What is on the reverse of this Trajan denarius?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Gam3rBlake, Jun 16, 2021.

  1. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Ever since I got this coin I’ve been trying to identify what the meaning of the image and text on it are.

    Unfortunately NGC didn’t label any descriptions or anything on the slab.

    It looks to me like the text says:


    I know that OPTIMO PRINCIPI means something like “excellent ruler” in Latin.

    Im not sure if the SPOP was supposed to be SPQR (in which case the reverse would say something like “The Senate and Roman People are an excellent ruler”) and the writing faded over time so it just looks like SPOP or if it’s supposed to be SPOP.

    The image to me looks like Trajan (or a Roman deity) with his foot on a captive of war but I could be wrong.

    If anyone has any input on this I would appreciate it. I like knowing what my coins say and what the images are just to satisfy my curiousity :)


    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
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  3. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Wildwinds is your best friend.

    Ctrl+F "RIC 190" and it pops up with a similar coin, listed as "Pax standing left, holding branch and cornucopia, foot on Dacian captive."
    Gam3rBlake likes this.
  4. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    SPOP appears to be a simply celator typo. The O might just be a worn die Q, but the P is pretty obviously P.

    Chalk it up to illiteracy.
    Gam3rBlake likes this.
  5. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks! I had never heard of WildWinds before but I just bookmarked it for future reference :)
  6. RichardT

    RichardT Well-Known Member

  7. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Thats actually really interesting because it means Trajan, unlike most of the later Emperors, is actually praising the Senate on this coin. Whereas many Emperors constantly fought with the Senate and some (like Commodus & Caligula) didn’t even see a point in having a Senate because they wanted all the power for themselves.
    7Calbrey likes this.
  8. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    It's the go-to reference for just about every major imperial and provincial coin.

    It's essentially Van Meter on steroids as you can simply ctrl+F and find your legends very easily. May take a bit of getting used to, but it a HUGE time saver versus using printed references.

    The best part is that every listing has an image, so you can easily compare your coin with the reference.
    Gam3rBlake likes this.
  9. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    SENATUS POPULUSQUE ROMANUS (The Senate and the People of Rome) was the standard 'name' applied to the 'country' of Roma. It combines the powers of the ruling class (Senators) and the masses or ordinary citizens into one phrase. The phrase is commonly associated with Trajan who commonly used SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI (to the Best of Princes). We might add that there are many, many coins of Trajan with this reverse. Yours is weak in one or two letters which is just something you have to learn to live with. This is not an error of the die cutter but a combination of being made 1900 years ago and suffering from burial, retrieval and cleaning. Each of the coins below uses this legend and each suffers faults. When trying to read coins, it is good to seek other similar items for comparison and Wildwinds, as hotwheelsearl pointed out, is a great help to this end. You might benefit practicing using Wildwinds by seeing if you can identify coins you see posted here without looking at posted 'answers' which you will find are not always correct. Below, there are no captions. You are capable of doing it yourself.
    rc1675bb2821.jpg rc1680bb0750.jpg rc1690bb1732.jpg rc1705bb3168.jpg rc1720bb0208.jpg rc1740bb0845.jpg rc1745fd1302.jpg rc1755bb2984.jpg
  10. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Well I mean I did try to identify it myself to practice my skills and I think I did pretty good for a first try.

    I got the text right and even though I said SPOP I did put (SPQR?) in parenthesis since I had a hunch that’s what it was but looked like SPOP due to die wear/damage/circulation wear & tear/burial etc.,

    I also got the fact that the figure had his foot on a war captive.

    The only thing I really got wrong was misidentifying the figure as Trajan rather than the correct answer of Pax.

    Now I’ll see if I can identify the coins you posted xD.
  11. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    You will see this reverse legend on Trajan denarii very often.

    Identifying the reverse deities/characters is difficult for a beginner. In the first weeks of collecting I had no idea how do people know who is on the reverse and I was wondering if I will ever be able to. Same for identifying the obverse portraits.

    Try to attribute these as well after you study the coins provided by @dougsmit


  12. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    The sad thing for me is that I am a beginner when it comes to ancient coins but I do have a degree in Classical History.

    I find that usually the figure can be identified based on the symbols associated with them:

    For example if you see a figure with a staff and snakes it’s usually Asclepius.

    If you see a figure with two faces facing opposite directions and with beards it’s most likely Janus.

    But sometimes due to the coin having wear it’s tough to identify some of those symbols that would help identify the figure.

    Like with my coin the figure is holding a cornucopia but it’s hard to tell that that’s what it is.
    ambr0zie likes this.
  13. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    It definitely takes a while. I've been collecting ancient coins for around 20 years, and I'm still learning. For me, that's part of the attraction. Just be patient and stay with it. Each day you'll add a little bit more to your knowledge base.

    Oh, and keep collecting!
    Gam3rBlake likes this.
  14. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    There is another -- and more probable, IMO -- explanation for why SPQR looks more like SPOP: a filled die. Crud got down inside the tail of the Q and the R after making hundreds and hundreds of coins and metal couldn't flow into those areas of the dies.

    As for identifying deities and personifications when they are not explicitly labeled requires a knowledge of the various combinations of attributes.

    Domna Perinthus Homonoia diassarion.jpg
    This is Homonoia (Concordia), because she's holding a patera and cornucopiae.

    Trajan PONT MAX TR POT COS II Pax standing denarius.jpg
    This is Pax, because she's holding a branch and cornucopiae.

    Trajan COS V P P S P Q R OPTIMO PRINC Victoria denarius.jpg
    This is Victoria, because she has wings and is holding a wreath and palm branch.

    Faustina Sr AVGVSTA Ceres corn ears long torch denarius.jpg
    This is Ceres, because she's holding grain ears and a torch.

    Faustina Sr AVGVSTA S C Vesta standing sestertius.jpg
    This is Vesta because she's holding the Palladium and a scepter.

    And so on ...
  15. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

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