Scarce Trebonianus Gallus "mule"

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Nov 17, 2019.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Trebonianus Gallus LIBERTAS PVBLICA Rome antoninianus.jpg
    Trebonianus Gallus, AD 251-253.
    Roman AR antoninianus, 3.69 g, 22 mm, 12 h.
    Uncertain mint (Rome? Branch mint?), AD 251.
    Obv: IMP CAE C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
    Rev: LIBERTAS PVBLICA, Libertas standing facing, head left, holding pileus and transverse scepter.
    Refs: RIC 50; Cohen 69; Eauze 1006; RCV --.
    Notes: Scarce; only 3 specimens in the Eauze hoard. Coins with this reverse type are more commonly encountered with the shorter IMP C C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG inscription traditionally attributed to a branch mint at Mediolanum (RIC 70, Cohen 68). Reverse die match to Harlan J. Berk Buy or Bid Sale 201, lot 222, July 13, 2017.


    I was the high bidder at auction today on this scarce issue of Trebonianus Gallus that defies easy explanation as to where it may have been struck. The controversy arises because of the existence of three slightly different obverse inscriptions on coins of this emperor, each one traditionally assigned to a separate mint.

    IMP C C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG -- controversial mint

    RIC assigns these inscriptions to Rome, Mediolanum, and Antioch, respectively.

    The controversy over where coins with the short obverse inscription may have been struck arises because of overlap in reverse types between those of the Rome mint and those of the Milan mint. This is an example of one of these "overlap" coins. RIC notes it bears the Rome mint obverse inscription but its "reverse properly belongs to Milan."


    The fact that many of these mules exist is the basis of Besley and Bland's conclusion that these coins do not come from Milan, but from Rome. However, there are problems with this interpretation as well, such as metallic composition differing between coins of the Rome and "Milan" mint as well as distribution of the coins among various hoards and artistic style. Other numismatists have concluded this mint was Viminaceum, not Milan, while others call it simply an unknown branch mint. I won't rehash the arguments here; @Terence Cheesman and I have previously discussed this here at CT. Basically, I agreed with RIC, David Sear, and Jérôme Mairat that there was indeed a branch mint separate from Rome that struck these "mule" coins and that the two mints simply coordinated the use of reverse types with the Rome mint, just as the Antioch mint did. In contrast, Terence sided with Besley and Bland that these "mules" prove that the coins struck with the IMP CC VIB TREB GALLVS AVG legend were struck in Rome and they simply bore an alternate obverse inscription.

    However, in the course of researching this particular coin, I discovered that there is yet another explanation. Curtis Clay of Harlan J. Berk considers my coin to be the "earliest issue of Gallus' branch mint, still using the Roman obverse legend beginning IMP CAE C, which was soon to be contracted to IMP C C only."

    The coin is scarce, with no examples at OCRE or Wildwinds and only three correctly attributed examples at acsearchinfo. One of these is the Berk example, a reverse die-match to my coin:

    Trebonianus Gallus LIBERTAS PVBLICA Milan antoninianus Berk.jpg

    Post any comments, coins of Trebonianus Gallus, or anything you feel is relevant!
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  3. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Nice pick up. Here is the more common legend:

    Trebonianus Gallus 1.jpg
    AR Antoninianus
    OBVERSE:IMP C C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right
    REVERSE: LIBERTAS PVBLICA, Libertas standing left, holding pileus and transverse scepter
    Struck at Uncertain mint (Milan?), AD 252
    3.5g, 21mm
    RIC 70; Cohen 68; RCV 9636; Hunter 50
    TIF, randygeki, Marsyas Mike and 3 others like this.
  4. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    So beautiful. Another emperor I don't have a coin for and want. :drowning:
    Roman Collector likes this.
  5. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Khnum-Hotep

    Trebonianus Gallus:

    Trebonianus Gallus, AR Antoninanus, 23mm 3.9 grams

    Milan mint, AD 251-253.

    Obverse: IMP C C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, radiate, draped, cuirassed bust right

    Reverse: PIETAS AVGG, Pietas veiled, standing left by altar, raising both hands.

    Reference: RIC 72; RSC 88; Sear (1998) 2790; Sear 9643.


    TIF, randygeki, Marsyas Mike and 3 others like this.
  6. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Very informative write-up as usual, RC. It sent me to my collection, hoping for a rarity.

    But nope. I have the more common RIC 70 - very dark toned (billon?). I like the portrait - he looks worried. He should be.

    Treb. Gallus Ant Libertas Jun 2017 (0).jpg

    Trebonianus Gallus Antoninianus
    (251-253 A.D.)
    Mediolanum (Milan) Mint (or wherever!)

    IMP CC VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, radiate, cuirassed and draped bust right / LIBERTAS PVBLICA, Libertas standing left holding pileus and sceptre.
    RIC 70; Cohen 68; RCV 9636
    (3.90 grams / 22 mm)
    TIF, Johndakerftw, randygeki and 2 others like this.
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