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Faustina Friday – a Left-Facing Bust Variety of a Sestertius of the Pietas Sacrificing over Candelabrum Type

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Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! I hope the new year treats you well. Today I'm going to talk about one of the early sestertii of Faustina the Elder, the PIETAS AVG type depicting Pietas standing left, sacrificing over a candelabrum-altar type. The following coin with a left-facing bust is a new addition to my numophylacium and I wanted to show it off. However, I will discuss the PIETAS AVG reverse type more broadly in the context of its production.


Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 25.57 g, 32.4 mm, 10 h.
Rome, c. 143-145.
Obv: DIVA AVGVSTA FAVSTINA, veiled and draped bust, left, wearing stephane.
Rev: PIETAS AVG S C, Pietas standing left, dropping incense on candelabrum-altar and holding incense box.
Refs: RIC 1146Ad; BMCRE 1451; Cohen –; RCV –; Strack 1241 (Va L); Hunter 70A.
Notes: Double die match to Roma Numismatics, Auction 19,
lot 846, 26 March 2020.

The work of Martin Beckmann has clarified the dating and arrangement of the Diva Faustina coinage. Beckmann identified an almost complete sequence of die-linkages for the aurei, supported by additional shorter, but corroborative, die-linkages among the sestertii. In addition, Beckmann discovered several mules with reverse die-linkages to dated coins of Antoninus or Aurelius Caesar, which connected certain issues to other dated events. These studies enabled Beckman to produce a comprehensive and reliable sequence of relative dating of the aurei and, to a lesser degree, the sestertii.

The coins with the PIETAS AVG reverse inscription and depicting Pietas sacrificing over a cylindrical altar or a candelabrum-style altar appear on both the aurei and sestertii as part of the first phase of issues for the newly deceased Faustina and deal with her funeral and deification in 140 CE. The cylindrical altar type and candelabrum type are in use simultaneously in both the aureus and sestertius die-linkage chains.[1] It is thus perhaps best to consider these as varieties of the same reverse type, rather than as two separate issues.[2] The cylindrical altar type is the more common of the two in the gold and silver denominations, while the candelabrum-altar is the more common of the two in the bronze.[3] Two dies with this reverse of Pietas sacrificing over an altar appear muled with an aureus obverse die of Antoninus Pius bearing the inscription ANTONINVS AVG PIVS PP TR P COS III, establishing a date of 140-144 CE with certainty.[4] Below are some denarii in my collection demonstrating the cylindrical altar type (top) and the candelabrum-type altar (bottom). Each type is known with both bare-headed and veiled bust types. I have illustrated all these varieties
previously elsewhere


Faustina I, AD 138-141.
Roman AR denarius, 2.29 g, 18.6 mm, 8 h.
Rome, AD 140-145.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: Pietas, veiled and draped, standing left, dropping incense on lighted altar with right hand and holding box in left hand.
Refs: RIC 394a; BMCRE 311-314; RSC/Cohen 234; Strack 428; RCV 4598; CRE 114.


Faustina I, AD 138-145.
Roman AR denarius, 3.19 g, 18.2 mm, 7 h.
Rome, AD 140-44.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, Bust of Faustina I, veiled and draped, right.
Rev: PEITAS AVG, Pietas, veiled and draped, standing left, dropping incense on candelbrum with right hand and holding box in left hand.
Refs: RIC 395c; BMC 318; Cohen/RSC 236; Strack 429; RCV --; CRE 118.

This reverse type continued in use after the other consecratio-related types disappeared from the repertoire. While this is most clear in the aureus sequence, which is complete, more dies are known for the sestertii, implying a long period of production.[5] Moreover, the die-sequence continues after the introduction of the temple edifice types issued in conjunction with the dedication of the Temple to Diva Faustina in 143 or 144 CE. Reverse dies of the temple and Pietas types share obverse dies in both the aureus and sestertius denominations, confirming contemporaneity of production.[6] Production of the aurei of this reverse type ends with the introduction of the DIVA FAVSTINA obverse legend combined with the AVGVSTA reverse legend upon the marriage of Faustina the Younger to Marcus Aurelius in 145 CE.[7] Therefore, 145 CE serves as a terminus ante quem for the issue.

