Finally, a Diadumenian

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by DonnaML, Jun 8, 2020.

  1. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I made the mistake in another thread not long ago of posting a photo of a Diadumenian coin from Antioch that I had ordered but that hadn't yet arrived. See . I knew it was bad luck when I did it, and that's what it turned out to be: the very next day, I got a notice saying that the seller had canceled the sale because the coin was "no longer available." Presumably he sold it and forgot to mark it as such on VCoins.

    So I looked around some more, on VCoins and elsewhere, and ordered a different coin that arrived today. So it's safe to post about it, and I'm actually happy that the first purchase fell through. Because I think this coin is considerably nicer, plus it shows both Diadumenian and Macrinus. And also happens to be my first coin with Hermes (or Mercury) on it. Macrinus & Diadumenian - Hermes photo jpg.jpg Macrinus and Diadumenian Caesar, AE Pentassarion [5 Assaria], 217-218 AD, Marcianopolis Mint, Moesia Inferior (Pontianus, consular legate). Obv. Confronted heads of Macrinus, laureate, right, and Diadumenian, bareheaded, left, [AVT K OΠE]Λ CEV MAKPEINOC K M OΠEΛ ANTΩNEINOC [bracketed portion off flan][= Imperator, Caesar, Opellius Augustus Macrinus, Caesar Marcus Opellius Antoninus] / Rev. Hermes standing facing, head left, holding purse in extended right hand and caduceus in left hand; chlamys hanging over left arm; E [mark of value for “5”] in right field, VΠ ΠONTIANOV MAP-KIANOΠOΛEITΩN (ΩN ligate) [= Consular Legate Pontianus, (coin) of the people of Markianopolis]. AMNG I/I 740 [Behrendt Pick, Die antiken Münzen von Dacien und Moesien, Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands Vol. I/I (Berlin, 1898) at pp. 240-241]; BMC 3 Thrace 35 [R.S. Poole, ed. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 3, The Tauric Chersonese, Sarmatia, Dacia, Moesia, Thrace, etc. (London, 1877) at p. 32]; Hristova & Jekov [Nina Hristova & Gospodin Jekov, The Local Coinage of the Roman Empire - Moesia Inferior, I - III c. A.D., MARCIANOPOLIS (Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria 2006)]; Varbanov (Eng.) Vol. I, 1192 var. (E to left) [Ivan Varbanov, Greek Imperial Coins And Their Values, Volume I: Dacia, Moesia Superior & Moesia Inferior (English Edition) (Bourgas, Bulgaria, 2005)]. 25 mm, 12.89 g. Ex: Dr. Paul Rynearson (ca. 2003); Ex: Kirk Davis, Cat # 75, Fall 2020, Lot 62.

    It's lucky for the coin (and for me) that the compass points -- or whatever the technical name is for the small, shallow hole in the center of each side -- just missed Macrinus's nose, although they did get poor Hermes right in the belly.

    Apparently Paul Rynearson was a well-known dealer at one time, as well as the author of an introductory book on collecting Greek coins, but I confess I hadn't heard of him until I looked him up on Google.

    The reason I boldfaced the catalogue references to Varbanov and to Hristova & Jekov is that I wasn't able to check them personally, and am hoping that someone might be able to do so for me. In the majority of the examples I found online for this basic coin design from Marcianopolis (Macrinus & Diadumenian on the obverse with Hermes on the reverse) -- and there have been surprisingly few of them sold at auction in the last 15 years -- Macrinus and Diadumenian are each draped and cuirassed. The catalogue references for the minority of coins I found that are like mine, with only a bare head for Diadumenian and a laureate head for Macrinus, were mostly incorrect and erroneously referred to the draped and cuirassed type. I was able to find and/or confirm the correct AMNG I and BMC references -- as ancient as they are, both catalogues are still very useful! -- but I don't have access to Varbanov or to Hristova & Jekov. Does anyone here have either of them?
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
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  3. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    ...kool...and a nice coin with both on it....:)....i bought mine strictly because it had a 'snake' on the reverse 14 or so years ago. since joing up here, i now know its is also Marcrinus & Daidumenian(worn, but nevertheless & thanks @dougsmit 100%)..that fills 2 slots of the 3 century group..:) not rounds    snake coin 003.JPG not rounds    snake coin 004.JPG
  4. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Nice coin! Congratulations.

