Featured Two new sestertii: Faustina II (variation unlisted in RIC) & Maximinus Thrax

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by DonnaML, Mar 26, 2021.

  1. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Basileus Megalos

    Maximus probably did not have acromegaly unlike his father...
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That is a wonderful Faustina sestertius, @DonnaML! In fact, I had it in my V-Coins watch list and then earlier this week I noticed it had been sold! I'm glad it went to a good home. I was considering it as a possible upgrade for my example, which doesn't photograph well and which looks better in hand. It does not have stars above the twin boys' heads:

    Faustina Jr, Augusta 147-176.
    Roman orichalcum sestertius, 23.99 g, 31.7 mm, 11 h.
    Rome, AD 161.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: TEMPOR FELIC SC, Faustina standing left, holding two children, four more at her feet.
    Refs: RIC 1673; Cohen 222; RCV 5284 var. (no stephane).

    This reverse type was issued in all metals but, believe it or not, I don't have it in silver. I do have the middle bronze version, though. Again, no stars.

    Faustina Jr, Augusta 147-176.
    Roman orichalcum dupondius, 11.55 g, 28.2 mm, 11 h.
    Rome, AD 161.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: TEMPOR FELIC SC, Faustina standing left, holding two children, four more at her feet.
    Refs: RIC 1675; Cohen 223; BMCRE 996; RCV 5304 var. (no stephane).

    However, the OTHER issue to commemorate the birth of twins in AD 161, the SAECVLI FELICIT issue depicting only the boys, may also have stars above their heads, but not on all examples. This one does:

    Faustina Jr SAECVLI  FELICIT S C Sestertius.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman orichalcum sestertius, 24.65 g, 30.4 mm, 12 h.
    Rome, AD 161.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: SAECVLI FELICIT SC, draped throne on which there are two infant boys with stars above their heads.
    Refs: RIC 1665; BMCRE 936; Cohen 193; RCV 5282; MIR 27.

    Here's a close-up:

    Faustina Jr SAECVLI  FELICIT S C Sestertius close up.jpg

    There are stars also on the reverse of the MB version of the coin in my collection, though its state of preservation leaves a lot to be desired. The coin is special to me, though, because it came from Henry Clay Lindgren's personal collection.

    Faustina Jr SAECVLI  FELICIT S C As.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman Æ as, 9.78 g, 26.1 mm, 5 h.
    Rome, AD 161.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, r.
    Rev: SAECVLI FELICIT SC, draped throne on which there are two infant boys with stars above their heads.
    Refs: RIC 1666; BMCRE 991; Cohen 194; RCV 5302.
    Notes: Ex Henry Clay Lindgren.

    All off these coin types may depict the empress bare-headed, or stephaned, as @happy_collector's wonderful sestertius illustrates. The stephaned version does not appear to have any specific numismatic significance (such as a separate issue or different mint) and its purpose is unknown. I have examples of each bust type only for the denarius versions of the SAECVLI FELICI reverse type. No stars above these kids' heads, though:

    Faustina Junior, Augusta AD 147-176.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.22 g, 17.0 mm, 12:00.
    Rome, AD 161.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: SAECVLI FELICIT, Throne, upon which are seated two infant boys, Commodus and Antoninus.
    Refs: RIC 711; BMCRE 136; Cohen 191; RCV 5260 var. (no diadem); CRE 221.

    Faustina Jr SAECVLI FELICIT Denarius RIC 712.jpg
    Faustina Junior, Augusta AD 147-175.
    Roman AR denarius; 3.36 g, 17.1 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, AD 16.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust, right
    Rev: SAECVLI FELICIT, Throne, upon which are seated two infant boys, Commodus and Antoninus.
    Refs: RIC 712; BMCRE 139; Cohen 191; RCV 5260; CRE 222.
  4. octavius

    octavius Well-Known Member

    That is one very impressive profile of Maximinus. Excellent addition to your collection. Love the Faustina as well.
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  5. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks, @Roman Collector. Great coins all. I'm always amazed by the number and variety of your Faustina II coins. But I'm glad you didn't buy the sestertius, and thereby left one for me!

    My denarius with the twins on the pulvinar has Faustina wearing a stephane. I didn't realize that there's also a variety without one. I take it that none of the denarii of that type has the stars above the twins' heads; only the middle bronze?

    Do you know if there are there any other reference works that might be consulted that might list the sestertius with "stars" variant, other than Dinsdale? I'm simply curious as to when anyone first noticed it, since it's unlisted in RIC III, published back in 1930.
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  6. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Good coins, @DonnaML and everyone.
    I like your Faustina II Sestertius, good conservation, good colors and contrast and, a very important part for me, nice design and symbolism. That is a coin I would like to have in my collection.

    As for Maximinus, the obverse is excellent, very sharp details + it really shows the acromegaly. I don't know what is the cause of the reverse aspect - I don't think it was artificial, as if someone wanted to alter this coin it would have been either 1. tooling, to make it more appealing (and more expensive) - not the case (not that I don't like it!) or 2. Damnatio Memoriae, as I've seen on Thrax coins, but it doesn't make sense as the obverse is as good as possible.

