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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!

Down The Rabbit Hole - Hole GIF - Hole RabbitHole ...

Post your tales of falling down a rabbit hole!!

Edited by Roman Collector
Correction of typographical errors
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@Roman Collector the concept of "rabbit hole" is quite familiar, and I enjoyed your Faustina write-up.  Cappadocia is a rabbit hole for me that started with Roman Republican general Sulla, restoring Cappadocian King Ariobarzanes to the throne before the first Mithridatic War, which was connected to a first encounter between the Parthians and the Romans, Mithridates placing his son as King of Cappadocia, Mithridates attack on Romans in Asia Minor, civil war in Rome, .....and so on...


Edited by Sulla80
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What a lovely rabbit hole to fall down! Provincial holes are absolutely an adventure to rival Alice's. 😁

I had this happen when I bought a coin of Julia Domna from Stobi. It led to a few more of hers from Stobi, then an interesting one of Caracalla, then Geta, and why not Septimius too? I should have the whole family! Then a few Marcus Aurelius... over 110 coins later I still have not found the light at the end of the rabbit hole!


Caracalla, Stobi MACEDON, Stobi  Caracalla 198-217 AD.  Æ 23mm; 7.03g  Laureate head right  Statue standing right on cippus, between reclining figures of Axius and Erigon Rivers; reeds beneath.  Josifovski 286 (V3, R3), same as CNG69L911Cf. Boric-Breskovic, Stobi, pl. V, 25.2; AMNG III -; SNG Copenhagen -. VF.  Keywords: Caracalla Stobi River Gods Axius Erigon

Julia Domna, Stobi IVLIA . AVGVSTA draped bust right  STOB EN MVNI CI Hades abducting Persephone in galloping quadriga  Josifovski, V38, R? Kuzmanovic Collection 476 - 479  Ae 23-24mm Diassaria; 7.38g  Keywords: julia domna stobi hades persephone quadriga V38

Geta, Stobi Ae; 28mm; 8.71g  SEPTGETA-CAESPONT Bare head, draped and cuirassed bust right  MVNICIPIVM-STOBENSIVM Serapis standing facing, in long garment, calathos  on his head, right hand raised high, bent left arm holding hems, serpent by his left hand  Josif V1, R Kuzmanovic 539 (new die pair V1 not previously known with Serapis reverse) Keywords: Geta Stobi Serapis

Septimius Severus, Stobi SEVERVS PIVS AVGV Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust left  MVNIC- STOBE Victory/Nemesis in advancing left in long chiton, turned left, wheel at her feet, holding wreath in right hand, palm branch in left  Ae 27mm; 12.57g Nominal III Keywords: Septimius Severus Stobi Victory



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Thank you, @Roman Collectorfor another great post   !


Technically speaking, my Roman Imperial denarii collection is a trip down a glorious rabbit hole.

My first ancients were Judaean and I continue to be a David Hendin groupie 😍




Edited by LONGINUS
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I've fallen through rabbit holes within rabbit holes. I've already detailed multiple times my Philip II, Alexander III, and the Age of the Diadochi collection (two overlapping collections containing over 400 coins), but there's been other holes I've fallen into on the way.

Like @Sulla80I've also fallen into the "Capadoccian hole" and pick up a coin there every now and again. Here's my most recent acquisition there.


Archelaus, King of Cappadocia, 36 BC - 17 CE
Dated 4/5 CE
AR Drachm 20mm; 3.37 gm, 12h
Cappadocia mint.
Obv: Diademed head of Archelaus to right.
BMC 3. RPC 3604
Ex Akropolis Coins


I've also become intrigued with the kings of Thrace. Here's a recent pick up there.


Kings of Thrace. Hebryzelmis
389-383 BCE
Æ 18 mm, 5,74 g
Ex Savoca


Then there's my "10,000 Collection" which I started after reading Xenophon's Anabasis. I'm honestly not sure if this coin falls into that collection (requires a separate discussion) but if it doesn't then it certainly falls into my "Kings of Thrace" collection.


Kings of Odrysian Thrace, Metokos
Circa 407-386 BCE
AR Diobol 1.07g, 11mm, 4h
Bare head to right
MHTOKO, labrys; all within shallow circular incuse.
Peykov B0180; Topalov I 3; HGC 3.2, 1685 (trihemiobol).
Ex Roma


Then there's a completely new collection I've been considering. Since I'm focusing so much on my Alexander collection mentioned above, I've sworn not to pursue it yet, since it may include hundreds of coins. However, just last week I noticed a coin that was cheap, part of this collection, and one of only four listed on ACSearch. I couldn't resist, so I bought it .... and fell into another hole.

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I love this thread because it reminds me of the rush of elation I get when I dive into a rabbit hole.


I must declare two more collections that began as rabbit hole excursions.

At first I had no intention of acquiring more than one.



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  • 10 months later...

And down the rabbit hole we go!!!

Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman provincial Æ 25.1 mm, 10.04 g, 5 h.
Phrygia, Docimeum, c. 163-165 CE.
ΦΑVСΤЄΙΝΑ СЄΒΑСTH, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
ΜΑΚЄ-ΔΟΝΩΝ, hexastyle temple with phiale in pediment, the cornice of which is adorned with numerous antefixa, and with acroteria at the angles; ΔΟΚΙΜЄ/ΩΝ in exergue.
Refs: RPC IV.2, 1975; BMC 25.192, 22; RG 5958-59; SNG Cop 357.

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