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Do you collect Reverses for specific Emperors?


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One special reverse I'd like is Titus's elephant denarius, commemorating the opening of the Flavian Amphitheater which had been started under his father Vespasian:

NOT MY COIN - photo from CNG -


I'd also like to get a Trajan's Column coin sometime - probably a denarius. @DonnaML has a very nice example. These are easier to obtain than the above Titus but they still command a nice premium for ones in good shape.

There's the whole Judaea Capta series from Vespasian and Titus. My favorite design is from the large bronze coins, of Judaea sitting beneath the palm with the emperor behind, IVDAEA CAPTA above. But those tend to sell very high. The denarius featuring captive Judaea beneath a trophy of arms and armor is also nice and generally much more affordable.

I'm sure there's more but those are the ones that come immediately to mind.

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I really like animals and mythical creatures on coins and my main collection, the Gallienus Zoo, is based solely on reverses. To be honest, I don't much care about the state of the obverse, I prioritize the reverse style and quality in that order. There are rare military obverses, which are nice, but the prices for those go unusually high so I generally don't go for them. I try to find coins that have different styles, or dies, than ones I already have and there is plenty of variation amongst Gallienus' 30 zoo reverse types, 31 if you count the right facing Ivnoni coin that only features Salonina.

Here's four Mercvrio criocamps, the first three I believe to be the same die and each one upgraded the previous, the fourth is a completely different die which is why I added it to my collection. 


Edited by EtTu
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6 hours ago, Amarmur said:

Certain Reverses just speak the character or accomplishments for emperors like Africa for septimius Severus or the Trajan's column for Trajan. What are your "must haves" or most fitting reverses for your ancients? 

Yes, I think more than half of the coins in my collection have been added because of their reverse. I like coins which show buildings on the reverse, or refer to a specific event. 

I have a wishlist which comrpises of mainly reverse types, which is comrpised of types I will most likely never gain, to the more 'common' types of which I just have not found the right one (yet). 

Some examples of coins in my collection, I got because of the reverse:






edit: @CPKmentioned the coin of Titus, I have a specimen in my collection. It makes for a perfect stand in for a sestertius with colosseum reverse 😉


Edited by Limes
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Here's four Neptvno capricorns that I have, the first one I bought is my favorite, the second one is also a very nice coin of a different style, both the first have the distinction of having unusually nice obverses for a Gallienus Zoo coin. The third is a pretty bad coin, but I have yet to come across a nice example of a capricorn with the small, straight horns for sale and I'm also in need of a capricorn with the longer, very slightly curved horns. And the fourth I don't have in hand yet, it is potentially the same reverse die as the first, but I'm not sure as it looks to be bearded and the first is not. media-1670050473241-Dec_3_2022_12_21_AM.jpg.83c127c9138095cefcb43acfeb1843b0.jpgmedia-1670050475870-Dec_3_2022_12_21_AM.jpg.a76d37a4986e8e54df427e6e17414dad.jpgPhotoRoom-20221009_031309.png.a38f4c766c8db9a4ad709df212267038.pngPhotoRoom-20221203_015708.png.1b3593012e876fd6fc90fb5f222467fb.png

The more common reverses I have tons of different styles of and am always looking for more! 

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6 hours ago, Roman Collector said:

One thing Faustina the Younger is known for is her fecundity! I like watching her family grow.

If I win in lottery I will buy her aureus with dove reverse. A very unique coin.


In the meantime, I'll stick with the reverses of the denarii. 

Two examples:


Faustina Minor
AR-Denar, Rome
Obv.: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA. Draped bust right.
Rev.: MATRI MAGNAE, Cybele seated left with branch and drum, behind her a lion.
Ag, 3.34g, 18mm
Ref.: RIC III 706, CRE 173 [S]



Faustina II, Denar
Obv.: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, Bust of Faustina II, hair waved and fastened in a bun on back of head, wearing stephane, draped, right
Rev.: LAETITIA, Laetitia, draped, standing right, holding wreath in right hand and sceptre in left hand
Ref.: RIC III, p.270, 702 [S], CRE 199 [S]




Edited by shanxi
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Yes, I collect coins with reverses that reference Roman interactions with Parthia.  Trajan issued a few types commemorating his Parthian War and his setting up of Roman client-kings in the Mesopotamian region.  Here's a REX PARTHIS DATVS (A King given to the Parthians) and a REGNA ADSIGNATA (Kingdoms Assigned)::



This Septimius Severus shows Parthian captives and the reverse inscription starts with PARTH MAX (Parthicus Maximus):


And this Marcus Aurelius shows Victory inscribing a shield with VIC PAR:


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Specific reverses for emperors and empresses - now that's a nice theme.
When my collection grew I started to hunt these types of coins, as I find them far more interesting that the classic "somebody seated or standing" - common for many rulers and without something specific. I still buy them, but only if it's something special for me - an emperor I like, or a very good deal, or anything similar.

