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L. Livineius Regulus Denarius with Modius Issued in 42 B.C. - and a Trajan Restoration Type a 100+ years later


Marsyas Mike
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Here's a new one for me, a Roman Republican denarius of L. Livineius Regulus issued in 42 B.C. featuring a modius reverse.  It is quite worn, but that's the only way I'm going to be able to afford one of these.  This moneyer issued quite a few types, including Julius Caesar portraits and gold, to meet the financial/military needs of the Second Triumvirate.  This period of Roman Republican coinage is a favorite of mine, but few come my way that are affordable.  Here is an overview of types by this moneyer from CRRO:  http://numismatics.org/crro/results?q=issuer_facet%3A"L.+Livineius+Regulus"   For this particular type, there are 29 examples here:  http://numismatics.org/crro/id/rrc-494.29

Here it is - with some die-match information.  As part of my "new and improved" attribution process, I try to track down die-matches, which gives me some degree of assurance my eBay scrounging isn't digging up fakes - of course fakes can die-match too.  Although the photo doesn't show it, the top part of the reverse legend is partially visible in barely-discernable ghost-letters.  

571337460_RR-Livineia13-L.LivineiusRegulus42BCL.RegulusModiusCrawford494.29-MINEOc22.jpg.f75d5d96506866c179924341456c72a6.jpg

Roman Republic Denarius  L. Livineius Regulus (42 B.C.) Rome Mint Bare head right (Praetor L. Livineius Regulus) / L • LI[VI]NE[IVS] above, REGVLVS below modius between two stalks of grain. Crawford 494/29; Livineia 13; BMCRR Rome 4269; CRI 178; (3.34 grams / 17 mm) eBay Oct. 2022

Die-Match Characteristics:

Obv.: Four large locks at nape.

Rev.: REGVLVS; R low, G has "hook", V and S spaced apart, V leans left, S sloppy.

Die-Match Obv. and Rev.:

Classical Numismatic Group Triton XX; Lot 555; 10.01.2017

Roma Numismatics Limited E-Sale 9; Lot 389; 28.06.2014

eBay Item 195334372326; andipaul03; UK; Nov. 2022.

Here is mine with a high-grade die-match from a CNG auction: 

1392796861_RR-Livineia13-L.LivineiusRegulus42BCL.RegulusModiusCrawford494.29-MINEOc22COMP.jpg.a00725820279dc6da6e9f535ddee791a.jpg

https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=3594634

Here is some information I gleaned about this issue from FORVM:  

"L. Livineius Regulus  The monetary quattuorvirate for 42 BC (L. Livineius Regulus, P. ClodiusL. Mussidius Longus, and C. Vibius Varus) was appointed by the newly constituted triumviral government of Antony, Octavian and Lepidus. Its activities were extensive and remarkable. For the first time in the history of the republican coinage the moneyers were called upon to oversee the regular production of gold coins. Although many of these aurei were issued in the names of the three Triumvirs, with their portraits, a few bore the personal types of the moneyers and the Caesarian regime. Denarii were also struck with personal types, and these greatly outnumbered the triumviral varieties which were issued in honour of Antony, Octavian, and the late dictator. Lepidus was pointedly ignored in the silver series and, as in the preceding year, no fractional silver coins (quinarii and sestertii) were struck at all. The half denarius was destined to be revived in certain military issues of the triumviral period, but the silver sestertius ceased as a denomination of the Roman coinage with Caesar's assassination in 44 BC.

Although history records nothing of the moneyer Lucius Livineius Regulus his coinage is of considerable interest and provides tantalizing glimpses of his family history which go some way to establishing his identity. The distinctive portrait head which dominates the obverses of his aurei and denarii is identified as that of another L. Regulus who held the office of praetor. This may well have been his father who, with his brother Marcus, was a friend of Cicero, and who served under Caesar in the Thapsus campaign of 46 BC. Another ancestor, this time a praefectus Urbi, is referred to on another of his denarii. Traditionally it has been thought that the moneyer himself was the holder of this office, but this view is rightly rejected by Crawford who states "neither the history of the times nor constitutional practice permits the view that the moneyer was himself Praefectus Urbi in or about 42 BC". The reverse types of Regulus' coinage concentrate on the themes of public games in the circus, corn-distributions, and the celebration of curule offices held by ancestors."  https://www.forumancientcoins.com/historia/coins/r1/r06281.htm

