Jump to content

Faustina Friday – Late Coin Types with Early Obverse Legends


Roman Collector

Recommended Posts

Ting! It's Friday! | Happy friday gif, Funny gif, Friday gif

Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! I apologize, but today we're going to cover a lot of old ground, but some new ground as well as new additions to my collection and more research on my part have warranted an update of a post I made elsewhere about a year and a half ago. Today we're going to talk about obverse legends and why using them to date coins has its pitfalls. For example, we have seen how the FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII FIL legend was used at two different times on the early coinage for Faustina the Younger. This reuse of an old legend occurs on coins issued for her mother, too.

The obverse legends used on the posthumous coinage for Faustina I fall into two broad categories:

1. DIVA AVG(VSTA) FAVSTINA
2. DIVA(E) FAVSTINA(E)

Both Mattingly and Strack[1] believed that the obverse inscription with the title Augusta was confined to the early issues for Diva Faustina. Specifically, Mattingly dates the coinage bearing the first inscription to "A.D. 141 and immediately afterwards."[2] He is less specific in his dating of the coinage bearing the second title but states that the title Augusta was no longer in use after 147 CE, "because that title has passed on to her daughter."[3] However, Martin Beckmann, in the course of his die-linkage study of the aurei of Faustina the Elder, determined that the movement of AVGVSTA from obverse to the reverse of her coinage was connected to Faustina the Younger's "marriage to the young Caesar Marcus Aurelius in 145."[4]

Interestingly, in the course of his die-linkage study of the aurei of Faustina I, Beckmann also discovered a very unexpected development in the obverse legend at the very end of one of the die-chains: the obverse inscription DIVA AVG FAVSTINA reappears on two dies in the chain. In addition, he discovered three other obverse dies with the same inscription and bust style, all linked together, in a separate group outside the main die-link chain. Beckmann dates these obverse dies to "the later 150s AD."[5]


Beckmann also identified the same phenomenon on certain denarii:

The silver coinage of the 150s has similar characteristics to the gold. As on the gold, AVG(usta) returns on some rare obverse dies. These are easily identified as later issues since the bust and its drapery are much larger than on the issues of the early 140s and since they employ reverse types that are exclusive to the later issues as well.[6]


Let's look at some of these denarii bearing the DIVA AVG FAVSTINA obverse legend, alongside their counterparts with the expected DIVA FAVSTINA legend. The first of these features the reverse legend AETERNITAS and a goddess who is not easily identified.[7] Because the middle of her body is sown with stars, Aeternitas is the most appropriate identification.[8]

FaustinaSrAETERNITASVenusdenariusDIVAAVGFAVSTINA.jpg.57566936975c51cb05d8e577aff41339.jpg

Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR Denarius, 3.40 g, 16.3 mm, 6 h.
Rome, c. 155-161 CE.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust right.
Rev: AETER-NITAS, Aeternitas (?) standing front, head right, right hand drawing back fold of veil and holding transverse scepter in left; the middle of her body is seen bare, sown with stars.
Refs: RIC 346b; BMC 280-84; Cohen 41; RCV --; CRE 145.


FaustinaSrAETERNITASVenusdenariusDIVAFAVSTINA.jpg.4d5ffe9a7a2a0bb4b041d9ad0ab4b144.jpg

Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR Denarius, 3.47 g, 18.1 mm, 6 h.
Rome, c. 155-161 CE.
Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, diademed and draped bust right.
Rev: AETER-NITAS, Aeternitas (?) standing front, head right, right hand drawing back fold of veil and holding transverse scepter in left; the middle of her body is seen bare, sown with stars.
Refs: RIC 346a; BMCRE * p. 54; Cohen 40; Strack 449; RCV --; CRE 144.
Notes: Mattingly errs in BMCRE. BMC 352 is a specimen of this coin. The curators have corrected this in the
online citation at the British Museum website. A very rare variety of this coin (BMCRE 487) features the dative case inscription DIVAE FAVSTINAE.


Another type is the CONSECRATIO issue featuring a goddess standing, raising her right hand and holding a short torch. The identity of the goddess on this issue has also confounded numismatists over the years.[9] Because the goddess carries a torch, one of the attributes of Ceres, I accept Mattingly's identification of the goddess here as Ceres.

FaustinaSrDIVAAVGFAVSTINACONSECRATIOCeresDenarius.jpg.b806d627a2be356270967e62e3dffa60.jpg

Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.06 g, 17.5 mm, 5h.
Rome, c. 155-161 CE.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: CONSECRATIO, Ceres (?) standing left, raising right hand and holding short torch in left.
Refs: RIC 382a; BMCRE 301; Cohen 166; Strack 424; RCV –; CRE 87.


