Featured Gordianus II Africanus Sestertius - Banti Plate Coin

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Julius Germanicus, Jan 26, 2019.

  1. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Supporter! Supporter

    Gordianus II and his father ruled for only 21 days. As he was proclaimed after his father and died in battle before him, Gordian II had, if only by a difference of some hours, the shortest reign of any Roman Emperor in the whole of the Empire´s history. His coins are even rarer than those of his father.

    P2150651 (1).jpg

    IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AFR AVG - laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Gordian II right, seen from behind
    VICTORIA AVGG S C - Victory advancing left, wreath upward in right hand, palm in left; S-C across fields.
    AE Sestertius, Rome, April 238 aD
    30mm / 17.21 gr / 1h
    Banti (I Grandi Bronzi Imperiali, Vol. IV-2) Nr. 6 (4 specimens listed, this coin illustrated on p. 238); RIC 7 (plate XII, Nr.4, same obverse die); BMCRE 29 (plate 42, Nr. 29, illustrating specimen from Naples, same obverse die); Cohen 13 (citing specimen in Paris); Sear 8472.
    From the collection Richard van de Vyvere-Colens (1837-1912); Charles Dupriez Sale Nr. 112 Bis (M. van de Vyvere), 07.04.1913; lot 1527;Heritage Sale 3071, 07.01.2019 (Morris Collection) lot 32194 (graded NGC VF 4/5 - 4/5)

    P2150661 (1).jpg

    The Gordini were proclaimed in North Africa on 22 March 238 and were recognized as Augusti in Rome on 1 April.
    The Senate had been massively looking for an alternative to the hated soldier emperor Maximinus Thrax when news arrived that the elderly governor of the province of Africa Proconsularis, the 80something Gordianus, had been proclaimed Emperor in oppostion to Maximinus by a mob that had murdered the local procurator.
    Gordianus first step was to name his 46 old son as co-Emperor and report to the senate before leaving his residence in Thysdus for the provincial capital of Carthage.
    The epiheton „Africanus“ was bestowed on both as a sign that it was the people of Africa that has elected them, while both Maximinus and his son Maximus were declared enemies of the state
    The Roman Mint immediately stopped minting Maximinus´ coinage and instead the celators prepared new dies with portraits of the Gordiani.

    As both Augusti share the exact same titulature, their coins con only be distinguished by the portrait:
    While the portrait of Gordianus I looks a little more generic and not really like an 80 year old man, that of Gordian II is highly individual: He is portrayed as a somewhat chubby man that with an amazing lack of vanity displays a bald forehead (a feat that earlier emperors like Otho and Domitian had covered with a wig, but Carus would proudly use as his trademark later).

    The Victory reverse is very rarely found on Sestertii of Gordianus II. Most (if not all) known specimens seem to come from one single obverse die, while the vast majority of the extant Sestertii of this ruler feature the ROMAE AETERNAE reverse (57 listed by Banti) or SECVRITAS AVGG (27 in Banti).

    According to RIC this reverse implies the hope of ultimate Victory to be gained by strength. The personification of Victory on the reverse of this Sestertius therefore can only represent the hope that the Senate and the people of Rome put into the ability of both the elder and the younger Gordian to defeat the enemies of the state. As they had no foreign foes to face, the enemies in mind could only be Maximinus and his supporters.

    The fateful battle battle between good and evil came sooner than it was anticipated and under hopeless circumstances, for within days after the celators had created the dies and striking could begin, the Gordiani fought a hopeless battle for their lives.
    The Gordiani had declared the replacement of Capelianus, governor of the neighboring province of Numidia, an old rival of the elder Gordian.
    Capelianus, loyal to the cause of Maximinus, disobeyed and instead mobilized what was the only Roman Legion stationed in North Africa (stationed in Numidia by Septimius Severus), Legio III Augusta, and the accompanying auxiliary troops.
    He invaded Africa Proconsularis and within a couple of weeks reached Carthage. All the Gordiani had at their disposal was one cohort (500 men), the local urban cohort, and a civilian militia hastily assembled having neither shields nor proper arms.

    While the old senior Emperor chose to hang himself with his belt, Gordianus junior led his outnumbered force into a heroic but hopeless battle that saw his militia massacred and him dying a roman soldiers death.
    The Gordiani Africani perished on 12 April, but the news only reached Rome on 22 April.

    The first published owner of my coin, Richard van de Vyvere-Colens (1837-1912) was a well-known Belgian pharmacist. His pharmacy facility from 1863 is now exhibited in the Folklore Museum of Bruges. Van de Vyvere-Collins dedicated his entire free time to numismatics and was a member of the Royal Numismatic Society of Belgium from 1907 until 1912.

    Here is my companion Sestertius of Gordianus I:

    P2150669 (1).jpg

    IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANUS AFR AVG - Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right of Gordian I
    ROMAE AETERNAE S C - Roma seated left on throne, holding Victoriola and leaning on sceptre; shield at side
    Sestertius, Rome, April 238
    30 mm / 21,40 gr / 12h
    RIC 10, Cohen 9, BM 10, Banti 6, Sear 8451
    From the collection of Dr. Kurt Wiemers (1920-2006), Münzen and Medaillen AG 552, 1992, lot 42

    Edessa, Theodosius, Lutok and 33 others like this.
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  3. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    What a holy grail coin!!!
    Julius Germanicus and Ryro like this.
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    What happened to post #1?
  6. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    What a great looking coin and great write-up. Thanks for sharing!
    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  7. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Tribunicia Potestas

    Interesting coin and great historical backdrop @Julius Germanicus. I have a sestertius of Pupienus (later on in that same fateful year, 238) who also struck the VICTORIA AVGG type, alluding either to the hope or actual victory of Pupienus over Maximinus Thrax outside the walls of Aquileia, where the failed siege by Maximinus encouraged his troops to kill him and Maximus his son.
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  8. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Supporter! Supporter

    Yes, Pupienus certainly did "achieve" a little more to justify the VICTORIA AVGG than the unlucky Gordians.

    With this coin I managed to complete my first sub-collection of Sestertii in VG grade: the year of the six Emperors!!!
    ancient coin hunter, Orfew and TIF like this.
  9. octavius

    octavius Well-Known Member

    2 beautiful, historic coins.
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  10. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Wow, that's fabulous
    Interesting writeup aswell

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  11. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

  12. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Supporter! Supporter

    I learned that a former owner of my coin was the New York numismatist Philip C. Peck, who won the first price at the New York Metropolitan Convention in 1963 for his collection of roman coins and authored a book "Coin Values and Coin Collecting" in 1966.
    I do not know if this Sestertius was included in either, but would certainly be interested in more info including auction listings of it before this time.
    Cucumbor and TIF like this.
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