David Atherton Posted January 1 · Member Share Posted January 1 (edited) Now that 2022 is firmly behind us, I thought it high time to post my top ten coins of 2022. Personally, it was a very good year coining-wise full of long sought after types and several surprises! The list is presented in ranking order. 10. Rare Secular Games Denarius Domitian AR Denarius, 3.14g Rome mint, 88 AD Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P VIII; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, l. Rev: COS XIIII across field; Column inscribed LVD SAEC FEC; all within laurel wreath RIC 605 (R3). BMC -. RSC -. BNC -. Ex CNG E517, 1 June 2022, lot 509. A. Short Collection, acquired from Peus 2021. In October 88 AD Domitian held the Secular Games, a festival featuring theatrical performances and circus games accompanied by six various daytime and night-time religious ceremonies. The games marked the transition from one era (saeculum) to another and were supposedly held once every 110 years, or the maximum span of a human lifetime, making them a 'once in a lifetime' event. Domitian conducted his games on the Augustan calculation, rejecting the formula for the Claudian games held in 47 AD. The festival was important enough to interrupt the normal striking of reverse types on the coinage and for the mint to produce a new unique issue commemorating the event both in precious metal and bronze. The precious metal designs tended to be symbolic while the bronze were more narrative in nature, focusing on the various religious sacrifices that were at the heart of the games. Three reverse designs were produced for the denarii: herald with wand, cippus (column) within wreath, and herald standing by a cippus and incense burner. The vast majority of the Secular Games denarii were produced with right facing portraits, only a scarce handful feature one facing left. This cippus reverse with portrait left is the second known specimen, the lone example cited by RIC is from the ANS collection (a double die match), a supreme testament to its rarity! 9. Domitilla Sestertius Domitilla the Elder [Titus] Æ Sestertius, 25.51g Rome mint, 80-81 AD Obv: MEMORIAE / DOMI/TILLAE; S P Q R in exergue; Carpentum drawn r. by two mules REV: IMP T CAES DIVI VESP F AVG P M TR P P P COS VIII; S C, large, in centre RIC 262 (C). BMC 226. BNC 234. Acquired from London Ancient Coins, October 2022. Ex Bertolami E-Live Auction 236, 24-25 September 2022, lot 803. Domitilla the Elder was the wife of Vespasian and mother of Titus and Domitian. She married Vespasian either in 39 or 40 and died prior to him rising to the purple in 69. Titus struck a commemorative issue of sestertii publicly honouring his mother in 80 or 81. S. Wood writes of the type 'The carpentum was a vehicle that marked both the high rank and the sanctity of its passenger. Only Vestal Virgins and women of equivalent status were permitted to use carpenta within the city. Since the Julio-Claudian era, a number of imperial women had been granted the rights of honorary Vestals, despite being wives and mothers. Livia was the first to receive this distinction, followed by Antonia Minor and Caligula's three sisters, while Agrippina the Elder, the mother of Caligula, became a posthumous honorary Vestal as part of Caligula's rehabilitation of her memory.' Wood speculates the funeral games honouring Vespasian may have occasioned the appearance of Domitilla's carpentum both in the funeral procession and on the coinage. Clearly by the Flavian age the carpentum was a well known symbol of honour for women of the imperial household. Titus's use of a nearly 60 year old imperial cult image was quite in keeping with his reissue of older Julio-claudian reverse types. 8. Germania Capta! Domitian Æ Sestertius, 24.21g Rome mint, 85 AD Obv: IMP CAES DOMITIAN AVG GERM COS XI; Bust of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r., with aegis Rev: GERMANIA CAPTA; S C in exergue; Trophy; to r., German captive stg. r., hands bound, head l.; to l., Germania std. l.; around arms RIC 274 (R). BMC 244. BNC 312. Acquired from Savoca Coins, August 2022. In 85 Domitian struck a fairly impressive issue of sestertii, M. Grant hyperbolically called it the most 'ambitious' of any one reign or year. The series is the first major aes issue of Domitian's reign and is dominated by panoramic types commemorating his military victory