Question regarding a Faustina Jr (VENUS reverse) denarius

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ambr0zie, Apr 11, 2021.

  1. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Hello ladies and gentlemen,
    I won a Faustina Jr denarius. I only have 1 denarius from her so I'll gladly take it, not a fantastic coin but not junk either, in my opinion.
    I know there are Faustina fans around here so I would like their help, please.

    Reverse Legend: VENVS
    I didn't know there were Faustina II coins under Antoninus Pius, so this is another plus for me.

    Now the tricky part. Having the legends visible I thought getting the RIC number will be easy (I know this is not that important but I like finding the RIC/RSC number for all the imperial coins I buy).
    But I am miserably failing for a few hours now.
    Found the following suspects with the same legends, similar designs (from what I can see) and I eliminated the coins where Faustina is wearing a stephane/Venus has a sceptre as this is not the case with my coin:

    Two key elements - if Faustina has band of pearls round head or she's bare-headed. I admit in shame that I don't understand the difference from the OCRE examples.
    Second key element - holding apple in right hand and rudder set on dove, in left OR
    rudder set on dolphin, which coils round it, in left
    I really can't see a dove or a dolphin in the OCRE examples no matter how hard I try and of course, not on my coin.

    Any ideas, please?
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Congratulations on your new acquisition! I am happy to help and I understand your confusion because this was a very large issue and depending on the die-engraver, the details are often difficult to discern. Your coin bears Faustina's first hairstyle and first obverse inscription under Antoninus Pius and dates to AD 147-149.

    The type with a dove probably doesn't actually exist. Paul Dinsdale explains:

    RIC 517a-c (plus variants) describes 'Venus standing l., holding apple and rudder set on dolphin which coils round it.' Examples of this type show an extraordinary variety of execution in details (see illustrated examples above). On the best dies the dolphin is clearly depicted with its head facing down and to the right and its tail coiling upwards to the left around the shaft of the rudder. On inferior dies the head of the dolphin is little more than a blob, and the tail is reduced to one or more coils around the shaft. On the worst examples, only a couple of marks across the shaft remain of the dolphin, but these can clearly be seen as one end of a continuum, and that the clear intention of the die-cutter was to indicate the presence of the dolphin. However, it is these poorer defined specimens that have been erroneously described as 'Venus standing l., holding apple and rudder set on dove' (RIC 515a-b plus variants). Virtually every specimen seen, where details can be determined, show some form of diagonal markings, as in the final example above, and thus indicate the dolphin, as discussed; I have seen no specimen with a recognizable dove. Where sources are listed as corrected, unless otherwise indicated, it is because they describe a dove on the rev.​


    Your coin indeed has a strand of pearls around Faustina's head and its reverse shows a rudder set on a dolphin. It is RIC 517c; BMCRE 1067; Cohen —; Strack 495.

    This is no. 1067 in the British Museum:


    Here is the example in my collection:

    Faustina II, AD 147-175/6.
    Roman AR denarius, 2.64 g, 17.4 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, AD 147-150.
    Obv: FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL, bust of Faustina II, draped, right, with band of pearls round head.
    Rev: VENVS, Venus, standing left, holding apple or globe in right hand and rudder around which is twined a dolphin in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 517c; BMCRE 1067-73; RSC 266a; Strack 495; RCV 4708; CRE 233.
  4. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Thank you @Roman Collector! I was of course thinking about you when I mentioned "Faustina fans".
    I really appreciate your explanations and I saved your post in my personal catalogue.
    I wasn't expecting a Faustina denarius to cause such attribution issues for me, but I'm glad there is a clear answer.
    This coin was not initially on my wish list, but the ones I wanted just slipped and I decided to go for it. It doesn't seem rare, but 1. the quality is satisfying enough 2. I was surprised that the coin is older than I thought (under Pius) 3. it's clear that other collectors had the same issues with attributing it as I had so this is another plus :)
    Roman Collector likes this.
  5. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    I recently purchased a 517c as well - mine has a fairly blobby dolphin, and it looks a lot like a duck! I can see where the dove idea comes from. (Thanks for those details @Roman Collector!). I need to take a photo of this coin, this dealer's photo is atrocious:

    faustina 517c.jpg
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