    I have recently added a Max Thrax sestertius.
    I think it was a perfect decision. I like the reverse a lot - you can even see some details on Salus's face. The pitting/corrosion is not that bad in hand - that was a surprise. I thought the obverse would be a mess but it's quite OK. Unfortunately the emperor looks normal in appearance, no signs of acromegaly.

    30 mm., 19,25 g.
    RIC IV Maximinus Thrax 64
    Date Range: AD 235 - AD 236
    Obverse Legend: IMP MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG
    Type: Bust of Maximinus I, laureate, draped, cuirassed, right
    Reverse Legend: SALVS AVGVSTI S C
    Type: Salus, draped, seated left, feeding out of patera in right hand snake coiled round altar
  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    RIC 710/Cohen 190 specifically notes stars above the children's heads. Here's the RIC listing for all the SAECVLI FELICIT types in gold and silver:


    I've never seen an example of RIC 710 on the market. The British Museum does not own a specimen. The example at OCRE (the specimen in the Münzkabinett der Universität Göttingen) isn't clear. The one at Wildwinds is wishful thinking when it comes to the stars above the boys' heads.

    CNG sold an example of RIC 709 in their Triton XIX sale, though, which shows the stars.


    It's not just the middle bronze that has the stars as a routine design element. My sestertius has them, too.

    Faustina Jr SAECVLI  FELICIT S C Sestertius close up.jpg

    BMCRE of course, does not mention it, because none of their examples have stars.

    Capture 2.JPG
    Cohen makes no mention of stars, nor does Szaivert in his various discussion of reverse types (pp. 45, 67).

    Stars DO make an appearance above the twin boys on this (unique?) bronze medallion (37 mm) with an anepigraphic reverse in Paris (Gnecchi II p.42, 33 and pl. 69, 8; MIR 1006-1/20a), though unlisted in Cohen. Here's the Gnecchi plate as reproduced in Dinsdale:

    Capture 1.JPG
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  8. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I very much like your sestertius of Maximinus. Looking at that aggressive jaw sticking out reminds me of some of the stories of this emperor, how strong he was, that he could bend iron bars and that he could knock down a horse with a single blow of his fist. Actually I like all the coinage of this era, the circa 230's AD. For whatever reason the celators and mint workers produced coins of exceptional image quality during this time period, well struck and executed. The flans could be a bit oddly shaped as at least at some mints, the bronze flans were being made by cutting chunks from bars of metal. Odd perhaps, but the bronze metal used for their sesterces seems to wear well and smooth, and their lightly toned bronze creates fetching images. Their denarii are also well executed and the images of the rulers on them pictured as good as any other era of Roman mintage, in my humble opinion. Below are some examples of coins from this era.

    On the left a sestertius of Julia Mamaea, mother of Severus Alexander and killed along with her son when Maximinus was hailed as his successor. It is RIC 679 and weighs 16.3 grams with FELICITAS on the reverse. in the middle a sestertius of Alexander Severus weighing 18.93 grams with a standing Sol on the reverse. it is Sear 8005, RIC 500. On the right is my sestertius of Maximinus with an aspirational PAX AUGUSTI on the reverse, weighing 19.5 grams. it is Sear 2753. On the lower line of coins is a sestertius of Gordian III who, when the dust settled succeeded Maximinus. FORTUNA REDUX is on the reverse and it weighs 19.74 grams. It is RIC IV 331. The next coin ,a denarius of Severus Alexander continues with the fine style of the period in silver with PAX AETERNA on the reverse. It is RIC 427 and weighs 3.1 grams of close to 50% Ag. The last coin, another denarius, is of Maximinus with VICTORIA on the reverse. It weighs 3.12 grams and is again close to 50% silver. It is Sear 2347. This is a good era to collect from. Excellent appearance and available in nice condition at a modest cost. IMG_1966Coins of 230's AD obv.jpg IMG_1965coins of 230's AD.jpg
  9. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for the comprehensive answer to my questions! Regarding the elusive denarius RIC 710, one of the references is to a plate number. Have you checked that plate to see if the illustration really has stars? In any event, I didn't realize that stars on the twin boys -- so obviously a reference to the Dioscuri once it was pointed out to me! -- were so often found on other Faustina II types. So it still surprises me that there appears to be no reference at all to examples of the RIC 1673 sestertius type with the stars before the Numismatik Naumann example sold in 2019 and my example sold by CNG in September 2020. One would think that an example would have turned up years ago. Do you know if anyone's working on a revision to RIC Vol. III? It's been 90 years, after all!
  10. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Very nice coins! I agree about the high quality of engraving during this period, and the plentiful examples available. When I started actively collecting ancient coins around the middle of 2017, quite a few of the earliest ones I bought were nice examples of denarii and antoniniani from the first half of the 3rd Century AD -- Septimius Severus through Philip I -- all around the $75-$100 range, which was as much as I could afford at the time. Four years later, I think the prices have gone up a bit, but there are still many good coins easily available.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
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  11. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    Really nice additions/ to enhance your supberb collection. Thanks for sharing:)
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  12. octavius

    octavius Well-Known Member

    Several sestertii of that frightening emperor Maximinus and his son Maximus...

