Rare Faustina I lifetime denarius -- die study to boot!

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Apr 7, 2019.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Specialists know to snatch up a rare coin when they see one because they may never have another opportunity to buy one in the foreseeable future, if at all. Such was the case with this one.

    This denarius is easily confused with the more common RIC 339, in which the peacock stands on the floor in front of the throne. This issue, where the peacock has had the audacity to sit on the throne of Juno the Queen of the gods, is much scarcer and seems to have been the product of as few as two different reverse dies and five obverse dies.

    I will first provide a description of the coin. I will then post photos and links to their source in order to facilitate comparison of the dies. Last, I will describe the distinguishing features of each die so that you can more readily appreciate their differences. Please feel free to comment and to post any coins you feel are relevant. And, if for some reason you are aware of examples that I may have missed, please post them, for the more examples the better our understanding of this elusive issue.

    Faustina I, AD 138-141.
    Roman AR denarius.
    Rome, AD 139-140.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, Bust of Faustina I, draped, right.
    Rev: IVNONI REGINAE, Throne, on which stands peacock with tail spread; behind throne, transverse scepter.
    Refs: RIC 340; BMCRE 145; Cohen/RSC 221; RCV 4670; CRE 135-6; UCR (Hill) 283; ERIC II-83.

    Obverse die A; Reverse die 1:

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock and Throne denarius Naumann.jpg
    Coin in my collection. 3.30 g, 18 mm, 6 h.

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock and Throne denarius Bertolami.jpg
    Bertolami Fine Arts, Auction 37, lot 576, Sept 19, 2017. This is the highest-grade of the known specimens.

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock and Throne denarius Wildwinds.jpg
    The specimen at Wildwinds. Triton X, 8 January 2007, lot 1606 (part of a group lot, astonishingly).

    Obverse die B; Reverse die 1:

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock and Throne denarius BMC.jpg
    British Museum specimen, BMCRE 145.

    Obverse die C; Reverse die 1:

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock and Throne denarius ANS.jpg
    American Numismatic Society collection.

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock and Throne denarius Kolner.jpg
    Kölner Münzkabinett, Auction 101, lot 85, June 17, 2014.

    Obverse die D; Reverse die 1:

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock and Throne denarius CNG.jpg
    CNG 96, lot 808, May 14, 2014. This is also the Temeryazev & Makarenko plate coin, CRE 136.

    Obverse die E; Reverse die 2:

    Faustina Sr IVNONI REGINAE Peacock and Throne denarius CRE.jpg
    Temeryazev & Makarenko plate coin, CRE 135.

    Die characteristics:

    Obverse die A: The F in FAVSTINA begins below the bust and the final A in AVGVSTA ends level with the top-most fold of the drapery on Faustina's left shoulder. The N and A in FAVSTINA have large serifs that point right. The bun on Faustina's head does not stick up very high from the rest of her hair and the top braid behind the bun is rather straight and is level with the final A in FAVSTINA. The empress's lips are full and prominent.

    Obverse die B: The F in FAVSTINA begins above the empress's right shoulder and the final A in AVGVSTA ends above her left shoulder. The S in FAVSTINA is taller than the other letters and the N and A in FAVSTINA lack the large, right-pointing serifs. The I and N in Faustina lean backward. The spaces between the letters in VGV in AVGVSTA are narrow and the Vs are large. The bun on Faustina's head is quite prominent. The top braid behind the bun is curved and level with the I and N in FAVSTINA. The empress's lips are thin.

    Obverse die C: The S in FAVSTINA isn't as large and it has a serif on its bottom curve that points sharply upward. The spaces between the letters in VGV in AVGVSTA are wide and the Vs are small.The top braid of behind the empress's bun is exceedingly curved and level with the N and A in FAVSTINA. The empress's lips are small and the chin is prominent.

    Obverse die D: The bust is left-facing.

    Obverse die E: Very similar in letter forms and portrait to obverse die B and difficult to distinguish. The F in FAVSTINA begins at her right (near) shoulder. The portrait has a number of distinguishing features. The bun on the head is horizontal, whereas it tips slightly forward on the other dies. The back of the empress's head is very prominent and the distance from nose to occiput is large, giving her a round, rather than oval-shaped head. The circumference of the drapery over the shoulders and across the chest is large and the folds are prominent and large.

    Reverse die 1: The top of the initial I in IVNONI is level with the exergue line. The bottom of the final E in REGINAE is level with the exergue line and the top of that letter extends below the exergue line. The front legs of the throne are not symetrical and the one on the left is rendered as a loop in its upper portion. The front leg on the right is solid in its upper portion, which contains a notch at the bottom. The arm rest on the left is smaller and lower than the one on the right. The upper corners of the headrest are not symmetrical, either, and the one on the left is comprised of 1-1/2 horizontal bars but the one on the right is comprised of 2 horizontal bars. The transverse scepter starts inside the N of IVNONI and traverses behind the throne at the level of the arm rest on the left.

    Reverse die 2: Very similar to reverse die 1 in the assymetrical rendering of the throne. The most prominent feature is that the initial I in IVNONI begins well above the exergue line, even above the scepter. The bottom of the final E in REGINAE is above the exergue line. The scepter starts before the I in IVNONI, not inside the N and traverses behind the chair below the armrest on the left.

    Catalog of known examples:

    Right-facing bust, RIC 340:
    - The specimen in the French National Collection, cited by Cohen and RIC
    - The specimen in the British Museum
    - The CRE plate coin
    - The specimen in the ANS
    - The specimen at Wildwinds
    - The Bertolami Fine Arts specimen
    - The Kölner Münzkabinett specimen
    - The coin in my collection
    - The coin in @Nemo 's collection (see below)
    - POSSIBLY a coin cited by Hill in Undated Coins of the Roman Empire (CRE); I don't have this reference and do not know which coin is cited.

    Left-facing bust, CRE 136 but unlisted in RIC or BMCRE
    - The CNG specimen which is also the plate coin in CRE.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Questions that remain to be studied:

    Do the obverse dies used for this coin match any used to strike the similar RIC 339, indicating they were struck simultaneously?

    CNG cites Strack 405 as an obverse die match to the left-facing bust specimen. What reverse type is depicted on Strack 405?

    What dies were used on the specimen cited by Cohen, because a photo of this coin is not available online?
     
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    The wildwinds one is actually my coin, :cigar:
     
  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    How cool is that!? Well, you just got a free die-study of your coin!
     
    TIF likes this.
  6. Nemo

    Nemo Well-Known Member

    Nice write up, here's mine.
    upload_2019-4-7_21-31-15.png
     
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  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Excellent! A double-die match to my coin and @Mat 's coin!
     
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  8. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    And Nemos toning is a near match to mine too.
     
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  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I suspect mine is, too, but the coin hasn't arrived yet in the mail and I'm using the seller's photo.

    All similarly toned and double die-matches. Makes me wonder about a hoard that came to market.
     
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  10. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Great article, @Roman Collector. I started collecting lifetime Faustina I this year, and just got a common RIC 339 (peacock under the throne). Will surely keep an eye on your mentioned "peacock on the throne" variety. :happy:
     
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  11. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Here is my Faustina I RIC 339, sold to me already slabbed.

    Faustina03.jpg
     
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  12. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    @Roman Collector

    That is a great coin. Your writeup and analysis was fun to read.
     
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  13. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Lovely! Yours is Cohen 219 and mine is 221. It all comes down to the difference between dessous and dessus!

    Capture.JPG
     
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  14. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Many thanks, @Roman Collector. Great information to know. I am very new to the various Roman denarius varieties, but surely would begin to learn. Thanks again!
     
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