@finny's Top 10 for 2020 thread. The second is one I've wanted for a long time, but it's rather notorious for the prevalence of poor examples. Neither is close to perfect, and the second is quite off-center, but I still like them a lot, and they're plenty good enough for me! As usual, my apologies in advance for the lengthy footnotes! 1. Roman Republic, L. [Lucius] Julius L.f. Caesar, 103 BCE, Rome Mint. Obv. Head of Mars left wearing helmet with long crest, feather on side, and peaked visor; behind, CAESAR upwards; above, control-mark (retrograde open “P” with two dots, one above and one below) / Rev. Venus Genetrix driving biga of cupids left, holding scepter in right hand and reins with both hands; above reins, control-mark (same as on obverse); beneath cupids to left, lyre; in exergue, L•IVLI•L•F. Crawford 320/1, RSC I Julia 4 (ill.), Sydenham 593, Sear RCV I 198 (ill.), BMCRR 1405-1434 [this control-mark not included; cf. 1430-1431, each with retrograde open “P” with only one dot as control-mark, one with dot above and the other with dot below.] 16 mm., 3.83 g., 9 h.* The coin is extremely shiny in hand, and in the dealer's photo, it's a bit hard to distinguish the two cupids. So I'm also adding my own photo, with the shadows adjusted as much as possible. You can actually see the nearer cupid's face -- he appears to be wearing a hood, pretty much like some sort of comic book superhero, except with wings, and except for being a bit plump. *The moneyer, Lucius Julius Caesar, son of Lucius, was Consul in 90 BCE. (Crawford Vol. I p. 325.) Through his daughter Julia, he was Mark Antony’s maternal grandfather. (See Wikipedia; cf. Grueber, BMCRR p. 210 n. 1.) In addition, the moneyer was either the second cousin or the second cousin once removed of Julius Caesar: his grandfather, Sextus Julius Caesar, was either a brother or uncle of Julius Caesar’s grandfather, Gaius Julius Caesar. This was the first Roman coin on which the name CAESAR appeared. (However, in 129 BCE, another relative, named Sextus Julius Caesar, issued a coin [Crawford 258] on which the name CAISAR appeared, i.e., the same name with a different spelling.) The reverse type, depicting Venus, “alludes to the descent of the Iuli from Venus by way of Aeneas and Ascanius-Iulus" (Crawford p. 325): Iulus, the legendary ancestor of the Iuli, was the son of Aeneas, who, in turn, was the son of Venus. The figure of Venus on the reverse is identified in RSC and BMCRR (but not in Crawford or Sear) as Venus Genetrix, i.e., Venus in her capacity as goddess of motherhood and as a generative force, specifically as ancestress of the gens Iulia and generally with respect to the Roman people. (Query, however, whether that term was commonly used at the time this coin was issued, as opposed to more than 50 years later after Julius Caesar’s dedication of the temple of Venus Genetrix in 46 BCE and the sculpting of a cult statue to her. The concept was also poeticized by Lucretius, long after the issuance of this coin. See http://archive1.village.virginia.edu/spw4s/RomanForum/GoogleEarth/AK_GE/AK_HTML/TS-060.html.) According to Crawford, the lyre “is presumably explained by the links of the Iuli with Apollo.” (Id.) Similarly, according to Grueber, “the head of Mars on the obverse may point to past military successes gained by members of the family as well as to the mythical connection between that divinity and Venus.” (BMCRR p. 210 n. 1.) Crawford also explains at p. 325 that the control-marks are the letters of the Latin alphabet as far as S, either normally disposed or retrograde, alone or accompanied by one or two dots above, below, to the sides, and/or within the letters. The control marks are “invariably” the same on the obverse and reverse, and “[n]o pair of control-marks has more than one pair of dies.” In total, there are 92 obverse and 93 reverse dies. The two examples in the Schaefer Roman Republican die project of Crawford 320 with a retrograde open “P” with two dots, one above and one below -- and it took me a while to realize that the control-marks on mine were supposed to be reversed P's -- do appear to be die matches with this coin. They're at p. 11 of the Crawford 320 die clippings. 2. Roman Republic, T. Carisius, AR Denarius, 46 BCE, Rome mint. Obv. Head of Sibyl right, her hair elaborately decorated with jewels and enclosed in a sling, tied with bands / Rev. Human-headed Sphinx seated right with open wings, T•CARISIVS above,; in exergue, III•VIR. Crawford 464/1, RSC I Carisia 11 (ill.), Sear RCV I 446 (ill.), Sydenham 983a, BMCRR 4061. 19 mm., 3.87 g.* *The Sibyl on the obverse is described simply as “Sibyl” in Crawford, “Sibyl Herophile” in Sear, and “Aphrodisian Sibyl” (i.e., Sibyl relating to Aphrodite/Venus) in RSC and BMCRR. The Sibyl Herophile was the name of a Sibyl at Erythae in Ionia opposite Chios, also associated with Samos. Crawford notes at p. 476 that the combination of a Sibyl on the obverse and a sphinx on the reverse “recall those of Gergis in the Troad [citing BMC Troas, pp. xxx and 55], perhaps allud[ing] to Caesar’s Trojan origin,” the moneyer being a supporter of Caesar. See the examples of these coins of Gergis at https://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/troas/gergis/i.html and https://www.asiaminorcoins.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=79 . On each such coin, the Sibyl is characterized as “Sibyl Herophile.” Characterizing her as the “Aphrodisian” Sibyl would relate to the gens Julia’s legendary descent from Venus. The “IIIVIR” in the exergue on the reverse refers to the moneyer’s position at the mint. See https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=IIIVIR, defining the term as a “Latin abbreviation: Triumvir. On coins of the Roman Republic IIIVIR is used as a shortened abbreviation for IIIVIR AAAFF, which abbreviates ‘III viri aere argento auro flando feiundo’ or ‘Three men for the casting and striking of bronze, silver and gold,’ a moneyer or mint magistrate.” I should also note that the Sphinx on my coin is clearly wearing dark sunglasses!