Numerian Antoninianus: a well-struck coin of a short-lived emperor

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Shea19, Jun 11, 2021.

  1. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    I recently added this beautiful coin of Numerian from the last Nomos auction. Numerian is one of the lesser-known and short-lived emperors of the 3rd Century, and an emperor which had been missing from my collection. After the mysterious death of his father Carus in 283 A.D., Numerian ruled as co-emperor with his brother Carinus for approximately one year, until his reign ended with his own mysterious death.

    Something about this coin really struck me, and it was my top target from that auction. I was very happy to win it, and even more excited when it got it in really is a beauty.

    Numerian, Antoninianus, 283 A.D., (22 mm, 3.91 g), Rome mint, Δ = 4th officina, IMP C NVMERIANVS P F AVG Radiate and cuirassed bust of Numerian to right./ Rev. PIETAS AVGG / ΚΑΔ Mercury standing facing, head left, holding purse in right hand and caduceus in left. RIC 414.

    In my opinion, I think this is about as good as it gets for coins of this era...great portrait, fresh dies, well-centered, good metal, and full, clear legends. I also love the depiction of Mercury on the reverse.

    Here is a close-up of the portrait (which deserves a better photographer). I especially like the detail on the cuirass/armor:


    There is unfortunately only minimal reliable information about the life and reign of Numerian. In 282 A.D., Numerian's father Carus took over as emperor following the death of Probus, and started a short-lived dynasty. After a successful year, Carus died under "mysterious" circumstances, with the rumored cause of death that he was "struck by lightning." (Anyone who believes that Carus was actually struck by lightning should come and visit me here in Brooklyn...I have a bridge I'd like to sell you :) ).

    After the death of Carus in 283 A.D., Numerian and his older brother Carinus were elevated to Augustus, with Numerian remaining in the East and never actually making it back to Rome. While on the way back west, the story goes that Numerian was traveling in a closed carriage, and when soldiers noticed an awful smell coming from the coach, they found Numerian dead. It is not clear whether Numerian was murdered by one of his underlings or simply died due to illness (but because he was a 3rd Century emperor, I think murder is probably a safe bet). I particularly like that this coin was struck in Rome, given that Numerian never actually made it there.

    I thought this was a lovely coin of an interesting but ultimately inconsequential emperor, and I was happy to add it to my collection. Please share your coins of Numerian, his family, Mercury, or anything else relevant!
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  3. tibor

    tibor Well-Known Member

    Great addition. They don't/can't come much nicer. Thanks for
    sharing. How are you collecting the emperors, one of each or
    a particular century?
    Shea19 likes this.
  4. wittwolf

    wittwolf Active Member

    Really an awesome piece. My only Numerian sadly got some bad cleaning by its pre-owners. But the portrait is in nice condition and I got it quite cheap because the emperor was hard to make out on the bad pictures uploaded by the seller:
    Emperor Numerian - Antoninianus - PAX AVGG - Lugdunum mint
    Numerian 1.png
  5. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

  6. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    That guy looks so similar to Aurelian that I'm like 99% sure there's a few altered Aureliani to look like Numerians.
    Aurelian AE Ant RIC Serdica 388A.JPG
  7. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    @Shea19.......That is a 'lovely' looking coin!..Great detail!..Congrats.

    Well I think my coin of his father proves his demise ;)...An omen on a coin minted before his death....Look at that flash of silver coming down from the heavens catching him on his forehead....SPOOKY!
    Carus AE Antoninianus.AD282-283
    Obverse..IMP C M AVR CARVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right.
    Reverse..PAX AVGG, Pax standing left, holding branch and transverse sceptre; B in left field.
    RIC V-2, 13; Sear 12173.
    carus black.jpg
  8. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    Rome mint, A.D. 283-284
    Rev: PROVIDENT AVGG - Providentia, standing, facing left, holding corn ears above modius with right hand and cornucopia in left.
    VXXI in exergue
    RIC 448
    22mm, 3.4g.
  9. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Great addition

    Numerian and his brother Carinus :

    Numerianus, Antoninianus - Ticinium mint, 5th officina, 2nd emission, Dec 282 AD
    M AVR NVMERIANVS NOB C, Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust of Numerianus, seen from behind
    PRINCIPI IVVENTUT, Prince of youth standing left, holding baton and sceptre. VXXI at exergue
    3,35 gr, 23 mm
    Ref : RCV #12219, Cohen #76, RIC vol V #366

    Carinus, Antoninianus - Rome mint, 2nd officina, 5th emission, Nov 284 AD
    IMP CARINVS PF AVG, Radiate and cuirassed bust of Carinus right
    IOVI VI - CTORI, Jupiter standing left, holding victory and sceptre. Eagle at feet. KAB at exergue
    4,25 gr, 22 mm
    Ref : RCV #12348, Cohen #45, RIC vol V #257

  10. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Wow, @Shea19, that's stunning! I like the long-necked, Aurelian-like portrait. The detail on the cuirass is amazing! Here's my most photogenic coin of the man.

