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Faustina Friday – Ceres Seated on Cista Sestertius


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Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! Today I'm going to discuss a very confusing issue, the CERES reverse type featuring Ceres seated on a cista and holding corn ears and torch. As I have discussed elsewhere, two emissions were made of a Ceres seated on cista reverse type, at least six years apart:

  1. Ceres seated on cista, holding corn-ears (sometimes also with a poppy) and short transverse torch; empress wearing the Beckmann Type 7 or type 9 hairstyle.
  2. Ceres seated on cista, holding corn-ears and long vertical torch; empress wearing the Beckmann Type 10 hairstyle.

The confusion arises because Mattingly and Sydenham (RIC) mistranslate Cohen's French language descriptions of the reverse type. While Cohen consistently uses flambeau to refer to a long torch and torche to refer to a short torch, Mattingly and Sydenham get the terms confused and wrongly cite Cohen's catalog numbers in their cross-references to Cohen. For details, please refer to my previous article to which I've linked above.

These two Ceres seated on cista types were issued in the denarius and the bronze denominations. I have previously
discussed the silver issues elsewhere
, and so will focus on the bronze denominations for this discussion. Unless noted otherwise, the coins illustrated are from my own collection.

Ceres with a short, transverse torch


278663308_FaustinaJrCERESSCseatedcornearsandpoppysestertius.jpg.7bf72f447001d376b1dfc65ff634fa66.jpg

Faustina II, AD 147-175.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 28.83 g, 32.5 mm, 12 h.
Rome, AD 162-164.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust, right, wearing two strands of pearls (Beckmann Type 7 hairstyle).
Rev: CERES S C, Ceres seated left on cista, holding corn-ears and poppy in raised right hand and short, transverse torch in left hand.
Refs: RIC 1623; BMC 895n.; Cohen 39; MIR 2-6/10b; RCV –.


This type is the earlier of the two, and I have assigned a date for its issue of AD 162-164 based on hairstyle. This reverse type is almost always found with the Beckmann type 7 hairstyle, which makes an initial appearance on the aurei of Faustina II well into the SALVTI AVGVSTAE sequence that first began following the birth of Commodus in late August, AD 161 and shortly before the appearance of the LAETITIA and VENVS GENETRIX reverse types to commemorate the birth of Marcus Annius Verus in late AD 162.[1] Therefore, the emission must date to no earlier than AD 162. After a thorough search of online databases, it is rarely found depicting the empress in the Beckmann Type 9 hairstyle (but see the middle bronze in my collection, below). Szaivert incorrectly suggests the Beckmann Type 9 hairstyle does not appear until after Lucilla's marriage to Lucius Verus in AD 164.[2] In fact, that hairstyle appears on the aurei of Faustina the Younger as early as late AD 161, when it was used on an obverse aureus die paired with the SALVTI AVGVSTI reverse type, which in turn shares a die linkage with an obverse die paired with the TEMPOR FELIC reverse type issued to commemorate the birth of her twins on 31 August, AD 161.[3] Nonetheless, the Type 9 hairstyle does not come into common use until the very end of Beckmann's die-linkage chain 7, dating to about AD 164.[4]. With very few examples featuring a hairstyle that had become common by AD 164, the emission likely dates to no later than 164.

The coin comes in two minor reverse design varieties, the type illustrated by the example in my collection, which depicts the goddess holding corn ears and poppy with her raised right hand (above), and a type which depicts the goddess holding two corn ears (no poppy) with her right hand raised somewhat less.


582065975_FaustinaJrCERESSCseatedcornearsnopoppysestertiusBMC.png.b5787ed2ff2cde5440d36410df03a3b4.png

Sestertius (RIC 1620; Cohen 37) featuring Ceres seated left on cista, holding corn-ears (without poppy) and short, transverse torch. British Museum collection, no. 896.


392026466_FaustinaJrCERESSCseatedMB.jpg.0d74d780368d325499e891fa85a092eb.jpg

Faustina II, AD 147-175.
Roman Æ as or dupondius, 9.64 g, 23.6 mm, 5 h.
Rome, AD 162-164.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right (Beckmann Type 9 hairstyle).
Rev: CERES S C, Ceres, veiled, seated left on cista, holding corn-ears and short transverse torch.
Refs: RIC 1622 corr.; BMC 967; Cohen 38; RCV 5290; MIR 2-7/10b.
Note: RIC 1622 erroneously describes Ceres as holding a "long torch."


