Featured Stars in the Fields on the Antoniniani of Trebonianus Gallus

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Mar 24, 2020.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    If one studies the coinage of Trebonianus Gallus and Volusian, it becomes apparent that certain issues of the Rome mint feature reverse types with and without a star in the field. This phenomenon appears to be limited to the Rome mint and such varieties are not to be found on the issues for the branch mint (traditionally attributed to Mediolanum) or for Antioch. Three reverse types issued for Gallus and three for Volusian feature stars. Those for Gallus are: FELICITAS PVBLICA, LIBERTAS AVG, and PIETAS AVGG. For Volusian, these are: CONCORDIA AVGG, PAX AVGG, and VIRTVS AVGG. This thread only deals with those of Gallus; my collection of Volusian issues remains much too incomplete to illustrate them.

    In an analysis of the Dorchester hoard,* Mattingly notes that the issues with the star (71 examples for Gallus, 83 for Volusian) are uniformly underrepresented compared to those without the star (200 for Gallus, 195 for Volusian) by about 2-1/2 to 1. On the basis of the portraiture and other factors, he tentatively assigns the following dates to the issues.

    With star: Mid-August to mid-November, AD 251 (3 months).
    Without star: mid-November, AD 251 to mid-July, AD 252 (8 months).

    The meaning of the star is unclear. Mattingly muses on this issue, stating, "The star is a symbol of happy omen, but its exact significance here is uncertain," and then reports a thought-provoking postulate by Dr. Sutherland: "can it perhaps suggest the divinity of the dead Emperors, Decius, Etruscus, and Hostilian?" We shall never know.

    Please feel free to post any examples of Gallus or Volusian with stars or anything you feel is relevant!

    Here are examples from my collection.


    Trebonianus Gallus FELICITAS PVBLICA star antoninianus Rome.jpg
    Trebonianus Gallus FELICITAS PVBLICA antoninianus Rome.jpg


    Trebonianus Gallus LIBERTAS AVGG with star Rome antoninianus.jpg
    Trebonianus Gallus LIBERTAS AVGG no star Rome antoninianus.jpg


    Trebonianus Gallus PIETAS AVGG star antoninianus Rome.jpg
    Trebonianus Gallus PIETAS AVGG no star antoninianus Rome.jpg


    *Harold Mattingly, "The Reigns of Trebonianus Gallus and Volusian and of Aemilian." The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Royal Numismatic Society Sixth Series, Vol. 6, No. 1/2 (1946), pp. 36-46 (particularly pp. 39-41).
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Trebonianus Gallus, PIETAS AVGG without star.


  4. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I have only one star, a Volusian.
  5. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Stars in field:

    Honorius 3.jpg
    OBVERSE: D N HONORIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right
    REVERSE: GLORIA ROMANORVM, emperor standing, head right, holding labarum & globe, star in right field, SMNA in ex
    Struck at Nicomedia, 392-95 AD
    4.9g, 22mm
    RIC 46c
    Anastasius 1.jpg
    OBVERSE: D N ANASTASIVS P P AVG, pearl diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right
    REVERSE: Large M, star to left, cross above, star to right, officina letter below, mintmark CON
    Struck at Constantinople 491-518 AD
    17.2g, 30mm
    SB 19
    ELAGABALUS 15.jpg
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG - Laureate, draped bust right
    REVERSE: P M TR P IIII COS III P P - Sol standing left, raising hand and holding whip; star in either field
    Struck at Rome, 221 AD
    2.9g, 19mm
    RIC 40b, C 184
    Elagabulus 9.jpg
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, bearded and draped bust right
    REVERSE: SACERD DEI SOLIS ELAGAB, Elagabalus sacrificing right over lighted altar, star in right or left field
    Struck at Rome, 221-22 AD
    2.61g, 19mm
    RIC 131
    Constantius I 2.jpg
    AE Follis
    OBVERSE: CONSTANTIVS NOB CAES, Laurate bust, right
    REVERSE: SAC MON VRB AVGG ET CAESS NN, Moneta standing left, holding scales and cornucopiae. Star in right field. Mintmark RT
    Struck at Rome 302-303 AD
    8.8g, 27mm
    RIC VI 106a
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Anastasius, 491-518 A.D.

    Type: Large AE Follis, 39 mm 19 grams

    Obverse: DN ANASTASIVS PP AVG, Diademed draped and Cuirassed bust right, star on right shoulder (rare)

    Reverse: Large M, Epsilon below. Cross above M, star in left field, Mintmark CON


  7. Andrew McMenamin

    Andrew McMenamin Nerva You Mind

    Constantine I; Æ Follis; Ticinum
    OBV: Laureate, cuirassed bust r.; IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG
    REV: Mars stg r. in military attire, reversed spear in r. hand, l. hand on shield on ground, cloak across r. shoulder, star in l field; MARTI CONSERVATORI; P dot T in ex.

