Featured Sometimes You Can't Resist a Great Portrait

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    I recently stumbled across this coin quite by accident, courtesy of Mr. Google. As soon as I saw the fantastic portrait I knew I had to 'add to basket'.

    Æ Sestertius, 24.02g
    Rome mint, 71 AD
    Obv: IMP CAES VESPAS AVG P M TR P P P COS III; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
    Rev: SALVS AVGVSTA; S C in exergue; Salus std. l. with patera and sceptre
    RIC 245 (C2). BMC 574. BNC 533.
    Acquired from Golden Rule Enterprises Coins, February 2020.

    A fairly common sestertius Salus type from the great bronze issue of 71. According to Mattingly in BMCRE II this Salus type may perhaps represents 'the salvation conferred by the imperial system', presumably after the upheavals of the Civil War. Salus here symbolises the health and welfare of the Roman state, not the person of the emperor himself.

    The die engraves working on Vespasian's early bronze issues were an extremely talented bunch. They were likely the same engravers that had produced many of the suberb dies recently under Nero and Galba. Some of Vespasian's best numismatic portraits come from this early period of the reign. C. H. V. Sutherland in his masterful Roman Coins waxes eloquently over them: 'Vespasian's aes, however, and not merely the sestertii, developed a full magnificence of portraiture. Again the heads were large, even massive, and normally in high relief, giving a strong impression of the purely profile view of sculpture in the round. And, because of the larger scale which this aes permitted, a wealth of detail could be achieved: close-cut hair, finely wrinkled brow, a minutely rendered profile eye, and all the jowls and neck-folds of an old man. The beauty of the work lay in its realism, strong in authority and yet delicate in its execution; and it was the technical delicacy to strength of conception that Vespasian's coinage clearly excelled over that of Galba.'

    I think this coin exhibits exactly what Sutherland was talking about.

    Please post your superb portraits!

    NB: Interestingly, the coin arrived wrapped up in a most peculiar box.

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
    Bill Reed, kaparthy, TIF and 42 others like this.
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  3. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    That's a great Vespasian bronze portrait! Here's my own Vespasian sestertius, with a slightly less substantial but still attractive portrait:
    My favorite Parthian portrait that I currently own is probably the facing bust of Artabanos II on this tetradrachm:
    Artabanos II tet.jpg
    And the Sellwood type 38 drachms of Phraates III have always appealed to me. My avatar portrait is one, but unfortunately I no longer own that specific coin. Here's a S.38 that I do still own:
    Phraates III court Rhagae.jpg
    octavius, 7Calbrey, Volodya and 25 others like this.
  4. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Your spot on David fantastic portrait, this is my best portrait of Vespasian 2015-01-07 01.08.12-28.jpg .
    Vespasian Dupondius Rome 73 AD, Felicitas Pvblica, 26mm, 12.74gm, RIC 581.
  5. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    That is a pretty nice addition! I also like the portrait.
    This is my favorite portrait coin, I can't see it enough.

    Domitian Caesar 69-81
    AR Denarius
    Struck 80-81
    laureate head right.
    lighted & garlanded altar.
    Ric 266 (Titus)
  6. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

    Lovely coin... You asked for superb portraits... but in coins, as in life, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder....


    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
  7. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    +1! That's a wonderful portrait!
    Blake Davis and David Atherton like this.
  8. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    I really like this portrait of Titus
    ROMAN IMPERIAL, Titus. Denomination: AR denarius, minted: Rome, Italy; 80 AD
    Obv: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M Head of Titus, laureate, right
    Rev: TR P IX IMP XV COS VIII P P Curule chair; wreath, above
    Weight: 2.98g; Ø:1.7mm. Catalogue: RIC II 108. Provenance: Ex Feddema Numismatics Drachten; acq.: 09-2019

