New and improved Sestertius of Paulina

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Julius Germanicus, Jun 5, 2020.

  1. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Today my first ever purchase from NAC arrived. It is a huge improvement over my first Sestertius of Paulina which is pictured here and was only a space filler:

    Bildschirmfoto 2020-06-06 um 00.39.37.png

    Coins of Paulina have been rare even in ancient times:

    Their number in the Guelma hoard (just five specimens of hers compared to 455 of Maximinus and 80 of Maximus) suggest that less of 1 % of Maximinus´ production of Sestertii was reserved for Paulina, while no middle bronzes were struck in her name at all.

    My replacement is the most expensive coin I ever bought of an imperial lady, but I think it leaves little to be desired:

    IMG_20200605_180151 2.jpeg

    PAVLINA - Veiled and draped bust right.
    CONSECRATIO - Paulina, raising hand and holding scepter, seated l. on peacock flying upward upward to right. In field, S – C.
    Sestertius, Rome ca. September-December 236.
    31,9 mm, 23.46 gr
    RIC IV 3, plate XI (same dies); Banti 1 (same dies)

    IMG_20200605_181129 2.jpeg

    We do not know if Maximinus Thrax´ wife (and mother of his son, the Caesar Maximus) was still alive at the time of her husband's accession in March, 235. This would just be possible as she has holds the imperial title of Augusta on the single surviving inscription mentioning her (CIL x. 5054), where she is styled “Diva Caecilia Paulina Pia Augusta” and on a local bronze issue of Anazarbus in Asia Minor. In any case she must have died soon after as the posthumous Anazarbus coin belongs to Maximinus´ first year.

    In any case the reverse of this coin shows her apotheosis, or ascension to the heavens, aboard a flying peacock, the symbol of Juno. This was the culmination of an elaborate funeral ceremony in which the body was burned on a tiered pyre from which a bird was theatrically released (an eagle, the holy bird of Jupiter, was used for emperors), symbolising the empresses soul being carried to her place among the gods. The iconography associated the empress directly with the divine and with the principate of the emperor. Augustae became “kingmakers”, propagators and continuers of the dynasty, developing a public image of their role which advantaged the reproduction of the political system itself. For this reason the deification of these women was part of the imperial cult as a systematized method of connecting the ruling family to the religious and cultural heritage of the Roman Empire. The imperial women were deified to give Rome, along with the deified emperors, the numina of their identity.

    If this coin refers to an actual event, it would imply that Paulina was indeed empress for a short time before her death.

    I doubt this because even if Paulina had still been alive at her husband's accession, she certainly never visited Rome during his Principate. Her actual features were certainly not known to the celators of the capital's mint when Maximinus, after returning from his victorious campaign into Germania Magna (including the now famous Harzhorn battle) had her deified by the Senate.
    It looks like even Maximinus himself did not have a realistic picture or bust at hand which could be used as a model, which further proves that Paulina most likely must have had deceased before the soldier Maximinus could have seen the use of ordering a portrait usable for the creation of a coin die.

    What he did send to Rome after his victorious return from the Elbe river in the summer of 236 was a realistic portrait of himself, which became known as his third portrait style, and which obviously served as the model for the facial features seen in Paulina´s postumous coinage:

    Bildschirmfoto 2019-01-30 um 12.37.44.png

    MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG GERM - laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Maximinus right
    VICTORIA GERMANICA - Maximinus, in military attire, standing left, his right hand raised, holding spear in left, German captive seated left at his feet, looking back, emperor crowned by Victory standing left behind him, also holding palm.
    Sestertius, Rome ca. September-December 236
    32,34 mm / 21,64 gr
    RIC 93; BMCRE 198 and pl. 40; Cohen 114; MIR 26-5

    Including my Sestertius of Maximus Caesar I now have a complete set of unpatinated Sestertii of the Imperial family from the same emission, just like one a visitor to the imperial mint in 236 aD might have received as a gift.

