Roman Bronze of Gordian III, from Antioch, Pisidia

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Al Kowsky, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    I recently won the provincial bronze coin pictured below from Roma Numismatics E-Sale 59. It was struck in the reign of Gordian III, AD 238-244, 34 mm, 26.43 gm, 6 h. The obverse inscription reads: IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AVG (Imperator Caesar Marcus Antonius Gordianus Augustus). The reverse inscription reads: CAES ANTIOCH COL SR (Caesarea Antioch Colonia Senatus Romanus), and pictures Romulus and Remus, the twin brothers, being suckled by the she-wolf, the very symbol of Rome itself. Antioch of Pisidia made a whole series of these hefty bronze coins of similar dimensions with different scenes on the reverse. I don't avidly collect provincial bronze coins but this one had a charm and naivety that drew me to it. The portrait barely resembles Gordian III, and looks more like a five year old boy with an impish smile. Notice how the ear is placed abnormally low on the head. This is the work of journeyman celator, not an experienced engraver. This celator obviously had a hard time spacing the lettering on the obverse of the coin too. Notice how the V in AVG is smaller than the other lettering and makes contact with the emperor's chest. The G in AVG is a micro letter under the emperor's shoulder, and appears to be engraved instead of stamped. The reverse looks better than the obverse with well spaced lettering, however, the celator forgot the fig tree that is usually seen to the left of the she-wolf. The fig tree was added to later issues of this coin type. Below the photos of my coin are other examples of this coin series from the Antioch Mint.

    Gordian III, AD 238-244, AE 26.43 gm, 34 mm, 6h, Antioch, Pisidia, obv. SNG France 1211 (4).jpg
    Gordian III, AD 238-244, AE 26.43 gm, 34 mm, 6h, Antioch, Pisidia, obv. SNG France 1211 (2).jpg
    Gordian III, AD 238-244, AE 26.43 gm, 34 mm, Antioch, Pisidia, rev. SNG France 1211 (4).jpg

    _antiochPisidia_AE32_SNGFr_1199, Roma Numis..jpg
    This example shows a better portrait of Gordian III, but the celator still has a problem with the lettering. Notice the fig tree was added to the reverse on this example.
    Photo courtesy of Roma Numismatics.

    _antiochPisidia_AE33_BMC_88, w.w..jpg
    This example shows the emperor on the reverse togate, sacrificing over a lighted altar, before three military standards.
    Photo courtesy of Helios GmbH.

    _antiochPisidia_AE32_Kryz_36, CNG.jpg

    This is a very rare coin. The portrait is very good and the obverse lettering is spaced without a problem. The reverse is exceptional. The emperor is standing in a quadriga, holding a long scepter with an eagle tip, and Nike is behind him crowing him with laurels, while three soldiers stand in the background. There is an unfortunate die break starting at the third soldier's head and extending to the tip of the scepter.
    Photo courtesy of CNG.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
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  3. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I guess it would be rougher if I had none.
    Does the fact that my Severus Alexander has the tree suggest that the treeless Gordian was struck later than the treed one?
  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

  5. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    That's a very cool coin! I like the tiny, yet fun AVG!
  6. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Your bronze issue of Severus Alexander makes an interesting comparison to my Gordian III example. The overall workmanship on your example is superior to the Gordian III example, most likely it's a different celator. The main composition on the Gordian III reverse of the she-wolf and twins is larger on my example, in relation to the diameter of the die. If the celator included the fig tree there wouldn't have been room for the entire inscription. The layout of the reverse inscription on your reverse is different too. I'm no expert in the Latin language but it appears the reverse inscription layout is incorrect on the Gordian III example. CAES (Caesarea) and COL (Colonia) are titles given to Antioch, and should appear before the word Antioch, as in your example.
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