Roman Collector Posted September 9, 2022 · Patron Share Posted September 9, 2022 (edited) Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! I hope you have a great weekend! Just call me Flyspeck Billy … Flyspeck Billy Trading Post, Custer SD, 1976. Photo courtesy South Dakota State Historical Society, South Dakota Digital Archives 2008-02-26-039 Used by permission. … because we're going to do some serious flyspecking today! I apologize for the length of today’s installment. I did a lot of research on this coin. So, buckle up, empty your bladder, and put on your reading glasses, because we're going to get to work!Specifically, we are going to examine the statuette in the right hand of the seated goddess on the reverse of this middle bronze of Faustina the Elder. Faustina I, AD 138-140. Roman Æ as or dupondius, 10.39 g, 26.5 mm, 7 h. Rome, AD 145-147. Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: AVGVSTA S C, female figure (Concordia?) seated left, holding statuette of Spes and scepter. Refs: RIC 1184; BMCRE 1585 corr.; Cohen 121; Strack 1296 corr.; RCV –. Notes: RIC 1184=RIC 1181 corr. Ex- Wayne C. Phillips. The identity of the figure on the reverse of this coin is a matter of controversy among the authors of the standard references. Her identity hinges on the nature of the statuette she holds in her right hand. If it is a Palladium, the goddess on the reverse is to be identified as Vesta; if it is a statuette of Spes walking left, holding a flower and raising her stola, the goddess might be identified as Concordia. The problem is that the statuette is very small and often, it is not well-preserved or even well-rendered by the die engraver in the first place. A flyspeck indeed! Compounding the problem is that the coin was issued only in the middle bronze denomination and we don't have a sestertius version of the coin which might have been large enough for the die-engraver to express clearly what was intended.~~~ Discursio: The Depictions of the Palladium and of Spes on Antonine Coinage In order to properly distinguish between the palladium and Spes on the coin in question, we must first examine the features of each as portrayed on the coins of the Antonine period struck at the mint in Rome. Whenever possible, I will illustrate them with coins of Faustina the Elder in particular, so as to be most relevant to the coin at hand.The Palladium The palladium was a small figure of Pallas Athena holding a spear and shield that was displayed in the Temple of Vesta in Rome. Thus, the palladium is a primary attribute of the goddess Vesta. Often, but certainly not always, the palladium appears to have a long, spiked base. It has been suggested that this base was driven into the floor of the temple, thus holding the palladium upright and securely in place. I have written about the palladium previously elsewhere. Here are coins of Faustina the Elder in my collection which depict Vesta holding a palladium.Vesta standing left, holding palladium and torch: Middle bronze, RIC 1178. Vesta standing left, holding torch and palladium: Sestertius, RIC 1125. Sestertius, RIC 1151. Middle bronze, RIC 1196. Vesta standing left, holding palladium and scepter: Sestertius, RIC 1124. Middle bronze, RIC 1179a. Middle bronze, RIC 1179a var. Denarius, RIC 400. Vesta seated left, holding palladium and scepter: Denarius, Cohen 285. Gemini Auction II, lot 441, 11 January 2006. Vesta standing left, holding patera and palladium: Denarius, RIC 330. Sestertius, RIC 1126. Vesta standing left, holding simpulum and palladium: Denarius, RIC 368. General characteristics of the palladium on coins of Faustina the Elder: Pallas Athena's shield is always held high, toward her shoulder, and never depicted at her feet. The shield may either face the viewer, in which case it is circular in appearance, or may be seen from the side, in which case it is lenticular in appearance. Pallas may be depicted with a spear, but often just her arm is raised as if holding a spear. A recognizable palladium does appear, held in the open hand of Vesta seated, on the lifetime denarius illustrated above.Spes Spes was the Roman version of the Greek Elpis, the personification of hope. On coins, Spes typically appears as a young woman, standing facing, or walking left, holding in her right hand a flower and with her left hand, lifting the hem of her stola. I have previously written elsewhere about this goddess. Even though Spes may be depicted standing facing, head left, I shall illustrate only the coins on which