    Numerian, Augustus AD 283-284.
    Roman billon Antoninianus, 4.09 g, 20 mm.
    Cyzicus, AD 284.
    Obv: IMP C NVMERIANVS P F AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right.
    Rev: CLEMENTIA TEMP, Numerian standing right, holding short scepter and receiving Victory on globe from Jupiter standing left, holding scepter; officina mark B in field; in exergue, XXI.
    Refs: RIC 463; Cohen 8; RCV 12243.
  11. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Great looking coin. I only got mine because the reverse is scarcer than the norm.

    Numerian (283 - 284 A.D.)
    Æ Antoninianus
    O: IMP NVMERIANVS AVG, radiate, draped bust right.
    R: VNDIQVE VICTORES, Numerian standing left, holding globe and sceptre, captive on each side.
    Rome mint
    RIC 423, Cohen 120

    An important reverse type fallaciously
    claiming 'victories on Every Side'.
  12. maridvnvm

    maridvnvm Well-Known Member

    The OP is in wonderful style and a great example.

    My nearest to the type is with the shorter obverse legend, suffering from some corrosion in the obverse fields.


    I have owned a few nice Numerians over the years with a focus mainly on Lugdunum. I am not sure that I have ever shared this one here.

    Obv:– IMP NVMERIANVS AVG, Radiate, cuirassed bust right
    Rev:– PIETAS AVGG, Pietas standing right, holding patera over altar
    Minted in Lugdunum (C in right field) Emission 8 Officina 3. First half A.D. 284
    Reference:– Cohen 61. Bastien 600 (9 examples cited). RIC 397 Bust Type F

  13. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The best thing you can say about my representative Numerian piece is that the silvering is mostly intact.

    Numerian Anton All.jpg

    Antoninianus of Numerian, Obverse: IMP C NVMERIANUS AVG “Emperor caesar Numerian augustus.” Reverse: MARS VICTOR C in right field. “Mars victor” Mars carrying a spear and a trophy.

    Similar to Sear 12247

    From my notebook:

    · Numerian began the long journey back to Rome, but he would never make it. He fell ill and was carried in a closed litter. After he was found dead in the littler, the future emperor, Diocletian, accused Aper of poising him and had the prefect summarily executed. The more popular view is that Diocletian was responsible for Numerian’s murder. Aper had a motive to kill Carus because his daughter was married to Numerian, but why would he have killed Numerian who provided him with a conduit to gain power?

    Here is Numerian's father, the emperor Carus, who was "struck by lighting."

    Carus All.jpg

    Silvered Antoninianus of Carus, Obverse: IMP CARVUS P F AVG “Emperor Carus, dutiful and patriotic augustus.” Reverse: AETERNIT IMPERI IHH “For the eternity of the empire.” Sol advancing left, nude but for chlamys raising hand and holding whip. Ric 36, similar to Sear 12167
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021
  14. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Numerian 3.jpg
    OBVERSE: M AVR NVMERIANVS NOB C, radiate, draped & cuirassed bust right
    REVERSE: MARS VICTOR, Mars advancing right with spear & trophy, C to right
    Struck at Lugdunum, 284 AD
    3.5g, 22.5mm
    RIC 353c
    Carinus 2a.jpg
    OBVERSE: IMP CARINVS P F AVG, radiate cuirassed bust right
    REVERSE: FIDES MILITVM, Fides standing left with a standard in each hand. KAEpsilon in ex.
    Struck at Rome, 284-5 AD
    2.9g, 22mm
    RIC 253c, C 28
    Carus 1.jpg
    OBVERSE: IMP CARVS P F AVG, radiate, cuirassed bust right
    REVERSE: PAX EXERCITI, Pax standing left holding standard & olive branch, PXXI in ex.(1. officina)
    Struck at Ticinum (1. officina), 282-3 AD
    3.7g, 22mm
    RIC 75f, C 56
  15. Alegandron

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

    Great coin and nice writeup, @Shea19


    RI Numerian 283-284 CE AE Ant Stndg receiving Victory
  16. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Basileus Megalos

    Great coin @Shea19 - one of the best antoniniani of the period that I have seen!

    I'll share an Egyptian tet. I like the reverse of Athena.

    Historically, Diocletian circulated the story that the prefect Arrius Aper had slain Numerian. As a result, Diocletian drew his sword and slayed Aper in front of the assembled troops, swearing an oath to the gods that he (known as Diocles at the time) was innocent of any crime...

    Numerian, Feb/March 283 - Oct/Nov 284 A.D.

    Roman Provincial Egypt

    Billon Tetradrachm, 8.26 grams, 20.7 mm, Alexandria mint

    Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right

    Reverse: Athena seated left on high backed throne, wearing crested helmet, long scepter in left hand, Nike offering wreath in right hand.

    Reference: Köln 3192-3193; Dattari 5607, Emmett 4013; Sear 12272

    I particularly enjoy the patina on this coin, as well as the finely crafted reverse.


