The Most Expensive Denarii

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Sep 18, 2020.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Coin Weekly has published a companion piece to their previous "Most Expensive Sestertii" article, this time about denarii. It doesn't take much imagination to guess which one is #1 on their list.

    As I similarly asked in a previous thread, what is the most treasured (not necessarily the most expensive) denarius in your collection? I love many of my denarii, but I'd have to say this is the one I treasure most:

    Tiberius Denarius.jpg
    Tiberius, AD 14-37.
    Roman AR Denarius, 3.87 g, 18.5 mm, 5 h.
    Lugdunum, AD 16-37.
    Obv: TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVSTVS, laureate head, right.
    Rev: PONTIF MAXIM, Female figure seated right, holding long olive branch and inverted spear; legs of chair ornate, triple line below.
    Refs: RIC 28; BMCRE 42-44; RSC 16b; RCV 1763 var.
    Notes: The identity of the female figure on the reverse is uncertain and has been variously identified as Livia, Justitia or Pax.
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  3. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    One of my favourite denarii:

    P1160856 (2).JPG
  4. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I don't have that many denarii but even so it's hard to pick a favorite.

    This Elagabalus isn't my most expensive or highest grade denarius but it edges out the others in the Mom's Favorite Child competition.

    AR denarius, 19.4 mm, 3.5 gm
    Antioch, 218-219 CE
    Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS FEL AVG, Laureate draped cuirassed bust right
    Rev: SANCT DEO SOLI / ELAGABAL, Quadriga right, bearing sacred Baetyl stone, flanked by four parasols
    Ref: RIC IV 195
    Vauctions 310, lot 250 (25 Sept 2014)
    ex CNG Mail Bid Sale 33, lot 914 (15 March 1995)
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  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I KNEW yours would be the Baetyl stone quadriga, @TIF ! I love it, too!
  6. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    I just gave away my favourite and last Denarius (Julius Caesar) because I managed to replace them all with those hefty Sestertii :)
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  7. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    When I started collecting I didn't like denarii. Thought they were to small (and too expensive for my modest budget). But I had to cheat to complete my 12 caesars set...anyway I'm definitely a big bronze fan. So here is my most expensive denarius :

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  8. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    The list linked in the digital newsletter of Coinsweekly contains some very impressive specimens. Although I do not think all on that list are necessarily also the most interesting denarii, when it comes to the design of the obverse/reverse. But that's not what the list is about ofcourse :)

    My favorite of that list is the denarius of Sextus Pompey, due to its reverse design.

    Well, that's a question that causes sleepless nights! Since I already have difficulty deciding my favorite, or top 10 for that matter, I really, really can't decide which one is the most treasured. So, how about I show the one with one the most intriguing reverse designs, in my collection? It was on my want list, but I never thought I would be able to get one, untill strangely but luckily enough, the opportunity came!
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  9. Meander

    Meander Well-Known Member

    My favourite and also most expensive denarius (not my photo). I fell in love with that cuirassed bust. Looks really heroic IMHO:
    HADRIAN. 117-138 AD. AR Denarius (19mm - 3.22 g). Rome mint. Struck 119-122 AD. IMP CAESAR TRAIA-N HADRIANVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder / P M TR P COS III, Genius standing left, sacrificing from patera over lighted altar, holding grain ears in left hand. RIC III 90
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  10. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Too hard to choose! I'll show four favorites, and mention that the JC is my most expensive, and cost more than twice the other three put together. It was not one of my thriftiest scores. :bag:

    Julius Caesar - New 2017.jpg
    AR Denarius. 3.77g, 19mm. Rome mint, struck by L. Aemilius Buca, February - March 44 BC. Crawford 480/8; Sydenham 1061; RCV 1411. O: CAESAR DICT PERPETVO , wreathed head of Caesar facing right. R: L BVCA , Venus standing left, holding Victory and a sceptre.
    Ex David Sellwood Collection; ex Seaby Coin & Medal Bulletin (1 Oct 1977), lot 793

    RR - Plautius Plancus 31Jan17.jpg
    ROMAN REPUBLIC. L. Plautius Plancus
    AR Denarius. 4.03g, 18mm. Rome mint, 47 BC. Crawford 453/1c; CRI 29a; Sydenham 959b. O: L.PLAVTIVS, facing mask of Medusa with disheveled hair. R: Aurora flying right, holding a palm branch and conducting the four horses of the Sun; PLANCVS below.