First examples I thought of and I will not post again are the DACIA reverse by Decius and Faustina II's FECVNDITAS coins.

Trajan's column, mentioned in the OP


This example might not be the best out there, but I was extremely happy to win it with 26 euros, after losing a better one that got to 160 euros in the same auction, and I saw this one by mistake after a few lots.

Trajan issued a lot of coins related to Dacia, specific for his coinage.


Trajan AD 98-117. Rome Denarius AR 20 mm., 2,96 g.
RIC II Trajan 130                       
Date Range: AD 103 - AD 111
IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P, bust of Trajan, laureate, right (sometimes draped on left shoulder) / COS V P P S P Q R OPTIMO PRINC, Victory, naked to hips, standing right, left foot set on a step, inscribing DACICA on shield

And types with Dacian soldiers



I am not sure, but I think this Arabia depiction with cinnamon sticks and camel beside is unique for Trajan.



One of my favorite 2022 coins is this Domitian rhino quadrans. I can completely ignore the surface issues - for me the rhino is perfect. Also a specific coin.


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As said above, the first coming to mind are Hadrian's travel series or Gallienus' zoo series. Although they're not from the Roman Empire, the Musa series is very popular among RR collectors.

In a similar way, I make an attempt to collect coins from various emperors/empresses sharing the same reverse : I'm (slowly) working on a "Diana Lucifera" series 









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My first interest was camp gates from the Constantine period. Constantine I, Crispus, Licinius I, Constantine II, Constantius, Licinius II. (stopped in 2022) My second collection concerns a coin of as many emperors as possible, in decent quality.

Constantinus I1.jpg.b1c452e03900274d476ecd10c4fa6faf.jpg



Licinius I3.jpg.e579a426a79fa6ec7df36fdb0f7dad67.jpg

Constantinus II4.jpg.e69c771cbf96b5c3dea11cf6999eb51f.jpg


Licinius II6.jpg.2b345bed475d10d4ba9ac108d2f47c51.jpg


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I tend to divide the reverses of my Roman Imperial coins into two broad categories. 

The first is "program" These are more general. They tend to include images of the gods or goddesses and are usually shown as an avatar of a general policy of the emperors such as his interest in the food supply "Annona" his desire to rule fairly "Justitia or Aequitas" . There are of course many more.

The second is "project" These tend to be specific and tend to display a specific event eg a war "Vict Dacia" or some type of building or infrastructure project. There are of course many versions of this as well. I tend to try to collect examples of the latter. As a guide I have often used this book. 91tmc8dAHCL.jpg.35c431df60cd4bc49aabfed412d4f420.jpg

Clive Foss Roman Historical Coins. There are of course a number of other references like this. If I had a favorite emperor for this type of coinage it would be Trajan. He issued a large number of coins celebrating his numerous civic and military "projects" However as an example I will be using this coin. 

Antoninus Pius Ae Sestertius 145 AD Obv Head right laureate. Rv. Pius seated left on a platform dispensing money to a citizen standing before him. To left Liberalitas standing holding  an account board and cornucopia. To right officer RIC  774 Foss 47 28.79 grms 32 mmPhoto by W. Hansenpiuss18.jpg.73cf48c40c36f1094e67d443d70eff6c.jpg

This coin refers to the fourth time Pius gave a special gift of money to the citizens of Rome. This was part of the celebrations surrounding the marriage of his daughter Faustina Minor to his heir Marcus Aurelius. So it is possible that the officer standing behind the emperor might be Marcus. It is interesting that the reverse depicts the citizen receiving his gift by catching it in a fold of his toga.  The scene though simplified does give us a glimpse into what a Roman ceremony may have looked like.  

Edited by kapphnwn
additional note
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2 hours ago, kapphnwn said:

Clive Foss Roman Historical Coins. There are of course a number of other references like this. If I had a favorite emperor for this type of coinage it would be Trajan. He issued a large number of coins celebrating his numerous civic and military "projects"

Prior to the publication of this book I took extensive notes on the historical reverses on Roman imperial coins. My main focus, when getting a coin of an emperor, was to get one that connected to his history.  When this book came out I no longer needed to identify historical reverses myself. I recommend this book highly.