  17. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

  18. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Exceptional coin! I've found that unlike Aurelian, truly exceptional coins of this dynasty are very hard to come by.

    I recently completed my set of the entire dynasty (minus Nigrinian) in every title they held - I believe Numerian gets the prize for quickest progression from Caesar > Augustus > Divus of any Roman emperor!

    As Caesar 282-283
    Numerian caesar principi ivventvt.jpg
    Numerian as Caesar Alexandria tetradrachm Nike Year 1 282.jpg

    As Augustus (Not too fond of the weak spots, but it made the price more palatable!) 283-284
    Numerian augustus pietas avgg mercury.jpg

    And posthumous consecration issue (these are very rare)

    That's about a year as Caesar, a little over a year as Augustus, and then he was dead.

    For good measure, the rest of the dynasty

    Carus lifetime
    Carus Clementia Fel Temp.jpg

    Carus Posthumous
    Divo caro eagle.jpg

    Carinus as Caesar
    Carinus Caesar principi ivvent.jpg

    Carinus as Augustus
    Carinus Fides Militvm.jpg

    Magnia Urbica, I have her as the wife of Carinus, but she may have been the wife of Carus
    Magnia Urbica venus.jpg
  19. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    My one Numerian:

    Numerian, AE Antoninianus, Feb/Mar 283 [promotion to Augustus] - Nov. 284 [death of Numerian], Ticinum Mint [now Pavia, Italy] (6th Officina). Obv. Radiate and cuirassed bust right, IMP NVMERIANVS P F AVG / Rev. Providentia* standing facing, head left, holding corn ears with right hand over modius at feet left, and holding cornucopiae in right arm, PROVIDENT AVGG; in exergue, VIXXI [6th Officina, 20/1 copper/silver ratio of alloy]. RIC V-2 447, Sear RCV III 12253, Cohen 83, Pink [Karl Pink 1949] p. 29, Series 4. 22.6 mm., 4.15 g. Ex. Pegasi Numismatics, Auction 41, Dec. 11, 2019, Lot 627. Formerly in NGC slab, Cert. No. 5768552-009, Graded AU, Strike: 5/5, Surface 4/5.) [For dating, see]

    Numerian jpg version.jpg

    Numerian NGC photo jpg version.jpg

    *Despite the reverse legend referring to Providentia, the personification depicted has the attributes of Annona (grain and modius) rather than Providentia (globe). The legend and image can be interpreted as conveying that the foresight of the Emperor has permitted the abundance of Annona.

    His father and brother:

    Carus, silvered AE Antoninianus, late Autumn 282 [second son, Numerian, elevated to Caesar] - Autumn 283 AD [death of Carus], Antioch Mint (1st Officina). Obv. Radiate bust right, IMP C M AVR CARVS PF AVG/ Rev. VIRTUS AVGGG, Carus, standing right, receives Victory from Jupiter standing left, holding long scepter, star in upper field, A in lower middle field (= 1st Officina, Antioch Mint), XXI in exergue [20/1 copper/silver ratio of alloy]. RIC V-2 125(A), Sear RCV III 12190, ERIC II 141, Cohen 117. 20.25 mm., 3.59 g. [For the dating of Carus’s coins with AVGGG reverse (issued at Antioch mint only), see]

    Carus denarius jpg version.jpg
    Carinus, AE Antoninianus, Feb/Mar 283 [promotion to Augustus] - Spring 285 [death of Carinus], Ticinum Mint [now Pavia, Italy] (3rd Officina). Obv. Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, IMP CARINVS P F AVG / Rev. Felicitas standing facing, head left, left elbow resting on column, holding caduceus with raised right hand, FELICIT PVBLICA; in exergue, TXXI [3rd Officina, 20/1 copper/silver ratio of alloy]. RIC V-2 295, Sear RCV III 12343 (ill.), Cohen 24, Pink [Karl Pink 1949] p. 29, Series 4. 23.6 mm., 3.83 g. [For dating, see]

    Carinus Antoninianus - jpg version.jpg
  20. curtislclay

    curtislclay Well-Known Member

    Sear in his new multi-volume Roman Coins: "History records nothing of the life of Magnia Urbica, though the numismatic evidence makes it clear that she was the wife of Carinus and possibly also the mother of Nigrinian."

    I think it is inscriptions, however, that settle this question. My note about the lady in my old one-volume Sear:"Three inscriptions are dedicated to her as wife of Carinus, answering that old question."
  21. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    It's fun to speculate about what really happened to Numerian, but the information is so unreliable that it's really hard to know. The idea that Diocletian set things in motion and then used Aper as a fall guy definitely does make a lot of sense. But it's not crazy to think that Aper may have seen an opportunity for him to take out his boss and try to take over as emperor himself. He certainly wouldn't have been the first Praetorian prefect to try a maneuver like that...this era is filled with power-hungry officials who got themselves killed with incredibly stupid and reckless political calculations. Whatever actually happened, Diocletian definitely played his hand perfectly.
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