My Top Ten of 2020

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Nov 24, 2020.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Perhaps I’m getting a little ahead of myself, and I know it’s not even December, but several other members have posted theirs and I am pretty sure I’ve already acquired my top ten for the year. I reserve the right to amend this list, though. I bought a lot of coins this year and narrowing the list down to ten was not easy. I indulged my Faustina fetish this year, to be sure; nonetheless, I hope you find these ten to be enjoyable and interesting.

    10. This denarius of Julia Domna is interesting because it’s from an unknown eastern mint that had been attributed to Emesa in the past. Severan denarii from the branch mints are typically scarcer than their Rome mint counterparts and are a fascinating subspecialty, as @dougsmit or @maridvnvm will tell you. Astonishingly, this coin type is one that Doug does not have in his collection.

    Domna LIBERAL AVG denarius Emesa.jpg
    Julia Domna, AD 193-217.
    Roman AR denarius, 2.94 g, 19 mm, 12 h.
    Uncertain eastern mint, AD 193-196.
    Obv: IVLIA DOMNA AVG, bare-headed and draped bust of Julia Domna, right.
    Rev: LIBERAL AVG, Liberalitas, draped, standing left, holding tessera in right hand and cornucopiae in left.
    Refs: RIC 627; BMCRE 418-419; Cohen/RSC 103; RCV 6591; CRE 366.

    9. I have always liked the Dionysus and panther type on coins, so I snatched up this one of Septimius Severus featuring LIBERO PATRI. It inspired me to delve into the significance of Liber in Roman religion and to learn the subtle differences between the Roman Liber and the Greek Dionysus.

    Severus LIBERO PATRI denarius.jpg
    Septimius Severus, AD 193-211.
    Roman AR Denarius, 3.22 g, 16.5 mm, 11 h.
    Rome Mint, AD 194.
    Obv: L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP III, laureate head, right.
    Rev: LIBERO PATRI, Liber standing facing, head left, cloak over left shoulder, holding oenochoe and thyrsus; at feet left, panther standing left, catching drips from the jug.
    Refs: RIC 32; BMCRE 64-65; Cohen 301; RCV 6307; Hill 84.

    8. This was an impulse purchase. In fact, I didn’t even realize the coin type existed, but when I saw the reverse type, I knew I had to acquire it for my collection. The reverse type uses animals to symbolize the two rivers in the city of Laodicea ad Lycum. The rivers’ names, Lycus (Λύκος) and Caprus (κάπρος), mean wolf and boar, respectively, in Greek. The coin inspired me to learn more and write a thread about this city’s history and coinage.

    Philip II Laodicea ad Lycum.jpg
    Philip II as Caesar, AD 244-247.
    Roman provincial Æ 25 mm, 7.7 g.
    Phrygia, Laodicea ad Lycum, Sardis Workshop, AD 244-247.
    Obv: •Μ•ΙΟVΛΙ••ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟϹ•Κ•, bare headed, draped and cuirassed bust of Philip II, right, seen from front.
    Rev: ΛΑΟΔΙΚЄ|ΩΝ ΝЄ|ΩΚΟΡΩΝ, river Caprus as boar and river Lycus as wolf seated back to back, heads facing each other.
    Refs: BMC 25.324,260 (same rev. die); RG 6326 (same obv. die); RPC VIII unassigned, ID 20777; SNG Cop 607; SNG Leypold 1678.

    7. One of my favorites is this provincial from Thessalonica issued to commemorate the Pythian games. It inspired me to learn all about the Pythian games and I learned that its reverse depicts one of the prizes awarded to the victorious athletes -- apples from the sacred sanctuary of Apollo. Several other members of CT participated in the thread, which was very entertaining and informative.

    Gordian III Thessalonica Tripod and apples.jpg
    Gordian III, AD 238-244.
    Roman provincial Æ 25.6 mm, 10.61 g, 2 h.
    Macedon, Thessalonica, AD 238-244.
    Obv: AVT K M ANT ΓΟΡΔIANOC, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right.
    Rev: ΘЄCCAΛΟΝΙΚЄΩΝ ΝЄ, tripod surmounted by five apples; Π-V/Θ-Ι/Α across field.
    Refs: Touratsoglou, Thessaloniki 80; Varbanov 4523; Moushmov 6815.

    6. Another Gordian provincial made my top 10 this year. I have long been fascinated by the polytheism of the ancient world and I am attracted to coins featuring the various deities. I was attracted to this coin by its large size and the iconography of the Anatolian lunar god Mên, depicted as usual with the crescent moon emerging from his shoulders, and with his foot upon a bull’s head. I delved into the history of Antioch in Pisidia and researched the coin and its iconography and am honored that my post was chosen as a featured article.

