Featured When grade/condition doesn't matter -- Faustina dupondius with veiled bust

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Let's see your coins of Faustina I with veiled busts or anything you feel is relevant!


    Specialist collectors know that it makes no sense to hold out for "a better example," when a certain coin comes up for auction that is the only example. Such was the case with this dupondius of Faustina I when it recently came up for auction.

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS Fortuna dupondius veiled.jpg
    Faustina I, AD 138-141.
    Roman orichalcum dupondius, 10.62 g, 28.1 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, AD 147-161 (probably AD 150/51).
    Obv: DIVA FAV-STINA, diademed, veiled and draped bust, right.
    Rev: AETER-NITAS S C, Fortuna standing left, holding globe and rudder.
    Refs: RIC 1160b; BMCRE4 1557 var. (bust); Cohen 9; RCV 4640 var. (bust); ERIC II 356.
    Notes: Beckmann (Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the provinces. American Numismatic Society, 2012, pp. 63-69) makes an argument, based on die-linkage studies of Faustina's aurei, that a massive issue of coins in all denominations bearing the reverse legend AETERNITAS took place in AD 150/151 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the empress's death.

    As a general rule, coins of Diva Faustina I with a veiled bust are harder to come by than their bare-headed counterparts and this one is no exception. Examples of this middle bronze with the bare-headed bust are infrequently sold. None with either bust are currently for sale at V-Coins; Wildwinds has no examples of this coin with either bust; acsearchinfo reports that only two examples -- both bare-headed -- have sold in the past 15 years; CoinArchives notes an additional sale earlier this year, but it's the same one that sold at CNG in 2012 previously noted at acsearchinfo.

    In contrast, there is not a single copy of the veiled bust variety to be found online. The British Museum has only the bare-headed bust variety:

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS Fortuna dupondius bare head BMC.jpg

    And no examples of the coin are to be found at Wildwinds, CoinArchives, acsearchinfo, OCRE, Coryssa, The Coin Project, CoinsCatalog, or at V-Coins. Basically, I am unable to find another example of my coin.

    The corresponding denarius also exists in bare-headed and veiled bust varieties, but each of these are much easier to come by than the middle bronzes.

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS Fortuna denarius bare-headed.jpg
    Faustina Sr, AD 138-141
    Roman AR denarius, 3.83 g, 18.2 mm, 5 h.
    Rome, AD 150/151.
    Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust, right.
    Rev: AETERNITAS, Fortuna standing left, holding globe and rudder.
    Refs: RIC 348a; BMCRE 360 ff; Cohen 6; RCV 4577.
    Notes: Overstruck on a previously issued coin; undertype not identifiable.

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS Fortuna denarius veiled.jpg
    Faustina Sr, AD 138-141.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.23 g, 18.6 mm, 6 h.
    Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust, right
    Rev: AETERNITAS, Fortuna standing left, holding globe and rudder
    Refs: RIC 348b; BMCRE 367; Cohen 7; RCV 4577 var. (bust).

    The coin was also issued as an aureus (bare-headed version only) and as a sestertius with both left- and right-facing bare-headed busts and in a right-facing veiled bust. I don't have these in my collection (yet).

    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

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  4. arizonarobin

    arizonarobin Well-Known Member

    Great coin, I love the veiled bust on Faustina I and II. On these rare coins, you can not "hold out" or you may never hold it at all! I have two examples of veiled Faustina I. My Dupondius has a lovely color but is not in great condition and the Aeternitas denarius I recently posted. The obverse is a bit blurry in my photo and I need to retake it - but I am terrible at coin photography!

  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Lovely coins! I still need one of those AETERNITAS star denarii for my Faustina I collection.
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  6. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Great coins and write-up, RC. I just got a veiled Faustina I and Faustina II - both sestertii, budget examples. I'd wanted this portrait on a big AE and these fit my budget (and as you note, they are rather hard to find):

    Faustina I - Sest. Veiled Pietas Jan 2019 (0).jpg

    Faustina I Æ Sestertius
    (c. 141-146 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    DIVA AVGVSTA FAVSTINA veiled and draped bust right, wearing stephane / [PIETA]S [AVG], Pietas standing left, dropping incense over lighted altar and holding perfume box.
    RIC III 1146A (Pius).
    (22.48 grams / 30 mm)

