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Tooled middle bronze of Faustina the Younger

Roman Collector

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In the course of researching this reverse type, I came across what appeared to be the finest known example of this scarce middle bronze of Faustina the Younger issued under Antoninus Pius.


But I've quite literally looked at several thousand coins of Faustina the Younger over the course of collecting them and something immediately seemed "off": the empress's drapery. I've never seen the empress's stola and palla rendered as a series of skinny, parallel creases like this and my Spidey-sense went off like crazy. I suspected that the drapery had been tooled. This, of course, called into question other aspects of the coin that suggested "high grade," such as the empress's hair and the details of Venus on the reverse.

I was fortunately able to find an obverse die match to the coin, which confirmed my suspicions about the tooling on the drapery. Here's an unaltered specimen of the coin from CBG.fr.


The drapery has clearly been altered on the Inasta coin. I also believe the hair detail has also been altered, but this has been done skillfully and subtly. I have noted this tooling in the comments section of the listing at acsearchinfo.

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For me, Faustina's hair bun on the obverse is a dead giveaway to the high probability of tooling.  Compare the circulation wear in this area with the wear in the nearby legend area:


How is it possible that the legend is so worn while the bun's intricate details remains so crisp?  How could the coin have been worn so unevenly during its circulation?  Is there any plausible explanation for this discrepancy other than tooling?

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