Roman Collector Posted February 10 · Patron Share Posted February 10 (edited) " Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! As always, I hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead. Last week, we continued our discussion of the collection of Johann Sulzer and illustrated the coins on page 160 of the catalogue to his collection. This week, we're moving on to page 161, the last of the coins of Faustina the Elder in the collection. This was tough going; Sulzer makes an exceptional number of inaccurate guesses in his descriptions on this page. As usual, I will illustrate the coins in his collection with specimens from my own except for one type illustrated with an example from the British Museum. You know how it works. Let's get on with the show! Page 161 of the catalog of Sulzer’s collection. Sulzer #1342 (misdescribed reverse): Sulzer's listing misidentifies the figure on the reverse as Vesta holding the palladium. I translate Sulzer's Latin description of the reverse as: AVGVSTA S. C. Vesta seated, extended right hand holds the palladium; left hand holds a scepter. I don't blame Sulzer for misdescribing the reverse type. Even Mattingly and Sydenham, Strack, and Mattingly writing alone made the same mistake well into the 20th century. Last year, however, I examined every known example of this coin, performed a die study, and compared its iconography to Antonine depictions of the palladium and Spes, and demonstrated (conclusively, I believe) that the figure on the reverse is Concordia holding a small statuette of Spes. Faustina I, 138-140 CE. Roman Æ as or dupondius, 10.39 g, 26.5 mm, 7 h. Rome, 145-147 CE. Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: AVGVSTA S C, female figure (Concordia?) seated left, holding statuette of Spes and scepter. Refs: RIC 1184; BMCRE 1585 corr.; Cohen 121; Strack 1296 corr.; RCV –. Notes: RIC 1184=RIC 1181 corr. Ex- Wayne C. Phillips. Sulzer #1343: Faustina I, 138-140 CE. Roman Æ as or dupondius, 12.09 g, 25.7 mm, 7 h. Rome, 145-147 CE. Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: AVGVSTA SC, Ceres standing left, holding grain ears and long torch. Refs: RIC 1169(a); BMCRE 1566; Cohen 80; Strack 1286; RCV 4645. Sulzer #1344: Faustina I, 138-140 CE. Roman Æ as, 8.15 g, 26.1 mm, 12 h. Rome, 145-147 CE. Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: AVGVSTA SC, Ceres seated left, holding grain ears and long torch.Refs: RIC 1170; BMCRE 1577-78; Cohen 109; Strack 1289; RCV 4647. Sulzer #1345 (misdescribed reverse legend): This one is puzzling because no coin exactly matches Sulzer's description and there are two possibilities. Here's the listing again. I translate Sulzer's Latin description of the reverse as: AVGVSTA S. C. Female figure advancing, holding palladium in right, torch in left. There is only one middle bronze depicting a female figure holding a palladium and torch. Faustina I, 138-140 CE. Roman Æ as, 9.87 g, 26.5 mm, 11 h. Rome, 145-147 CE. Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: AVGVSTA S C, Vesta standing left, holding palladium in extended right hand and long torch in left hand. Refs: RIC 1178; BMCRE 1581; Cohen 114; Strack 1295; RCV 4648. The problem is that the figure on the reverse is clearly standing and whenever a standing figure appears, Sulzer uses the Latin verb stans (stands). Here, however, he uses the Latin verb gradiens (advances, strides, walks, etc.). This is a departure from his usual bland technical numismatic prose, and it must be significant. So significant, in fact, that I think it rules out a standing figure such as RIC 1178 shown above, even though the reverse figure holds the attributes described. There is only one coin that depicts a walking reverse figure holding a torch in her left hand: the Aeternitas-Diana advancing left, holding starry veil and lighted torch type. Faustina I, 138-140 CE. Roman Æ as or dupondius, 9.30 g, 25.6 mm, 11 h. Rome, 150 CE. Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: AVGVSTA S C, Aeternitas-Diana with crescent on head, advancing left, with right hand holding starry veil which billows around head, and lighted torch in left hand. Refs: RIC 1183; BMCRE 1587; Cohen —; Strack 1284; RCV 4650; Hunter 112. The biggest obstacle to accepting the Aeternitas-Diana type is that she doesn't hold a palladium in her right hand, she holds a billowing veil over her head. But one might imagine that on a poorly preserved specimen, the veil might look like a Palladium. Remember, Sulzer did not have the advantage of illustrated numismatic books and references to compare his coins to. He had to guess what an unclear attribute might have been. I think the most likely candidate for Sulzer 1345 is this Aeternitas-Diana issue. Sulzer #1346 (misdescribed reverse): This one also poses some difficulty because there is no coin that exactly matches Sulzer’s description. Let’s examine his listing. I translate Sulzer's Latin as: AVGVSTA S. C. Female figure standing, right hand holding grain ears downward, left hand a scepter. There is no coin depicting a female figure (Ceres) holding grain ears downward in combination with a scepter, though there is a Ceres holding grain ears and long torch type. I believe that Sulzer simply mistook the torch on this specimen for a scepter and this is just a duplicate of #1343 illustrated above. Sulzer #1347: Faustina I, 138-140 CE. Roman Æ as or dupondius, 13.99 g, 26.2 mm, 12 h. Rome, 150-161 CE. Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: IVNO S C, Juno standing left, holding patera and scepter. Refs: RIC 1190; BMCRE 1596-98; Cohen 211; Strack 1276; RCV 4653 var. Sulzer #1348: Faustina I, 138-140 CE. Roman Æ as, 9.21 g, 26.5 mm, 11 h. Rome, c. 140-143. Obv: DIVA AVGVSTA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: PIET AVG S C, rectangular altar with door in front; no flame on top. Refs: RIC 1191Aa; BMCRE4 1464-65; Cohen 259; Strack 1247; RCV –. Notes: There is a minor engraver’s variety where a flame is depicted on top of the altar. Sulzer #1349: Middle bronze, very rare reverse variety depicting Pietas holding a scepter. Unlisted in RIC, Cohen, Strack and Sear. British Museum specimen, BMCRE 1473. Also Kölner Münzkabinett Tyll Kroha Nachfolger UG, Auction 102, lot 285, 5 December 2014. Sulzer #1350 (misdescribed inscriptions on both obverse and reverse): This is another baffling entry, and I am not at all certain of which coin Sulzer is referring to. Let’s look at it closely. I translate it as follows: DIVA AVGVSTA FAVSTINA, head of Faustina Senior. PIETAS AVG. S. C. Pietas standing, right hand holding patera over altar, the left hand a scepter. If we are to assume the obverse and reverse inscriptions are reported correctly, and the reverse figure truly holds a scepter, then we must propose that Sulzer had yet a second example of #1349 (above), but misinterpreted Pieta's hand as holding a patera over the altar. Given the extreme rarity of #1349, with only two examples known, this explanation seems farfetched. The only other explanation is that Sulzer incorrectly describes the inscriptions on both sides of the coin, which is not at all implausible if his specimen were worn slick. We all have such coins in our collections. In this scenario, Sulzer owned an example of the CONSECRATIO/Ceres-Pietas sacrificing over altar reverse type as below. Faustina I, 138-140 CE. Roman orichalcum as or dupondius, 10.27 g, 26.3 mm, 5 h. Rome, 150 CE. Obv: DIVA FAV-STINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: CONSECRATIO S C, Ceres-Pietas, veiled, draped, standing left, sacrificing out of patera in right hand over altar left and holding long lighted torch, vertical, in left. Refs: RIC 1187(a); BMCRE 1590-92; Cohen 163; RCV 4652; Strack 1274. This explanation requires not only that Sulzer misinterpret DIVA FAVSTINA as DIVA AVGVSTA FAVSTINA and CONSECRATIO as PIETAS AVG, but that he misinterpret the long torch as a scepter. That's not farfetched; the torch on this issue often has a slender shaft, and if the top of the torch were missing through wear or tooling, it could easily be mistaken for a scepter. Lastly, this explanation requires Sulzer to not recognize this middle bronze reverse type as the counterpart to the sestertius he described accurately as #1330 (see January 27th’s installment of Faustina Friday). He may have been more influenced by the coin's similarity to #1349, which does read PIETAS AVG and depicts the goddess holding a vertical scepter. These pitfalls notwithstanding, I think this is the most likely explanation, but I'm far from certain. If only we had his specimen in hand! Sulzer #1351: Faustina I, 138-140 CE. Roman Æ as or dupondius, 13.27 g, 26.2 mm, 5 h. Rome, 143-144 CE. Obv: DIVA AVGVS-TA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: PIETAS AVG S C, Pietas, veiled, draped, standing left, dropping incense out of right hand over lighted candelabrum-altar, left, and holding box in left hand. Refs: RIC 1192A(a); BMC 1468-71; Cohen –; Strack 1241; RCV 4655. That's all, folks – the last coin of Faustina the Elder in Sulzer's collection. I hope you enjoyed this tour of an antiquarian catalog. It was a fun exercise for me, and it made me feel like I was part of a grand numismatic tradition reaching back across the centuries. As always, comments and coin photos are welcome. Feel free to post anything you feel is relevant! Edited February 10 by Roman Collector Correcting formatting issues 12 1 5 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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