    Faustina II - Sest Matri Cast Feb 19a (0).jpg
    Faustina II Æ Sestertius
    (176-180 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    DIVAE FAVSTINAE [PIAE], draped and veiled bust right / [MATRI CASTRO]RV[M] SC below, Faustina II seated l., holding globe w. phoenix and sceptre; two standards in l. field.
    RIC 1712; Cohen 163.
    (24.43 grams / 29 mm)
  7. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Another great coin RR, they seem to just keep coming. My only veiled Faustina is a Sestertius of her temple in the Forum. 2015-01-07 01.07.50-18.jpg
  8. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    get'em while their hot!..(so to speak:p) Faustina l dupondius 002.JPG Faustina l dupondius 004.JPG Diva Augusta w/o veil, orichalcum As/dupondius
  9. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    A worn denarius with Faustina I veiled - my only silver with this portrait:

    Faustina I veiled w peacock throne Jul 2018x.jpg

    Faustina I Denarius
    (141-161 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    DIVA FAVSTINA, veiled, draped bust right / AETERNITAS, draped throne against which rests scepter; in front a peacock standing right.
    RIC 353b; BMC 388.
    (3.14 grams / 18 mm)
  10. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

  11. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    In the ten months since I first posted about this coin, I have performed a census of known specimens and have found an obverse die-match on a coin with a different reverse type. I want to share what I have learned.

    Strack catalogs the coin as number 1267 and cites examples in the Staatliches Münzkabinett in Berlin, the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, and the Nationalmuseum in Rome. The Paris specimen is, of course, the one cited by Cohen, which is in turn cited by RIC. Strack, Cohen and RIC (which cites Cohen without confirmation) fail to mention a stephane on the bust, but only note the presence of a veil. It's unclear if my example -- with a bust of Faustina wearing a stephane and veil -- is unique or whether Cohen and Strack are simply incomplete in their description. None of the specimens cited by Strack are photographed for online viewing and I am unable to confirm their existence or examine their bust types.

    This brings the census of known specimens to four:

    Veiled bust, unclear if stephane is present​
    Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris (Cited by Cohen/RIC and Strack)
    Staatliches Münzkabinett in Berlin (Cited by Strack)
    Nationalmuseum in Rome (Cited by Strack)

    Veiled and stephaned bust​
    My coin.​

    I have found an obverse die match to my coin, but with a different reverse type:

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS Temple dupondius Forum lot 81643.jpg
    RIC 1168b; BMCRE 1564; Cohen 68; Strack 1259. Forvm Ancient Coins (Web Shop), lot 81643. Here's my coin for comparison:

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS Fortuna dupondius veiled.jpg

    To better appreciate the stephaned and veiled bust type, see this one from the same issue of AD 150. It is not a die match, though very similar and probably engraved by the same hand.

    RIC 1159b; BMCRE 1555; Cohen 23; Strack 1266. Münzen & Medaillen GmbH (Auction 20), 10.10.2006, lot 315.

    I note that the descriptions of these additional two coins in RIC, Cohen and Strack make no mention of a stephane, only the presence of a veil. Moreover, the British Museum specimens (1555 and 1564) are viewable online and have a veiled bust but NO STEPHANE. Thus, it's possible that the specimens of my coin in Berlin, Paris, and Rome do not have a stephane, either.

    I plan to e-mail the curators of the collections at these three museums and ask for photos. I hope they might be so kind as to provide them.
  12. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    Do report back if you hear from the curators @Roman Collector , would be interesting to hear.
  13. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for posting the update on your research! That's indeed interesting.

    As you know, I'm having a similar problem with another veiled Faustina middle bronze. Neither RIC nor any other catalogue I have consulted list my reverse with a veiled obverse.

    My main question now is whether these veiled Faustinas with well–known reverses that usually come without a veiled bust should be considered very scarce issues of their own, or whether they constitute mules. The die match you found appears to be mild evidence for the latter. One could, for example, hypothesize that the mint had to "use up" precious obverse dies and thus paired them with reverses meant to come with a non-veiled obverse. Do you have an opinion or theory on this?

    Here is the coin I mentioned above:
    Rom – Faustina I, As, Vesta.png
    Faustina I (postumous), Roman Empire, As or Dupondius, 141 AD, Rome mint. Obv: DIVA FAVS[TINA], bust of Faustina, veiled, with stephane, r. Rev: [A]VGUST[A], Vesta standing l., holding palladium and torch; in fields flanking, SC. 27mm, 9.05g. Apparently unlisted variant; similar to RIC III Antoninus Pius 1178 (same reverse and legends; obverse without veiled bust).
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2020
  14. akeady

    akeady Well-Known Member

    Here are a few veiled Faustinas of mine:

    Bronze As
    DIVA AVGVSTA FAVSTINA - Veiled bust right
    AETERNITAS S C - Providentia standing left, holding globe and sceptre