I agree that Trajan is a good emperor to collect because his has many historical types. Here is my page on some of them, with special emphasis on coins celebrating his Dacian victories :


Here is one on that page:


Trajan. Denarius.
Denarius. 19-18 mm. 3.09 grams.
Laureate head right
DANVVIVS below river god reclining left, head right, cloak floating above, his right hand rests on a ship's prow and his left elbow on a tipped urn from which flows water.
RIC 100. Struck 107-111. Sear II 3138.

DAC in the obverse legend shows this was minted after he was awarded the title Dacicus.

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For Otacilia Severa, only one reverse type is a must-have:


MARCIA OTACIL SEVERA AVG - Draped bust of Otacilia Severa right, seen three quarters from front, wearing Stephane /

SAECVLARES AVGG, S C in exergue - Hippopotamus walking right, head raised

Sestertius, Rome, 4th officina, 9th emission of Philip I, AD 248

30,25 mm / 18,37 g / 6 h

RIC (Philip I) 200a; Cohen 65, Banti 13, Hunter 26

Ex CNG Electronic Auction 474 (12.08.2020), ex Jack A. Frazer collection, purchased from John Aiello, March 1976


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Volusian has lots of generic reverse types. And there is this round temple of Juno:


IMP CAE C VIB VOLVSIANO AVG – Laureate bust right, seen from behind, wearing paludamentum /

IVNONI MARTIALI S C- Temple of Juno: circular tetrastyle temple with Corinthian columns and ribbed dome, floral pattern at apex, large ornament below dome; within, statue of Juno, holding two grain ears in extended right hand, seated facing on winged throne; to lower left, peacock standing left; between columns, urns atop low pedestals

AE Sestertius, Rome AD 252

29mm / 20.92 g / 6 h

RIC IV 252a, Cohen 41, Sear 9788, BM R.4077 (same reverse die), Banti 12 (15 specimens)

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The most desirable reverse type of Maximinus Thrax celebrates his historic victories in Germania Magna:


MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG GERM - laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Maximinus right /

VICTORIA GERMANICA S C - Maximinus, in military attire, standing left, his right hand raised, holding spear in left, German captive seated left at his feet, looking back, emperor crowned by Victory standing left behind him, also holding palm.

Sestertius, Rome ca. September-December 236

32,34 mm / 21,64 gr

RIC VI 93, BMCRE 198 and pl. 40; Cohen 114; MIR 26-5; Sear 8342; Banti 33

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Upon reflection I should also mention this book 

RA Sydenham Historical References to Coins of the Roman Empire. This is somewhat more limited than the Foss which I referred to earlier. It covers from Augustus to Gallienus. Though dated it is still useful 71MvUM1CxAL.jpg.6b21facee4bb1e412ee7d91a5cd7eaf8.jpg

Another coin

Lucius Verus Ae dupondius 161 AD Obv Head right radiate Rv two emperors Marcus and Versu togate shaking hands,. RIC 1293 10,43 grms 25 mm Photo by W Hansen


This reverse celebrates the accession of two emperors to the throne. This was the first time this power sharing model was attempted. Previously there were only a single emperor and even if there was a heir presumptive, (Caesar) despite what powers that individual wielded he was still subordinate to the ruling emperor.  

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8 hours ago, kapphnwn said:

RA Sydenham Historical References to Coins of the Roman Empire.

This reprint (amazingly) got the title wrong on the cover. It is really Historical References on Coins of the Roman Empire. Foss's book is a greatly expanded version of the same idea. 

C.H.V. Sutherland wrote Roman History and Coinage, 44 BC - AD 69, (1987) which has long quotes from ancient historians and the associated coins. When I got my copy I thought it had been misprinted because photos were missing, such as figures 1a and 1d. They had captions, but no corresponding photos. Maybe someone knows how that actually happened, but I think Sutherland died before the book came out and they just published what he had already been assembled, which did not include all the photos he wanted. It has most of the expected photos, but far from all. I suppose he could have purposely described four coin types that illustrate a quote of an ancient author and decided two photographs were enough, but it is disconcerting. This book differs from Foss by giving far more context for each type cited, but it only covers up to AD 69. If you collect the twelve Caesars you will want Sutherland's book. 

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