What is a bit of a mystery - to me anyway - is why such an obscure type would be chosen for "restitution" by Trajan, c. 98-117 A.D.  These originals were not very common when issued (based on Crawford's die estimates, around 30 I think).  After 100+ years and several debasements to the coinage later, there could not have been many of these around c. 100 A.D.  Perhaps the simple modius reverse spoke to the current Imperial Annona policies?  Or Regulus was one of Trajan's ancestors?   The restitution issue is apparently quite rare (only 2 in OCRE, one of these the British Museum specimen (https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/C_1867-0101-1660); none on acsearch).  Here is the one on Numista: 

1075333754_RRLivineia13-L.LivineiusRegulus42BCL.RegulusModiusTrajanRest.RIC813-numistapic0.jpg.256f9c6929b4ea6f2a1f080cf8247a11.jpg

https://en.numista.com/catalogue/pieces253798.html

I know several issues of Regulus are out there amongst NF/CT members - gladiators fighting, J. Caesar, etc.  I found only one modius type like mine, a handsome one owned by @jdmKY posted here on Coin Talk:  https://www.cointalk.com/threads/ancient-roman-fast-food.372313/.   Please feel free to share any and all Regulus issues, I'd like to see them (and Trajan's restitution issue too, of course). 

 

 

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Here's my crappy example of the gladiatorial variant:

L LIVINEIUS REGULUS AR silver denarius. Praetor, 42 BC. Small bare head of the praetor L Livineius Regulus right. Reverse - L REGVLVS in exergue, combatants with wild animals: one combatant attacks a lion with a spear; another, with shield and sword, defends himself against a tiger; a wounded boar sits on the left, facing right. RCV 489. Very Scarce. 18mm, 3.5g.

regulus04.jpg.4d2a9b96a493bdf9f3f6946af9ae3c2c.jpg

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I've always been intrigued by the fact that Trajan re-issued a series of Roman Republican coins that so closely resemble the originals as to make it obvious that whoever engraved the dies must have had access to examples of the original coins and/or the original dies.. It seems unlikely that the coins were all still in circulation, which leads me to wonder if the Mint in Rome had preserved an archive of original Republican coins or dies to use as a resource. Or if perhaps there were actual collectors of Republican coins at the time. Either of which would be fascinating to think about.

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This is my best Regulus.

 

 

Moneyer: L. Livineius Regulus
Coin: Silver Denarius
REGVLVS·PR. - Head of Regulus right
L·LIVINEIVS - Curule chair; on either side, three fasces
Exergue: REGVLVS
Mint: Rome (ca. 42 BC)
Wt./Size/Axis: 3.69g / 18mm / -
References:
  • RSC 10 (Livineia)
  • Sydenham 1109
  • Crawford 494/27
  • HCRI 176
  • Banti 5/6 (this coin)
Provenances:
  • Ex. Leo Benz Collection
  • Ex. CNG 166, 2007 lot 150
  • Ex. Lanz 100, 2000, 435
  • Ex. J. Martini Collection (Ratto 23, Feb. 1930, lot 745)
Acquisition: Naville Numismatics Online auction NN Live 64 #467 21-Mar-2021

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ATB,

Aidan.

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Thank you for sharing those lovely coins, @jdmKY @Romancollector @Nerosmyfavorite68 and @akeady - those are some terrific examples of Regulus's coinage and late-Republican coinage in general.  These late-Republic types have long been my favorite.  Although I don't have a Regulus curule chair type, here is one from the same era for C. Considius Paetus - one of my first Republican denarii from over 30 years ago: 

1542848772_RR-Considia-CuruleChariDen(0dk).jpg.ae8a29a3b782cc67fb60246041db701e.jpg

I like that Hadrian too, @ominus1 - the modius type look good even when worn - something about a simple design holding up well.  Here are a couple of Antoninus Pius denarii of the type:

1663811719_AntoninusPius-Den.AnnonaModiusRIC62aMay2019(0).jpg.c855b6c70a02eb20f06bd7bf44cf3c9d.jpg

1960873932_AntoninusPius-Den.AnnonaModiusRIC58Aug2019(0).jpg.0bef05d00e657abd3fb79e5bdea86976.jpg

On 11/12/2022 at 2:56 PM, DonnaML said:

I've always been intrigued by the fact that Trajan re-issued a series of Roman Republican coins that so closely resemble the originals as to make it obvious that whoever engraved the dies must have had access to examples of the original coins and/or the original dies.. It seems unlikely that the coins were all still in circulation, which leads me to wonder if the Mint in Rome had preserved an archive of original Republican coins or dies to use as a resource. Or if perhaps there were actual collectors of Republican coins at the time. Either of which would be fascinating to think about.