    Wt./Size/Axis: 8.20g / 27mm / 6h
    • RIC 1163a (Antoninus Pius)
    • Cohen 38


    Brass Sestertius
    DIVA FAVSTINA - Draped bust right
    AETERNITAS S C - Fortuna holding globe and rudder
    Wt./Size/Axis: 24.00g / - / 6h
    • RIC 1107 (A. Pius)

    This is one I quite like:
    Bronze As
    DIVA AVGVSTA FAVSTINA - Veiled bust right
    S C - Crescent and 7 stars
    Wt./Size/Axis: 10.00g / - / 6h
    • RIC 1199 (a) (A. Pius)
    • Cohen 276

    And I'll cheat with a Faustina II:

    Brass Sestertius
    DIVAE FAVSTINAE PIAE - Draped bust right, veiled
    MATRI CASTRORVM S C - Faustina seated left, holding globe surmounted by phoenix and sceptre; before her, three standards
    Wt./Size/Axis: 24.30g / - / 0h
    • RIC 1711 (M. Aurelius)
    • Cohen 162

    All old photos, from 2010 or 2011, I should be able to do better now.

  15. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That's very interesting, @Orielensis . I'm not sure what would constitute proof of muling vs. low-mintage official issues, but it's a thought-provoking notion. Your coin appears to be unlisted, though I think you've misidentified it. I think it's RIC 1179, BMCRE 1582, with Vesta holding palladium and scepter, not a torch. Note the position of the goddess's left arm:


    Or this example from Roma Numismatics, with a very vertical scepter:


    In contrast, RIC 1178, BMCRE 1581, with Vesta holding Palladium and torch, depicts the goddess with her left arm held up near her shoulder, high on the torch:


    But that's immaterial as far as the bust type is concerned. Cohen, RIC, BMCRE, and Strack do not list a veiled bust type for either RIC 1178 or 1179. The most comprehensive reference, Dinsdale,* does not list it, either. I am unable to find another example at ORCE, Wildwinds, or acsearchinfo. That variety is scarce, if not rare.

    *Dinsdale, Paul H. Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius Caesar AD 138-161: Antonine Coinage. Leeds, Paul H Dinsdale, 2018.
  16. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Fascinating coins, @akeady ! I too have a veiled bust Providentia middle bronze:

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS Providentia dupondius.jpg

    You seem to have the sestertius equivalent of my coin, with the veiled and stephaned bust, BMCRE 1500. I am still on the lookout for the crescent and stars issue -- veiled or not!

    I like your MATRI CASTRORVM of Faustina II, too.
  17. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for the info, and you are of course right: it's RIC 1179. Shamefully enough, I also have to admit that you pointed me to this before. It's definitely a sceptre, not a torch.

    I guess this is what happens if you procrastinate updating the descriptions in your catalogue and thus hastily copy and paste the same erroneous attribution once more!
    arizonarobin and Roman Collector like this.
  18. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    I used to have one that was a die match to this - nice coin!
  19. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing

    @Roman Collector, I have to thank you for my interest in the veiled busts of FI, and it was because of your turning me on to them, when I saw this one in summer I had to add one to my collection. It is like Aidan's but with a different obverse legend break, and, too, the sestertius version of your OP dupondius. I'm excited to see @akeady's coin, as I've been previously unable to really find others like it, and am excited to see it used a different obverse die (I haven't examined the reverse dies in detail yet (edit: rudder shape and Fortuna drapery look different)). I find your research into this area (and many others) very interesting, thorough, and persuasive towards adding more to my collection. :rolleyes:. Thank you for sharing your results and passion!

    Faustina I, Wife Of Antoninus Pius
    AE Sestertius, Rome Mint
    Struck in 151 AD as 10-year remembrance of her death.
    Obverse: DIVA FAVSTINA, veiled bust right with stephane.
    Reverse: AETER-NITAS, Fortuna standing left holding globe and rudder.
    References: RIC III 1107c
    Size: 33mm, 23.9g
  20. akeady

    akeady Well-Known Member

    Nice one - I see I got mine from Roma when they were on Vcoins, back in Dec. 2010 - http://www.tantaluscoins.com/coins/38672.php - for £31.50 (I think they had a 10% off sale and the original ticket price was £35!).

    I used to collect Antoninus Pius coins and have a few other Faustina bronzes, but not veiled like these.

    It hadn't occurred to me that veiled head types are so scarce until reading this and looking around for some.

    Interesting types!

    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
    Roman Collector and Justin Lee like this.
  21. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing

    Cool! Mine came from Numiscorner via Vcoins in July/August 2019 for $47 (after a simple 5% discount). Pretty comparable in price if you ask me lol Your surfaces are much nicer than mine, especially with the detail on Fortuna.
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