I wanted to show off a coin purchased in Frank's latest auction and to offer my thoughts about classification of ancient coins. Feel free to post whatever you feel is relevant, of course! Collectors of modern coins, as you know, put a great deal of emphasis on minor varieties, such as a coin with a small date versus one with a large date or a quarter with Lady Liberty fully clothed verses a quarter where Lady Liberty is experiencing a "wardrobe malfunction." We ancient coin collectors, knowing that each die was hand-engraved, know that no two coins are alike and small variations in design--unless they distinguish one mint from another, for example--rarely mean anything. The concept of variety collecting in ancients is a rather loose one. But when is a variant not just a variant? In my opinion, when the two "varieties" actually represent two separate issues. As a case in point, I'd like to present a denarius of Faustina Junior I acquired in Frank Robinson Auction 104: It seems straightforward enough, and RIC, Cohen, RSC, and Sear list no variants of this coin. It is RIC 669, Cohen 35, RSC 35, RCV 5249. However, I shall call this type 1. I purchased this coin even though I already had an example of a Faustina Junior denarius with CERES seated left reverse: This is also cataloged as RIC 669, Cohen 35, RSC 35, RCV 5249. I shall call this type 2. But even a cursory look at the coin reveals some differences between type 1 and type 2: The obverse has a different bust style. It is on the basis of this bust style that Tameryazev & Makarenko assign different catalog numbers to the two coins. The hairstyle on type 1 is described as "waved and fastened in a bun behind the head." In addition, the empress typically wears a strand or two of pearls in her hair. It is assigned #159. The hairstyle on type 2 is described as "braided and fastened in a bun behind the head." It is assigned #160. They make no comment about the differences on the reverse. Note that in addition to the braided style on type 2, the bun on the back of the head is large-sized. The reverse has differences in not only the style of torch held by Ceres, but the orientation of it. It is on the basis of this reverse style that the BMC distinguishes between the coins. The torch in type 1 is short and cradled transversely in her left arm; moreover, some of Ceres' clothing drapes over that arm, dangling behind the cista mystica on which she sits. The BMC describes this reverse as "Ceres, veiled and draped, seated left on chest, holding two corn-ears upwards in right hand and transverse torch in left hand." It is assigned catalog #s 81-84. The torch in type 2, on the other hand, is long and vertically oriented and rests on the ground. There is no fold of drapery behind the goddess. The BMC describes this reverse as "Ceres, veiled and draped, seated left on chest, holding two corn-ears in right hand and vertical lighted torch in left hand." It is assigned catalog #s 79-80. From the BMC collection online: Type 1, BMCRE 81: Type 2, BMCRE 80: I did an examination of all examples of this coin at acsearchinfo, CNG archives and Wildwinds, as well as all for sale at V Coins and have determined that the bust type with the pearls and the waved hair ONLY appears in conjunction with the reverse type with the short, transversely-oriented torch reverse type with Ceres' drapery falling behind the cista mystica, and the bust type without the pearls and with the braided hair ONLY appears in conjunction with the reverse type with the long, vertically-oriented torch resting on the ground and without a fold of drapery falling behind the cista mystica. In other words, there is no "cross-pollination" between the obverse and reverse variants. This strongly suggests these coins were issued separately, either at two different mints or at two different times. And since we believe all of Faustina II's denarii were struck in Rome, this leaves two different times. I argue that type 1 was issued years earlier. It's difficult to assign a date to Faustina II's coins; indeed, for most of them, all we do is divide them between those issued under her father, Antoninus Pius, and those issued by her husband, Marcus Aurelius. The bust on type 1 appears on the following denarii, all issued under Marcus Aurelius and bearing the obverse inscription FAVSTINA AVGVSTA: CERES seated l., FECVNDITAS standing r., HILARITAS standing l., IVNO seated l., IVNONI REGINAE seated l., IVNO standing l. without a peacock at her feet, IVNO standing l. with a peacock at her feet, IVNONI REGINA standing l., LAETITIA standing l., SALVS seated l., SALVS standing l., VENERI VICTRICI standing r., leaning on a column, VENVS FELIX seated l., and VESTA seated l. She typically appears youthful on issues with this hairstyle. For example: Unfortunately, we are not able to accurately assign a date to coins bearing this bust style. In contrast, the hairstyle on type 2 is the style she had at the time of her death, and is therefore the last hairstyle to appear on her coins. See, for example, these posthumous issues: Therefore, I argue that the coin I call type 1 was a completely separate issue from type 2, and probably issued some years earlier, and not just a "variety."