Cohen assigns separate catalog numbers to the two varieties of the sestertii, no. 37 to the variety without the poppy, citing specimens in the British museum, and 39 to the variety with the poppy, citing an example in the collection of M. Rollin.[5] Mattingly and Sydenham, citing Cohen uncritically, also assign separate catalog numbers to the two sestertii, no. 1620 to the variety without the poppy (erroneously citing Cohen no. 36), and 1623 to the variety with the poppy.[6] I have no reason to think that these two coins represented separate emissions, however, and I think it best to consider these differences a minor reverse variation of the same issue, undeserving of a separate catalog listing.[7] In contrast, the middle bronze of this reverse type is unknown with the poppies.

Ceres with a long, vertical torch


1406452636_FaustinaJrCERESSClongverticaltorchsestertius.jpg.de3b9af6ebfda9f10686f8a126e1f20c.jpg

Faustina II, AD 147-175.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 24.69 g, 31.4 mm, 11 h.
Rome, c. AD 170-175.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right
(Beckmann Type 10 hairstyle).
Rev: CERES S C, Ceres seated left on cista, holding corn ears and long, vertical torch.
Refs: RIC 1621; BMCRE 894; Cohen 36; Sear 5271; Banti 25; MIR 3-6/10c.


774019222_FaustinaJrCERESSClongverticaltorchMBCNG.jpg.3cd3d6054831a85f76a1af374dc07099.jpg

Middle bronze (unlisted in RIC, BMCRE, and Cohen; MIR 3-7/10c, citing Münzhandlung Basel (Auction 1, [Prince Waldeck]), 28.6.1934, pl. 33, 1379) featuring Ceres seated left on cista, holding corn-ears and long, vertical torch (Beckmann Type 10 hairstyle). Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., Electronic Auction 128, lot 394, 7 December 2005.


RIC erroneously cites Cohen no. 37 in its description of the coin.[8] Coins of this type, with Ceres holding a long, vertical torch, date to a much later emission than those with the short, transverse torch. Again, we may use the empress's hairstyle to establish a date for the issue. All coins of this reverse type feature a portrait of the empress in her final, Beckmann Type 10, hairstyle. This hairstyle does not appear on Faustina's aurei until after the death of Lucius Verus in AD 169.[9] Thus, this type dates sometime between the death of Verus in AD 169 and the death of Faustina in AD 175. Unfortunately, since no Ceres seated reverse types were issued in the aureus denomination, they fall outside of the purview of Beckmann's die-linkage study of Faustina's aurei and a narrower date range cannot be established with certainty. There are a few reverse types known with both the Type 9 and Type 10 hairstyles (IVNO and VENVS FELIX) and these probably date to the period shortly after the death of Verus. Since the CERES reverse type with the long, vertical torch is not known with the Type 9 coiffure, this favors a date of 170 or later. I have dated the coin to AD 170-175 accordingly.

