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A Coin No One Else Wanted

David Atherton

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I was quite surprised to win this coin at the opening bid of 75 €‎! Despite the small flan and surface roughness I'm very pleased to acquire a Victory type from this much coveted Ephesian issue. I suppose it flew under the radar(?).



Domitian as Caesar [Vespasian]

AR Denarius, 2.91g
Ephesus mint, 71 AD
Obv: DOMITIANVS CAESAR AVG F; Bust of Domitian, cuirassed, seen from front, Medusa head on breast of cuirass, fold of cloak on left shoulder, head bare, r.
Rev: PACI AVGVSTAE; Victory, draped, advancing r., holding wreath extended in r. hand and palm over l. shoulder. EPHE lower r.
RIC 1447 (R). BMC 472. BNC 365. RSC 336. RPC 848 (4 spec.).
Ex Solidus 105, 13 September 2022, lot 406.

For Domitian's first imperial coinage issue struck at Ephesus special treatment was given regarding the bust type. The engravers depicted him cuirassed with a cloak draped over his left shoulder. Vespasian and Titus were not engraved so elaborately (although at Antioch Titus' bust is draped). Why this is so is a mystery. Unusually Domitian shares the same reverse types as Vespasian and Titus in this series, unlike at Rome where he largely had his own unique types. This PACI AVGVSTAE type is one of the scarcer ones stuck for the young Caesar.

Do you have a coin no one else wanted? I'd like to see it.

Thanks for looking!

Edited by David Atherton
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It is always a cool and strange feeling if one gets a coin as the only bidder.

I got this Caracalla AE from Plautalia as the only bidder (at the time I could not believe it and had to triple check - maybe people considered it tooled; which it is not):



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The penny of Louis the Pious from Tours that I recently posted in the Carolingian coins thread;  I believe I was the only bidder on it at CGB.  It was hammered at the opening bid which was just over half the estimate.  

There is a concept in psychology called “pre-approval.”    Having many people interested in purchasing a good is regarded as a testimony to the desirability of that good, independent of any other criterion of evaluation.  So spirited bidding is perceived as an assurance that a coin is desirable.   Which then may push the bidding even higher.  And lack of interest may cause the perception that the coin isn’t worth your bid.  I suspect this effect is stronger in people who are outer-directed, while inner-directed people make up their own minds.  I would further speculate that collectors who gravitate to our more obscure corners of the numismatic hobby are more on the inner-directed side of the psychological spectrum.  

Consequently, when we get a coin others overlooked, we are more likely to believe we got a bargain, rather than we overpaid and no one else was foolish enough to bid on an overvalued coin.   Sometimes this opinion (that we got a bargain) is supported when the coin goes back on the market and realizes some multiple of our purchase price.  Or knowledgeable colleagues congratulate us on a canny acquisition.   Or, our own specialized knowledge reassures us, e.g. knowing that the left-facing portraits are far more rare than the standard issue.  

Having said this, I think all the coins above were bargains. May your competitor bidders always be inattentive, slow, and distracted.  

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I suspect it flew under the radar, @David Atherton, ignored by the condition cranks who care more about technical grade than rarity or historical importance.

I was the only bidder on this scarce Faustina II sestertius. It doesn't exactly have 5/5 surfaces, I'll admit. it happens to come from the Antonio Carmona collection, too!

Faustina Jr PIETAS S C sestertius.jpg
Faustina II, AD 147-175.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 23.61g, 34.2 mm, 7 h.
Rome, summer AD 151 or mid 152- autumn 154.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: PIETAS S C, Pietas standing facing, head left, holding flower and cornucopiae, with child standing facing, head to right, to her left.
Refs: RIC 1379; BMCRE 2177-79; Cohen 173; RCV 4715; Strack 1321.
Notes: Sear identifies the child on the reverse as Lucilla. Ex Antonio Carmona collection, ex-Roma E-sale 82, lot 1380, 15 April, 2021.


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Getting a coin for the opening bid is one of the most satisfying moments for a collector, when 1. the coin fits your collecting area 2. you like it and you were prepared to pay more.
I have some of them in my collection and I was prepared to pay more but I didn't protest at all seeing it's not the case.

Some recent ones


IONIA. Klazomenai. Circa 380-360 BC. Ӕ 10 mm 1.4 g

Obv : Laureate head of Apollo left. / Rev : [HΡAKΛEIΔHΣ] (?), swan standing left, below, grain ear left, wings open. BMC 46; Lindgren & Kovacs 436.


This Klazomenai swan went undetected because it seems very dull, but it's a scarce coin with a pleasant reverse - very well in my area. Getting it for the opening bid (10 EUR) is something I wouldn't refuse in the future!



PHRYGIA. Apameia. Pseudo-autonomous issue. Assarion. 4.57g 18mm. Time of the Severans, 193-235. ΔHMOC, Bearded and draped bust of the Demos to right / AΠAMЄΩN, Marsyas advancing right, playing double flute (aulos). Leypold, Vol. II, p. 30, 1441; Martin, Demos Vol. 2, p. 158, Apameia 22; SNG Copenhagen 200.

Nothing fancy but musical instruments are something I like on coins. I was expecting 20 EUR or something especially since that auction was popular. Nope. Opening bid. 5. Thanks.

This one was slightly different but a happy end overall.


KINGS of THRACE. Lysimachos.(305-281 BC). Ephesos. Drachm. 18 mm, 4.2 g
Obv : Diademed head of the deified Alexander right, wearing horn of Ammon. / Rev : BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΛYΣIMAXOY. / Rev: Athena seated left on the throne, holding Nike, crowning the king's name, in her right hand and leaning with her left arm on shield decorated with lion's head, transverse spear with point below, lyre to the inner left field, A under the throne.
Thompson 174; Müller 355.

This is not in my area of collecting so I was watching the auction without paying full attention, waiting for the coins I was interested in. Noticed this without bids so I reached that stage of panic (hey, a nice coin, it remains unsold, go go go). I went went went. The opening bid was 100 EUR not 10, like most of the other coins. This was not a smart move for me - I should have known that if a house decides to offer a coin like this with 10 euros opening bid, it can't stay without bids. But anyway, 100 euros was enough. Initially my reaction was not positive as I usually don't pay 100 euros + taxes for Hcoins not in my area.  But checking further the coin (in my opinion - better in hand) made me realize this coin is worth the sum I paid and is an excellent addition.

Edited by ambr0zie
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Unfortunately, my coin above turns out to be a match with a fake coin posted on forum. I've contacted the seller about this and will be reimbursed. I would like to give my thanks to @maridvnvm for seeing the match and contacting me. 

I wonder if that's why nobody else was interested...? 

Edited by Limes
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