Featured The NIGRINIAN's Chronicles

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, Sep 6, 2020.

  1. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter


    The history
    The rare coins featuring a young boy portrait with the inscription DIVO NIGRINIANO have long mystified collectors and historians, who couldn't find any reference of a prince of this name in the historical sources. An inscription at the base of a statue, later reused as a sarcophagus, was discovered in Rome in 1888 when demolishing buildings leaning against the wall of the Forum of Augustus. It reads: Divo / Nigriniano , / Nepoti Cari, / Geminivs Festvs, v(ir) [p(erfectissimus)] , / rationalis. I believe that nepoti means nephew, but it could also be translate by relatives. So if someone here remember his latin lessons better than I do, please explain why it was translated by grandson...Anyway, if Nigrinian is a grandson of the Emperor Carus , it reduces the possibilities to Carus' two sons, Carinus or Numerian, both of whom ruled in the same period with their father and by themselves after his death. Taking the fact that Nigrinian’s posthumous coinage is confined to the Rome mint, it seems more plausible that his father is Carinus, who ruled over the West from Rome, while Numerian's brief reign was spent in the East. Nigrinian’s mother might then be Magnia Urbica, who was proclaimed Augusta in 283 AD and honored with coinage of her own. According to this hypothesis, Nigrinian was likely born in 283, but by the latter part of 284 he had died and was deified by the senate, no doubt on the order of Carinus. However, coins minted to honour his deification described Nigrinian as a boy of at least seven or eight years old. Either this is artistic license, or Nigrinian was born much earlier. The Historia Augusta claims Carinus “took nine wives in all, and he put away some while they were still pregnant.” So maybe Nigrinian might have been a product of one of these earlier unions. Whoever his mother was, Nigrinian’s coins are of considerable rarity, indicating that striking started shortly before the downfall of Carinus’ regime early in 285 AD , and brought it to an sudden interruption. His successor, Diocletian, condemned the memory of Carinus and no doubt abolished the deification of the young boy, who thus became a long-lost footnote to Roman history.

    The coinage
    The first mention of Negrinian's coinage in a numismatic work was in the Impp.Romanorum Numismata A Pompeii Magno by Adolf Occo in 1601. The author believed that the young Prince lived during the reign of Constantius and was the same consul named Nigrinianus who was the colleague of a certain Sergius.


    In 1718, Anselmo Banduri listed the coins of Nigrinianus, adding the theory that he could have been the son of Alexander the Tyran in Africa. Eckhel reported in 1780 the same coinage and repeated the same hypothesis about his origin.


    In 1933, the RIC catalogued 4 different types of coins from this young Caesar.


    Let's examine first the aurei of Nigrinian; there are only 3 specimen known. The first one (top of the picture) was sold by NAC in 2006 for 270,000 CHF... The second one (middle one on the picture) is currently in the Berlin's Munzkabinett. It had been acquired in 1889 from Vicomte Gustave de Ponton d'Amécourt. Sorry for the black and white picture, but I realized with frustration that the great museums of this world do not even have the budget to hire a decent photographer, so long as we have at least one picture. You will notice that these two examples share the same obverse die. The third coin is holed and in possession of Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Rumor has it that the coin was stolen in the great robbery of 1831 and almost surely melted down. You can see it is a reverse die match with the NAC coin and also matching the obverse of the 2 other aurei.

    EDIT :The French aureus is still in the BNF collection. See Curtis Clay comment below.
    About the reverse type of these aurei : " The reverse bears one of the canonical scenes of the Roman consecration issues. Usually described as a pyre, a temporary structure that was burned, Philip Hill has argued that it is actually a crematorium, a permanent structure into which the funeral pyre was placed. A few details vary between the earliest depictions of the crematorium and the one reproduced on this aureus, such as the door seemingly being placed on the top layer rather than on the second layer. According to Hill, the facing chariot that surmounts the structure was a quadriga for men and a biga for women; clearly there are only two horses here, but it is difficult to know if that was an oversight by the engraver, or if it simply was a compression of the

    Now for the antoniniani. To make it simple, let's say they are 2 different types of CONSECRATIO reverses : one with an Eagle facing with head left, the second rarer depicting a large altar.

    CNG picture

    Gorny & Mosch picture

    For the obverse, two different bust type : the classical radiate head right and the rarer " Radiate, nude half-length bust of Nigrinian shown from front, head turned to right, right shoulder raised". The youth is shown "heroically nude" and with one shoulder raised, perhaps indicating it was modeled on a statue of Nigrinian in an oratorical pose.

    Goldberg coins

    In conclusion, I'd put Nigrinian in the category "affordable" dream coins. I don't think I'll put 1-2k on a coin in the future, but its coinage is not that much out of reach for many collectors who would like to treat themselves once in their lives...

