Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, Jul 26, 2020.
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It looks identical to the “known” one so I’d say that unless the same dies were struck multiple times with the same off centering, then it’s fake
My inclination (based on no reading beyond this thread) would be to believe that the aurei found in Transylvania were genuinely ancient, but were "barbaric imitations" and not the production of any real usurper. I.e., the conclusion originally drawn by Neumann in 1779.
I suspect they cannot be a forgery of the 18th Century. Presumably numismatics was a rather less advanced science then than it is now. Nevertheless, I assume somebody enterprising enough to create a new 3rd Century usurper would have done enough reading to know that the standard obverse formulation of the period was IMP C SPONSIANVS P F AVG (etc.), and that the typical reverse was some blundered and die-worn allegorical figure. A faker would draw enough attention to himself simply by creating this coin -- to make it even more conspicuous by giving it a bizarre obverse legend and elaborate Republican reverse feels implausible.
The same strangeness, I think, prevents it from being the emission of a real usurper. Look at the coins of other ephemeral usurpers like Regalian or Pacatian or Silbannacus. Those coins are trying their best (with varying degrees of success) to copy the style and imagery of the legitimate emperor's coinage. It's not impossible a usurper could wish to strike out and do something different, but it goes against precedent.
Meanwhile, we know that the inhabitants of Transylvania in the Republican era had the ability and inclination to copy Roman Republican coinage. And barbarian quasi-Roman aurei of the 3rd Century are known. So perhaps the Sponsianus aurei are an eye-catching overlap of these two currents? Though I have no knowledge whatsoever of barbarian imitation and this is entirely just me recalling things I've read before. If this is the case, then the legend I suppose must, by elimination, be an accidentally credible blundering.
Interesting to note though, how on the Sponsianus coins we have a "complete" titulature, albeit one arranged oddly, in the dative case and spread out over both faces of the coin: IMP SPONSIANI C AVG just needs a light reordering to become IMP C SPONSIANI AVG. Quite a coincidence if that's all it is.
are you familiar with Cavino, from the 16th century?
The rest of the paragraph finishes my point. Cavino lacked the excellent references we moderns have, but when he came to create new imaginary types (like the Julius Caesar in that link) he had enough knowledge of coins and history to produce something credible. The same must surely be true of a hypothetical forger of the 1700s. I assume the best corpus of 3rd Century coinage available to him would be crude by today's standards, but it would presumably still be enough to offer a general picture of what coins of this era did and didn't look like. If the coin was supposed to "blend in", and be taken for authentic, the forger should have had good enough references to know what an unobtrusive period-appropriate reverse should look like. Giving it this off-road Republican reverse does nothing but draw attention to it, which feels counter-productive.
I didn't mention it in the write-up but Cohen was also talking about a denarius of the same "Emperor" he even had in hand. Another document I found (1831) is refering to those denarii and specifies "
these pieces are found quite frequently in ancient Dace ". But the mystery is still complete...
praefectus annonae crearetur ("Prefect of the Corn-market"), some sort of prefect of the Republic's corn supply, whose purpose it was to secure the grain supply. It was probably this year that the aedile of the plebs, Manius Marcius, organized a distribution of grain for the plebs, where each individual was given one-third of a Roman bushel (modius).
The example of Manius Marcius was soon followed by Spurius Maelius, a rich member of the Equestrian order, who had acquired great quantities of fresh wheat in Etruria, and then distributed it to the people for free. His popularity became such that the Patricians were convinced that he was only trying to gain support in order to become king. He had already taken measures for a coup. In the meantime, Lucius Minucius [Esquilinus Augurinus had reported the threat to the authorities, who] had Spurius Maelius assassinated... According to ancient authors, Lucius Minucius was rewarded with the erection of a statue for having alerted the patricians to the danger that Spurius Maelius posed." Perhaps any real Sponsianus would have furthered his ambition and popularity by warning (truly or falsely) of or opposing some rival's usurpation of power (perhaps Philip's usurpation of Gordian?), and been likening himself to the celebrated Lucius Minucius Augurinus. Whether ancient or modern, the Sponsorinus pieces stem from and stimulate much imagination.
FEED THE PEOPLE
* = 16 Asses
Spiral column corn-ears togate figure holding loaves modius lituus
Craw 243-1 Sear 120
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