Let's see your coins with a Ceres seated on a cista reverse type! As always, feel free to post comments or anything you feel is relevant!

~~~

Notes


1. Beckmann, Martin, Faustina the Younger: Coinage, Portraits, and Public Image, A.N.S. Numismatic Studies 43, American Numismatic Society, New York, 2021, p. 60.

2. Szaivert, Wolfgang, Die Münzprägung der Kaiser Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus und Commodus (161/192), Moneta Imperii Romani 18. Vienna, 1989, no. 19-7(a), p. 231. Specifically, Szaivert writes that this phase of coinage, which he characterizes by this hairstyle, "… erlaubt einen Bezug zur Hochzeit der Tochter der Faustina (Lucilla) mit dem regierenden zweiten Augustus Lucius Verus anzunehmen."

3. Beckmann, op cit., Fig. 4.4, Group 14, p. 54.

4. Beckmann, op. cit., p. 60.

5. Cohen, Henry. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Tome III: de Marc Aurèle à Albin (161 à 197 après J.-C.). Paris, 1883, p. 139.

6. Mattingly, Harold and Edward A. Sydenham (RIC). The Roman Imperial Coinage. III, Spink, 1930, p. 344.

7. So Dinsdale, Paul H. The Imperial Coinage of the Middle Antonines: Marcus Aurelius with Lucius Verus and Commodus. Leeds, Paul H Dinsdale, 2020, p. 65 n.3.

8. Mattingly and Sydenham, op. cit., p. 344.

9. Beckmann, op. cit., pp. 64-65.

Edited by Roman Collector
I have OCD
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As always. Nice coins and write up !

 

Here are two CERES denarii with different obverse hairstyles and different torches:

 

Faustina_II_47.jpg.6d9d32fdde9a01750fe4ff66e9e8c77e.jpg

Faustina Minor
AR-Denar, Rome
Obv.: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right
Rev.: CERES, Ceres, veiled, seated left on cista, holding two corn ears and torch
Ag, 3.21g, 17.3mm
Ref.: RIC 669, CRE 159 [C]

 

Faustina_II_62.jpg.3cd9bb16d9708c570759592b963989ab.jpg

 

Faustina Minor
AR-Denar, Rome
Obv.: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right
Rev.: CERES, Ceres, veiled, seated left on cista, holding two corn ears and torch
Ag, 3.16g, 18mm
Ref.: RIC 669, CRE-I 160 [R]

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11 minutes ago, shanxi said:

As always. Nice coins and write up !

 

Here are two CERES denarii with different obverse hairstyles and different torches:

 

Faustina_II_47.jpg.6d9d32fdde9a01750fe4ff66e9e8c77e.jpg

Faustina Minor
AR-Denar, Rome
Obv.: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right
Rev.: CERES, Ceres, veiled, seated left on cista, holding two corn ears and torch
Ag, 3.21g, 17.3mm
Ref.: RIC 669, CRE 159 [C]

 

Faustina_II_62.jpg.3cd9bb16d9708c570759592b963989ab.jpg

 

Faustina Minor
AR-Denar, Rome
Obv.: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right
Rev.: CERES, Ceres, veiled, seated left on cista, holding two corn ears and torch
Ag, 3.16g, 18mm
Ref.: RIC 669, CRE-I 160 [R]

Lovely coins, @shanxi! And clearly two different issues. Nonetheless, RIC, Cohen, RSC, and Sear fail to distinguish the two coins and consider them to be the same: RIC 669, Cohen 35, RSC 35, RCV 5249.

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Posted · Administrator

Super educational write-up as always RC, and great song choice 😁 Here's my own RIC 669, Cohen 35 denarius! Interestingly, I noticed that Ceres on my reverse has more prominent, erm.... lady chest parts, then on @shanxi's version. I don't think this is a grade variance as it doesn't appear there are any of the, erm... circles... on the other one but rather just additional draping. Both coins minted in Rome. Perhaps the engraver for my version had a little more liking for the empress than other engravers... 🙈

image.png.f2da635555c4c0435772156ba2907a65.png

Faustina II, Augusta, 147-175. Denarius (Silver, 19 mm, 2.87 g, 7 h), Rome, 161-175. FAVSTINA AVGVSTA Draped bust of Faustina Junior to right. Rev. CERES Ceres, veiled, seated left on chest, holding grain ears in her right hand and torch in her left. BMC 81. Cohen 35. RIC 669.

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Posted · Supporter

What a great bunch of coins and write up. 

Some Ceres from my collection:

share3880164165390698058.png.5045243deb1edde35442fc4c073463ab.png

Julia Titi
(Daughter of Titus)AE Dupondius Empress. 10.76 grams 27mm
Rome AD 279-80
Obv IVLIA IMP T AVG F AVGVSTA
Draped bust of Julia right hair in bun
Rv CERES AVGVST S C
Ceres standing left holding corn ears and long torch
Sear 2615 RIC Titus 177

Former: fvrisus.rvfvs

 

IMG_5477(1).jpg.fb7bedd87b9005151a1d1e7e9ed3d850.jpg

SABINA

Dupondius, 136 CE 
Mint: Rome 
26.3  mm, 10,2 g.
Rarity : R1 
Obverse legend : SABINA AVGVSTA - HADRIANI AVG PP, Obverse: Diadémé bust and drape of Sabina on the right, hair raised, artistically capped.
Reverse: Veiled and draped Ceres, seated left on a basket, holding ears of corn in right hand and torch in left hand

Edited by Ryro
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Great Faustina Friday as always, @Roman Collector.

Here is the sestertius I have, RIC 1620, which I posted on CT originally, with a Cohen error you noted (thank you! ).  I fixed that and narrowed the date, etc. based on your post here.  My goal is to someday have all my Faustina II's "Roman Collectorized" this way (but I have a ways to go - my earlier attributions are pretty sloppy).  

646368469_FaustinaII-SestertiusCeresseatedMar2020(0).jpg.27f43e3576438cbced296ea802c7b2e9.jpg

Faustina II    Æ Sestertius (162-164 A.D.) Rome Mint FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right / CER[ES] S-C, Ceres seated left on cista, holding two corn-ears and (short) lighted torch. RIC III Marcus Aurelius 1620; Cohen 37; BMCRE 896. (24.87 grams / 30 x 27 mm) eBay Mar. 2020 (France)    Notes:  "Ceres with a short, transverse torch - This type is the earlier of the two, and I have assigned a date for its issue of AD 162-164 based on hairstyle..." Roman Collector NVMIS FORVMS, June 2022

Same coin, different background, not that it is much of an improvement, but I tried!   The Beckman 7 hairstyle seems fairly evident, even to me...I think? 

1609150563_FaustinaII-SestertiusCeresseatedMar2020(0a).jpg.b91bae0735ed3cd10678d8f4ecb1dcc5.jpg

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