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A Tale of Two Coin Sides

David Atherton

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Luckily for me a mint worker nearly 2000 years neglected to change out a worn die and kept using it beyond its natural usefulness. The results of that 'Friday afternoon' decision is a coin with a fairly decent obverse and a mushy reverse ... and a bargain for me!





Æ Dupondius, 11.78g
Rome mint, 80-81 AD
Obv: IMP T CAES VESP AVG P M TR P COS VIII; Head of Titus, radiate, bearded, r.
Rev: CONCORDIA AVGVST; S C in exergue; Concordia std. l., with patera and cornucopiae
RIC 197 (C). BMC -. BNC 192.
Acquired from Roman Coin Shop, September 2022.

Titus' bronze issue dated COS VIII is quite large due to the fact he did not renew the consulship in 81 and most likely the coins span both years. Concordia, the personification of harmony, may have been an appropriate propaganda type if there were grumblings from Domitian and his clique of followers. According to Suetonius - 'After the death of his father, he (Domitian) hesitated for a long time whether he should offer the soldiery a double bounty and he never had any hesitation in stating that he had been left as a partner in the imperial position but that fraud had been applied to the will.' (Suet., Dom., 2) The rumours surrounding Domitian's sour grapes towards Titus could be post Domitianic backlash against the hated tyrant, but the coins may provide contemporary evidence that all was not well between the two siblings. The Concordia type was struck in several variants, this one with the full spelling of 'Concordia' is the most common. Missing from the BM.

Do you have a coin with a tale of two sides? I'd like to see it.

Thanks for looking!

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Fun topic, @David Atherton! I am always disappointed when an obverse is struck with a nice, fresh die and the reverse is struck with a very worn one. This Tetricus I, for example, would be a very nice coin indeed if the reverse die weren't ready to be melted down!

Tetricus I, AD 271-274.
Roman billon antoninianus, 2.55 g, 18.4 mm.
Mainz, Trier, or Cologne, depending on who you read, AD 273-274.
Obv: IMP TETRICVS PF AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust, right.
Rev: LAETITIA AVGG, Laetitia standing left, holding wreath and anchor.
Refs: RIC 88; Cohen 62; Hunter 18; RCV 11239; Elmer 787.

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27 minutes ago, David Atherton said:

Do you have a coin with a tale of two sides? I'd like to see it.

My most attractive Titus sestertius (but only Fine) is the same coin as my ugliest.  It just depends on which side is up.  It was surgically treated for bronze disease many years ago but now is healthy but scarred. 


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In some regions it is not the wear of the reverse, but the reverse was ignored from the beginning. So in Elymais, where the coin production started with pretty reverses but ended up quickly with degraded reverses.



Kingdom of Elymais
Orodes II
Æ Drachm
Obv.: bearded bust; to right, pellet in crescent above anchor with one cross bar, Tiara without crest of rays
Rev.: parallel dashes
AE, 3.56g, 15.9mm
Ref.: Van´t Haaff Type 13.3, Subtype 2-2A

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A common type that tends to have this problem...

Celtic Tribes. Eastern Europe. Imitating Philip III, 3rd-2nd centuries BC. AR Tetradrachm (30x28mm, 15.41g, 1h). Obv: Head of Herakles. Rev: Zeus seated. Ref: CCCBM 98. Very Fine. Ex Triskeles Auction 23, Lot 29 (part).


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This might look a fine Augustus denarius, but it's two different coins 😄


The full pics aren't so exciting.

RIC 199 denarius (auction photo'):

RIC 187a denarius (my own really bad old photos, I need to update them with the better newer photos):

No prizes for guessing the sides that stay up in the tray for these 🙂


Edited by akeady
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