over the Germanic tribe the Chatti. The details of the war are unclear, but the overall impression is that the conflict was a minor affair blown out of proportion by an emperor eager for military glory. No large battles, a la Mons Graupius, have come down to us, prompting Tacitus' assertion, 'that in recent times, the Germans were more triumphed over than conquered'. Consequently, Domitian's Germanic triumph of 83 received a certain amount of ridicule from ancient writers who thought the whole thing was a sham (Dio goes so far as to say Domitian raided the palace's furniture stores for his fake spoils!), no doubt the numismatic propaganda for the victory was likely viewed in the same manner by contemporary senatorial elites. Germania Capta types were first struck in silver in 84 and in bronze in 85. This iconic Germania Capta sestertius strongly echoes Vespasian's Judaea Capta types - but instead of a palm tree we see a trophy which appears to be mounted on a palm trunk(?). H. Mattingly writes in BMCRE 'the type is closely modelled on the Judaea Capta of Vespasian, but the German element is indicated by the heavy angular cloak worn by the man and by the oblong shields.' Comparing the two triumphs, the Josephian scholar Steve Mason remarked - 'The same people who produced Flavian Triumph I: Judaea were on hand for Flavian Triumph II: Germania, and sequels are rarely as good as the originals.' The Germania Capta commemorative sestertii were produced for only a few short years between 85-88. The present example from the first issue of 85 debuts this iconic reverse type and is slightly rarer than the variant struck in the second issue. Although this is the third Germania Capta sestertius I have acquired over the years, I think this is a very handsome piece and worthy of inclusion on the list. 7. Vespasian No Mintmark Ephesian Denarius Vespasian AR Denarius, 2.80g Ephesus mint, 71 AD Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPAS AVG COS III TR P P P; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r. Rev: AVG in oak wreath, no mintmark RIC 1426(5A)1 (R2). BMC -. RPC -. BNC -. Acquired from Kornblum, May 2022. Ex Gorny and Mosch 216, 10 October 2013, lot 2968. Ephesus struck a series of stylish denarii early in Vespasian's reign. Previously, it was thought all but the first issue were produced with mintmarks, that is until several specimens dated COS III recently surfaced that unquestionably lack any such control marks. The new RIC II.1 Addenda & Corrigenda records three COS III reverse types lacking mintmarks: AVG in oak wreath, confronting heads of Titus and Domitian, and Turreted female bust. All three types are known for Vespasian, just one specimen (turreted female bust) is recorded for Titus Caesar. All of these types are known from unique specimens, except for the AVG in oak wreath type with just two specimens cited by the A&C, the present coin being the second one listed. In all, only five no mintmark specimens for the entire issue are recorded in the A&C - with this latest addition four of them now reside in my collection. Ted Buttrey wrote in the RIC II Addenda the following concerning the no mintmark issue: 'I’m not terribly happy about this. It’s a convenient way to draw together several pieces which lack the mintmark, placing them after the completion of the ΘΙ and ΘΥ Groups 3-5 and the inception of Group 6 with ΕΡΗ —. But why should they have given up on a mintmark in mid-course, when all of Groups 2-9 are marked? The choices are – (i) mintmark on coins worn away; (ii) engraver forgot to add mintmark to the dies; (iii) issue deliberately produced without mintmark. Assuming (iii) for the moment, the new Group takes the place of fnn. 46-47, pp.162-3, and fits here nicely with V’s title for Groups 5-6, and T’s for Group 6, But I have no fixed opinion, and await the appearance of others of this variety.' I lean towards iii being the likeliest option - if accidental, why do we not see no mintmarks specimens throughout the series? Why are they only dated COS III? IMHO, the likeliest explanation is the no mintmark denarii were deliberately struck, albeit rather briefly (perhaps only for a few days), prior to or just after the COS III ΘΥ issue and before the much larger EPH issue was struck. 