Roman Collector Posted February 12 · Patron Share Posted February 12 (edited) I doubt that I'm unique in my propensity to fall down a rabbit hole in the course of my collecting. Perhaps you do it, too. What is a "rabbit hole," some of you may ask. The term comes from Alice in Wonderland, but in a numismatic context, it refers to when the acquisition of one coin leads to the unplanned desire to acquire another related coin, which leads to the acquisition of another, and so on. And before you know it, you've started another "mini-set" or "sub-sub-sub-specialty." Here's how I fell down yet another rabbit hole. I've long had a thing for the Anatolian Great Mother goddess, Cybele. I've also had a longstanding numismatic crush on Faustina the Younger. So, when this Roman provincial coin of Faustina the Younger featuring an unusual representation of Cybele came up for auction in April, 2021, I decided to buy it. Faustina II, AD 147-175. Roman provincial Æ 17.4 mm, 4.39 g, 6 h. Phrygia, Docimeum, c. AD 150-155. Obv: ΦΑVСΤЄΙΝΑ СЄΒΑС, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: ΔΟΚΙ-ΜЄΩΝ, cultus-statue of Cybele standing facing, flanked by lions. Refs: RPC IV.2 1976 (temp); BMC 25.192, 23; SNG Copenhagen 358; SNG von Aulock 3550. But one single coin does not a rabbit hole make. I started to fall down the rabbit hole in December, 2021, when another coin of Faustina the Younger came up for auction from the same city and which had been struck with the same obverse die but which had a different reverse design. So, I said to myself, "That's neat! It will complement the Cybele coin I have in my collection from that city." So I bought that one, too. Faustina II, AD 147-175. Roman provincial Æ 17.4 mm, 4.67 g, 6 h. Phrygia, Docimeum, c. AD 150-155. Obv: ΦΑVСΤЄΙΝΑ СЄΒΑС, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: ΔΟΚΙ-ΜЄΩΝ, Hygieia standing, right, feeding serpent from patera. Refs: RPC IV.2 1977 (temp); BMC 25.192, 24; SNG Copenhagen 359; Recueil général 5960. And so I started to learn about the city of Docimeum in Phrygia and its coinage, focusing on the coins of Faustina the Younger in particular. I did die-studies and such and wrote an installment of Faustina Friday about it. But this was only a shallow rabbit hole; I climbed out and fell into other rabbit holes after that. But I'm in the habit of checking all the auctions at least once a week, and eventually I stumbled across this one, which went under the hammer yesterday at Savoca. When it was first listed a month ago or so, I said to myself, "Man, that coin's ugly! But it's an obverse die-match to my other two coins from Docimeum." But it was really ugly, and I didn't immediately put in a proxy bid for it because I figured I could get a better one later. So, I looked into it. The first place I looked was RPC, where I searched for "Faustina Docimeum." Lo and behold! There it was! Not just that coin type, but that same exact coin!! And it hadn't been listed in RPC when I wrote my installment of Faustina Friday about Docimeum a couple of years ago. Moreover, there were no other examples in RPC. RPC listed its provenance as "Savoca Numismatik Blue Auction 139 (31/07/2022), 522" and noted that it had been misidentified by the auction house as being an issue of Faustina I. I wondered how I missed this coin the first time around because I had participated in that particular auction, acquiring a scarce denarius of Faustina II with the Venus Felix holding a statuette of Victory variety (which only a flyspecking Faustina fanatic would care about, though), but I didn't put in a bid on the misidentified "Faustina I" from Docimeum. I am glad I didn't, because competition had been fierce! It garnered 30 bids and hammered for 70 Euro!!! I wondered what other examples there were on the market and whether various museum collections owned an example because RPC cited only the misidentified one from last July's Savoca auction. I looked at acsearchinfo under both "Docimeum" and "Dokimeion," at CNG's archives, Wildwinds, Asia Minor Coins, and Coin Archives. The only thing that showed up was the coin that had been sold at Savoca last July and which was now up for auction again. I looked at book references, too: BMC, Mionnet, Wiczay, Lindgren I and III, Sear GIC, Waddington RG. Nothing. The coin appeared to be unique. So, I said to myself, "Well, since the coin is unique, even though it's ugly, it is simultaneously the finest known example!" So I bid on it. And even though there had been stiff competition for the coin when it went under the hammer on 31 July last year, there was only one other bid and I won the coin with my proxy bid. And here it is, making its NVMIS Forums debut! Faustina II, AD 147-175. Roman provincial Æ 19 mm, 4.00 g. Phrygia, Docimeum, c. AD 150-155. Obv: ΦΑVСΤЄΙΝΑ СЄΒΑС, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: ΔΟΚΙ-ΜЄΩΝ, Athena standing, facing, head, left, holding spear, resting arm on shield. Refs: RPC IV.2 17492 (temp). So now I'm deep in the Faustina from Docimeum rabbit hole. There seems to have been two emissions from the city. The first features the empress in the Beckmann type 2 hairstyle and was struck with a single obverse die and with three reverse types (one die each): Athena, Cybele, and Hygieia. The second features the empress in the Beckmann type 5 hairstyle, and was struck with two obverse dies and with three reverse types: Apollo standing, Zeus seated, and a hexastyle temple. I now have examples of all coins of the first emission. And now I'm actively seeking coins of the second emission. THAT'S a rabbit hole! Post your tales of falling down a rabbit hole!! Edited February 12 by Roman Collector Correction of typographical errors 22 1 1 2 4 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.