Featured Septimius Caracalla Geta Sestertii - 3 of Same Reverse

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Blake Davis, Feb 4, 2021.

  1. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

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    The reverse of the Geta and Septimius is "VICTORIAE BRITTANICAE."
    Caracalla is dated "TRP XIIII" (211AD).

    I would love to start this article by quoting something from Herodian, then add something interesting but only semi-related to the topic, before posting a long section on the history of the period which these three coins were struck before discussing each coin. However, I am doing this on work time, but I was just so excited about getting the first coin above, a sestertius of Septimius Severus that is a match for the same type struck by Caracalla (rare) and Geta (ridiculously rare). So I am going to post the photographs first - tonight or this weekend will write the article these three coins deserve.

    The Caracalla is RIC 483(a), Geta is RIC 186. Septimius is unlisted. Although the reverse scenes are identical, RIC states, for Geta for this type, that the towered figure at right is Britannia, the listing for Caracalla at RIC 483(a) states merely that the figure is a "towered woman."

    As to date, RIC states that the Caracalla was struck in 211 AD. Septimius Severus died on February 4, 2011. So if the sestertius of Septimius Severus was struck in 211AD, which makes sense as it would have had to have been struck in the short window of time before his death, and before news of his death reach Rome - three weeks (?) later. That's almost 90 days, which was plenty of time to strike many coins of, for example, Balbinus. And Gordian I and Gordian II were only emperor for a few weeks, but typically a coin of either is usually available, provided a collector has the money since demand has driven up the price. In other words, and within reason, the time that an emperor was emperor is not necessarily determinative of the rarity of their sestertii. That is, within, reason.

    This coin celebrates the war and "Victory" in Britain, which was of course, not a complete victory. But, as I said, time for me is short now - if it weren't for the excitement of the receipt of the sestertius of Septimius I would have waited to post until I had more time to write a proper article. By the way, I would have loved it if the person who "cleaned" the reverse of the Septimius had done a better job or left it alone until someone with more skill worked on it. I also think that the coin could be "curated" so that the figures on the reverse could could be done a bit better. However, I do not know anyone who is available who could do it. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    One more comment - if I had not given up on only collecting higher grade coins - in other words, if I had limited my collection to just higher grade examples I would not have any of these coins (Geta is a bit tooled on the obverse). I love the look of high grade sestertii, but - for me and this just applies to me since every collector collects in their own way, collecting coins of any condition provided they are in my collecting interest or are interesting was oddly liberating, and I think made me a better collector - whatever that means. AGAIN - this is just me. It is still not easy to find coins that I don't have and fit my collecting goals but at least now I do not have two preconditions before buying anything. ok back later and I will include the size and weight of the coins.

    That's it for now - more later
     
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  3. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    60 days, not 90 days!
     
  4. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    [
    Although I hope to finish the post later I would love to hear comments on the first coin above which I was unable to find anywhere else - not on acsearch, not in the BM, not on Wildwinds, nowhere. It cannot be unique - in fact, I suspect that this is an example of what Curtis Clay had referred as, when referencing a Septimius Severus IMP X Victory type I posted here, as an "under-published" example. In other words, a coin that is known but didn't make it into RIC. Under other circumstances the coin probably would have been struck in larger numbers but for Septimius unfortunately passing away in early February, instead of later in the year - begs the question of why it is so rare for Geta. Another example would be Caracalla, who was murdered on April 8, 217 - perhaps if he had lived longer we would have more examples of his "TRP XX" types -
     
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  5. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    This is my continuation of the above:

    All three of these coins were struck at the time that Septimius was campaigning in Britain ca 211AD. The longer stringy beard style of portraiture for Septimius bears a very close resemblance to his CONSECRATION types - it could simply be the same celator but it could also be that the coins were made in a close proximity of time to one another. The other support for the closeness in time to Septimius' death for this coin is the rarity of the type for Geta - Caracalla murdered Geta not long after the return of Caracalla and Geta to Rome from Britain. It could be that those of this type struck for Geta were quickly disposed of - all of this speculation of course.

    Much of our knowledge of the history of this time comes from the historian Cassius Dio, who was alive through at least the early part of the reign of Elagabalus. Dio's history (epitome, for this period), the translation of which below, is in the public domain, is fascinating, and says, with respect to the the British expedition, which this coin celebrates:
    ________________________________________________________
    "Severus, seeing that his sons [Caracalla a/k/a Antoninus and Geta] were changing their mode of life and that the legions were becoming enervated by idleness, made a campaign against Britain, though he knew that he should not return. He knew this chiefly from the stars under which he had been born....

    Severus, accordingly, desiring to subjugate the whole of Britain, invaded Caledonia. But as he advanced through the country he experienced countless hardships in cutting down the forests, levelling the heights, filling up the swamps, and bridging the rivers; but he fought no battle and beheld no enemy in battle array. ....... Severus did not desist until he approached the extremity of the island. Here he observed most accurately the variation of the sun's motion and the length of the days and the nights in summer and winter respectively. Having thus been conveyed through practically the whole of the hostile country, he returned to the friendly portion, after he had forced the Britons to come to terms, on the condition that they should abandon a large part of their territory......

    When the inhabitants of the island again revolted, he summoned the soldiers and ordered them to invade the rebels' country, killing everybody they met......

    While he was thus engaged, his sickness carried him off on the fourth of February, not without some help, they say, from Antoninus [Caracalla]. At all events, before Severus died, he is reported to have spoken thus to his sons "Be harmonious, enrich the soldiers, and scorn all other men."....

    [Upon his return to Rome] Antoninus wished to murder his brother [Geta] at the Saturnalia, but was unable to do so; for his evil purpose had already become too manifest to remain concealed, and so there now ensued many sharp encounters between the two, each of whom felt that the other was plotting against him, and many defensive measures were taken on both sides. Since many soldiers and athletes, therefore, were guarding Geta, both abroad and at home, day and night alike, Antoninus induced his mother to summon them both, unattended, to her apartment, with a view to reconciling them. Thus Geta was persuaded, and went in with him; but when they were inside, some centurions, previously instructed by Antoninus, rushed in a body and struck down Geta, who at sight of them had run to his mother, hung about her neck and clung to her bosom and breasts, lamenting and crying: "Mother that didst bear me, mother that didst bear me, help! I am being murdered." And so she, tricked in this way, saw her son perishing in the most impious fashion in her arms, and received him at his death into the very womb, as it were, whence he had been born; for she was all covered with his blood, so that she took no note of the wound she had received on her hand."

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    The three coins pictured above are one of at least two reverse types common to all three, the other I know of off hand include a CONCORDIA type with all three sacrificing. From memory it would have been a year before the coins above - TRP XIII - for Caracalla. More common than these, I have the dated CONCORDIA types for Caracalla and Septimius but not Geta which is far more rare than the other two.

    What would be interesting to know would be when Geta was struck down - I will add that information to this article along with the weight and size of these interesting types.

    Those who are also in this hobby will understand my excitement when I won the Septimius. And my anguish, when for a week or two, the post office misplaced the parcel - dealing with it was an exercise in patience. As it turned out the package suddenly appeared and all was well.

    Any additional information would be appreciated, including on the history of the period, which is limited.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2021
  6. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    You have some reason not to accept the traditional date of 26 December? It has been a while since I heard anyone doubt that it was in 211 rather than 212 as once was popular. I only have Birley 1988 and have not seen his later books on the subject. At the price these are selling for now, I won't be seeing them. BTW, I just learned Birley died in December. I am not keeping up with anything any more.
     
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