she is depicted walking left, holding a flower and raising the hem of her stola because this particular iconography is that which may be depicted in the statuette held by the seated goddess on the coin in question. There are few coins of the Antonine period that depict Spes in such a way, but I illustrate coins of my own collection that do so. Sestertius of Aelius, RIC 1055. As of Antoninus Pius, RIC 730. A statuette of Spes set on a column or base may also appear in conjunction with Concordia, beside Concordia’s throne on which she rests her elbow. Denarius of Sabina, RIC 398. Middle bronze of Sabina, RIC 1021. General characteristics of Spes advancing left on Hadrian-Antonine coins: Note that Spes appears in profile, with her right arm held upward in front of her to hold a flower, which may or not be rendered on the coin. Her left arm is slightly bent at the elbow and reaches down to grip her stola, which is pulled up like a sail. Note the folds of the drapery are engraved going up and to the right toward the goddess’s left hand.~~~ Now we are equipped to identify the figure depicted in the statuette in the goddess's hand on the reverse of the coin in question. Let us first examine what opinions have been rendered by various numismatists in the past. I have reviewed the literature to find the earliest reference to the coin. The figure on the reverse is identified as Vesta holding a Paladium in Sulzer's catalog of 1777 (no. 1342). Wiczay owned a specimen of this coin, no. 1366 in his Latin language catalog of 1814, but his description sheds no light on the identity of the reverse figure or the statuette she holds in her hand. Wiczay simply describes the goddess as a mulier (woman) holding an incuncula (little figure) in her right hand. Cohen, writing in 1882, seems to be the first to suggest the figure on the coin's reverse may be Concordia, describing her as "La Concorde? assise à gauche, tenant une statuette de l’Espérance et un sceptre" (Concordia? seated left, holding a statuette of Spes and scepter). Mattingly and Sydenham, however, writing in 1930, identify the statuette in the goddess's hand as a palladium, and therefore the goddess as Vesta, when describing the specimen in the British Museum (RIC 1181), while simultaneously acknowledging the existence of a type in the French national collection (and citing Cohen 121) with "Concordia (?) seated l., holding statuette of Spes and sceptre." Strack, writing in 1937, disagrees with Cohen's identification of the goddess on the reverse as Concordia, but acknowledges the possibility of two interpretations of the statuette in the goddess's hand. Strack describes the specimens in Berlin, Paris, and Vienna as "Vesta sitzend (nach links), mit Palladium (Spes?) und langer fackel" (Vesta seated left, with Palladium (Spes?) and long torch). Mattingly, writing alone in 1968, continues to identify the reverse figure on the British Museum specimen as Vesta holding a palladium and scepter. Of note, contrary to his opinion in RIC, he says nothing about the existence of a variety with a statuette of Spes or the possible interpretation of the seated goddess as Concordia. Sear provides no opinion; the coin does not appear in his 2002 catalog of Roman coins. Lastly, Paul Dinsdale, writing in 2020 and using methodology virtually identical to my own, is of the opinion that the reverse figure is Vesta, but that the engravers sometimes rendered her as holding a statuette of Spes and at other times a palladium as a "curiosity of execution, rather than a separate type." I will discuss Dinsdale's interpretation again later. To explore the issue further and to render my own opinion on the matter, I compiled an inventory of known specimens and have performed a die study of the examples illustrated online and in Strack. I have identified a total of nineteen specimens in the literature and online databases, of which I have been able to find sixteen which are illustrated. Three specimens illustrated are not sufficiently preserved to allow a die study or to come to any conclusion about the identity of the figure held in the goddess's right hand on the reverse. This leaves thirteen coins, which were struck with a total of eleven different reverse dies. These are illustrated in the next post, below. More follows. Edited January 28 by Roman Collector Correct information about Sulzer's collection and update a coin photo 16 1 1 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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