    Bildschirmfoto 2019-12-26 um 01.04.57.png

    MAXIMVS CAES GERM - bare-headed and draped bust of Maximus right
    PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS S C - Maximus, in military attire, standing left, holding rod pointing downwards in right hand and transverse spear in left, two standards behind.
    Sestertius, Rome September 236 – April 238 aD
    32,13 mm / 20,36 gr
    RIC 13; BMCRE 213; Cohen 14; MIR 37-5

    That's it for now, friends. It´s two in the morning in Germany and I need to get some sleep :)

    Please share your coins of Paulina, her family, Peacocks, consecrations, or anything you like!

    Also I would be very happy for any old catalogue listings or provenances of my new coin. I have found no less than 15 Sestertii from the same dies, by the way!

    Attached Files:

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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Big improvement, congrats. She's one I still need.
    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Stunning!! That is a LOVELY coin!
    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  5. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Diva Paulina. Died before 235 AD. AR Denarius (21mm; 3.03 gm; 5h). Commemorative issue. Rome mint. 2nd emission of Maximinus I, 236 AD. Obv: DIVA PAULINA, Veiled and draped bust rt. Rev: CONSECRATIO, Diva Paulina, raising hand and holding scepter, reclining left on peacock flying upward. RIC IV 2; RSC 2
    octavius, Ryro, Alegandron and 10 others like this.
  6. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    That's a really nice example, congrats.
    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  7. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Great improvement, a lot of eye appeal on that sestertius, congrats !

    My own family snapshot, through two denarii and one sestertius




    octavius, Ryro, Alegandron and 9 others like this.
  8. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

    My Paulina denarius has the peacock facing reverse, which
    I have always found attractive

  9. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I doubt you will ever be able to improve on this Paulina.
    PeteB and Julius Germanicus like this.
  10. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Thank you very much for your kind comments and for showing your Paulinas!

    Yesterday I was able to acquire a copy of Michael Alram´s study "Die Münzprägung des Kaisers Maximinus I Thrax" (MIR Vol.27) so I can try to date your undated coins:

    I would date your coin into the 4th emission of Maximinus, 2nd half of 236 aD, or even later, due to the portrait style which is modelled after Maximus´ triumphal portrait.
    Alram goes so far as suggesting that all portraits of Paulina and Maximus were cut by the same engraver.

    Your Paulina is 4th emisson or later (after August 236), see above.
    Maximinus is 1st phase of 3rd emission (01.01.236- ca. August 236)
    Maximus is most likely 4th emission (ca.October-31.12.236), as the obverse die displays an intermediate portrait style reminiscent of his first ("field") style.

    What a beauty! I really like the facing Peacock reverse, too! I have one on a Sestertius of Diva Mariniana, but for Paulina it only appears on Denarii.
    According to Alram, this type may be allocated to the first emission of Paulina (late phase 1 of 3rd emission of Maximunus) which is confirmed by the portrait style of your coin which still shows the influence of the ("field") portrait style (with rather soft jaw and straight nose), the first style of Maximus and second style of Maximinus (after the "consular" style) rather than Maximus second and Maximinus third ("triumphal") style.
    Therefore I would date your coin ca. July/August of 236 aD.
    DonnaML and eparch like this.
  11. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

    @Julius Germanicus - thanks for the information.I should have done my research as thoroughly as you !
    Forgive my ignorance, but what is Alram ?
  12. Alegandron

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

    Very nice upgrade, @Julius Germanicus ! Thanks for the write up.

    Mine has a bit of trepanning going on...

    RI Paulina w Maximinus I D before CE 235 AE sestertius 30.77mm 19.66g 2nd emission of Maximinus I CE 236 Consecratio Peacock RIC IV 3


    RI Maximinus Thrax 235-238 CE AR Denarius Victory stndg

    Maximinus Junior
    RI Maximinus Thrax JUNIOR 236-238 AE Sestertius Rome mint priestly emblems
  13. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Michael Alram is an austrian numismatist who has published a crucial study on the coinage of Maximinus Thrax, Maximus and Paulina in 1989 (it is long out of print and a specimen of this paperback was sold for 260 USD plus commission in a CNG auction in 2016).