    Please show us your Nigrinian's or members of his "family" !

    Nigrinian's forgery by Becker (1772-1830)
    (About Becker :https://www.cointalk.com/threads/becker-a-crook-or-an-artist.346420/#post-3702089 )
    And one of my Carus (ex Doug Smith)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 7, 2020
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Fantastic write-up, as always, @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix !

    Nepos, -otis has the primary meaning of "grandson," but can also mean "nephew." See the listing in the very comprehensive Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary.

  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Here's one of his grandpa Carus:

    Carus, AD 282-283.
    Roman billon antoninianus, 3.46 g, 21.1 mm, 1 h.
    Ticinum, 1st officina, 2nd emission, AD 282.
    Obv: IMP CARVS P F AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust, right.
    Rev: PAX EXERCITI, Pax standing left, holding branch and signum; PXXI in exergue.
    Refs: RIC 75F; Cohen 56; RCV --; Pink VI/2, p. 28.
  5. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Wonderful write up on a child with soooo little written about. As you can see, mine had a bout with bronze disease, but is stable now.
    Here's the sad little fella:
    DIVO NIGRINIANO AE Antoninian CONSECRATIO Reverse: Eagle Very Rare
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...








    Marsyas Mike, DonnaML, TIF and 9 others like this.
  7. Alegandron

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

    Thanks for the great write-up, @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix ! Cool stuff


    RI Carus 282-283 CE AE 18mm BI Tet Consecratio Flaming Alter Divus Carus under Carinus R2

    CARINUS - Daddy

    RI Carinus 282-285 CE BI Potin Tet 19mm 8.1g Alexandria Egypt 19mm Athena Seated holding Nike

    NUMERIAN - Uncle

    RI Numerian 283-284 CE AE Ant Stndg receiving Victory

    MAGNA URBICA - Mommy Dearest

    RI Magnia Urbica 285 CE silvered Ant AE 23mm 3.4g cresent - Venus helmet scepter shield RIC 343 R
    Marsyas Mike, DonnaML, TIF and 12 others like this.
  8. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ...as soon as i saw the name, you & your coin came to mind....i think you might be the only one who i know has it...:)
  9. Alegandron

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

    That is so cool. Looks like you even had to shoot it to kill the disease. NICE one to have! Almost forgot you captured it. Congrats.
  10. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Thanks @ominus1 and @Alegandron! I totes blame @Suarez :D
    I learned about Nigrinian from Eric 1. What an amazing resource it was (gift from my dad) until I upgraded to Eric 2 when it came out (wifey gift).
    It was thanks to looking through those pages countless times that I noticed the obscure little fella on sale going for a very affordable price, I bid what I could afford (low) aaand to my jubilation I got him:singing:
    Speaking of the heart breaking scoundrel Suarez;) I believe he has a very nice example... unless it's already been sold.
    Here's a better picture,
    And possible poppa
    Marsyas Mike, DonnaML, TIF and 9 others like this.
  11. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the great write up,Ocatarine

    mom & dad:

    P1190493NN (2).jpg


    TIF, Roman Collector, Bing and 4 others like this.
  12. curtislclay

    curtislclay Well-Known Member

    I think Paris should still have their holed aureus of Nigrinian, since Cohen gives as source just "France", that is the French collection, not "Formerly France", as he regularly wrote for coins lost in the 1831 theft. I see NAC claims that Paris lost its specimen in 1831, but since they name no source for that information, I would prefer to believe Cohen, who was actually employed at the French cabinet.

    According to Eckhel, whose text you reproduce above, there was also a specimen of this aureus in the Gotha collection, though I don't know whether that coin is still in the collection today, or was perhaps looted and lost in WWII, which was certainly the fate of many Roman gold coins in that collection.
  13. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    You are absolutely right ! Here's the picture of the BNF :

    Many thanks @curtislclay to have "resurrected" this aureus.
  14. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Finally found my coin of, Ole Baldy, grandpa, Carus:
    Ps, I'd love to know how many rulers on ancients actually advertised that they were bald???
  15. EDDOP

    EDDOP Well-Known Member

    Hereby some Nigrinian fake coins, take care if you are interested in this guy.
    Mostly offered on Ebay

    consecratio-kaa-1o.png consecratio-kaa-1r.png kaa-27o.jpg kaa-27r.jpg kaa-28o.jpg kaa-28r.jpg fake-altar-o.jpg fake-altar-r.jpg
  16. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    I had some of the family, but never Nigrinian. You've made me want one.



  17. Ricardo123

    Ricardo123 Active Member

    Nice emperor. In my target. I think possible between 500-1000$ about fine ?
  18. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    ominus1, Bing and Ryro like this.
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