On the aurei and sestertii, the Pietas sacrificing over altar reverse type is known paired with three right-facing bust types – bare-headed, veiled, and veiled with a stephane – and one left-facing, with a veil and stephane. The stephane does not appear on coins of Faustina the Elder until shortly after the introduction of the temple types. This led Beckmann to suggest that the "temple's new cult statue served as a model for this new portrait." This stephaned bust type persists in Faustina's veiled portraits up to c. 150 CE, when it disappears.[8]

The bare-headed and veiled bust types are depicted on the denarii above; the coin below illustrates the right-facing counterpart of my new sestertius with the veiled and stephaned bust.


Faustina I, AD 138-140.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 28.18 g, 33.1 mm, 6 h.
Rome, AD 143-145.
Obv: DIVA AVGVSTA FAVSTINA, bust of Faustina I, draped, veiled, right, with stephane.
Rev: PIETAS AVG S C, Pietas, veiled and draped, standing left, dropping incense on candelbrum with right hand and holding box in left hand.
Refs: RIC 1146Ac; BMCRE 1447-1450; Cohen --; Strack 1241; RCV --.
Notes: Strack cites examples in Florence, Rome (Conservatorenpalast and also Nationalmuseum), and the British Museum.

Do you have any of these PIETAS AVG issues? Let’s see them! As always, feel free to post comments or anything you feel is relevant!



1. Beckmann, Martin. Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces. American Numismatic Society, 2012, Die Charts 1, 11, and 12.

2. However, they are considered as separate designs by most older references, such as Cohen, RIC, BMCRE, and RSC.

3. Beckmann catalogs 15 aureus dies of the cylindrical altar type and 3 aureus dies of the candelabrum type (plates 8 and 9); he catalogs 3 sestertius dies of the cylindrical altar type and 48 sestertius dies of the candelabrum type (plates 20-23).

4.  Ibid., pp. 7, 42. The two dies are PA8 (candelabrum-style altar) and PA 17 (cylindrical altar).

5. Ibid., p. 42.

6. Ibid., Die Charts 1 and 15.

7. Ibid., Die Chart 1 and pp. 55 ff.

8. Ibid., pp. 43, 50.

Edited by Roman Collector
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Nice and rare coin. Congratulations.

Here is a PIETAS AVG


Faustina Senior
AR Denarius 
Obv.: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, Diademed and draped right.
Rev.: PIETAS AVG, Pietas, veiled, standing facing, head left, holding incense box and sacrificing over lighted altar.
Ag, 18,5x194mm, 3.49g
Ref.: RIC III 394a, CRE 114 [S]

Edited by shanxi
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Here are two different Pietas, one ( Faustina I ), Pietas, veiled, holding box and dropping incence on altar , RIC III 394 p.74



and one from Julia Domna, with Pietas veiled, standing by burning altar, raising both hands.

RIC IV 574 p.170


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I find myself waiting for Friday's now just to read Faustina Friday. It also is starting to be an expensive reading habit- as I find myself researching and buying new Faustina coins. 😰

I do not have a Pietas reverse for Faustina Senior. I am a left facing portrait fanatic and love that she has both drape and stephane.

I do have two Pietas for Julia Domna as she is my main gal. (with Faustina Junior and Plautilla in a close second)

Julia Domna, Pietas JULIA DOMNA Ar denarius;18mm;3.08g  IVLIA AVGVSTA draped bust right  PIETAS PVBLICA Pietas standing left, raising both hands at altar  RIC 574;RSC 156 Keywords: Julia Domna Pietas


Julia Domna, Pietas Ar Denarius; 2.33g;16-18mm  IVLIA DO-MNA AVG draped bust right  PIE-TAS Pietas seated left, holding palladium in right hand  mint of Alexandria  RIC IV 612 Septimius; BMCRE 330; RSC 146c Keywords: julia domna vesta

draped bust right
Pietas seated left, holding palladium in right hand

mint of Alexandria

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Very cool-looking left-facing Faustina coin, RC. Thanks for sharing. 

I don't have a Faustina with Pietas. Only one on Lucilla instead. 

Lucilla Ses02.jpg

Lucilla AD 164-169. Rome
Sestertius Æ
LVCILLA AVGVSTA, draped bust right
PIETAS, S - C, Pietas standing left, holding acerrum and extending hand over lighted altar at feet to left.
31mm., 23,06g.
RIC III 1755 (Marcus Aurelius).


Edited by happy_collector
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