6. Vespasian 'Fallen Foe' Sestertius Vespasian Æ Sestertius, 24.67g Rome mint, 72-73 AD Obv: IMP CAES VESPAS AVG P M TR P P P COS IIII; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r. Rev: S C in exergue; Vespasian riding r., spearing fallen foe RIC 386 (R). BMC 622. BNC 610. Hendin 1518. Acquired from Aegean, September 2022. This extremely rare reverse type featuring a rider spearing a fallen enemy combatant most likely alludes to the Jewish War (per Hendin), although H. Mattingly in BMCRE II conjectures it refers to the contemporary campaigns in Dacia or Germany. It was sparingly struck for Vespasian in just one issue and slightly more frequently for Titus Caesar through several issues. Only one die pair is known for the Vespasian variant - a testament to its great rarity! I could locate only one heavily tooled example in trade on asearch. OCRE and RIC cites two examples, one in the BM and the other in Paris. IMHO, the RIC frequency rating of 'rare' seems a bit understated. Did the RIC authors know of any other specimens? NB: Because of its extreme rarity, this type for Vespasian could possibly be a mule with a reverse intended exclusively for Titus Caesar. Rarity and historical importance far outweigh condition in regards to this coin, IMHO. 5. Titus as Caesar Domitian on Horseback Sestertius Titus as Caesar [Vespasian] Æ Sestertius, 23.05g Rome mint, 72 AD Obv: T CAES VESPASIAN IMP PON TR POT COS II; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, r. Rev: CAESAR DOMITIAN COS DES II; S C in field; Domitian riding l., with sceptre RIC 418 (R). BMC 628. BNC 615. Acquired from Andrew Cichos, August 2022. An early sestertius struck for Titus Caesar featuring a reverse of Domitian Caesar on horseback. The type was commonly struck for Domitian under Vespasian in silver and on the middle bronzes, rarely for the sestertii. It likely commemorates Domitian's role in Vespasian and Titus' joint Jewish War Triumph - 'while taking part in the Judaean triumph, he rode on a white horse' (Suetonius, Domitian, ii), this was the normal practice for a young prince on such occasions. One couldn't ask for better dynastic propaganda than to have Titus pay homage to his younger brother on his very own coinage! This type has always intrigued me because of the contemporary gossip surrounding the brother's negative attitude towards one another. Was this a deliberate attempt to counter those rumours? A double die match with the Paris specimen. 4. Vespasian the Younger* Vespasian the Younger [Domitian] Æ Hemiassarion, 3.15g Smyrna (Ionia) mint, 94-95 AD Obv: ΟΥƐϹΠΑϹΙΑΝΟϹ ΝΕΩΤΕΡΟϹ; Head of Vespasian the Younger, bare, r. Rev: ΖΜΥΡΝΑΙΩΝ; Nike advancing r., holding wreath and palm RPC 1028 (17 spec.). Ex Leu Numismatik, Web Auction 18, 19-21 December 2021, lot 1953. Toward the end of his reign in 94 or 95 Domitian adopted the sons of his cousin Titus Flavius Clemens with the intent of making them his heirs. He renamed them Vespasian the Younger and Domitian the Younger while making Clemens consul. However, not long afterwards Domitian became suspicious of Clemens and had him executed on the charges of 'atheism'. His wife Domitilla III was exiled as well on the same charges. We do not know the fate of the two boys, presumably they were punished in some way because they disappear from the historical record. Smyrna was the only city in all of the empire to strike coins for the newly adopted heir Vespasian the Younger. No coins are known for Domitian the Younger. Perhaps Vespasian the Younger born in the late 80s was the eldest making him the senior crown prince. The coin portraits indeed show a child of around 7-10 years of age which would be about right. His coins could not have been struck for any length of time before news reached the city of the family's 'treachery', perhaps explaining the issue's rarity today. As mentioned above Flavius Clemens was executed on the charges of 'atheism', this according to a much later account written by Cassius Dio. Dio goes on further to state that other Romans who drifted into Jewish ways were similarly executed. Many scholars have plausibility theorised that Clemens and Domitilla converted to Judaism and were punished by the religiously rigid Domitian. There is also a later Christian tradition that Clemens and his wife converted to Christianity, although there is no evidence to back up such a claim. * Although I won this coin at auction in 2021, it did not arrive until January 2022. 