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Faustina Friday – A Favorite I Have Never Posted Before

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Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! Happy December! Whew! The year went by in a blink of an eye! We're coming up on "Top 10 of 2022" time and, in the course of compiling my list, I realized I have never posted one of my favorite acquisitions of the year, a middle bronze of Faustina the Younger with the Venus standing right, arranging drapery on right shoulder and holding apple in her left hand reverse type. So, I figured I had better post it before my top 10 list.


Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman orichalcum dupondius, 9.19 g, 26.88 mm, 5 h.
Rome, end summer 151-June 152 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII FIL, bare-headed and draped bust, right (Beckmann type 2 hairstyle).
Rev: VENVS S C, Venus standing right, arranging drapery on right shoulder and holding apple in her left hand.
Refs: RIC 1410c; BMCRE 2169; Cohen 257; Strack 1312; RCV 4737.

Well, if you like it so much, how come you never posted it before? And what's so special about it, anyway?

Those are legitimate questions, to be sure. I never posted it before because I have previously mentioned it in the course of writing about the reverse type both
here and elsewhere
. However, in those installments of Faustina Friday, I illustrated the type with a specimen sold at Bertolami Fine Arts nearly 9 years ago.


Bertolami Fine Arts, Auction 8, lot 610, 3 February 2014 = CNG E Auction 298, lot 283, 13 March 2013.

As you can see from my previous essays, this reverse type was paired with obverses featuring different inscriptions. This coin is special because it features the FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII FIL legend, used only for about nine months, from the end of summer 151 CE to June 152 CE. The type is quite scarce, being known from only the following examples:

Museum specimens

Berlin (cited by Strack)
London, BMCRE
Munich (cited by Strack)
Vienna (cited by Strack)
Paris (cited by Cohen)

Münzkabinett der Universität Göttingen
Münzsammlung des Seminars für Alte Geschichte der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität

Specimens sold at auction

Inasta Auction 87, lot
136, 15 May 2020 (extensively tooled)
Specimen sold by CNG and Bertolami illustrated above (fields smoothed on reverse)

CGB.FR web shop (obverse die-match to Inasta specimen)
HJB specimen contributed to

So, when my example came up for auction at Numismad, I knew I had to have it! And it lives happily ever after in RC’s Numophylacium Faustinarum.

Post comments or anything you feel is relevant!

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Fantastic Faustina, Venus, & 🍎 coins, @Roman Collector!

I’m an Apple user and an apple eater — two a day normally. I love the apple coins and have two of them also.

The Julia Domna is the one coin from my old collection that I couldn’t bring myself to sell.











Edited by LONGINUS
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13 hours ago, Spaniard said:

@Roman CollectorAnother informative thread thanks...

I'd always thought of the golden apple as a pomegranate? The Greeks also used this term for apricot, quince and peach?

The Venus with apple reverse iconography has been interpreted in a couple of ways. She may be Venus Caelestis holding a globe -- a Roman adaptation from the Syrian Goddess, Aphrodite Urania, a warlike Semitic deity -- but in the context of a fertile young empress such as Faustina, it is more likely Venus Genetrix holding an apple, the fruit being one more symbol of fertility.

Most Greek texts about Venus with an apple use the Greek μῆλον, which means apple, but is indeed also used more generally to refer to any roughly spherical tree fruit, such as apricots and peaches. The word for pomegranate, σίδη, is distinct.

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Lovely coin, @Roman Collector - I don't have one, but here is a Julia Domna sestertius with Venus in a similar pose:


Julia Domna  Æ Sestertius (207-211 A.D.) Rome Mint [IVLI]A AVGVSTA, draped bust right / [VENVS FELI]X S C, Venus standing facing, head left, holding apple and raising a fold of drapery. RIC IV 866; BMCRE 775. (20.49 grams / 29 mm) eBay Jan. 2020

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