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Domitian Caesar Eastern Semis

David Atherton

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Yet another Eastern imperial added to the collection, this time a decently rare Domitian Caesar semis struck under Titus. I was particularly attracted by the superbly rendered poppy on the reverse.



Domitian as Caesar [Titus]

Æ Semis, 3.86g
Eastern mint (Thrace?), 80-81 AD
Obv: CAES DIVI VESP F DOMITIAN COS VII; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: PRINCEPS IVVENTVTIS; Poppy between crossed cornucopiae
RIC 513 (R2). BMC -. BNC -. RPC 510 (1 spec.).
Acquired from Herakles, March 2023.
Ex Leu Numismatik Web Auction 24, 3-6 December 2022, lot 2731.

Late in Titus's reign an unidentified mint struck a series of imperial bronze coins. They can be distinguished from the products of Rome by style (heavily seriffed letters, large portraits, massive reverse figures), fabric (flat or convex flans), and distribution (Balkans). Attributing exactly where these coins were struck has historically been a moving target - Mattingly in BMCRE thought Lugdunum, H.A. Cahn believed somewhere in Bithynia. More recent scholarship has looked towards Thrace as a possible location for production based on the Balkan distribution pattern of found specimens. Although the region of mintage has been narrowed down, the city itself remains elusive. RPC has suggested possibly Perinthus. Presumably a shortage of bronze coins in the region during Titus' reign prompted a localised imperial issue. The striking of imperial bronze outside of Rome was an exceptional step at the time considering the last imperial branch mint at Lugdunum had shuttered late in Vespasian's reign. The issue consisted of sestertii, dupondii, asses, and semisses which copied types struck at Rome. This extremely rare semis has more of an Eastern themed reverse with the crossed cornucopiae. Missing from both the BM and Paris collections. Only one specimen cited by RPC in Berlin, an obverse die match with my example. 


And the video.



Feel free to show your poppies or cornucopiae!

Thank you for looking/watching!!

Edited by David Atherton
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