3. Titus Brockage Titus AR Denarius, 2.55g Rome mint, 79 AD Obv: Incuse; Same type as rev. Rev: TR P VIIII IMP XV COS VII P P; Quadriga l., with corn ears RIC 43 (R). BMC 34. RSC 293. BNC 30. Acquired from delcampe, February 2022. Ex Jean Elsen & ses Fils S.A. Auction 86, 10 December 2005, lot 256. Struck after 1 July 79 AD, this Titus brockage denarius was surprisingly produced during a time of excellent quality control at the mint of Rome. Unlike an obverse brockage, a reverse brockage allows for easier cataloguing since the specific reverse type is known. The minor wear indicates the piece freely circulated and was accepted as normal currency. J. P. Goddard estimates that up to 4% of Roman Republican denarii were brockages! That number is significantly diminished during the Flavian era. The normal variant of this quadriga type is fairly rare on its own. Needless to say I was quite astonished to find one as a reverse brockage! An utterly fascinating unique coin. 2. Unique Titus Denarius Titus AR Denarius, 2.75g Rome mint, 79-80 AD Obv: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, l. Rev: CERES AVGVST; Ceres stg. l., with corn ears and poppy and sceptre RIC 90A (R3). BMC -. RSC -. BNC -. Ex NN London Auction 9, 29 October 2022, lot 329. The reverse type of Ceres standing is a carry-over from Titus as Caesar under Vespasian. Many of Titus's first reverse types as Augustus were a continuation of those produced for him as Caesar during the last years of Vespasian's reign, probably because the mint needed time to adjusted for a new series. The Ceres reverse is not rare under Vespasian, but is extremely so under Titus as Augustus, being struck for just a few days at the start of the reign. This undated left facing portrait variety of the type with a later obverse legend is unique and previously unpublished. This is either a mule pairing an old reverse die from Titus's first denarius issue with a left facing portrait die from a later issue, or it is an exceedingly rare carry-over type intentionally struck, perhaps for only a few days (hours?). It fits in neatly with a similar unique undated aureus of the type (RIC 90). I contacted RIC II.1 co-author professor Ian Carrdadice about this new discovery and he has confirmed the coin as a new variety for Titus and has assigned it as RIC 90A in the upcoming Addenda & Corrigenda. 1. Titus IVD CAP Sestertius Titus Æ Sestertius, 25.80g Rome mint, 80-81 AD Obv: IMP T CAES VESP AVG P M TR P P P COS VIII; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, l. Rev: IVD CAP across field; S C in exergue; Palm tree; to l., Judaea std. l. on arms; to r., Captive stg. r., looking back RIC 149 (C). BMC 165. BNC 157. Hendin 1592. Ex Bertolami E-Live Auction 236, 24-25 September 2022, lot 800. The Jewish War was a gift that kept on giving for the Flavian dynasty. This rare Judaea Capta commemorative sestertius was struck a decade after the fall of Jerusalem for Titus as Augustus. The new emperor wished to remind the Roman populace of his military bona fides and his part in the Jewish War. This later variant of the type differs from those stuck under Vespasian by the shortened reverse legend (IVD CAP instead of IVDAEA CAPTA) and the presence of an oblong shield or yoke(?) to the right of the standing captive. COS VIII dates the coin to either 80 or 81, although it's possible the IVD CAP types were struck in 80 to coincide with the opening of the massive Flavian Amphitheater. A recently discovered dedicatory inscription of the building states "The Emperor Titus Caesar Vespasian Augustus Commanded the New Amphitheater to be Built from the Spoils of War." Combined with the original decoration scheme of palm trees, shields, and captives it is compelling evidence the IVD CAP coins were issued during the structure's inaugural games in the late spring or early summer of 80. Looking over the list it is evident Titus had a very good year in the collection! The IVD CAP was an emotional pick for #1 mainly because it is a highly desirable type that kept eluding me. There are so many great coins that didn't make the cut ... perhaps I'll do a runners-up list? Thank you for all the kind comments over the past year and a very Happy 2023 to everyone here at Numis Forums! Edited January 3 by David Atherton 29 1 6 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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