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A Unique and Unpublished Titus!

David Atherton

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Sometimes a 'grail coin' can be one you previously didn't know existed, that is part of the fun and fascinating nature of ancient coinage. Recently, I was lucky enough to come across just such a coin - an unknown denarius variety for Titus. It is not often when one can expand upon the known corpus of Roman imperial coinage, but when one does it is a thrilling feeling indeed! Fortunately for me the piece was misattributed, so I didn't have much competition at auction. One other bidder did know what it was, I would love to know who they are.




AR Denarius, 2.75g
Rome mint, 79-80 AD
Obv: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, l.
Rev: CERES AVGVST; Ceres stg. l., with corn ears and poppy and sceptre
RIC 90A (R3). BMC -. RSC -. BNC -.
Ex NN London Auction 9, 29 October 2022, lot 329.

The reverse type of Ceres standing is a carry-over from Titus as Caesar under Vespasian. Many of Titus's first reverse types as Augustus were a continuation of those produced for him as Caesar during the last years of Vespasian's reign, probably because the mint needed time to adjusted for a new series. The Ceres reverse is not rare under Vespasian, but is extremely so under Titus as Augustus, being struck for just a few days. This undated left facing portrait variety of the type with a later obverse legend is unique and previously unpublished. This is either a mule pairing an old reverse die from Titus's first denarius issue with a left facing portrait die from a later issue, or it is an exceedingly rare carry-over type intentionally struck, perhaps for only a few days (hours?). It fits in neatly with a similar unique undated aureus of the type (RIC 90). I contacted RIC II.1 co-author professor Ian Carrdadice about this new discovery and he has confirmed the coin as a new variety for Titus and has assigned it as RIC 90A in the upcoming Addenda & Corrigenda.


Again, I can't begin to express how happy I am over this new addition to the corpus of Flavian coinage. It makes all those lonely hours spent collecting as a specialist worth while.

Special thanks to Curtis Clay and Ian Carradice for their insights.

And as always, thanks for looking!


Edited by David Atherton
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It is always nice when a specialist can find another previously unknown variety to add to the corpus.

I have found a few over the years primarily in eastern denarii of Septimius Severus but some others too. Here is one such Severan

Septimius Severus denarius

Obv:– L SEPT SEVER PERT AVG IMP VIII, Laureate head right
Rev:– VIRTVT-I AVG, Mars walking right holding spear and trophy
Minted in Laodicea-ad-Mare. A.D. 196-197
Reference(s) – BMCRE -. RIC IV - (cf. RIC 847, an Aureus of the type). RSC -.


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