Featured Titus' Mystery Mint

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Many thanks to @Ken Dorney for this superb Titus sestertius! Not only is it a beauty in hand, it also comes with an intriguing numismatic puzzle.

    T499.jpg Titus
    Æ Sestertius, 24.63g
    Eastern Mint (Thrace?), 80-81 AD
    RIC 499 (C). BMC 310. RPC 502.
    Obv: IMP T CAES DIVI VESP F AVG P M TR P P P COS VIII; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, r.
    Rev: S C in field; Mars, with cloak over shoulders, adv. r., with spear and trophy
    Acquired from Ken Dorney, December 2018.

    A remarkable sestertius from a truly mysterious issue of bronze that was struck under Titus in 80-81. The style (heavily seriffed letters, large portraits, and massive reverse figures), unique obverse legends (DIVI VESP F for Titus), and uncommon fabric (convex flans) all suggest a mint other than Rome. Attributing exactly where these coins were struck has historically been a moving target - Mattingly in BMCRE thought Lugdunum, H.A. Cahn believed somewhere in Bithynia. More recent scholarship has looked towards Thrace as a possible location for production based on the Balkan distribution pattern of found specimens. Although the region of mintage has been narrowed down, the city itself remains elusive. RPC has suggested possibly Perinthus. Presumably a shortage of bronze coins in the region during Titus' reign prompted a localised imperial issue, which in the main copied types from Rome. The striking of imperial bronze outside of Rome was an exceptional step at the time considering the last imperial branch mint at Lugdunum had shuttered late in Vespasian's reign.


    With this coin and my last Titus As https://www.cointalk.com/threads/a-pleasant-surprise.329898/#post-3288752 , 2019 has kicked off very well here at Flavian Fanatic headquarters.

    Feel free to post your mystery mints!
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  3. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing

    That is a gorgeous sestertius, David! I really like it! And a fascinating mystery!
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  4. ro1974

    ro1974 Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  5. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    Great coin David, I love these huge, heavy coins.
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  6. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    It's actually the little mystery behind the coin that made it so pleasurable to obtain. I had the hubris of thinking a little research over the weekend would give me the answers I needed for my write-up. Boy, was I wrong!
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  7. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Agreed. Imagine carrying a coin purse full of hefty sestertii!
  8. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Another mint mystery: Where exactly were the Eastern 'o' mint denarii of Vespasian struck? RIC leans toward Ephesus because of the use of mint marks, but there really is no scholarly consensus. Many of the types copy ones used at Rome. For instance, here is the clasped hands type struck at the mystery mint for Vespasian, Titus Caesar, and Domitian Caesar.


    Titus Caesar

    Domitian Caesar

    The more common one from Rome struck for Vespasian and Titus Caesar.


    Titus Caesar

    Someday I would like to know what Eastern mint struck denarii which copied reverse types from Rome. For now, it is a mystery.
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  9. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    I'm always looking for O mint coins. Here's mine:

    RIC 1496 Domitian denarius

    laureate head right, small 'o' below neck truncation

    winged caduceus.

    Uncertain eastern "O" mint
    76 AD


    RIC II 1496 (R2); BMCRE II, 489; RSC II, 369; RPC II, 1469.

    Apart from the COS IIII, these titles are appropriate for Vespasian, not Domitian as Caesar


    RIC 1495 Domitian denarius
    Laureate head right

    Hands clasped over caduceus, two poppies and two corn ears

    Uncertain eastern "O" mint

    76 AD


    RIC 1495 (R)

    Ex-TC collection, Ex-Calgary Coin
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  10. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    I wish you a lot of luck! 'o' mint denarii are so very rare. In nearly 16 years of collecting Flavian coins I've only managed to acquire eleven specimens.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  11. Orfew

    Orfew Supporter! Supporter

    Here is an 'O' mint denarius of Vespasian.

    Vespasian (69-79). AR Denarius
    (18.5mm, 2.77g, 6h).
    'O' mint, c. AD 76.
    Obv: Laureate head r.
    Rev: Pegasus stepping r.
    RIC II 1473; RSC 114a; RPC II 1451.
    Rare, Good Fine

    Vespasian RIC 1473.png Vespasian RIC 1473 new.jpg
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  12. jamesicus

    jamesicus pachydermicus Supporter

    The inscriptional lettering is similar in style to that on this coin:

    BMCRE Volume II, Rome, Titus No. 297
    RIC Volume II (1962 Edition), Rome, Titus, No. 234
    RIC Volume II, Part 1 (second edition), Titus, No. 472 (Sear No. 2601)
    80-81 AD, (34.5mm, 24.3gm)
    Obverse depiction: Claudius, laureate head facing right
    Reverse depiction: Personification of Spes
    holding flower in right hand and demurely raising skirt with left hand
    Inscription: IMP T VESP AVG REST - S C (left and right)
    Titus was a Military Tribune in Britain AD 60-63

    Sear Roman Coins and their Values (RCV 2000 Edition) Number 2601 (via Wildwinds)
    Sale: CNG, Triton XII, Lot: 555 (5 January 2009)
    Provenance: Ex Dr. V.J.A. Flynn Collection

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  13. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    A very keen observation! As a matter of fact, some of Titus' restoration issue and all of Domitian's are now thought to have been struck at this mystery Thracian mint (RIC II.1, p. 192). Style and fabric give these pieces away.

    Why this would be so is not readily apparent. Possibly the Thracian mint was copying contemporary types from Rome and since Titus was issuing the restoration series at the time it followed suit. Yet another mystery surrounding this intriguing issue!

    BTW, wonderful coin!!
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  14. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    So true. All of mine have been misattributed...

    And James that's a great coin!
  15. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

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