com/Marcus/04 - Faustina II - Undated, 158-176 (med_res).pdf) at p. 54; photo at p. 60]. 17.0 mm., 3.29 g.*


    *See Foss, Roman Historical Coins, page 143, identifying the two standing children depicted on this coin as Annia Faustina [a/k/a Faustina III] (oldest child) and Lucilla (third oldest child), and identifying the two infants in Faustina’s arms as Fadilla (seventh child) and Cornificia (eighth child). The coin was probably issued to celebrate the birth of Cornificia, the then-youngest child, in August 160 AD.
  19. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Thanks! I just picked it up a few weeks ago.

    I’ve been on a bit of an Ancient Roman coins buying spree lately. xD

    My goal is to accumulate as many ancient Roman silver coins as I can from the beginning of their coinage all the way to the collapse of the Empire.

    I’m especially trying to get a denarius from as many different Emperors as possible in at least XF condition or better. Although I know I’ll never get some of the Emperors like Caligula whose denarius coins cost up to $20,000 in XF condition and sometimes even in VF condition.

    But I am determined to get as many as I can since I think it will look cool to have a huge display acting as a sort of timeline with my earliest coins (from the Republic like my quadrigatus) at the beginning and then the latest coins (like the highly debased denarii from the end of the 3rd century) at the end.

    Kind of like this but with denarii instead of antoninianii and with many more examples.

    I think it will be interesting to see the changes in size, weight, design and purity over many centuries.
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