Severus Alexander Denarius PIETAS - Rome or Antioch?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Marsyas Mike, Jul 13, 2020.

  1. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    This is one of my first ancients purchase (c. 1987..."I grow old...I grow old... I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled...").

    After 30+ years, its attribution has never been very clear to me. As far as I can tell there are two possibilities:

    RIC 170: Rome mint.

    RIC 292: Antioch/Eastern Mint

    Both types are the same in terms of descriptions (draped busts) and legends. I suspect mine might be the Antioch version based on the serifs of the letters and a vaguely "eastern" bust. This inexpert opinion is based on looking at few examples on acsearch, and two RIC 292s on Wildwinds, which look like mine, I think. OCRE has a somewhat bungled description and has no visual examples of RIC 292.

    Specifics: (2.75 grams / 19 x 16 mm)

    Opinions please. Thank you!

    Severus Alexander - Den. PIETAS Columbus 1987 (0).jpg
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  3. maridvnvm

    maridvnvm Well-Known Member

    Certainly looks oriental to me.
  4. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    I can see why you weren't sure as the portrait style isn't stereotypically Antioch like on the coin below. Still, I agree: eastern.

    Screen Shot 2020-07-13 at 10.04.21 AM.jpg
  5. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ...t.s. elliot is one of my favorite poets(i've made several references to that particular poem)...i know exactly where the house he lived in in St. Louis is/was....:)
  6. curtislclay

    curtislclay Well-Known Member

    Not only does the style appear Eastern, but the occurrence of this type in Roman style seems to me highly doubtful.

    For a Roman specimen RIC 170 cites the Tinchant Collection, long since dispersed; who can say now whether or not the coin in question was really Roman? I cannot recall ever having seen a Roman specimen, though such an item would be perfect for my academic collection; and there is no record of a Roman specimen in the very thorough French publication of the Eauze hoard (1992), which contained four specimens of this coin in Eastern style.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Mine came from PeteB in 1998 and is RIC 293. The way I read RIC, 292 is code Ia which is a head while 293 is code Id bust right. The code chart is on page 71. Both the Wildwinds coins and the OP here are busts so I fail to see why people are calling them 292. I have not seen a 292 with head. Perhaps the reason OCRE has none is that there are none? They do have 9 RIC 293 examples.

  8. curtislclay

    curtislclay Well-Known Member

    Cohen 195 claims there is a head only coin in the Paris collection, but I'm betting that it is just a misstruck or misdescribed draped or draped and cuirassed piece. I have never seen a "head only" obverse type in Alexander's Eastern series.
  9. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Here's an interesting imitative in good style (but very poor silver!) but they didn't leave enough room for the obverse legend (it should end with ALEXAND AVG)...

    Screen Shot 2020-07-13 at 5.25.05 PM.jpg
    Imitating RIC 271
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
  10. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for your help with this - a most interesting discussion.

    Doug brings up an interesting point. The RIC 292 (head) and 293 (draped & cuirassed) distinction seems to be in OCRE / RIC, but not in real life?

    However, when I was looking through acsearch auctions, however, RIC 292 was draped only, while RIC 293 was draped & cuirassed. No heads only.

    RIC 292 (draped): 2 examples, neither one just "heads":

    RIC 293 (draped & cuirassed): 8 examples

    Whenever confronted with the "cuirassed" feature, I find myself squinting at drapery trying to find bits of armor on the shoulder. I never feel I know what it is I am doing - my OP is, I think, draped only. But some of the acsearch examples were ambiguous to me.

    Again, I do appreciate everyone's help.

    (And glad you liked the Eliot, ominous1 - I keep waiting for those Mermaids to sing to me!)
    jamesicus and Severus Alexander like this.
  11. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    S.A., I'm curious how you determined the coin was an imitation, since most SA denarii are of very poor silver. Was it simply the style, or were there other clues?
    jamesicus and Severus Alexander like this.
  12. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    I'm only about 99% sure. The main thing is how coppery the surfaces are (moreso than it appears in the photo), and it looks to me like it's not just deposits but the fabric of the coin. With some further investigation I should be able to rule out copper deposit. Another small source of doubt is the possibility there could somehow be copper (rather than silver) surface enrichment, though I've never heard of that. In sum: along with the legend defect, I'd be very surprised if it were official. Very official-looking style, though!
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