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Why is this coin special? (VERY special!)

Severus Alexander

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It's not much to look at:


But this coin is in fact very rare and special, and I was super happy to get it.  Your job is to say why!  [Edit: three people got it right!  Read no further if you want to give it a try...]

Also: please post any rarities you waited a long time to get!

Edit: also post your denomination sets!

Edit 2: And post your DERP coins!! (see below…)

Edited by Severus Alexander
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So very special 😋

I'm going with the flower being between the E and S instead of S and P, like other types I've found. But I've been looking all over and started seeing his name as Alexan derP ius. Which means I've exhausted my search. 

Anywho, here's my latest Alexander Severus:


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I agree that it's probably a quinarius. From OCRE:

RIC IV Severus Alexander 255d
231 - 235
IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG: Bust of Severus Alexander, laureate, draped, cuirassed, right
SPES PVBLICA: Spes, draped, walking left, holding flower in right hand and raising skirt with left hand

There's no photo with it, so it must be rare!

Edited by DonnaML
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I confess I didn't notice the DERP thing! 😆 It's the new Must Have for NumisForums members: an SA Derp coin!  (Now you'll all be scouring your collections for the DERP legend break.)

The correct answer was arrived at first by @John Conduitt and seconded by @Finn235, while @DonnaML nailed the ID exactly as RIC 255d. Yes, it's a quinarius!  The coin is tiny: 15mm and only 1.20g. (With the happy consequence that it seems much nicer in hand than in the photo.)

If you spend just a little time on acsearch, it doesn't take long to find out that quinarii from the first half of the 3rd century are very rare. To take an extreme example, there are a total of only 2 known for Diadumenian, of any type.  For Sev Alex, with his fairly long reign, there are still a total of only 19 examples on acsearch, again of any type. Most have issues, and problem-free examples quickly climb into the multi-thousands.

I've only seen two other examples of the SPES type like mine, one on acsearch (a miserable example) and this beautiful specimen in the British Museum (also a plate coin in RIC):


All three coins come from the same dies, indicating a tiny issue.  It's thought that quinarii were only produced as special donative coins. (Was my coin touched by Severus Alexander himself, tossing them out into the crowds? I doubt it... surely he had underlings performing this task?)

Anyway, I'm sure happy to have finally landed an example of this elusive denomination.  Excluding a gold quinarius (which is basically unobtanium) that leaves one denomination to complete a Sev Alex denomination set: an aureus.  Will I be willing to fork out what it takes?  We shall see...

Meanwhile, here's another DERP:


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3 hours ago, Ancient Coin Hunter said:

Wild guess - no SEV?

This is actually pretty interesting, historically speaking.  When the emperor was preparing to respond to the shocking invasion of the new power in the East, the Sasanians under Ardashir, he dropped the "Severus" from his name for many official purposes and followed his alleged father's (i.e. Caracalla's) example of drawing direct associations between himself and Alexander the Great as he proceeded eastwards.  The Koinon of Macedon issued an especially large number of anonymous Alex the Great types under Sev Alex.


^ not my coin

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Oh yeah the Alexander the Great  Caracalla connection. Antoninus Augustus Pius equipped thousands of troops with phalanx weapons in preparation for his attempt to conquer the known world. However he was slain at Carrhae as he relieved himself by the side of the road. Those gold medallions revealing his megalomania still survive though.

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The obvious question I would like to see addressed is whether we know if quinarii of this period ever circulated at face value or were they more like Maundy coins that could be sold by recipients for a profit upon issue.   The other question I find interesting is how many people in the hobby would take tis corroded scrap over a slabbed MS 5/5 5/5 starred denarius.  I don't know if anyone has seen a current (and not all that well executed) ABC TV show called "Generation Gap" based on making fun of the fact that teens and grandparents are 'culturally diverse' and know little about what was/is important to the other generation.  I fault it for half the questions applying to things more a part of the generation in between rather than the 13 year old and 80 year old on stage.  The reason I mention it here is the final part of the show involves a toddler sibling of the teen who is presented with the choice of a prize between a rather nice toy and a brand new car.  So far, the kid has taken the toy and the parents have smiled and acted like they thought it was cute.  I can only assume that the producers have threatened anyone who so much as groaned.  The clips of those toddlers will be shown repeatedly to the kids  in a few years explaining to them why it is they do not get a car when they get a license.  How many of you would rather have a quinarius?  I suspect we could compare it to the aureus rather than the denarius.  

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On 8/25/2022 at 1:12 PM, dougsmit said:

The obvious question I would like to see addressed is whether we know if quinarii of this period ever circulated at face value or were they more like Maundy coins that could be sold by recipients for a profit upon issue.

I would like to know the answer to this one too.  Perhaps quinarii were most wanted by coin collectors at the time. 🙂 I spent a little time yesterday and today trying to find some good sources for the idea that quinarii were primarily used for donatives this late, and didn't come up with much, but I did find some evidence that they were used as proper currency in the first century and probably later.  In this paper, which argues the actual term used for the quinarius was "victoriatus," Seth Bernard quotes a tablet from the 70's CE found in London saying  "I ask you by bread and salt to send as soon as possible 26 denarii in victoriati, and the 10 denarii of Paterio." "In victoriati" suggests that actual quinarius coins are meant. (An aside: I really like the expression "by bread and salt!") Bernard also quotes some other primary sources, including one from the late second or early third century talking about "sportulae" of 3 victoriati.  Sportulae were handouts at public dinners hosted by important, wealthy people; which offers some support for the donative idea, although not solely by the emperor.

On 8/25/2022 at 1:54 PM, Qcumbor said:

DERP again

Not only is this fabulous coin the opposite of derpy, I don't think it counts as DERP either because there's no legend break before the D.  Sorry (not sorry), @Qcumbor!

I actually have a complete DERP AE and AR denomination set.  Besides the OP quinarius and the dupondius above, I have a DERP As:


A DERP sestertius:


And a DERP denarius:


Surely the DERPiest set on NumisForums! 😄

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