FaustinaSrDIVAFAVSTINACONSECRATIOCeresDenarius.jpg.ef66d47b848f3127e19df7eee79ad7b1.jpg

Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.07 g, 18.6 mm, 5h.
Rome, c. 155-161 CE.
Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: CONSECRATIO, Ceres (?) standing left, raising right hand and holding short torch in left.
Refs: RIC 382b; BMCRE 467-69; RSC 165a; Strack 452; RCV 4593; CRE 86.
Notes: Cohen erroneously describes the specimen in the BnF as having a veiled bust, though Strack describes the same specimen correctly. RIC cites Cohen’s description of the bust type uncritically, which is corrected in BMCRE.


Beckmann postulates that the use of the earlier DIVA AVG FAVSTINA obverse legend was a mint error:

The reason for this accident may have been that the same die engravers were responsible for the production of dies for both Diva Faustina and for her daughter Faustina the Younger, whose coins normally did bear the title Augusta. That a handful of dies bearing this title could be carved and used in production for Diva Faustina shows that control of this coinage must have become very relaxed.[10]


However, Beckmann was postulating about the use of these dies in the production of aurei. And while he acknowledges a similar use of DIVA AVG FAVSTINA obverse dies in the production of denarii,[11] there are also middle bronze and sestertius types from the period that bear the DIVA AVG FAVSTINA legend as well. I will illustrate two of these with specimens in my collection.

The first of these bronze issues to bear both the DIVA AVG FAVSTINA and DIVA FAVSTINA legends is a sestertius of the Aeternitas seated left, holding a phoenix on globe in her right hand and a scepter in her left hand type. This type also dates to the late 150s CE,[12] and I have
discussed this issue previously
(but err in failing to note the DIVA AVG FAVSTINA variety).

FaustinaSrAETERNITASSCAeternitasseatedsestertiusDIVAAVGFAVSTINA.jpg.3e80ede4f2bcfcb968726c71c6503e14.jpg

Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 21.54 g, 29.1 mm, 5 h.
Rome, c. 155-161 CE.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: AETERNITAS SC, Aeternitas enthroned left, holding phoenix facing right on globe and scepter.
Refs: RIC 1103B; BMCRE 1415A; Cohen 20; Strack 1251; RCV –.


FaustinaSrAETERNITASSCAeternitasseatedsestertius.jpg.0960a84375a015e1b487ba5d5e2cbdb9.jpg

Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 26.57 gm, 32.5 mm, 1 h.
Rome, c. 155-161 CE.
Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: AETERNITAS SC, Aeternitas enthroned left, holding phoenix (nimbate right) on globe and scepter.
Refs: RIC 1103A(a); BMCRE 1482-86; Cohen 15; Strack 1265; RCV 4606.
Note: Analogous to the situation with the Aeternitas standing denarius illustrated above, a very rare variety of this coin (BMCRE
1606) features the dative case inscription DIVAE FAVSTINAE.


The second of these bronze issues to bear both the DIVA AVG FAVSTINA and DIVA FAVSTINA legends is this rare and previously undescribed middle bronze of the AETERNITAS series depicting Pietas standing left, dropping incense over an altar with her right hand and holding an incense box in her left. I have performed a die-study of this issue and have discussed it elsewhere in detail. Dating this reverse type is difficult because it was issued only in the middle bronze denomination and falls outside the purview of Beckmann's die-linkage study of the aurei and sestertii of Faustina the Elder. Coins with a similar reverse type but lacking the altar at the goddess's feet were issued strictly for use in Britain and are firmly dated to 153-155 CE by hoard analysis (discussed elsewhere), but that doesn't necessarily mean that the coins issued for more broad usage and depicting the altar at the goddess's feet were issued simultaneously. The date cannot be narrowed down any further than 153 CE or later.

FaustinaSrAETERNITASSCPietasandaltarMBDIVAAVGFAVSTINA2.jpg.5f08e606f8c5990223b42f05d79cd1fd.jpg

Faustina I, AD 138-140.
Roman Æ as or dupondius, 11.69 g, 24.4 mm, 5 h.
Rome, later 150s AD.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: AETERNITAS S C, Pietas standing left, dropping incense over altar with right hand and holding incense box in left hand.
Refs: RIC –; BMCRE –; Cohen –; Strack –; RCV –.


Compare it to the usual variety, which bears the later DIVA FAVSTINA obverse legend.

FaustinaSrAETERNITASSCPietasandaltarMB.jpg.31e589cb25e96d1b6017a787b2587e10.jpg

Faustina I, AD 138-140.
Roman Æ as or dupondius, 11.92 g, 26.5 mm, 12 h.
Rome, AD 153-55.
Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: AETERNITAS S C, Pietas standing left, dropping incense over altar with right hand and holding incense box in left hand.
Refs: RIC 1161; BMCRE 1558; Cohen 43; RCV 4641; Strack 1271.


