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No Mintmark Mystery


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Posted (edited)

Flavian denarii will always hold a special place in my heart ... especially those rarities with intriguing mysteries!

 

 

 

1141522982_V1426(5A)1gm.jpg.4903e8c90af899ecbf50b4bde3328433.jpg

Vespasian
AR Denarius, 2.80g
Ephesus mint, 71 AD
Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPAS AVG COS III TR P P P; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: AVG in oak wreath, no mintmark
RIC 1426(5A)1 (R2). BMC -. RPC -. BNC -.
Acquired from Kornblum, May 2022. Ex Gorny and Mosch 216, 10 October 2013, lot 2968.
 

Ephesus struck a series of stylish denarii early in Vespasian's reign. Previously, it was thought all but the first issue were produced with mintmarks, that is until several specimens dated COS III recently surfaced that unquestionably lack any such control marks. The new RIC II.1  Addenda & Corrigenda records three COS III reverse types lacking mintmarks: AVG in oak wreath, confronting heads of Titus and Domitian, and Turreted female bust. All three types are known for Vespasian, just one specimen (turreted female bust) is recorded for Titus Caesar. All of these types are known from unique specimens, except for the AVG in oak wreath type with just two specimens cited by the A&C, the present coin being the second one listed. In all, only five no mintmark specimens for the entire issue are recorded in the A&C - with this latest addition four of them now reside in my collection.

Ted Buttrey wrote in the RIC II Addenda the following concerning the no mintmark issue:

'I’m not terribly happy about this. It’s a convenient way to draw together several pieces which lack the mintmark, placing them after the completion of the
ΘΙ and ΘΥ Groups 3-5 and the inception of Group 6 with ΕΡΗ —. But why should they have given up on a mintmark in mid-course, when all of Groups 2-9 are marked? The choices are – (i) mintmark on coins worn away; (ii) engraver forgot to add mintmark to the dies; (iii) issue deliberately produced without mintmark. Assuming (iii) for the moment, the new Group takes the place of fnn. 46-47, pp.162-3, and fits here nicely with V’s title for Groups 5-6, and T’s for Group 6, But I have no fixed opinion, and await the appearance of others of this variety.'

I lean towards iii being the likeliest option - if accidental, why do we not see no mintmark specimens throughout the series? Why are they only dated COS III? IMHO, the likeliest explanation is that the no mintmark denarii were deliberately struck, albeit rather briefly (perhaps only for a few days), prior to or just after the COS III
ΘΥ issue and before the much larger EPH issue was struck.

At any rate, I was absolutely thrilled to acquire this fantastically rare denarius with its intriguing mystery!

Please post your mysterious coins!

Thanks for looking!

 

Edited by David Atherton
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Congratulations, @David Atherton, an elegant coin and I can appreciate the great rarity and mystery of the mintmark thanks to your post! Very happy to see your move to this forum which I hope will be an enjoyable new home.  Roman Imperial coins are not my collecting base, but these coins of Vespasian from Ephesus attracted me for the elegant style.  Here's my favorite from Ephesus, which you have probably seen before.

image.thumb.png.fdd70a1f1234864048ab535d2f066bdc.png

Vespasian, 69-79 AD, AR denarius, Ephesus mint, 71 AD

Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPAS AVG COS III TR P P P< Laureate head right

Rev: LIBERI IMP AVG VESPAS, Titus and Domitian, each veiled, togate and holding a patera, standing facing heads left, EPE in exergue

Ref: RIC II 1430 (Group 6)

 

For the portraits - this didrachm of Cappadocia again drew me away from base:

image.png.d14374b53ba69ebdd4960a26733839a0.png

Cappadocia, Caesaraea-Eusebia, Vespasian, with Titus, as Caesar, 69-79,  AR Didrachm, 76-77

Obv: ΑΥΤΟΚΡΑ ΚΑΙCΑΡ ΟΥECΠΑCΙΑΝΟC CEΒΑCΤΟC, laureate head of Vespasian to right

Rev: ΑΥΤΟ ΚΑΙ ΟΥECΠΑCΙΑΝΟC CEΒΑCΤΟΥ ΥΙΟC, laureate head of Titus to right

Ref: RPC II 1650

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I dabbled with Flavians when I started collecting but they fell by the wayside as I found my collecting style and focus areas. I only bought one coin from Ephesus and that was driven by the confluence of ugliness and beauty. I looked at good examples of the type and was struck by their beauty but this coin was a massive contrast due to the extreme double strike. I parted with it almost a decade ago and hope it found a good home.

