Featured Faustina Friday -- A Couple of Anepigraphic Bronzes

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Nov 13, 2020.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    This reverse type was issued by Antoninus Pius for his daughter, Faustina II, on coins bearing two different obverse inscriptions: FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL[1] and FAVSTINA AVGVSTA AVG PII F.[2] With the exception of a very rare variant with a left-facing bust type, those bearing the earlier FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL inscription depict Faustina with an early hairstyle, while those with the latter FAVSTINA AVGVSTA AVG PII F inscription depict Faustina with a later hairstyle. Cohen erroneously transcribed the obverse inscription on the later issue as "... PII FIL," which was uncritically accepted by the authors of RIC, leading to much confusion. The absolute dating of these issues in unclear, however, and both inscriptions are dated to AD 152-156 by Strack; Mattingly dates them to AD 154-156.

    This post will detail the coins issued with the later reverse inscription. For an example of a sestertius of this reverse type but with the earlier inscription and hairstyle, @Julius Germanicus posted an example 3-1/2 years ago. Here are the sestertius and middle bronzes in my collection bearing the later obverse inscription:

    Faustina Jr S C Diana Sestertius.jpg Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman orichalcum sestertius, 25.20 g, 31.1 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, AD 152-156.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA AVG PII F, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: S C, Diana, draped, standing front, head left, holding out arrow in right hand and resting left on bow, set on ground.
    Refs: RIC 1383(2); BMCRE 2194; Cohen 210 (erroneous obv insc.); Strack 1326.
    Notes: Obverse die match to the British Museum specimen.

    Faustina Jr S C Diana as.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman copper alloy as or dupondius, 9.80 g, 24.1 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, AD 152-156.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA AVG PII F, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: S C, Diana, draped, standing front, head left, holding out arrow in right hand and resting left on bow, set on ground.
    Refs: RIC 1405c (erroneous obv insc.); BMCRE p.382 note after no. 2194; Cohen 211 (erroneous obv insc.); Strack 1326.

    These coins are relatively scarce and examples with legible obverse inscriptions are hard to find, even in museum collections, leading to the inaccurate transcription of the obverse legend by Cohen and others. Here are the relevant entries in Cohen, RIC, and BMCRE to see how this confusion originated and was propagated:

    Cohen (note no. 210 and 211):

    Capture 1.JPG

    These are the obverse inscriptions and the listings in RIC:

    Capture 4.JPG

    Note three types of sestertius cited by RIC, legend 2 (the later legend like mine) in the Schulman Sale, legend 3 (the early legend like @Julius Germanicus's example) as Cohen 206, and legend 5, which doesn't exist and is an uncritical citation of Cohen 210:

    Capture 5.jpg

    Two types of MB are cited by RIC, legend 3 (the early legend, cited as Cohen 207; it also uncritically cites the non-existent left-facing variety erroneously described by Cohen as 209) and legend 5 (which uncritically cites the erroneously described obverse legend in Cohen 211):

    Capture 6.JPG

    BMCRE notes this obverse inscription is a rare type and notes the British Museum had obtained an example of a sestertius of this reverse type since the publication of RIC and correctly transcribes the obverse legend (my coin is an obverse die match to this specimen). It notes that Cohen quotes the legend as "... PII FIL" but does not explicitly say this is in error.

    Capture 2.JPG
    Capture 3.JPG
    Post anything you feel is relevant, of course!


    1. Sestertius: RIC 1383(3), BMCRE 2180, Cohen 206, Strack 1325 [early hairstyle]; left-facing bust in the BnF, Cohen 208 and verified by Strack [later hairstyle]. Middle bronze: RIC 1405a, BMCRE 2191, Cohen 207, Strack1325. The existence of the middle bronze with a left-facing bust, RIC 1405b, BMCRE 2191n, Cohen 209, is doubtful. Cohen cites the de Moustier sale–an error, the coin listed in the sale catalogue, H Hoffmann, Paris (de Moustier), 17.6.1872, lot 1766, has a right-facing bust and FAVSTINA AVGVSTA AVG PII F and is (incorrectly) cited by Cohen two entries later (211). Strack lists no examples.

    2. Sestertius: RIC 1383(2), BMCRE 2194, Cohen 210 (erroneous obv insc.), Strack 1326. Middle bronze: RIC 1405c (erroneous obv insc.), BMCRE p.382n, Cohen 211 (erroneous obv insc.), Strack 1326.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2020
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  3. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    Lovely coins, RC! There's something about the simplicity of having the imagery stand alone with no legend.

    My contribution is from about 7 years earlier than yours...
    Marcus Aurelius, as Caesar 139-161 AD, Ruled as Emperor 161-180 AD
    AE Sestertius, Struck 145 AD, Rome mint

    Obverse: AVRELIVS CAESAR AVG PII F COS II, bare head, right.
    Reverse: Minerva, helmeted, draped, standing, left, holding spear, vertical, in right hand and resting left on round shield set on ground; S-C across fields.
    References: RIC III 1245
    Size: 32mm, 23.56g
    Note: In 145 AD, Marcus was made consul for the second time (Jan. 1) and married Antoninus Pius’ daughter Fasutina (April).
  4. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Lovely Faustina's RC.

    I'm drawn to the Anepigraphic types in general, but they are hard to find on the scrounger's market. Earlier this year I did find a Hadrian sestertius with Diana in much the same pose as your Faustina examples. It was unattributed and the condition was so poor that even I was going to pass on it, but after figuring it might be Diana I pulled the trigger (>$20).

    The wear is so great the anepigraphic-effect isn't very dramatic - it looks too much like a sestertius with the reverse legend worn off. But here it is, with a graphically-enhanced reverse showing how I concluded it was Diana (if I'm wrong, someone please let me know):

    Hadrian - Sestertius Diana std. Jun 2020  (0).jpg
    Hadrian - Sestertius Diana std. Jun 2020 (0 rev det3).jpg
    Hadrian Æ Sestertius
    (128-129 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    [HADR]IANVS A[VGVSTVS COS III P P], draped bust, bare-headed right / Diana
    standing left holding arrow and [bow], S C in field.
    RIC II.3 2400 var.
    RIC 777c - draped, head bare
    (22.92 grams / 30 mm)
  5. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Thanks for sharing RC!:woot: You always humble me with your amazing knowledge of ancient Roman coinage:pompous:. You won't catch me correcting Cohen:shame:
  6. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Great information, RC. It's a joy to read your Faustina Friday posts. :)

    I have been thinking about the various coin inscriptions on Faustina Junior when she is princess. The inscription on my denarius seems to fall on the earlier type, in which "PII" is before "AVG".
    Faustina Junior
    17.5mm, 2.81g
    Obv: FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL. Draped bust right
    Rev: Venus standing left, holding apple and rudder entwined with dolphin in her left hand.
    Ryro, Curtisimo, IMP Shogun and 5 others like this.
  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Your coin bears her earliest obverse inscription, FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL, and hairstyle, dated by Strack to AD 147-149. She was an older teen at the time. Here's a statue in the Capitoline Museum in Rome, illustrating a very similar coiffure to that shown on your coin.

    Faustina Jr statue Musei Capitolini di Roma.jpg
    Ryro, Curtisimo, Marsyas Mike and 2 others like this.
  8. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Many thanks for your additional info. Such beautiful portrait on the statue.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
    Curtisimo likes this.
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