In conclusion, I think Beckmann's die-engraver error hypothesis is wrong. It's highly unlikely that five aureus dies, along with several denarius, middle bronze, and sestertius dies, all arose from die engravers' confusion of the coinage of Faustina the Elder with that of her daughter. Although these late issues with the DIVA AVG FAVSTINA legend are scarce compared to their DIVA FAVSTINA counterparts (and the DIVAE FAVSTINAE legend extremely rare), the use of these two or three obverse inscriptions on certain issues seems to have been purposeful. What that purpose may have been, however, remains elusive. Why the various inscriptions were used concomitantly on certain issues and not others remains yet another unanswered question.

As always, please post comments, questions, and any coins you deem relevant!

~~~

Notes


1. Strack, Paul L., Untersuchungen zur Römischen Reichsprägung des Zweiten Jahrhunderts, vol. 3, Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit des Antoninus Pius. Stuttgart 1937.

2. Mattingly, Harold, Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, vol. IV: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. Introduction, indexes and plates. London, BMP, 1968, p. 42.

3. Mattingly, op. cit., p. lxi.

4. Beckmann, Martin. Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces. American Numismatic Society, 2012, p. 51.

5. Beckmann, op. cit., p. 71 and Die Charts 2 and 7.

6. Beckmann, op. cit., p. 71.

7. Cohen: Aeternitas (or Pudicitia?). Strack: Pudicitia. RIC: Juno? BMCRE: Juno? (or Venus?). Temeryazev and Makarenko: Venus.

8. Mattingly, op. cit., p. lx.

9. Cohen: Pietas (or Vesta?). Strack: Aeternitas. Mattingly: Ceres. Temeryazev and Makarenko: Ceres.

10. Beckmann, op. cit., p. 71.

11. Ibid. See my previous
discussion of these denarii at Coin Talk.

12. Beckmann, op. cit., pp. 70-71.

Edited by Roman Collector
New photo, formatting
  • Like 10
  • Thanks 3
  • Cookie 1
  • Cool Think 1
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

R.C., I enjoyed your well researched essay with excellent illustrations 😊. I also agree with your conclusion that Beckmann's hypothesis of die-engraver errors is hard to substantiate. Die link studies are one of the best tools we can use for dating coins. The two obverse inscriptions you point out (1 & 2), that were used simultaneously, may also indicate there was no rigid rule as to which one an engraver had to use. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Al Kowsky said:

R.C., I enjoyed your well researched essay with excellent illustrations 😊. I also agree with your conclusion that Beckmann's hypothesis of die-engraver errors is hard to substantiate. Die link studies are one of the best tools we can use for dating coins. The two obverse inscriptions you point out (1 & 2), that were used simultaneously, may also indicate there was no rigid rule as to which one an engraver had to use. 

Thank you for the kind words and input! Those "excellent illustrations" aren't exactly FDC, but they are quite scarce and I probably won't have the opportunity to upgrade them any time in the near future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 2/24/2023 at 4:45 AM, Roman Collector said:

FaustinaSrAETERNITASVenusdenariusDIVAAVGFAVSTINA.jpg.57566936975c51cb05d8e577aff41339.jpg

 

Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR Denarius, 3.40 g, 16.3 mm, 6 h.
Rome, c. 155-161 CE.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust right.
Rev: AETER-NITAS, Aeternitas (?) standing front, head right, right hand drawing back fold of veil and holding transverse scepter in left; the middle of her body is seen bare, sown with stars.
Refs: RIC 346b; BMC 280-84; Cohen 41; RCV --; CRE 145.

Another terrific Faustina Friday, @Roman Collector.  Again, you should write a book.  

Although I don't have much by way of matches for this Friday's post, here's my RIC 346b:

FaustinaI-Den.Aeternitasstand346bJan2015(0).jpg.a831e703a87c1b56f01e48cfdfd1c409.jpg

 

 

  • Like 6
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It does seem unlikely that it is die-engraver errors, great article and another fine Faustina Friday. 🙂

Here is DIVA AVG obverse legend/Ae As:

Faustina Senior, Aeternitas DIVA AVG - FAVSTINA Draped bust right  AETERNITAS Aeternitas seated left, holding Phoenix on globe and scepter SC in exergue  RIC1103b (variant)-  RIC only lists as Sesterius; Cohen 16 var (AE As, but  obv. legend without AVG) wildwinds example (this coin) Ae As; 10.46g; 24mm Keywords: Faustina Senior Aeternitas

Ae As; 10.46g; 24mm

DIVA AVG - FAVSTINA
Draped bust right
AETERNITAS
Aeternitas seated left, holding Phoenix on globe and scepter
SC in exergue

  • Like 6
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...