    Gordian III Antioch in Pisidia Men.jpg
    Gordian III, AD 238-244.
    Roman Provincial Æ 35 mm, 26.72 g, 6 h.
    Pisidia, Antioch, AD 238-244.
    Obv: IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Gordian III, r., seen from rear.
    Rev: COL CAES ANTIOCH, S-R, Mên standing r., wearing Phrygian cap, foot on bucranium, holding scepter and Victory (standing r., on globe, holding trophy), resting elbow on column; behind his shoulders, crescent; to l., rooster standing, l.
    Refs: RPC VII.2, — (unassigned; ID 3431); Krzyżanowska XXII/94; BMC xix.187, 70.

    5. This one was another impulse purchase. When I saw that facing bust of Athena with her triple-crested helmet and that cute little owl, I knew I had to acquire it for my collection. The tiny Greek coin was well out of my comfort-zone, so it inspired me to learn more about the city of Sigeion and its coinage. Even better were the contributions to my thread of many CT members, who generously shared their knowledge about and photos of these delightful coins.

    Sigeion Athena Owl SNG Cop 496-7.jpg
    Troas, Sigeion, c. 335 BC.
    Greek Æ 12.2 mm, 2.37 g, 5 h.
    Obv: Head of Athena facing slightly right, wearing triple crested helmet and necklace.
    Rev: ΣΙΓΕ, owl standing right, head facing; crescent to left.
    Refs: BMC 17.86,7-10; SNG von Aulock 7637; SNG Ashmolean 1214–6; SNG Copenhagen 496–8; Sear 4145.

    Warning! You are now entering the Faustina Zone! My top favorite coins of the year depict Faustina I and II and represent once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to acquire them.

    4. This coin may be the third known example of its type and it is special for this reason alone. But equally special was that when the time came for fellow CT member @S.Triggs to part with the coin earlier this year, he was thoughtful enough to offer it to me, even knowing how rare it was.

    Faustina Jr SALVTI AVGVSTAE S C standing dupondius.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman Æ as or dupondius, 11.21 g, 25.2 mm, 11 h.
    Rome, AD 162-164.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust of Faustina, right, wearing strand of pearls.
    Rev: SALVTI AVGVSTAE S C, Salus standing left, feeding snake coiled round altar from patera in right hand and holding short vertical scepter in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 1672; Cohen 205; BMCRE p. 542 note; RCV --; MIR --.
    Notes: Otherwise known from an example in the Staatliches Münzkabinett in Vienna and another with an illegible reverse legend found in 1984 at Stonea Grange in Cambridgeshire and now in the British Museum.

    3. This little provincial may not look like much, but it may be the only example of its type! Since it had been unattested in the numismatic literature, it took some help from fellow CT members and a bunch of online research in order to properly attribute it. Not only was it the most interesting and entertaining project I did this year, but I submitted my findings to RPC and it's now listed!

    Faustina Jr Apamea.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman provincial Æ 5.84 g, 22.0 mm, 7 h.
    Bithynia-Pontus, Apamea.
    Obv: FAUST[INAC AUG], draped bust of Faustina II, right.
    Rev: UЄNU[S ... C]ICA dd, Venus seated right, head left, on dolphin swimming left, resting right arm on dolphin, uncertain object in left hand.
    Refs: RPC IV, 11815 (temporary); Waddington RG --; BMC --; Sear --; Mionnet Suppl 5 --; Lindgren --; Wiczay --.
    Notes: The exemplar of RPC IV 11815. Obverse die match to RPC IV.1 4729.

    2. This interesting denarius of Faustina I is unusual in style and bears the previously-unattested reverse legend PIETATI AVG. This coin raised many questions, and I was fortunate to have the input of many knowledgeable members, such as as @dougsmit and @curtislclay, and the original thread was therefore chosen to be a featured article. I’ve concluded it was an unofficial or imitative issue. It may be unique.

    Faustina Sr PIETATI AVG imitation denarius.jpg
    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Unofficial or imitative AR denarius, 3.19 g, 17.6 mm, 6 h.
    Ca. AD 140-160?
    Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: PIETATI AVG, Pietas, veiled and draped, standing left, dropping incense from right hand onto lighted altar and holding box in left hand.
    Refs: Cf. BMC p. 67, † note, RSC 234b, CRE 113 and Strack 462 (Budapest), all of which read PIETAS AVG.

    1. One of the advantages of being a specialist in a certain small area of numismatics is the ability to recognize a great rarity in an otherwise nondescript coin. I noticed this unappreciated denarius and bought it immediately because it was one of the first coins ever issued for Faustina I. This first issue consisted of denarii in three reverse types; no gold or bronze coins are known of this issue. Coins of the first issue are exceedingly rare, with only a dozen examples known of all three reverse types put together. For my article on CT, I delved deeply into the numismatic literature and consulted a colleague, Paul Dinsdale (@paulus_dinius), who generously shared his extensive files of previous auction sales and provided me with photos from the plates of numismatic references that are not in my own library.

