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A Flawed Rarity

David Atherton

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I was quite pleased to have acquired this neat coin type struck for Domitian, although it is somewhat flawed.




Æ Dupondius, 9.30g
Rome mint, 87 AD
Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P VI; Head of Domitian, radiate, bearded, r.
RIC 537 (R). BMC -. BNC -.
Acquired from Numismática Prados, August 2022.

A rare instance of the full spelling of CENSOR PERPETVVS on Domitian's coinage. He assumed the title censor perpetus in 85 and held it until the end of his reign and apparently exercised it with 'unprecedented zeal'. Unfortunately, because of the off-centre reverse, the pertinent part of the legend is off flan!  Of note, the large S C reverse type makes its only appearance on Domitian's imperial coinage here. The radiate portrait without aegis variant is missing from both the BM and Paris collections.

Please post your own 'flawed rarities'.

Thanks for looking!

Edited by David Atherton
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No doubt the rarest coin that I ever bought on eBay.

Moneyer issues of Imperatorial Rome. L. Valerius Asisculus. 45 BC. AR Denarius (17mm, 3.05g, 4h). Rome mint. Obv: Laureate head of Jupiter right, pickax (acisculus) and ACISCVLVS behind, all in laurel-wreath. Rev: Anguipede Giant facing, grasping Jupiter's thunderbolt which has struck his flank, and raising left hand in agony; [L V]ALERIV[S], in exergue. Ref: Crawford 474/4; CRI 93; Sydenham 1003; Valeria 21. Poor to Good, nonetheless, one of the rarest of Roman Republican denarii, valued at £1300 in Roman Silver Coins. CNG Triton VI Lot 777 in Very Fine went for $8000 on a $4000 estimate. The head of Zeus within laurel wreath and the vanquished Giant are clear references to a glorious victory, which can only be that of Caesar over his enemies. Sear suggests this association of Caesar with godhead was another irritant to those factions opposing him and may have led to the quick demise of this coin type.


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Congratulations on the Domitian! Not my area, but it certainly sounds like an interesting and worthwhile variant. To me, a rarity like that gains a certain value (intellectual if not commercial) by having been in the collection of a specialist who can give it some context. (Conversely, I hope my coin below doesn't lose value by being in my non-specialized collection!)

For the coin below, I can confidently say I have easily the worst known specimen anywhere! (I guess I can say that about 1 or 2 others, but those are also the best known specimen.)

It's an undoubtedly flawed Roman Provincial bronze from Lokri Opuntii, struck approximately 68/69 CE, temp. Galba.

The type is rare as provincials go, though RPC knows of at least 6 examples in private hands, and 14 examples total. All those in private collections (including mine) were from the BCD Lokris-Phokis Sale (NAC 55), plus one more than RPC didn't catalog (BCD Lokris 467.2). (It's not uncommon to find he had acquired almost all documented specimens in private hands for types like this. I haven't seen any others, but there are probably some out there somewhere.)

With one exception, all known examples are countermarked ΛO ligate (for Lokri Opuntii). But it is also one of only two known specimens with a second countermark (different pairs, so each is unique, in that sense). The bottom countermark is Howgego 620 (ΛO monogram); the top one is supposed to be helmeted head of Athena, but I can't make it out, so I'm just trusting BCD's assessment.

The coin's exceptionally heavy wear is actually quite mysterious. It's very odd that one specimen would be so much more worn than all the others; none of the rest seemed to have circulated for long at all. Perhaps that's connected to the reason it has a second countermark. (The other double-marked specimen wasn't heavily worn, though.)


Roman Provincial. Lokris, Lokri Opuntii AE21 (5.95g), Magistrate M. Claudius Serapion, temp. Galba, 68/69 CE.
Obv: [
ϹƐΡΑΠΙΩΝΟϹ]. Head of Persephone right, poppy head; two countermarks: ΛO ligate (Howgego 620) & helmeted head of Athena [?].
ƐΠΙ ΚΛΑΥΔΙΟΥ]. Warrior holding spear & shield.
Ref: BCD Lokris 157.5 = RPC I Online 1342 example 14 (cited in RPC Consolidated Supplement [2015], p. 71) = this coin.
Prov: BCD Collection, NAC 55 (8 October 2010), Lot 157 (part)
; Dr. F Jarman Collection: Mints of the Roman Empire, Numismatik Naumann 100 (6 March 2021), 1215.

Edited by Curtis JJ
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