    Both Alram and Banti (I Grandi Bronzi Imperiali, Vol IV-2) divide Paulina´s Peacock-Sestertii (RIC 3) into three sub-groups by the position of the S C:
    - Banti 1 / Alram 38d-5 with S and C right an left of the peacock: 52 specimens listed by Banti, 44 by Alram, 70 in my own die study
    - Banti 2 / Alram 38c-5 with S and C right and left of peacock´s legs: 5 specimens listed by Banti, 8 by Alram, 15 by myself
    - Banti 3 / Alram 38 b-5 with SC in exergue: 27 specimens listed by Banti, 33 by Alram, 38 by myself
    (Banti 4 / Alram 40-5 is the rare biga reverse: 2 specimens listed by Banti and Alram, 3 by myself)

    Your Paulina Sestertius is a different sub-type than mine, because the SC´s C is positioned above the bird´s wing (I would call this variety "Banti 1a"), while mine has the C below the wing ("Banti 1b" in my die study).
    "Banti 1a" was struck with two reverse dies. I have found 9 specimens from your reverse die (CONSECRATIO) and ten from the other (C-ONSECRATIO, divided by the bird´s tale).

    According to Alram, the portrait on my Paulina Sestertius´ obverse die represents a rather early stage in the development of her features. This would make it likely belong into the second half of 236 aD (4th emission of Maximinus), while a later stage more resembling the "triumphal" portrait of Maximus is more often found on coins showing the SC in exergue.

    Your Maximinus is dated between April 285 and Summer of 236 aD (2nd emision or first part of 3rd emission) by Alram. He lists 157 specimens with the "field" portrait (Alram 13-3/B).

    Your Maximus is dated between 01.01.236 and summer of 236 aD (first part of 3rd emission of Maximinus) by Alram (Alram 34-5/B). Alram lists 22 specimens, Banti 29.
    Alegandron and Roman Collector like this.
  14. Alegandron

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

    Thank you very much!
  15. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    A related provincial:
    Maximinus I, with Maximus, Caesar. 235-238 AD. Tarsus/Tarsos, Cilicia. Æ 37mm (27.07 gm). Obv: Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Maximinus right, seen from behind; Π - Π on either side. Rev: Radiate and draped bust of Maximinus right vis à vis laur., draped, and cuir. bust of Maximus left. SNG von Aulock__; BMC__;; SNG Cop__. Rare
  16. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    A denarius of Maximus:
    Maximus, Caesar; 235-238 AD. AR denarius (19mm; 3.38 gm; 11h). Obv: His bare hd., draped bust, r. Rev: Emperor stg. l., holding spear and scepter, two standards to right. RSC III, 10. Worn reverse die.
  17. octavius

    octavius Well-Known Member

    Julius, That is an absolutely beautiful coin. I love the tone of the patina!
    I Have no Paulina , but here are a few sestertii of Maximinus and one of his son, Maximus...

    8jDQqkF2z3sH7B6eZBp5nL9WNrk6ai.jpg 943708.jpg 1760244.jpg dB7CDmQ3y6GC2FJjxL5W4oPiL9Ptpf.jpg z52900.jpg
  18. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

  19. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Actually it was my mistake because I just found out that this book is correctly cited as "MIR" as it is part of a series called "Moneta Imperii Romani" (other volumes deal with Tiberius and Caligula, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius to Commodus, Valerian and Gallienus, and Aurelian respectively.

    Alram / MIR on plate 32, Nr. 58 illustrates a specimen from the same obverse die as your coin (Cahn 60/1928, 1678), identifies the portrait as belonging to Maximinus´ "field portrait" type, and points out that Maximinus´ coins from Tarsus and those from Anazarbus were obviously struck at the same mint. According to him, the city emissions almost exclusively can be dated into the first half of Maximinus´reign, i.e. the years 235/236.

    Neat portrait on your Denarius!

    Your coin is MIR 34-3 B, 1st part of 3rd emission of Maximinus, 01.01.-August 236, 59 specimens.

    Those are some absolutely stunning Sestertii and their types perfectly complement mine :). Let me know if you need references or specimen numbers from MIR or Banti for them.
    octavius likes this.
  20. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Thank you Julius Germanicus for the references!
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