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Saturday is for Saturn!


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Saturday is named for Saturn! It's literally Saturn's day! Here are a couple of coins featuring the Roman god of agriculture. According to myth, Saturn introduced agriculture to his people by teaching them how to farm the land. Saturn was also the Roman god of time and this is perhaps why the slowest (in orbit around the Sun) of the five planets known to the ancients was named after him.

Let's see your coins of Saturn!

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Spanish Imitative Issue.
Roman Republican Æ semis, 5.70 g, 20.1 mm, 4 h.
Uncertain mint, 1st century BC.
Obv: Laureate head of Saturn, right; S (mark of value) behind.
Rev: Prow, right; S above; ROMA below.
Refs: ACIP 2659; Burgos R44.

[IMG]
Gallienus, AD 253-268.
Roman billon antoninianus, 4.26 g, 18.8 mm, 12 h.
Antioch, 15th emission, AD 266-268.
Obv: GALLIENVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
Rev: AETERNITAS AVG, Saturn standing right, holding harpa in left hand; PXV in exergue.
Refs: RIC 606; Göbl 1662i; Cohen 44; RCV 10170.
 
 
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Anonymous Semis of the Roman Republic Period after 211 BC * Material: AE Bronze * Diameter: 23.00mm * Weight: 7.21g * Mint: Contemporary Spanish imitation * Reference: Cf. McCabe IM.6-10; cf. ACIP 2659 * Obverse: Laureate head of Saturn right; S (mark of value) to left. The Inscription reads: ROMA * Reverse: Prow to the right

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My Saturn

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Gallienus
Billon-Antoninian, Antiochia
Obv.: GALLIENVS AVG, Radiate and cuirassed bust right
Rev.: AETERNITAS AVG, Saturn standing, holding harpa; PXV.
Billon, 3.07g, 19.2mm
Ref.: Kamp. 90.41.2, RIC 606, Göbl 1662k

Edited by shanxi
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Valerian I Antoninianus, 254-255image.png.603e47d063b6a6b16c83ee1f1707cbb4.pngViminacium. Billon, 22mm, 4.33g. Radiate draped Bust right; IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS AVG. Saturn standing right holding scythe; AETERNITATI AVGG (RIC V, 210). Purportedly from the Bristol (Somerset) II Hoard 1997.

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Posted (edited)

A great topic! Despite Saturn's foundational presence in Roman mythology, there really are very few coins depicting him, including only five Republican denarii (see fn. 2 below). I have one of them:

Roman Republic, M. Nonius Sufenas*, AR Denarius, 59 BCE (or 57 BCE according to Hersh and Walker & Harlan), Rome Mint. Obv. Bearded head of Saturn right, with long hair; behind head, harpa with conical stone (baetyl)** beneath it and S•C upwards above it; before, SVFENAS downwards / Rev. Roma seated left on pile of shields, holding scepter in right hand and sword in left hand; behind, Victory left, crowning Roma with wreath and holding palm-branch extending behind her over right shoulder; around to left from 4:00, PR•L• - V• - P•F; in exergue, SEX•NONI [The two parts of the reverse legend, together, stand for Sex. Noni[us] pr[aetor] L[udi] V[ictoriae] p[rimus] f[ecit, meaning Sex. Nonius, praetor, first held the games of Victory.].*** Crawford 421/1, RSC Nonia1(ill.), BMCRR 3820, Sear RCV I 377 (ill.), Sydenham 885, Harlan, RRM II Ch. 13 at pp. 104-111 [Harlan, Michael, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins 63 BCE - 49 BCE (2d ed. 2015)], RBW Collection 1517. 19 mm., 3.95 g.

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*”The moneyer is doubtless M. Nonius Sufenas, Pr. 55.” Crawford Vol. I p. 445. But see Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021), Fig. 3.53 at p. 158, suggesting that in the alternative, the moneyer was “perhaps his son.” M. Nonius Sufenas’s “father, Sextus Nonius Sufenas, was Sulla’s nephew, making the moneyer Faustus’ first cousin once removed.” Id. (Faustus was Sulla’s son.) See also Harlan RRM II at pp. 109-110.

After his term as moneyer, Nonius Sufenas is mentioned in one of Cicero’s letters to Atticus in July 54 BCE: “Now for the news at Rome. On the fourth of July, Sufenas and Cato were acquitted, Procilius condemned. Clearly our stern judges care not one whit about bribery, the elections, the interregnum, treason, or the whole Republic. Cicero, Ad Atticum, 4.15.4; see Harlan RRM II at pp. 104-106 for a proposed identification of the election which was the subject of the prosecution, namely the consular election of 56 BCE.

** See Harlan RRM II at p. 107: "The head of Saturn clearly identified by the harpa and the conical stone beside his head is on the obverse of the coin. The harpa recalls the castration of his father Uranus that resulted in the birth of Venus and the conical stone recalls that Saturn swallowed a stone thinking it was his infant son Jupiter whom he was trying to keep from growing up to replace him. Saturn, always identified by the harpa, appeared five times on Republican denarii." Harlan suggests (id. pp. 107-108) that, as on other coins on which Saturn appears, his image was intended to signal the moneyer’s past or present position holding office as urban quaestor, and, as such, “responsible for the treasury located in Saturn’s temple.”

***This reverse legend, as illustrated by the reverse image, “records the first celebration by an ancestor of the moneyer of the Ludi Victoriae of Sulla.” Crawford Vol. I pp. 445-446.  (That ancestor was the aforementioned Sextus Nonius Sufenas, Pr. 81 BCE, the moneyer’s father [or grandfather] and Sulla’s nephew.)

Edited by DonnaML
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Roman Republic. L. Memmius Galeria. 106 BC. AR Serrate Denarius (18mm, 3.62g, 1h). Rome mint. Obv: Laureate head of Saturn left; harpa and ROMA to right. Rev: Venus driving biga right, holding scepter and reins; above, Cupid flying left, holding wreath; V • below horses. Ref: Crawford 313/1c; Sydenham 574a; Memmia 2. Good Fine, serrate.

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Here's one with Saturn in a quadriga on both sides 🙂

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Gens: Appuleia
Moneyer: L. Appuleius Saturninus
Coin: Silver Denarius
ROMA - Saturn, holding harpa and reins, driving quadriga right
.G - Saturn, holding harpa and reins, driving quadriga right
Exergue: L. SATVRN
Mint: Rome (104 BC)
Wt./Size/Axis: 3.69g / 19mm / 6h
References:
  • RSC 3 (Appuleia)
  • Sydenham 580
  • Crawford 317/2
Provenances:
  • Ex. Thomas Bentley Cederlind Estate
Acquisition: CNG Online Auction E-Auction 395 12-Apr-2017

There are three issues of these - one with a head of Roma on each side, this with two quadrigas and another with Roma paired with a quadriga reverse.

ATB,
Aidan.

 

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