PROCULUS: the controversial emperor.

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, Feb 22, 2019.

  1. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Wednesday April 10th 2013
    Washigton Hotel, London England

    The famous numismatic auction is expected for weeks now, espacially lot # 694. For half a year, the discovery of this coin have been advertised all around the world. This is one of the rarest antoninianus ever offered for sale in history. Rumors have spread widely about rich collectors willing to pay anything for the coin in question. Estimations for the sale price went up to £90000 ! Finally the lot is presented, excitation in the room is noticeable hands raised, no movements by anyone, no internet bid neither...absolutely nothing happened. What did go wrong ? To try to understand, let me tell you the story of one of the most controversial emperor : Proculus.

    Who was he ? A wealthy land owner, an ambitious commander who accept to be proclaimed emperor and attempted a rebellion against Probus with an army of 2000 soldiers. But why so many people disagree with his coinage ? Let’s look at the details.

    Historical sources

    Titus Aelius Proculus has been mentionned by many sources around the 4th century AD.

    • Historia Augusta ( vita probi, 4-5 )
    • Euthopius, a roman historian ( brevarium 9, 17 )
    • Orosius, historian ( hist.adversus paganus libi septem 7, 24, 3 )

    So no doubts about the character’s historicity.

    Middle ages coins

    Coins of this usurper are recorded as far as the 16 th century in litterature. But modern analyses shows that they were all fakes. There are two categories of forgeries about Proculus :
    1) This example is the property of the British Museum since 1950.


    The curator’s comments explains : “tooled from a radiate of Gallienus to look like Proculus.”

    2) An example of a forged specimen from the 16th century cast by hand :

    Conclusion : all coins from this emperor from the 16th to the 19th century were considerated as counterfeit. That explain why the authors of the RIC ( 1933 ) said : “of Proculus no genuine coins are known (...). Like so much of the local coinage of Gaul, they are blundered.”

    October 9th 1991
    Munich, Germany

    For the first time in an auction, a coin in the name of Proculus appeared and was considered by many as genuine. Where did it come from ? Richard Swan, a British coin dealer, has discovered it while he was cleaning a hoard of roman coins recovered in England. The extra fine condition specimen was described as :
    18 mm 3.46 g


    It finally was sold for 94000 Deutsh marks ( 55000 US $ ) and is now in a museum in Munich.

    November 7th 2012
    Yorkshire, England

    Mark Hildreth and Colin Popplewell, two experienced detectorist, unearthed an unknown coin near Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire. At first, they didn’t recognized the bearded portrait or the name on their find. So they took a picture and posted it on Facebook. Soon they had many messages back : “You should really show your discovery to an expert !”

    The 2 lucky detectorists.


    A picture taken right in the field.

    During the next months, it was demonstrated that the 2 Proculus coins were from the same pair of dies. They also appear to have a higher silver contents than the official issues of Probus. Meanwhile, the question about their authenticity divided many experts in the numismatic world. A specialist from the British Museum believed it was a forgery. On many discussion forum, debates occured with opposite point of view on the two coins. So that’s what happened previously to the anecdote told in the introduction of this story.


    The second coin.

    December 9th 2013
    Munich, Germany

    Numismatik Lanz auctionned the 2nd ‘genuine’ Procolus coin, and this time it was sold for the amount of £ 48800 ( 55700 US $ )......


    So what do you think about this story ? Do you believe that the Proculus coins are genuine ? The one thing that would adress the issue would be the discovery of a third example, or even better, a whole hoard of this controversial emperors coins !
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  3. Suarez

    Suarez Well-Known Member

    I'd be interested in reading more about who these "experts in the numismatic world" are (and where the discussions took place). From a stylistic point of view the Lanz piece looks 100% legit. And how to explain the BM's specimen which was recovered from a 5,000+ hoard that was cemented together?
    galba68 likes this.
  4. Suarez

    Suarez Well-Known Member

    Ehhhhh, my bad. As another member just pointed out to me in a private message I got this confused with the Domitian II discovery of a few years ago. I see now that the BM owns the top two, the photos of which show them to be quite obviously fake.

    Still interested in hearing who brought up the question of authenticity and whether it was based on direct observation or just speculation.
  5. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    The topmost coin with its obviously tooled obverse has the same reverse as the two lowest OP coins, the Victoria. How did the tooler know it should be Victoria?