    Julia Domna - Denarius Caracalla & Geta 2019New 2576.jpg
    AR Denarius. 3.0g, 19.5mm. Rome mint, AD 201. RIC 540; Vagi 1723; BMC 4. O: IVLIA AVGVSTA, draped bust right; hair elaborately waved. R: AETERNIT IMPERI, laureate and draped bust of Caracalla right, vis-à-vis bareheaded and draped bust of Geta left.
    Ex Dr. Walter Neussel Collection

    RR - Brutus - Libertas Holed Ex Kelly 2986.jpg
    ROMAN REPUBLIC. Q. Servilius Caepio Brutus (M. Junius Brutus)
    AR Denarius. 3.58g, 20.8mm. Rome mint, 54 BC. Crawford 433/1; Sydenham 906. O: Head of Libertas right; LIBERTAS behind. R: The consul L. Junius Brutus walking left between two lictors, each carrying fasces over shoulder, preceded by an accensus; BRVTVS in exergue.
    Ex Michael Kelly Collection
  11. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Dishonest answer: I trust everyone noted that the Coin Weekly list stated that, had they not disallowed recurrences, the EID MAR would have held 9 of the 10 spots. I find the whole list skewed by the morbid fascination of people with money for coins of the oligarchs who killed the Republic. However, I must admit that I am no better - just different. Nine of my top ten denarii in the heart of this collector are one reverse type (more or less) VICTOR IVST AVG. My favorite coins are rarely my most expensive since price is a factor of what other people think of coins and I have little respect for the opinions of people to whom the coins are parallel to stock shares. I wonder if major share holders who have ten thousand shares of one stock have a favorite among them. I will start with the one coin in my group that some people might rate as valuable. It is the one from which the others were copied.

    Pescennius Niger / VICTOR IVST AVG

    The British Museum Catalog (BMCRE V, 338) shows in their plates a coin which they catalog as VICTOR IVST AVG but their specimen is on a small flan and missing much legend. Mine is a die duplicate that shows clearly that the legend on that die read VICTOR IVST AVS. You know what they say about assuming. I will never understand why this coin made it to the CNG sale of the Bickford-Smith collection since the BM had rights of refusal of his coins and took the good stuff. I assume they had a better one by the time of the sale and did not need this one.

    The coin below is a different die that reads VICTOR IVST AVG so is actually BMCRE 338 but the people who compiled that list did not know they were doing the right thing by accident. Those who care might note the two coins use the same obverse die. That die was a workhorse and is known with several other reverses in my collection.

    Next up is the coin I have long touted as 'My Favorite Coin' since I bought is ~1963 and published a short piece about it in the "Voice of the Turtle" in 1967. I consider that jersey to have been retired so it no longer has to defend itself against other candidates for the title 'My Favorite Coin'. I paid Joel Malter $13.50 for it which was about three times the going rate for denarii of Septimius Severus back then. I spent years looking for others and was hopeful for a while that it was super rare.

    It was not. maridvnvm has at least one and a few other variant obverse types that I do not have. The problem with 'unique' coins is they tend not to be and you made a fool of yourself hoping they were. The next two coins are different dies but still COS I obverses. There must be a score of them.
    rg4440bb3208.jpg rg4460bb2444.jpg

    Next is the last variation combining the VICTOR IVST AVG reverse with the common COSII obverse. This coin is troubling since the theory was that the mint stopped making IVST coins when they discovered that that title was applied to the enemy (Pescennius Niger) and switched to VICTOR SEVER AVG coins. This coin pushes the switchover date later than previously thought (by me).

    The type was so common that even the barbarous guys got into the act. Placing this coin in the group stretches the point quite a bit. It is what it is whatever that is.

    That is eight. The last two spots are taken by VICTOR IVST AVG denarii of Julia Domna. When I got the first one, I was aware of the type as listed in Cohen from the BnF specimen. Last I heard, the British Museum has two (theirs are nicer). 'Scholars' dismiss the coin as a hybrid with reverse of Septimius Severus because they notion is that it must be an error if a coin has a he-man reverse coupled with a lady. It does not bother them in the least that we have at least five of these Victory seated coins for Domna (all are die duplicates) but not a single one for Septimius or Pescennius. When you decide that all men use manly reverses and all women run away blushing at the mention of victory (or a dozen other reverses used for Domna that seen inappropriate) you can prove anything using your own personal facts and dismiss things that don't fit preconceived notions.
    rk5140fd1946.jpg rk5145fd3443.jpg