    I have Hristova & Jekov and the quoted number is correct. That is interesting because the plate of the type has a typo; it is mislabeled (with 9 for 10) but the "10" in "Hristova & Jekov" refers to Hermes (Mercury) and "9" to Nike. Yours is, of course, Hermes.

    This web page has many of these Macrinus and Diadumenian types:

    Mouschmov, another source for coins of Lower Moesia, is here:

    I can't help with Vrabanov.
    DonnaML likes this.
  5. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks! I've checked Moushmov, by the way, and this type doesn't seem to be listed -- only the draped and cuirassed variety.
  6. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    That's a beautiful coin, congratulations! I checked Varbanov and can confirm that Varbanov 1192 var. (E in left field) is correct.
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  7. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Fantastic portraits of both.
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  8. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Nice score Donna :D! The engraving is exceptionally fine for a provincial coin ;). Luckily the planchet center point doesn't interfere with the portraits & isn't obtrusive on Hermes. The provenance is icing on the cake :).
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  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Lovely coin, @DonnaML ! Well-struck and well-centered. I like the die-break on the reverse at 10:00, too. I find such things interesting.

    This is the only one I have of the pair from Marcianopolis. I liked Athena's cute little owl:

    [​IMG] Macrinus and Diadumenian, AD 217-218.
    Roman provincial Æ Pentassarion, 12.06 g, 26.5 mm, 6 h.
    Moesia Inferior, Marcianopolis, Legate Pontius Furius Pontianus, June/Aug 217-Nov/Dec 217.
    Obv: ΑΝΤ Κ ΟΠΕΛ CΕV ΜΑΚΡΕΙΝΟC Κ Μ ΟΠΕ ΑΝΤΩΝΕΙΝΟC, Confronted heads of Macrinus right, laureate, and Diadumenian left, bare.
    Rev: VΠ ΠΟΝΤΙΑΝΟV ΜΑΡΚΙΑΝΟΠΟΛΙΤΩΝ, Athena wearing helmet and aegis, standing left, holding owl and inverted spear; E in right field.
    Refs: AMNG I 734v.; Hristova & Jekov; Varbanov 1170a; BMC 30v.; Moushmov 537; Wiczay 2148v.
  10. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Macrinus 4.jpg
    Pentassarion AE28
    REVERSE: VP PONTIAN-OV MARKIANO/ POLIT, Coiled serpent with radiate head
    Struck at Markianopolis, Moesia Inferior, Magistrate Pontianus; 217 - 218 AD
    12.6g, 28mm
    Hr & J (2012)
    Macrinus 2.jpg
    AE 26
    OBVERSE: ΑΥ Κ ΟΠΕΛ ΣΕΥ ΜΑΚΡΕΙΝΟΣ Κ Μ ΟΠΕΛ ΑΝΤΩΝΕΙΝΟΣ Κ, laureate head of Macrinus right facing bare headed head of Diadumenian left
    REVERSE: ΥΠ ΠΟΝΤΙΑΝΟΥ ΜΑΡΚΙΑΝΟΠΟΛΕΙΤΩ/Ν, Artemis, huntress, advancing r., reaching for an arrow in quiver at shoulder and in her l. hand holding a bow; below a hound. E to centre l
    Struck at Markianopolis, Moesia Inferior, 217 - 218 AD
    10.4g, 26mm
    Moushmov 532
  11. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you. So what that means is that the only example Varbanov lists with a Hermes reverse and Macrinus and Diadumenian not draped & cuirassed has the E in the left field?
  12. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    For an emperor who wasn't around very long (and his son), Marcianopolis certainly issued a lot of different coin types showing both of them, with reverses of a lot of different gods and goddesses. Way more than the number of Imperial coins showing Diadumenian, that's for sure. I wonder if anyone knows anything about Consular Legate Pontianus other than that his name has come down to us through history on a great many coins.
  13. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks! Is "planchet center point" the technical name for what I called the compass point, or is it just another term for it?

