The first issue for Faustina I, AD 138

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    There is no record outside of the numismatic evidence of when Faustina was declared Augusta, but it must have been within months of Antoninus Pius' accession to the throne on 11 July 138 but before he assumed the title of Pater Patriae by 1 March 139.[1] During this brief period, a small issue of denarii in her husband's name was issued for Faustina inscribed FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG with no mention of P P (Pater Patriae) in the titulature. This first issue of Faustina I appears to be limited to denarii, for no gold or bronze coins lacking P P in their inscriptions are known. There follows a second issue with the obverse FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG P P, followed by a third running down to the death of Faustina I, late in AD 140, with the obverse FAVSTINA AVGVSTA.[2]

    The coins of this first issue consist of three or four reverse types, depending on how significant one considers variations in the design of the Concordia seated type.[3] These types are: CONCORDIA AVG with Concordia seated left, holding a patera, and with a cornucopiae under or as part of her throne, CONCORDIA AVG with Concordia standing left, leaning against a column and holding a patera and double cornucopiae, and VESTA, with Vesta seated left, holding a palladium and scepter.

    These types have symbolic meaning. Mattingly explains, "Concordia unites Emperor and Empress in a bond of loyalty and devotion. Her double cornucopiae is the royal glory of the kings and queens of Egypt. The cornucopiae below her seat is a sign of the Golden Age … the column on which she leans is the special emblem of Securitas," while "Vesta, with the palladium, is the Vesta of the special shrine on the Palatine – the object of the worship of the Empress as wife of the Pontifex Maximus."[4]

    Coins of the first issue are exceedingly rare, with only a dozen examples known of all three reverse types put together. No coins of this first issue were found in the Reka Devnia hoard, Strack 391-393 knew only five denarii of this whole issue, and few have appeared in the auction market in the past quarter century. After an exhaustive search of auction archives and online databases, I believe the coins listed below represent the complete inventory of specimens online or museum specimens cited in the major print references.

    I was fortunate enough to have recently acquired an example of one of these elusive coins. I am also fortunate to have made the acquaintance of Paul Dinsdale @paulus_dinius , who generously shared his extensive files of previous auction sales and provided me with photos from the plates of numismatic references that are not in my own library. I am deeply indebted to Paul for his time and expertise and consider him a co-author of this thread.

    Type 1: CONCORDIA AVG, Concordia seated left, holding patera and with a cornucopiae under or as part of her throne.

    The specimen in my collection:

    Faustina Sr CONCORDIA AVG no PP seated denarius.jpg
    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Roman AR denarius, 2.85 g, 16.6 mm, 5 h.
    Rome, first issue, AD 138-139.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG, bare-headed and draped bust of Fautina, right.
    Rev: CONCORDIA AVG, Concordia seated left, holding patera and resting left arm on throne, cornucopiae under chair.
    Refs: British Museum 1978, 0314.2; cf. Strack 391 (Ashmolean), Hunter 1 (GLAHM 26918). RIC --; Cohen --; RCV --; CRE --.
    Notes: BMC p. 8* cites Strack 392 in error; RSC 146b correctly cites Strack 391 and cites BMC p.8*.

    Strack notes one specimen of this type, to which he assigns catalog number 391, with the vague description: Concordia seated to l. (cornucopiae) with patera. He cites the specimen from the Sir Charles Oman collection, Oxford (below)

    Faustina Sr CONCORDIA AVG no PP seated denarius Strack 391 Oxford.jpg
    Strack pl. 6, 391 = Sir Charles Oman collection, Oxford

    Paul Dinsdale and I believe this coin to be an ancient imitative issue – note the atypical portrait and its crude rendition of the empress’s hairstyle.

    An example with a better claim to being an official issue is the specimen in the Hunterian Museum (GLAHM 26918) = Hunter 1 (illustrated below)

    Faustina Sr CONCORDIA AVG no PP seated denarius Hunterian Museum.jpg
    Hunter pl. 67, 1

    Note the lack of the throne-like back on the chair, and that the elbow rests directly on the cornucopiae; the area below the chair is vacant.

    There are two other known examples with the Concordia seated reverse type. On these, Concordia is depicted resting her left elbow on the arm of her throne; the throne has a back rest and the cornucopiae is placed below the seat.

    Faustina Sr CONCORDIA AVG no PP seated denarius BMC.jpg
    British Museum (1978,0314.2)

    Faustina Sr CONCORDIA AVG no PP seated denarius.jpg
    The OP coin, which is an obverse die-match to the specimen in the British Museum.

    Type 2: CONCORDIA AVG, Concordia standing left, leaning against a column, and holding a patera and double cornucopiae.

    Strack notes two specimens of this type, to which he assigns catalog number 392: Paris 5484 (shown below), and a second from the Osiek hoard, which eventually was obtained for the British Museum Collection (1938,0310.1).

    Faustina Sr CONCORDIA AVG no PP standing denarius Strack 392 Paris.jpg

    There are, in addition, the following specimens:

    Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. (Electronic Auction 202), 14.1.2009, lot 287
    Numismatik Lanz München (Auction 159), 8.12.2014, lot 472
    London Ancient Coins Ltd (Auction 46), 12.10.2015, lot 235

    Type 3: VESTA, Vesta seated left holding Palladium and scepter.