    That is ten VICTOR IVST AV(G) coins making up my single most favorite coin type even though all are to some degree 'recurring'. No one collects EID MAR by die variations --- do they? Anyone who has read this far (Why? - I do not know) can expect my honest answer below.
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  12. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Honest answer:
    My current favorite denarius is the Alexandria mint coin with Venus from the rear which would be dismissed as an error by some since everyone knows that he-men like Septimius never put out coins with girly types. Alexandria and the other Eastern mints never quite figured out that they were supposed to follow the rules so we get coins like this. That my be incorrect since this coin uses an early period style portrait. Perhaps they got a 'cut it out' note from Rome telling them that Venus was not on the approved list. How are we to know? It is one of my coins that I am currently searching for other specimens. I do not claim it is unique; I just have not seen others. Make my day; break my bubble.

    This coin came from the Kelly collection (lot 1162) sold by Spink in December 1997. I'm glad Mr. Kelly was willing to add a 'hybrid' to his collection of Eastern coins. Had he not, I would not have it today. I really do ask any of you that see another to tell me of it. One of my sub-hobbies is finding coins I hoped were 'unique' and turning them into 'just scarce'.

    A runner up is the 'regular' version for Domna. These are known with three different reverse spellings but the ones I have seen for her do not share the die with my Septimius. As a regular matter, Alexandria did not use the same dies for coins of the pair. "Emesa" did. There is something to be learned from this but I am less than clear what it is. That is why these coins are 'My Favorite Coins'. Every answer found spawns a handful of new questions making us aware just how far we are from knowing what there is to know.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
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  13. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    I do not own many - mostly interested in bronze.

    Here is my favorite .. and I think it is my most expensive:

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  14. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Wow, that is a tough one to answer. In a pitiful effort to have something that is at least related to something on that spectacular list of beauties, here is my poor man's Sextus Pompey - it's one of my favorites:

    Sextus Pompey - Den Neptune Dec 2019 (0a).jpg

    Sextus Pompey Denarius
    (42-40 B.C.) Sicilian Mint

    MAG•PIVS•IMP•ITER• , head of Pompey Magnus r. between lituus and capis / Neptune left, holding aplustre, foot on prow, with Anapias & Amphinomus, parents on shoulders, [PRÆF] above, CLAS•ET•O[RÆ] / [M]ARIT•E[X• S•C•]
    (3.47 grams / 16 mm)
    Crawford 511/3a; Pompeia 27;Sydenham 1344; BMCRR (Sicily) 7; RSC 17 (Pompey the Great); Sear CRI 334.
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  15. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I many many but I really love these in my collection.

    Orbiana (225 - 227 A.D.)
    AR Denarius
    O: SALL BARBIA ORBIANA AVG, draped bust right.
    R: CONCORDIA AVGG,Concordia seated left holding double cornucopia and patera.
    RIC IV 319, RSC III 1, BMCRE VI 287, SRCV II 8191

    Vespasian (69 - 79 A.D.)
    AR Denarius
    O: IMP CAES VESP AVG P M COS IIII, Laureate head right.
    R: CONCORDIA AVGVSTI, Concordia seated left on throne, holding cornucopia and patera.
    Antioch Mint, AD 72-73
    RIC² 1554 ( R2 ) , RSC 74 , 1927

    Lucilla (162 - 182 A.D.)
    AR Denarius
    O: LVCILLAE AVG ANTONINI AVG F, Draped bust right.
    R: CONCORDIA, Concordia standing facing, head left, holding patera and double cornucopiae.
    Rome Mint
    RIC III 760.

    Ex. Cabinet Numismatique, Genève.

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  16. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    Ditto. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who had this thought.

    The coin below is neither my most expensive nor my rarest nor my best-preserved denarius. But amongst all my Roman silver coins, this youthful portrait of everyone's favorite philosopher prince probably is the one that I treasure most:

    Rom – Marcus Aurelius, Denar, Iuventas.png
    Marcus Aurelius (as Caesar), Roman Empire, denarius, 140–144 AD, Rome mint. Obv: AVRELIVS CAESAR AVG PII F COS; head of Marcus Aurelius, bare, r. Rev: IVVENTAS, Iuventas (youth) standing l., dropping incense in candelabrum and holding patera. 17.5mm, 3.16g. Ref: RIC III Antoninus Pius 423a.
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  17. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I love the strong layout line on the reverse that should have made it easy to cut the legends neatly if only thy had paid any attention to it. There IS a reason we give first graders lined paper. Some of them even figure out what the lines are for.
  18. benhur767

    benhur767 Sapere aude

    Wonderful coin! This type has been on my want list for a long time. One of the things I look for is that the various animals are well defined, as they are on yours.
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  19. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