Vespasian denarius

Obv - IMP CAESAR VESPAS AVG COS V TR P P P; Head of Vespasian, laureate, right
Rev - PACI AVGVSTAE; Victory adv. right, with wreath and palm; at lower right, star; annulet beneath
Minted in Ephesus, A.D. 74
References:- RIC 1457. BMCRE 475. RSC 277.
Dimensions:- 22.04 mm x 19.07 mm

Severely double struck.

RI_030r_img.jpg

 

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I really like that Denarius @David Atherton. Has such a clean look, and I appreciate the mystery of why all of a sudden, no mint marks. Apprentice boo-boo? “Couldn’t find the tools, but let’s keep going.”?

I enjoy Tetartemorions, and by nature these denominations have several mysteries, including WHERE they came from...

UNCERTAIN ASIA

upload_2021-8-2_10-42-56.png
ASIA MINOR Uncertain mint AR Tetartemorion Lion - Incuse 5mm 0.13g

However, creating these incredibly tiny, detailed pieces of history are amazing.

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  • 3 months later...
On 5/29/2022 at 4:43 AM, David Atherton said:

Flavian denarii will always hold a special place in my heart ... especially those rarities with intriguing mysteries!

 

 

 

1141522982_V1426(5A)1gm.jpg.4903e8c90af899ecbf50b4bde3328433.jpg

Vespasian
AR Denarius, 2.80g
Ephesus mint, 71 AD
Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPAS AVG COS III TR P P P; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: AVG in oak wreath, no mintmark
RIC 1426(5A)1 (R2). BMC -. RPC -. BNC -.
Acquired from Kornblum, May 2022. Ex Gorny and Mosch 216, 10 October 2013, lot 2968.
 

Ephesus struck a series of stylish denarii early in Vespasian's reign. Previously, it was thought all but the first issue were produced with mintmarks, that is until several specimens dated COS III recently surfaced that unquestionably lack any such control marks. The new RIC II.1  Addenda & Corrigenda records three COS III reverse types lacking mintmarks: AVG in oak wreath, confronting heads of Titus and Domitian, and Turreted female bust. All three types are known for Vespasian, just one specimen (turreted female bust) is recorded for Titus Caesar. All of these types are known from unique specimens, except for the AVG in oak wreath type with just two specimens cited by the A&C, the present coin being the second one listed. In all, only five no mintmark specimens for the entire issue are recorded in the A&C - with this latest addition four of them now reside in my collection.

Ted Buttrey wrote in the RIC II Addenda the following concerning the no mintmark issue:

'I’m not terribly happy about this. It’s a convenient way to draw together several pieces which lack the mintmark, placing them after the completion of the
ΘΙ and ΘΥ Groups 3-5 and the inception of Group 6 with ΕΡΗ —. But why should they have given up on a mintmark in mid-course, when all of Groups 2-9 are marked? The choices are – (i) mintmark on coins worn away; (ii) engraver forgot to add mintmark to the dies; (iii) issue deliberately produced without mintmark. Assuming (iii) for the moment, the new Group takes the place of fnn. 46-47, pp.162-3, and fits here nicely with V’s title for Groups 5-6, and T’s for Group 6, But I have no fixed opinion, and await the appearance of others of this variety.'

I lean towards iii being the likeliest option - if accidental, why do we not see no mintmark specimens throughout the series? Why are they only dated COS III? IMHO, the likeliest explanation is that the no mintmark denarii were deliberately struck, albeit rather briefly (perhaps only for a few days), prior to or just after the COS III
ΘΥ issue and before the much larger EPH issue was struck.

At any rate, I was absolutely thrilled to acquire this fantastically rare denarius with its intriguing mystery!

Please post your mysterious coins!

Thanks for looking!

 

Hi David - I found myself revisiting your post as I added a COS II (with mintmark) today.  I am a fan of these portraits from Ephesus, circa AD 70.

1427.jpg.ea7284835cae7c71fad62e25da3c53e1.jpg

The strike weakness on the reverse shows the mint mark seen here from another coin:

upload_2022-9-17_19-49-18.png

Edited by Sulla80
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3 hours ago, Sulla80 said:

Hi David - I found myself revisiting your post as I added a COS II (with mintmark) today.  I am a fan of these portraits from Ephesus, circa AD 70.

1427.jpg.ea7284835cae7c71fad62e25da3c53e1.jpg

The strike weakness on the reverse shows the mint mark seen here from another coin:

upload_2022-9-17_19-49-18.png

Congratulations on your new acquisition! A very handsome example!

Certainly it's tough to beat the Ephesian style in silver. The veristic beauty of these pieces is quite exceptional. 

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