The Bronze Imperial Coins of the Family of Septimius Severus

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Blake Davis, Feb 5, 2018.

  1. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    dipatrim).jpg DSCN1429 (2).JPG I apologize in advance if this doesn't work but this is the first thread I've attempted.

    Like many collectors my collecting interest in ancient coins went through an early period of experimentation. Ancient coins is an immense field - somewhat like 500 cities struck coins at one time or another that could be deemed "ancient." Plenty of coins to collect, but like most collectors I like coherence - I needed to focus on something that was interesting to me. Note: Doug Smith wrote an interesting article on this issue, I strongly recommend it as well as the other articles Mr. Smith wrote on ancient coins and related interests.

    After flailing around I focused on imperial sestertii, first attempting to collect as close to a VF example as I could afford of every personage that struck one in every major style. That was good until I reached the end of the easy ones, and there seemed no possibility that I would ever be able to afford at least 20 or more personages in any condition - I mean, where could I ever find an affordable Augustus, Tiberius, Tranquillina (has anyone ever seen a Tranqillina sestertius?), Domitilla, Saloninus, Anna Faustina, Plautilla, Pertinax or many more. Even a worn Plotina would be impossibly expensive.

    So, a few years ago my collecting went through another change - this time resolving itself down to the family of Septimius Severus, including Elagabalus, but excluding Severus Alexander. The reason? I very much liked that the imperial coins of the family of Septimius are not very well documented, and there are rarities, and even completely unlisted coins to be found. In fact, a couple of years ago a completely unknown reverse of Caracalla was discovered, although unfortunately too rich for my pocketbook. Also there was a period, roughly from roughly 200 to 206 AD when very few imperial bronzes of the family of Septimius were struck. And those that were struck from say 202 to 206 AD appear to be presentation pieces, of which many examples are known in the single digits. In fact, since undertaking to collect sestertii of the family of Septimius Severus I have found only about four examples from this period offered for sale, of which only three were affordable, and I managed to buy two, foolishly letting the other go.

    Hopefully I can add more to this as it is very late - I have put the two examples up - I apologize for the poor photography - these coins deserve better and I will try to put up better photographs.

    I intend to add discussions of each coin, as well at least one other from my collection. One of the points I intend to make is that, based on the portraiture of the second of these coins, I am convinced that the provincial celators based their portraiture on imitation of coins coming from the Rome mint, and not from statuary, as has been asserted in some articles I have read. View attachment 736098 View attachment 736098 View attachment 736111
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
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  3. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

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  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Welcome, @Blake Davis ! Great first post! Lovely coins.

    Domna bronzes under Severus:

    Domna VENERI VICTR Sestertius.jpg
    Julia Domna, AD 193-217
    Roman oricalchum sestertius; 21.41 gm, 28.8 mm
    Rome, AD 194, issue 4
    Obv: JULIA DOMNA AVG, bare-headed and draped bust, r.
    Rev: VENERI VICTR SC, Venus, naked to waist, standing r., holding apple and palm, resting l. elbow on column.
    Refs: RIC-842; BMCRE-488; Cohen-195; Sear-6631; Hill-113

    Domna Fecunditas Dupondius.jpg
    Julia Domna, AD 193-217
    Roman orichalcum dupondius; 10.61 gm, 24.2 mm
    Rome, issue 6, AD 195
    Obv: IVLIA DOMNA AVG, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: FECVNDITAS, Fecunditas enthroned right, nursing one child, second child stands before her.
    Refs: RIC 844; BMCRE 494; Cohen 43; Hill 126; RCV 6639
    Notes: Ex Ars Classica VIII, 1924, Bement Collection, lot 1184. Die-match to BMCRE-494, pl. 21.4

    Domna IVNONI LVCINAE Sestertius.jpg
    Julia Domna, AD 193-217
    Roman orichalcum sestertius; 26.43 g, 32.5 mm, 12 h
    Rome, AD 211
    Obv: IVLIA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right
    Rev: IVNONI LVCINAE, Juno enthroned left, holding flower and child in swaddling clothes
    Refs: RIC 857; BMCRE 770; Cohen 94; RCV 6627; Hill 1173.

    Domna Venus Felix Sestertius.jpg
    Julia Domna, AD 193-217
    Roman oricalchum sestertius; 19.29 g, 29.4 mm
    Rome, AD 199
    Obv: IVLIA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right
    Rev: VENVS FELIX S C, Venus standing left, holding apple and fold of drapery
    Refs: RIC 866; BMCRE 775; Cohen 199; RCV 6632; Hill 387

    Domna Hilaritas Dupondius.jpg
    Julia Domna, AD 193-217
    Roman AE as or dupondius; 10.68 g, 27.5 mm
    Rome, AD 198
    Obv: IVLIA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right
    Rev: HILARITAS S C, Hilaritas standing left, holding long palm and cornucopiae
    Refs: RIC 877; BMCRE 786; Cohen74; RCV 6641; Hill 315
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    While I admit most collectors like 'coherence', I have come to prefer collecting anything that appeals to me and have as many sub-specialties as some of our members have coins. Due to budget, that means not all of my coins will be extremely fine and that bothers me less than most could imagine. It is hard to say anything against collecting exceptional sestertii of Septimius Severus so all I'll do is tack on a few of mine and say 'good thread'.
    rj4800b00078lgredo.jpg rj4845bb2731.jpg rj4910bb0924.jpg
  6. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Some excellent coins.
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  7. Ryro

    Ryro Another victory like that will destroy us! Supporter

    By the beard of Septimus Severus!...those are some beautiful sestertii:snaphappy:
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  8. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Welcome @Blake Davis! Excellent coin and interesting speciality.