    8jDQqkF2z3sH7B6eZBp5nL9WNrk6ai.jpg sestertius of Maximinus /reverse VICTORIA GERMANICA

    943708.jpg Sest./FIDES MILITVM

    Sestertius of Maximinus / SALVS AVGVSTI

    Sestertius of his younger look-alike - his son Maximus/ PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS.
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  13. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    Nice Max Thrax sestertius (careful, he'll put your eye out with that chin!), and I like how the patina on the Faustina (hey, that rhymes!) makes everyone look like they're giving off a radioactive glow.
  14. curtislclay

    curtislclay Well-Known Member


    Another TEMPOR FELIC sestertius with stars above the twins, coupled in this case with an obv. portrait wearing stephane, was sold this morning by CGB in Paris; see their picture below. They didn't notice the stars.

    A middle bronze of the same sort, but without stephane on obv., was in NAC Q, 6 April 2006, lot 1909, again without describing the stars. See their picture below.

    A similar middle bronze with stars, also with no stephane on obv., and from different dies on both sides than the NAC coin, was in Jacques Schulman's Vierordt Sale of 1923, lot 1657. Here the stars were noticed in the catalogue description, and this detail was accordingly picked up by Mattingly in RIC 1677 and BMC 998 note: "Similar, but with stars over the heads of the infants."

    I'd be surprised if that was the first published notice of the appearance of two stars in this type. More likely someone else had noticed the stars, and had published his observation, but later cataloguers just overlooked his discovery!

    I was glad to read last year that an author has been lined up to compile a new edition of RIC 3: Johan Van Heesch, who was Curator of Coins at the Brussels Cabinet before his retirement last year.

    Attached Files:

  15. Romancollector

    Romancollector Well-Known Member

    Very nice sestertii Donna! Unfortunately I don't have a sestertius of Faustina II, or anything of her for that matter.

    Here's my Maximinus I sestertius....currently working on rephotographing it so I'm just using the CNG photo for now.
    maximinus I sestertius cng.jpeg
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  16. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you, @curtislclay. The sale of the CGB sestertius is good timing. Now I know that the variant with stars exists for RIC 1674 (stephane) as well as 1673 (no stephane). Which makes sense, of course. Even though, if I interpret your post correctly, we still have no documentation of anyone selling (or even noticing) a sestertius with stars (with or without the stephane) before the Numismatik Naumann coin sold in 2019 -- apart from Dinsdale's footnote, which doesn't refer to any specific coin.

    I knew about the RIC 1677 listing for a middle bronze with stars, but hadn't seen one illustrated before.

    I'm glad to hear that someone is, in fact, going to work on a revision of RIC III. A very large project, I imagine! If I had a way of contacting Mr. Van Heesch, I suppose it might be appropriate for me to contact him to make sure he knows about the "stars" varieties of the sestertii of this type.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
  17. curtislclay

    curtislclay Well-Known Member

    Dinsdale's mention of the variant with stars may just go back to the Vierordt middle bronze as reported by Mattingly in RIC and BMC.

    If he knows other examples, and is a Coin Talk member, I hope he'll tell us about them!
  18. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    @curtislclay, looking at Dinsdale again (with footnotes and photos) more closely than I did before, it really doesn't seem that his two different footnotes referencing the existence of examples of the sestertius with stars are based on the middle bronze type catalogued as RIC 1677: the two footnotes on the relevant page (nos. 1 and 2) are specifically attached to the two sestertius types -- nos. 006760 (RIC 1673) and 006770 (RIC 1674), one without and and one with the stephane -- with a third footnote (no. 3) applying to the middle bronze (no. 006780), and citing RIC 1677.

    Dinsdale page re Faustina II Tempor Felic, with & without stars above twins.jpg

    Furthermore, footnote 2 (to No. 006770, the sestertius with the stephane, so I hadn't looked at it closely before) specifically cites an illustrated example with a closeup showing the twins and stars; see photo 0067770(c) and the accompanying detail:

    Dinsdale illustrations of Faustina II Tempor Felic with & without stars.jpg

    Unfortunately, the source of the photo and detail no. 006770(c) isn't identified, and I can't find it anyplace else in the chapter; perhaps it's elsewhere in the (unpublished) book. But it seems clear from the footnote that it's a photo of a sestertius, not a middle bronze.

    It's still unclear, though, whether the statement in footnote 1 regarding the existence of examples with stars for no. 006760 -- the type of sestertius without a stephane (i.e., my type) -- is based on Dinsdale's actually having seen one or more such examples, or is based on an assumption that if one or more examples with stars exist for the type of sestertius with a stephane, they must logically also exist for the type without a stephane. As, in fact, they do!
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  19. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I wonder if our Maximus sestertii were from the same hoard; they both have red encrustations on them.

    Maximus PRINCIPI IVVENTVTVS S C sestertius CJM.jpg
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