    And this one of Philip I "the Arab", with Anonna looking like she's about to puke:
    ROMAN IMPERIAL, Philip I ('the Arab'). Denomination: AR Antonianus, minted: Rome, Italy; 244-247 AD
    Obv: IMP M IVL PHILIPPVS AVG: Bust of Philip the Arab, radiate, draped, cuirassed, right
    Rev: ANNONA AVGG: Annona, draped, standing left, holding corn-ears in right hand over prow and cornucopiae in left hand
    Weight: 3.75g; Ø:2.1mm. Catalogue: RIC IV 29. Provenance: Ex private collection; acq.: 05-2019
  9. JulesUK

    JulesUK Well-Known Member

    I`m a sucker for a good portrait and some lovely examples already (Cant wait to get my first Vespasian).
    Here is a rather trim and mean looking Probus from me (Abundatia rev):- 3.Probus Abundantia combo.jpg
  10. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    The relief shows quite nicely in that tabletop tableau.

    This Hadrian was my favorite portrait in bronze (orichalcum, etc.)


    Alas, Hadrian was wrested from my grasp by @Aethelred, but I do still have a nice (if more common/less expensive) sestertius with a nice portrait:


    And in the "nice cheapo" category, we have this Licinius that cost me $18-20 about twelve years ago. Love that baleful eye and wispy beard...

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
  11. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    D.A., That is a handsome portrait of Vespasian :cool:! Here a few of my favorite portrait coins :).

    Prieur 1141 obv..JPG
    RIC IV 676, obv..JPG
    McAlee 901f, obv..JPG
  12. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    That portrait of Hadrian is sensational :jawdrop:!
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  13. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    It came from @AncientJoe's castoffs, so what else would you expect? ;)

    PS- I paid him three cents for it.
    Theodosius likes this.
  14. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    My hands-down favorite portrait on any coin I've owned is another "bygone", as it happens. @kazuma78 owns it now. But I'm proud to say that I did, for a while.

    (And that one also happens to be the only other time I've been able to afford an @AncientJoe castoff.)

  15. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    WOW!....Some lovely portraits...
    Looked through mine but after seeing some of these I'll pass....
    @lordmarcovan ....Beautiful Hadrian!
    @Al Kowsky ....OOOH I like that Sept Sev Tet!
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  16. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Since we started this thread with Vespasian, I must trot out mine again.

  17. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Oh portraits <3
    Lovely to see all the great coins here. The portraits are what I look for when buying Roman imperial coins.
    I’m quite fond of this Claudius portrait, although it probably is a more favorable face than you would have seen in reality:

  18. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Such a shame you had to let that one go. The beauty is enough to make one weep.
  19. Gary R. Wilson


    This Nerva I just recently acquired has the best (and maybe most honest portrait) I've seen.

    Nerva AD 96-98, AR Denarius (17mm, 2.88 gram) Rome 97-98.jpg

    Nerva (Augustus)
    Coin: Silver Denarius
    IMP NERVA CAES AVG PM TR POT II - Laureate head right
    COS III PATER PATRIAE - Priestly implements-implements of the augurate and pontificate: simpulum (ladle), aspergillum (sprinkler), ewer (jug) and lituus (augural wand).
    Mint: Rome (97 AD)
    Wt./Size/Axis: 2.88g / 17mm / 6h
    RIC II 34
    RSC 51
    BMCRE III 56
    BnF III 41
    SRCV II 3023
    Gert Boersema
    Ex col. Frans Pouwel, Netherlands
    Acquisition/Sale: Gert Boersema VCoins $0.00 11/19
    Notes: Nov 29, 19 - The Gary R. Wilson Collection
  20. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

    That is a very nice Nerva portrait... I also have one that I am fond of:

  21. Here is one which I consider superb for the era.

    Licinius I, nice helmeted type...also reminds me of Russell Crowe's helmet in Gladiator, and Licinius has a similar beard.

    Interesting box, too. I used to smoke that brand (until I quit smoking).


    AE3, 318-319 AD. 19mm 3.1 grams

    IMP LI-CINIVS AVG, helmeted and cuirassed bust right

    ROMAE AETERNAE, Roma seated right, shield on lap inscribed X/V. P-R across fields.

    Mintmark: RQ

    Reference: RIC VII Rome 151; Cohen 150; Sear 15354.


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