    I specialise too - in another dynasty (Flavian) and metal (silver). Good to see another specialist here!
  9. roman99

    roman99 Well-Known Member

    I've got a denarius of the younger son of Severus, Geta.
    This coins pretty well worn, oblong shaped, and has red patina, but the coin is appealing to me for eye appeal.
    Geta 198 CE AR denarius Rome/Laodicea mint.
    Ric IV 2, RSC 44, Sear 7174. 3.2 grams 16 mm by 19mm.

    Attached Files:

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  10. Daniel_R6

    Daniel_R6 Well-Known Member

    Welcome to CT. Thanks for sharing your coins, and for the interesting write-up.
  11. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    For a first thread , you did extremly well Blake. Good pictures and a good story !

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  12. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Excellent !

    Sadly, the only sestertii of the period I could show are for Sev. Alexander and Julia Mamaea....:(

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  13. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Welcome, Blake, and thanks for posting! Those are gorgeous coins :)
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  14. TJC

    TJC Well-Known Member

    Welcome to coin talk!! Great coins and write-up!! Sestertius are great!

    Here is a chunky Sept Sev sestertius i'll pile on.
    SepimiusSeverusSest339O1.jpg SeptimiusSevSestertius339R1.jpg
  15. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    Wow! These are some fantastic coins! The Julia Domna with the "exposed" behind is lovely - I used to have an example, but sadly I sold it because the condition wasn't to my liking. I have since modified my standard and look more to the coin and less to the wear. It is very good that I have this attitude since early sestertii of Septimius Severus in higher grades are almost impossible to find. The reason? The celators didn't use much relief, so a little wear went a long way. I have noticed that this appears to be a continuation of methods used for the sestertii of Commodus. In fact, there is a small group of Commodus sestertii (I'll post the references) that are both small, poorly made and lacking relief. This also appears on the denarii of Commodus, and reflects what may be a general breakdown in government - clearly someone wasn't paying attention.

    What I had wanted to add was this - if you examine the portraiture on my "Pax" sestertius above you will find a marked similarity in the portraiture to many of the balkan provincial coins of Septimius - the "pointed" beard style is directly imitated, especially in the provincial coins of Markianopolis on the Wildwinds site. If I ever have time I would like to compare the styles of the coins, especially the sestertii coming from the Rome mint with the portraiture on the bronze coins from the provinces. Although it is not possible to prove this conclusively, I believe that the portrait styles followed the Rome mint. I have a pretty good scrapbook with scans of the sestertii of Septimius - all I need now is the time to do the research and write something up!!

    P.S. I really like the flavian sestertii - but these are too expensive for me to collect!
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  16. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    @Blake Davis , that first "DI PATRI" sestertius is special. RIC (p. 72) says it is of 204 for the Saecular games for the "Di patri" Hercules and Bacchuus, of Severus and lists it as "R2"--very rare. Cayon does not illustrate it in his 1984 three-volume work on sestertii, which means, I think, he could not find a picture.

    That is a great coin!
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  17. Alegandron

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

    Welcome @Blake Davis ! Wonderful write up and great coins.

    I do not focus on the Roman Empire after the republic, so will not have a lot to offer during this period. However, I have one "relative" of the SS Clan in AE:

    RI Julia Domna 196-211 CE AE As Hilaritas cornuc RIC IVa 877.jpg
    RI Julia Domna 196-211 CE AE As Hilaritas cornuc RIC IVa 877
    Wife of Septimus Severus

    I do have his immediate predecessor in AE:
    RI Didius Julianus 193 CE - 9 weeks - AE Sestertius.JPG
    RI Didius Julianus 193 CE - 9 weeks - AE Sestertius
  18. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Banti lists the coin with no photo but says 'Parigi' which is Italian for Paris. I assume that means the French National collection has one. Cohen does not list it so I assume they got theirs in the last century or so. 'Paris' is slowly photographing their coins but did the provincials first and has not released shots of their Imperials after Vitellius yet.
    I do not find their site all that easy to navigate but that may be me rather than them.
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  19. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Great OP Sestertii!

    Here is my Sestertius portrait gallery of the Severans:








  20. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    I have yet to find another example of this coin in a sestertius - I have seen examples in a denarius. I believe Banti
    --I have searched the following databases: British Museum, Fitzwilliam, CNG, Wildwinds and the accessible (free) part of Coin Archives, no luck. Recently Heritage was selling a BEAUTIFUL sestertius of Septimius with an "IN CARTH" reverse - based on certain similarities I am convinced that that coin and the DI PATRI coins were part of the same hoard - there is certain "sameness" to both.
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