    Faustina Sr CONCORDIA AVG no PP seated denarius.jpg
    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Roman AR denarius, 2.85 g, 16.6 mm, 5 h.
    Rome, first issue, AD 138-139.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG, bare-headed and draped bust of Fautina, right.
    Rev: CONCORDIA AVG, Concordia seated left, holding patera and resting left arm on throne, cornucopiae under chair.
    Refs: British Museum 1978, 0314.2; cf. Strack 391 (Ashmolean), Hunter 1 (GLAHM 26918). RIC --; Cohen --; RCV --; CRE --.
    Notes: BMC p. 8* cites Strack 392 in error; RSC 146b correctly cites Strack 391 and cites BMC p.8*. Obverse die-match to the British Museum specimen acquired in 1978.

    2020 was hard on all of us in many different ways. I am grateful to all of my friends here at CT for providing fellowship and a place of refuge to de-stress from the year's events. I want to thank you all. I hope you have a wonderful 2021, filled with amazing acquisitions and, above all, good health.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
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  3. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Lovely list! Thanks for sharing, that was quite an adventure through time and space
    Roman Collector likes this.
  4. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Interesting group! Obviously I find #10 best of the bunch.
    benhur767 and Roman Collector like this.
  5. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Congrats, @Roman Collector, many interesting discoveries, and featured posts. With my own wanderings in coins of Asia minor this year, the coin of Lycus (Λύκος) and Caprus (κάπρος), the outstanding reverse with lunar god Mên, and Troas Sigeion are all coins that especially appeal to me!
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
    Orfew and Roman Collector like this.
  6. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Only 4 are banned Faustina?!:smug:
    But the bell of the ball, to me, is that Troas that's right on thre cusp of classical and hellenistic:artist::singing:
    Roman Collector likes this.
  7. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    fine group RC...:)
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  8. Alegandron

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

    Beautiful Group, @Roman Collector ! And I like the Troas intrusion! Well done. I am always educated by your writeups. Thank you.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  9. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Nice coins, @Roman Collector.
    Always glad to read their background stories, especially the Faustina ones. :happy:
    Roman Collector likes this.
  10. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Very nice indeed RC, I am glad you found solace with your hobby and you have picked up some beauties, my favorite is your Troas owl but close 2nd and third your Faustina's 2 & 3 one for it's rarity and the other for well detailed eye appeal. Congrats on a good year, I look forward to your posts.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  11. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Congratulations @Roman Collector , interesting coins.
    I am also amazed when I find a coin that is not listed or at least very rare, especially AFTER the purchase.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  12. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Great list @Roman Collector. I'm not really into coins of Faustina, but reading your topics and descriptions in this thread, it's apparant you really enjoy this collecting field. Finding rarities makes it all the more interesting!
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  13. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

    Beautiful and rare coins @Roman Collector, especially in your specialty field. Thanks for your many informative posts and comments.
    My favorite are coins #1, #8 and #9.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  14. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Excellent additions to the collection, RC! I thoroughly enjoyed your list, as I did your original writeups, which never fail to educate and inform. I'm leaning increasingly towards Greek and Roman Provincials with each year, so I guess it's no surprise that my favorites here are the Laodicea ad Lycum, the lovely little Sigeion owl, and that unique Faustina from Apamea.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  15. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    Super group of 10 @Roman Collector.....I really like the Laodicea ad Lycum with boar and wolf reverse..Cool!...
    My favourite is #3 a possibly unique coin that has probably been floating around for a while unnoticed and took someone with your enthusiasm and investigative skills to pin it down. Congrats on a year with some neat rarities.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  16. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Very interesting group.
    Strange looking (unusual) on #10
    Congrats on #3 and #1 acquisition. Being a specialist myself in a very narrow niche, I know the feeling when finding a misattributed rarity.

    Well done
    Roman Collector likes this.
  17. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    R.C., Your top 10 Is an interesting & eclectic assortment of of coins :D! My favorite is #6, the hefty bronze of Gordian III from Antioch. I remember reading the Featured article on the coin & posting my only example from Antioch-Pisidia on your thread :). The reverse on your coin is exceptional with fascinating symbolism. I found it odd that a male would represent a god of the moon when most cultures would choose a female goddess to represent the moon o_O. My 2nd favorite would be #2, the denarius of Faustina I. Again, you presented an excellent Featured article detailing the extensive research you did on the coin ;). The photo you presented in this thread shows the coin with much deeper toning than the photo in the Featured article. Has the coin toned that much in-between postings o_O? My 3rd favorite is #5, the tiny Greek bronze coin. The artwork on that coin is exceptional considering the size of the coin :woot:.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  18. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you for the kind words! I'm glad my write-ups have been so useful.

    No change in toning, merely lighting conditions for the photos. The colorful one is from using natural sunlight for the photo, whereas the first one was taken with artificial light.
  19. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for posting the list and for explaining why the single coins made it there. I very much enjoyed reading your little-write ups!

    Your exceptional Faustina rarities are exactly what what specialist collectors thrive on. Yet I have to say that my personal favorite is your Septimius Severus denarius: the portrait is great and the Liber type has, in my opinion, one of the best Severan reverses.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  20. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Love the toning on the obverse of number two!
    Roman Collector likes this.
  21. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    Enjoyed the lesson, thank you.
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