Featured Licinius' IOM (Ivpiter Optimvs Maximinvs) types

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Heliodromus, Nov 28, 2021.

  1. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    Victor just posted his Top 10 2021 LRB list, including a great specimen of one of these interesting IOM (Ivpiter Optimvs Maximinvs) types issued by Licinius.


    There are numerous points of interest to these coins, obviously starting with these highly unusual dual confronted bust obverses, usually of the Licinii (Sr + Jr).

    These types were issued from three mints, Nicomedia, Cyzicus and Antioch using differentiated designs at each mint.

    At Nicomedia Fortuna is featured, with a reverse legend of IOM ET FORT[VNA] CONSER DD NN AVG ET CAES, and a reverse design of IOM & Fortuna, mirrored by an obverse of the Licinii holding a mini Fortuna.

    L1 Nicomedia.jpg

    At Cyzicus Victoria is featured, with a reverse legend of IOM ET VICT[ORIA] CONSER DD NN AVG ET CAES, and a reverse design of IOM & Victoria, mirrored by an obverse of the Licinii holding a mini Victoria.

    L1 Cyzicus.jpg

    At Antioch the emperors virtus is featured, with a reverse legend of IOM ET VIRTVTI CONSER DD NN AVG ET CAES, and a reverse design of IOM & a trophy, mirrored by an obverse of the Licinii holding a mini trophy.

    L1 Antioch.jpg

    The obverses are usually of the Licinii (L1+L2), but Nicomedia also struck the type for the augusti (L1+C1) and caesars (L2+C2). No appearance for Crispus.

    Another point of interest is the mintmarks, of form SMNA (Nicomedia), SMKA (Cyzicus) and SMATA (Antioch). The first two are unsurprising, but the Antioch mintmark is unusual. We'd expect SMANTA or SMANA rather than SMATA, and the "A" of "SMAT" often has an open top making it ambiguous whether an "A" or "H" was intended. A reading of "H" would mean the mintmark was SMHTA, which would indicate Heraclea rather than Antioch, and in fact this is how Bruun read it, attributing these SMATA coins to Heraclea in RIC VII. Bastien later realized the mistake and reattributed them to Antioch.

    The Antioch attribution seems pretty solid on geographical/historical grounds, but I've also found a coin that seems to prove it.

    L1 Antioch SMAN.jpg

    This unlisted coin has the same "virtus" type as the "SMATA" coins, but with an obviously Antioch mintmark of "SMAN<gamma>" (or perhaps "SMANT" with an officina letter in right field). This coin is ex. Munz. Ritter, 22mm 4.28g.

    The occasion/date of issue suggests a possible reason for the strange/ambiguous "SMATA" mintmark used at Antioch. Bastien suggests these were issued for Licinius' decennalia in 317 AD, and the strong focus on the Licinii might support this. The focus on the Licinii would also (decennalia or not) suggest a similar date closely following Licinius's 1st civil war with Constantine, when relations were frosty, despite the detente reflected in mutual recognition of the new caesars. As part of the post-war settlement, Licinius had ceded his territories of Pannoniae and Moesiae to Constantine, leaving Thraciae (containing the mint of Heraclea) as a border territory, and somewhat isolated being his only remaining Diocese north of the Bosphorus. The coinage seems to suggest Heraclea may have at this time - due to circumstances - suspended coining for a while, and we certainly see this asymmetry between the Oriental mints issuing these IOM types and Heraclea which did not.

    04 constantine's rise - utexas-edu.jpg

    So, is it possible that with Heraclea not participating in the IOM coinage, maybe not coining at all, that Antioch was instructed to use this odd SMATA mintmark, which invited an ambiguous reading of SMHTA, to make up for this?

    None of the above coins are mine, sadly!
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Very interesting, @Heliodromus! I'll keep my eye out for one of these confronted bust types.

    @dougsmit will be very interested in this thread.
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  4. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    The Nicomedia specimen you use in your illustration is either horribly tooled or a forgery. I lean toward forgery based on the photo but I haven’t seen this coin in hand to be certain.

    this type with the confronted busts also exists for Constantine. I’ve only ever seen a photo of this type, never one in the flesh.

    Barry Murphy
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  5. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    Thanks. Yes, there's definitely something a bit off about it. I had thought perhaps just hyper-aggressively cleaned. Someone apparently made an expensive mistake, since that one sold in NAC 54 # 611 for almost $5000.
  6. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    I knew it came out of NAC. Not sure why they ran that coin when at best it's been heavily tooled. The clean shaven Licinius should have been the first clue.
  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    During the periods of relative peace between Constantine and Licinius, mints under the control of either struck some coins in honor of the other. An interesting collection could be formed from some of these politically correct coins that show styles or types not 'usual' for the man shown on the coin.
    Licinius, London

    Constantine Alexandria

    Constantine, Cyzicus, using Licinius' 12 1/2 denarii of account system - I bought this one for the curls on the forehead:
  8. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    There does seem to be a hint of a 5 o'clock shadow, but anyways that bust really looks nothing like Licinius Sr. On other coins, even with the very limited space available, they've done a pretty good job of making him look as expected.

    I'd previously presumed the coin was good given the venue, but on closer attention it does seem pretty bad! Fortuna's head gear is weird on the reverse and completely wrong on the obverse. It should be a turreted, matching on both sides of the coin, as on this one.

    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
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  9. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    Here's another coin (not mine - sold on eBay) that would seem to both confirm the SMATA association with Antioch, but more interestingly also suggests a specific date for these IOM coins.


    This coin is an error variant of RIC VII Antioch 29. The mintmark should be SMANT in exergue with officina letter in field, but here we have an erroneous SMATH in exergue and H in field. This SMATH vs expected SMANT can only reasonably be explained as an unintentional use of the (therefore preceding) IOM SMAT<officina> mark. Amusingly the officina letter "H" not only appears as part of this erroneous SMATH exergual mark, but also in field as expected!

    Since the IOM type therefore appears to precede the post-reform RIC 29 type, it seems most likely that the IOM was pre-reform (i.e. a ~1% silver nummus), since that would fit in with Alexandria otherwise being the only mint to include the caesars on the nummus (before switching to the post-reform type). Alternatively the IOM type could be the first post-reform one.


    So it seems that after the post-war appointment of the caesars, Licinius had then included them on a final nummus issue at all mints (except Heraclea which appears to have been idle), before his coinage reform. Nicomedia, Cyzicus and Antioch issued the new IOM type while Alexandria instead continued with the regular IOVI type (same issue that had included Valens). This gives us a 317 AD date for the IOM type, and suggests it to be of the pre-reform (~1% silver content) nummus denomination, pending metallurgical confirmation.
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