  8. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    I have very few Stars in Reverse field for the Imperial Era. Cool observation.

    None from Volusian and TrebGall.

    Since I know NOTHING about these Stars, (I just thought they were cool), I would enjoy if there are any thoughts or comments from those who know! :)

    Hey, I know my photos stink. But, @dougsmit has commited to coming over to my house and photo-ing my whole collection for free! (Naw, just like to get his goat!) :D

    RI Julia Soaemias 218-222 CE AR Den Venus Caelestis star RIC IV 241

    RI Maximinus II Daia 305-308 CE AE 20mm GENIO POPVLI Genius stndg bust of Sol cornu star H RIC IV 164b

    RI Macrianus 260-261 CE Usurper AR 22mm 4.4g BI Ant Spes Publica star Sear 3.10811. RIC 13 pg 581 R2 Rare

    RI Gallienus Silvered Æ Ant CE 263-264 AVG rad cuiras R Hercules R lion skin club star RIC 673
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2020
    JulesUK, cmezner, gogili1977 and 4 others like this.
  9. JulesUK

    JulesUK Well-Known Member

    So what do all these apparently random stars mean on so many different coins? I always assumed they were a part of the mintmark reference. Keen to learn more about this.
  10. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

    I have Gallus without star, and one Volusian with star.
    image.jpg image1.jpg
  11. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    One star, Volusianus:
    Antoninianus, Rome 252 AD
    19 x 21 mm, 3.470 g

    Ref.: RIC IV Volusian 173; Cohen 45 (4f.); RCV 9750;
    Ob.: IMP CAE C VIB VOLVSIANO AVG Bust of Volusian, radiate, draped, cuirassed, right
    Rev.: IVNONI MARTIALI round distyle temple, Iuno Martialis seated inside; in right field, star *
    upload_2020-3-24_15-47-14.png upload_2020-3-24_15-47-30.png

    No star, Trebonianus Gallus
    Antoninianus, Rome, 252 - 253 AD
    19 x 22 mm, 3.693 g

    Ref.: RIC IV Trebonianus Gallus 48A; Cohen 128; RCV 9656;

    Ob.: IMP CAE C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG radiate, draped bust to right
    Rev.: VICTORIA AVGG Victoria standing left, with wreath in right hand and palm branch in left
    upload_2020-3-24_15-52-2.png upload_2020-3-24_15-52-14.png
  12. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I would love to. Here's the deal. I'm not travelling to the post office. Buy the house next to mine. Being my neighbor has not made it sell. We can meet at the property line (keeping six foot spacing) and you can toss coins over the line for me to photograph. I'll return most of them sometime when the all clear is sounded.
  13. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    LOL :D
  14. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    I’ve always had a fun imagined theory that these coins with concurrent issues with no star and stars signify day shift vs night shift at the mint.

    This would be the same for late romans where an example of a mint mark of CONSA would be day shift and CONSA* would be night shift.

    This theory of mine has no backing research or anything... that I’m aware of. I’m also sure I’m probably not the only one who has had this idea. It’s just a fun way to better imagine who was making the coins. With this extra mark, you could track quality problems a bit better.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2020
  15. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Once again you've caused me to look more carefully at coins in my collection - while I didn't find a star version, I enjoyed the post and examples from others.
    JulesUK and Roman Collector like this.
  16. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    As far as I know, there are never stars on T-bone's bronze. This contrasts with, say, Commodus, Elagabalus, Julia Maesa, or Julia Paula, where a star on the silver always seems to be matched by a star on the equivalent bronze issue. Does this suggest it's a control mark, and not part of the design?

    It does seem to raise some doubt about Mattingly's suggestion that it's an indicator of issue date. Why wouldn't it be on the bronze, then? I suppose it's possible that the star issue was indeed earlier and simply didn't include any bronze.

    Some of Severus Alexander's silver issues from Antioch occur both with and without star. (Antioch didn't issue any bronze of course.)

    What an interesting little detail!

    Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 5.06.03 PM.jpg
    RIC 211 (Elagabalus) - always seems to have a star, all metals

    Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 5.06.21 PM.jpg
    Dupondius, RIC 322 - always with a star, all metals. An earlier dated issue (TR P II), otherwise of the same type, seems to come only without a star.
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