    Strack notes two specimens of this type, to which he assigns catalog number 393: The British museum specimen (BMCRE 37) and Vienna (11165), which is cited by Cohen (285). A third recorded example appeared in Gemini Auction II (lot 441, 11 January 2006), illustrated below:

    Faustina Sr VESTA no P P denarius Gemini.jpg

    Given the great rarity of these first issue coins, I don’t expect anyone to post additional examples, so post anything you feel is relevant!



    Cohen, Henry. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Tome III: de Marc Aurèle à Albin (161 à 197 après J.-C.). Paris, 1883.

    Dinsdale, Paul H. Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius Caesar AD 138-161: Antonine Coinage. Leeds, Paul H Dinsdale, 2018.

    Mattingly, Harold, Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, vol. IV: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. Introduction, indexes and plates. London, BMP, 1968.

    Mattingly, Harold; Sydenham, Edward A, The Roman imperial coinage, vol. 3: Antoninus Pius to Commodus, London, Spink, 1986.

    Robertson, Anne S. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet: University of Glasgow vol. 2, Trajan to Commodus. London, Oxford University Press, 1971.

    Strack, Paul L. Untersuchungen Zur Romischen Reichspragung Des Zweiten Jahrhunderts. vol. 3, Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit des Antoninus Pius. Stuttgart, Kohlhammer, 1937.


    1. Mattingly, p. xxxii, n. 2 cites Dessau, Hermann, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae 2182 as demonstrating P P appears in a Latin inscription dated to 1 March, 139.

    2. Mattingly, pp. xl-xli and xlv.

    3. Strack 191, 192, 193; BMCRE 36, 37, p.8*; RSC 146b, 153a, 285; Dinsdale, however, lists four: 008000, 008010, 008020, 008030.

    4. Mattingly, p. lii.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
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  3. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Impressive set!

    And I thought it was a major accomplishment to even own any coin from her lifetime-

    Fausina senior denarius lifetime concordia.jpg
  4. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Roman Collector likes this.
  5. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Wow. I had no idea - a very informative post.

    Here is a lifetime as/dupondius with the PP:

    Fasustina I - As Venus lifetime Nov 2019a (0).jpg

    Faustina I Æ As / Dupondius
    (c. 138-141 A.D.) Lifetime
    Rome Mint

    FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII PP, draped bust right, hair bound with pearls / VENERI AVGVSTAE S C, Venus draped standing right, drawing drapery and holding apple.
    RIC 1097; BMC 1132.
    (11.54 grams / 25 mm)
  6. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    Remarkable acquisition RC, well done!
    Roman Collector likes this.
  7. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Here's my one lifetime Faustina Senior, with the obverse legend FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, and a standing Concordia on the reverse. According to Paul Dinsdale's chronology, it's part of the third lifetime issue of coins in her name and was issued sometime between the beginning of 139 AD and October 140 AD.

    Faustina I [Senior] [wife of Antoninus Pius], AR Denarius 139-Oct 140 AD [lifetime issue], Rome Mint. Obv. Diademed and draped bust right, FAVSTINA AVGVSTA / Rev. Concordia standing left, holding patera with extended right hand and double cornucopiae with left arm, CONCORDIA AVG. RIC III 335 Antoninus Pius, RSC II 151, Sear RCV II 4668 (ill.), BMCRE 133, Dinsdale 008710 [Dinsdale, Paul H., Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius Caesar AD 138-161: Antonine Coinage (2018) at p. 99; photo at p. 100] [see - Faustina I - Undated 139-140 (med_res).pdf pp. 10-11]. 19 mm., 2.84 g.

    Faustina I jpg version.jpg

    It looks like it's the same type as the coin that @Finn235 posted.
  8. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    @Roman Collector........Super write up RC.....I've learnt a great deal from your thread thanks!.......Lovely looking coin with that irridecent toning and can't stop looking at the portrait..Nice , Nice......Congrats on hooking a rare one!
    Alas I have no lifetime issues so hope you don't mind me throwing in a 'I miss you' one......The look in her eye to me is.. 'keep going my love'.
    Diva Faustina Sr, AR Denarius, Rome Mint, 18mm, 3.08 grams.
    DIVA-FAVSTINA, draped bust right
    AETER-NITAS, Aeternitas, standing front, facing left, holding globe, veil billowing out around her head and behind her.
    RIC 351, RSC 32, BMC 373
  9. singig

    singig Well-Known Member

    Very interesting presentation ! , I appreciated also your previous thread about her lifetime issues.

    I have only DIVA examples , some weeks ago I had in hand(to buy) her lifetime serstertius ''throne with peacock below'' , in decent grade, I was so stupid to not buy it , now is sold :(

    Faustina I AE As. RIC 1165
    DIVA FAVSTINA, diademed and draped bust right /
    AETERNITAS S-C, Aeternitas standing front, head left, holding flower and sceptre

  10. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Excellent post! I really like these threads where someone has taken their time to make sure i learn something.
    Spaniard and Roman Collector like this.
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