    I like these denarii in the collection the most.
    Clodius Albinus
    Caracalla - commemoration of Caracalla's campaigns in northern Britain
    Septimius - Securitas image(3).jpg
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  20. Alegandron

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

    Great coin, @Roman Collector ! Very cool about the write-up.

    I like the Historical Approach to my collecting. So, expensive coins, popular coins, high-grade coins may not always fit into my targeted interests.

    This is not my most expensive, and not my favorite. I have several, due to their Historical importance, that are equally my favorites.

    I treasure this for its impactful History. Had Rome lost this war MILITARILY, there may had been a MUCH different History of the Roman Empire. Perhaps as the Italian Empire, or the Samnium Empire, or even the Capuan Empire.

    This is a beat up, scrubby, repaired Denarius from the Marsic Confederation of Italia from the OTHER Side of the Social War of 91-88 BCE. I feel the coin in its battered state and the Oath Scene REALLY depicts the Internal Struggle within the Roman Republic's Empire.

    Hey, how many times can you find a Denarius from an ENEMY of Rome?

    The oath scene was very solemn and impactful in Central Italia. This one is from Italia, and the 8 members within the scene has been purported that it represents the 8 original Tribes that banded together to fight the Romans during the Social War... very solemn.

    The irony of the Social War is that although the Italian Allies were defeated militarily (Sulla eventually waged extermination war on the Samnites), the Romans actually lost this war politically. The Italian Allies eventually received Roman Citizenship that they originally demanded.

    Marsic Confederation / Italian Allies
    Social War 90-88 BCE
    AR Denarius
    19x17.9mm, 3.7g
    Anonymous Issue, Corfinium Mint
    Obv: Italia head, l, ITALIA behind
    Rev: Oath-taking scene with eight warriors, four on each side, pointing their swords towards a sacrificial pig, which is held by an attendant kneeling at the foot of a standard.
    The Oath was binding the Marsi, Picentines, Paeligni, Marrucini, Vestini, Frentani, Samnites, and Hirpini Tribes into the Marsic Confederation against Rome during the Social War
    Comment: The reverse is probably based on the gold Stater and Half-Stater from the Second Punic War, and the Ti Viturius denarius... However, the scene is very Italian.
    Ref: Sear 227; SYD 621
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
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  21. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    A torturous thread @Roman Collector - how does one pick one denarius as "most treasured"? As I considered which coin to post: most beautiful, most treasured, most interesting, and most expensive were not all the same pick for me. Here's the most treasured (although on any given day I might have picked differently). Why? I'm not really sure what the magic factors are, I just like it. I would not trade this coin for an EID MAR (except for some financial game where I trade, sell, and buy back my coin). Here is a little of the historical context in Rome:

    In 88 BC, just before his attack on Rome, Sulla was driven to the home of Marius by a murderous mob, raised by Sulpicius to promote the cause of Marius with the senate. This mob of Marius supporters murdered Sulla's son-in-law Quintus, the son of Pompeius married to Cornelia Sulla, and others.[see:Lives] The republic was damaged by this, as Sulla turned six legions against Rome when he didn't accept the manipulation of the senate that gave Marius command of "his" legions.

    Loyalty and service to the republic became confused with the ambitions of powerful and egotistical leaders (e.g. Marius and Sulla) and their supporters. The senate and laws became pawns in their ambitions. Julius Caesar was formed during this period - and his confrontation with Sulla at this time is another interesting story. Quintus Lucretius Ofella dared to bid for consulship in 81 BC, defying Sulla. Sulla had him killed (see: Appian Bellum Civile 1.11.101)
    M Capito Plowman.jpg
    C. Marius C. f. Capito, 81 BC, AR Denarius
    Obv: CAPIT. behind, draped bust of Ceres right, wearing grain-ear wreath and earring; LXXXXVIII above, uncertain control mark below chin
    Rev: C. MARI. C. F. / S. C in two lines in exergue, husbandman plowing left with a yoke of oxen; LXXXXVIII above
    Ref: Crawford 378/1c
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
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