    Interestingly, I've been reading Butcher's 1988 book about Roman Provincial Coins -- which was published right before things opened up behind the old Iron Curtain and coins started flooding in from Eastern and Southeastern Europe -- and he suggests that these "dimples" were especially common on coins from Moesia Inferior. I wonder if that's really true, or if the fact that there were so many coins with confronted heads issued there that they left room for those dimples to remain visible between those heads.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
  14. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Basileus Megalos

    Nice coin Donna.
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  15. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I think he's referring to what many call a "centration dimple." This term annoys me because they don't have anything to do with centration. The indentations almost certainly resulted from lathe-turning of the flan to prepare it for striking. The best explanation about this technique of flan preparation can be found here at Classical Coins’ website. In contrast, a compass dot is a feature of the die, not the flan, and is a raised dot in the geometric center of the design.

    Centration dimple in Gordian's cheek; compass dot between the portraits:

    Gordian III and Tranquillina Mesembria Apollo.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
  16. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks. That's the first time I've read an explanation of the difference. So what name would you give it to distinguish it from a compass dot, rather than "centration dimple"? Lathe dimple? Flan dimple?
  17. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I think "lathe dimple" is perfect!
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  18. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    @Valentinian and @zumbly, thanks again for confirming the correct Hristova & Jekov and Varbanov numbers. I found them in the CNG archive, in this description of a very similar coin -- in fact, I think it might be a die match on both sides -- sold in the Triton XII auction in 2009 for a price considerably higher than the price I paid Kirk Davis for my example, which probably isn't quite as nice, but isn't all that far off:

    Macrinus & Diadumenian (Hermes) example sold at CNG Triton XII 2009.jpg
    However, even CNG got the AMNG number wrong: if you look carefully at the German-language description, AMNG 739 has Hermes standing right (which I've never actually seen); AMNG 740 is the correct reference.

    The website does seem to have at least one example of the same coin type -- see mac dia 5 assaria hermes.html -- but the description cites Hristova/Jekov, which has to be incorrect if "9" signifies Nike.
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  19. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

  20. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Donna, I constantly fall back on vocabulary used when I was a machinist & mechanical inspector. When using blueprints to check a round part you always have to establish a center point to make sure the work falls within the tolerance limits. Old habits aren't easy to break :). Your observation that an intentional space was made on the obverse die to accommodate the "dimple" so the portraits wouldn't be impaired makes perfect sense :happy:. This of course would put pressure on the mint workers to perfectly center the planchects before striking. The coin R.C. posted shows the failure to do this :smuggrin:.
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  21. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    @Roman Collector, am I correct that the example of this coin type that I found in the CNG archive, sold in the Triton XII auction in 2009, has a die-break on the reverse in the same location? Here's a somewhat larger photo of that coin:

    Detail Macrinus & Diadumenian (Hermes) example sold at CNG Triton XII 2009 (2).jpg

    I do think my coin might be a double-die match to the CNG coin; compare to the CNG coin these slightly (and considerably) larger photos of mine -- two photos of each side:


    Detail 2 Macrinus & Diadumenian - Hermes photo jpg (2).jpg
    New Diadumenian & Macrinus - Hermes - Rev. 1.jpg


    Detail 1 Macrinus & Diadumenian - Hermes photo jpg (2).jpg
    New Diadumenian & Macrinus - Hermes - Obv.jpg

    Note that the small cracks on the obverses of both coins appear to be in the same location: running between the bottoms of the necks of Macrinus and Diadumenian, extending diagonally upwards to the right from the back of Diadumenian's neck, and extending to the left from a point beneath Diadumenian's chin.

    However, the coins obviously aren't the same coin, because the "lathe dimples" are in different places on both the obverses and reverses. Which certainly proves, if the two coins are from the same dies, that the lathe dimples must be on the flans and not the dies.
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