Intrigued indeed @DonnaML - the survival of "old coins" in ancient times is an interesting, if mysterious, aspect of collecting.  We know that various debasements caused some coins to be withdrawn from circulation, others to circulate for incredible lengths of time (those Mark Antony legionary denarii).  We know the Republican denarii were circulating into the Flavian period, thanks to countermarks (for Vespasian).  By Trajan's time, the Republican coinage was pulled from circulation.  Here's an excerpt from a very interesting article by Kevin Butcher and Matthew Ponting,  THE REFORMS OF TRAJAN AND THE END OF THE PRE–NERONIAN DENARIUS:

"In AD 99–100 Trajan abandoned Domitian’s 90% standard and returned the denarius to 80% fine.16 This reform was long misdated to AD 107 and thought to coincide with a withdrawal of obsolete coinage mentioned in a statement in Xiphilinus’ epitome of Cassius Dio and which has traditionally been placed among the events of that year (Dio 68.15).17 It was further noted that Trajan issued a rare series of coins that restored old Republican and imperial coins. All three elements seemed to be part of an integrated plan, undertaken for financial motives: the finer Republican and early imperial coins were recalled; then the denarius was debased so that the state could profit; and then ‘restored’ coins were produced to commemorate the coins that had been removed and to reassure the public that nothing underhand had occurred.18 Proof that the reforms were undertaken for profit was offered by Theodor Mommsen in 1867: he noted that one type of Republican denarius, the legionary denarius issued by Mark Antony, had survived the Trajanic recall, whereas all other Republican denarii seemed to disappear from hoards by the time of Hadrian (AD 117– 138).19 That the Antony denarii were debased seems to have been common knowledge.20 These had not been profitable to recycle, and therefore they were left untouched. Had the aim been simply to remove obsolete coins, as Cassius Dio seems to claim, the Antony denarii should have been removed along with the rest. The discovery that the debasement of the denarius back to 80% dates to AD 99–100 and not AD 107 upsets what was once a comfortable scheme, and casts doubt upon the profit motive as the sole explanation for what was happening under Trajan. Furthermore, it has been observed that Mark Antony’s legionary denarii, which seem to have been abundant in Flavian hoards from peninsular Italy, vanish from hoards in that region after Trajan, and are in fact quite rare in hoards in other parts of the empire for much of the second century.21 If this observation is correct, it is possible that many of the Antony denarii also went into the melting pot along with other Republican coins, and that their lower silver content was no obstacle to their removal. Cassius Dio may have been recounting a real motive for the elimination of Republican denarii when he said that Trajan removed coinage because it was obsolete. The hoard evidence leaves little doubt that a major change took place in this period. Republican coins are still present in some quantity in Flavian hoards, but under Trajan and Hadrian they disappear. No other comprehensive removal of denarii had ever taken place on such a scale, and it must represent a considerable commitment by the state to renew the coinage." 

https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/classics/intranets/staff/butcher/butcher.ponting_aiin.pdf

It still seems odd that an obscure issue of Regulus was one of the "restored" Trajanic issues - you'd think Calpurnius Piso or one of the ubiquitous quadriga types would've been used, since they'd presumably be more common in circulation.  But maybe not?  

 

 

 

 

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On 11/12/2022 at 1:56 PM, DonnaML said:

I've always been intrigued by the fact that Trajan re-issued a series of Roman Republican coins that so closely resemble the originals as to make it obvious that whoever engraved the dies must have had access to examples of the original coins and/or the original dies.. It seems unlikely that the coins were all still in circulation, which leads me to wonder if the Mint in Rome had preserved an archive of original Republican coins or dies to use as a resource. Or if perhaps there were actual collectors of Republican coins at the time. Either of which would be fascinating to think about.

Spot on @DonnaML. Not to detract from OP's discussion of the Regulus type, but I just have to share my favorite example of this practice: 

This Titus aureus copied what is perhaps my favorite roman republican denarius, a coin that was about 190-200 years old at the time. I believe this reverse design was repeated by other rulers as well.

Titus (as Caesar) Aureus, 77-78 AD:

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Anonymous Republican denarius, RRC 287/1, 115-114 BC

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@jfp7375 and @Marsyas Mike, thanks for your thoughts on this very intriguing subject. I am somewhat skeptical that Trajan's restored Republican coins could have been designed on the basis of old specimens of the chosen types, pulled from circulation after 150 or more years. It's difficult to imagine that any such heavily circulated specimens could have sufficed to recreate the original designs as closely as the restored issues actually managed to accomplish. So I still tend to believe that the engravers had access either to uncirculated specimens or even to original dies. The same goes for the Titus aureus, with a design recreated 180 years after the original denarius.

Edited by DonnaML
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