    The ‘genuine’ Proculus coins are barbarous in style. But I thought the imitations of Tetricus I and II (that are comparable) were issued later than the original coins of good style.
    Edessa likes this.
  6. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
  7. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

  8. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    The problem may be with the word "genuine." If this person was planning a rebellion/usurpation, he may have had some coins made in anticipation of the hoped-for victory of his forces over those of Probus, which never panned out. The style certainly looks "homemade" i.e. barbarous. So it could be both a vanity/fantasy piece and genuine at the same time, thus, a "genuine fantasy."
    Pellinore, Edessa, TIF and 1 other person like this.
  9. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    I agree with you @gsimonel about the barbarous style. The problem was that during his rebellion, no ‘official workshop’ were available to mint his coinage. Lugdunum was not accessible, Cologne and Trier were closed in 274. So the ‘homemade solution’ appear to be the solution at the time. But again it’s all speculation. A recent theory brought the idea that Proculus could had made his rebellion not in 280, but maybe before 274....
    Edessa likes this.
  10. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I have issues with this concept. To me, the only question here is whether the item in question existed in a time before, lets say, 300 AD and was made to support/finance a usurpation. The ruler does not have to be a winner for the coin to be genuine, official (issued by the man on the coin) and collectible. On he other hand, if the item was made in the 14th century to salve the ego of a collector who wanted all thirty 'tyrants' whether or not that collector knew the coin was 'modern', it is now a relic of the history of coin collecting rather like the Paduan medallions. It still is collectible but not official or ancient. I have no issue with people for whom price is no object spending $50k for a toy with more questions than certainty. If they don't know enough to decide how to spend their money it is not my place to intervene. Was there a Proculus? Did he issue coins? Is this one of them? I don't know. Will we find a treasure chest with 100,000 of them under unquestionable circumstances? Then, will I be in the market for one? I am not worried about that one.
  11. Suarez

    Suarez Well-Known Member

    Ok so "experts" is really just one guy's opinion based on speculation boiled down to five words "probably from the 15th century". That moves the needle of doubt exactly zero as far as I'm concerned.

    I know that, especially when it comes to ancient coins, the moment someone calls a coin a forgery there is a cascade reaction where many others start seeing questionable aspects and before you know it the consensus is that It Must Be Fake. I'm not married to the idea that this Proculus must absolutely be real but I also don't have any good reason to doubt it. And it doesn't look at all like a Paduan reproduction either.
    Pellinore likes this.
  12. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    The real problem with the reputation of Proculus coins is the ‘gossiping’ from some ‘experts’. R.Bland said “This coin (...) in the Munich museum (...) is widely believed to be fake.” Widely believe by whom ?? Even C.Clay wrote on a forum of discussion about the same coin : “it was sold in Munich and was purchased by the Munich Coin Cabinet, but then later (I had heard) was condemned as a forgery.” Heard... So it seems that opinions on the coins are mostly based on rumors more than on academic studies...
  13. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    Here’s a link to a story that lays out much of the information well:

    We can state here beyond any reasonable doubt that the two coins in the name of Proculus, the one preserved in the museum at Munich and the other recently sold at the Numismatik Lanz auction, should be considered original: our analysis of the two coins allows the one coin to authenticate the other.

    This is also the opinion of Estiot, one of the greatest authorities on Romano-Gallic coinage, and of the numismatic community, which includes academics together with the whole world of enthusiasts, scholars, collectors, and numismatic dealers.“
    57AE0D01-0F47-4C43-BFA2-1302BEC461A2.jpeg 8AE22B10-A154-4061-A13D-A470A98BBCE1.jpeg
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019
    zumbly, Pellinore and dougsmit like this.
  14. Ricardo123

    Ricardo123 New Member

    Is there a scientific test to know the exact age of a coin ?
    7Calbrey likes this.
  15. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

  16. Suarez

    Suarez Well-Known Member

    "Is there a scientific test to know the exact age of a coin ?"

    Yeah, no. But the question deserves to be looked at more closely so I'll start a new thread. Thanks for kickstarting my gray matter :)
  17. desertgem

    desertgem MODERATOR Senior Errer Collecktor Moderator

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