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One of Hadrian’s First Denarii


Roman Collector

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The first issue for Hadrian consists of a solitary aureus issued for him as Caesar, apparently struck before the news of Trajan's death in Cilicia on 8 (or 9) August 117 CE reached Rome.[1] The coin features the laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Trajan on its obverse and the laureate bust of Hadrian with drapery on the far shoulder on the reverse.[2] Only two specimens of this coin have been found and only one is still in existence. The other known specimen was stolen in the famous robbery at the Bibliothèque nationale de France.[3] The coin was most recently sold in 2017.[4]

HadrianasCaesaraureusAureoCalico.jpg.650110c6d19e8772c656fa992e60bb6e.jpg

The first coin issued for Hadrian, an aureus issued under Trajan depicting Hadrian as Caesar. Aureo & Calicó S.L., Subasta 300, lot 76, 9 November 2017. Image: Fotografie Lübke & Wiedemann, Leonberg.


Then follows the first issue proper of Hadrian's own reign. These coins bear the obverse legend IMP CAES TRAIAN HADRIAN(O) OPT AVG GER DAC and the reverse legend PARTHIC DIVI TRAIAN AVG F P M TR P COS P P. Hadrian, unlike his predecessors, wears a beard. His portrait is always right-facing on coins of this issue and is laureate on the aurei, denarii, and sestertii, and radiate on the dupondii. His bust may be portrayed draped and cuirassed, or as a "heroic bust," with the chest exposed and with a hint of drapery across the far shoulder.

You'll notice that Hadrian's titulature is modeled on the last titles of Trajan and that the arrangement and distribution of the legends is similar to that of Trajan's last coins. The title IMP CAES TRAIAN HADRIAN, and all honorifics borne by Trajan, OPTIMVS, GERMANICVS, DACICVS, PARTHICVS, and PATER PATRIAE, are carried directly over to his successor, as if conveyed by the act of adoption.[5]

The reverse types of this first issue for Hadrian as Augustus consist of a variety of virtues symbolizing the hopes and aims of the new emperor, such as Concordia, Fortuna, Justitia, Pax, and Pietas. These personifications are depicted on the reverse and explicitly labeled in the exergue. My new coin features Justitia, the personification of justice, and she expresses the Roman reverence for law carried out in political life.


HadrianPARTHICDIVITRAIANAVGFPMTRPCOSPPIVSTITIAdenarius.jpg.76f1665ae3df26c9c19276103eea5335.jpg

Hadrian, 117-138 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 2.51 g, 19.1 mm, 7 h.
Rome, 117 CE.
Obv: IMP CAES TRAIAN HADRIAN OPT AVG GER DAC, laureate heroic bust of Hadrian, right, with drapery on left shoulder.
Rev: PARTHIC DIVI TRAIAN AVG F P M TR P COS P P, Justitia seated left on throne, holding patera and scepter; IVSTITIA in exergue.
Refs: RIC II.3 (2nd ed.) 19; BMCRE 12; RSC 875a; Strack 5; Sear --. Unlisted with this bust type in RIC (1st ed.) and Cohen.
Notes: Rare bust type. Double die match to the British Museum specimen and Heritage Auction 3063, lot 33412, 1/16/2018.


This coin was misidentified by the dealer as a later issue with a similar reverse type and it hammered for only €19. The coin is most encountered with a draped and cuirassed bust. This coin depicts Hadrian with the scarcer heroic bust variety. I have wondered at times whether Hadrian had a hairy chest like the bear archetype in gay culture. We'd have to ask Antinoös, I suppose.

Let’s see your early Hadrians, Hadrian showing off his bare chest, or anything you feel is relevant!



~~~

Notes


1. Mattingly, Harold. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum. Vol. III: Nerva to Hadrian, British Museum, 1966, p. cxiv.

2. RIC 1 var. (laureate head of Trajan r.). BMC p.124, *. C 1 var. (laureate head of Trajan r.). Mémoires de l' Académie des Inscription et Belles-Lettres, tome 24. Vagi 1342. Calicó 1415 var.

3. Numismatica Ars Classica NAC AG, Auction 24, Lot 80, 5 Dec. 2002. Acsearchinfo, https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=117473.

4. Aureo & Calicó S.L., Subasta 300, lot 76, 9 November 2017. Acsearchinfo, https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=4513230.

5. Mattingly, op. cit., p. cxxiv.

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Finally a post where I can share my earliest coin of Hadrian!

Hadrian.png.cb106d2b3a453a041268bc7253906b9b.png

118 AD

Obv: IMP CAESAR TRAIAN HADRIANVS AVG

Rev: P M TR P COS DES III (AET AVG) Aeternitas standing, holding heads of Sol and Luna 

This particular variety is a scarcer variant of the Aeternitas Sol/Luna type, most coins of this type don't have the lettering DES, which makes this particular coin datable. Quoted from coin community forum "Hadrianus was consul in 117 for the first time, in 118 for the second time and in this year he was elected to be consul in 119 for the third time. The term consul designatus is used to distinguish those who were appointed to fill the office of consul . By this cos des iii we can date the coin in 118".

Edited by JayAg47
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1 hour ago, Roman Collector said:

We'd have to ask Antinoös, I suppose.
 

You'll find him "down by the river"!

Sorry, couldn't resist. Great pick up! I only have one Hadrian denarius, but it's such a common type that I won't post it here.

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I thought this coin was a first issue, but perhaps not?  Obverse legend "IMP CAES TRAIAN HADRIANO AVG DIVI TRA", reverse "PARTH F DIVI NER NEP P M TRP COS". I like how the reverse legend refers to Nerva as Hadrian's 'grandfather':

image.jpeg.993b288f908b9eac257674bee43ef5a2.jpeg

 

Here's a first issue Antioch (or Tyre? I think it's Antioch) "Adoptio":

image.jpeg.781b42e1586b855b026887368fb721d3.jpeg

Nearly the same obverse legend as your Rome denarius: "IMP CAES TRAIAN HADRIANO OPT AVG GER DAC".  Since the transfer of power took place in the east, I suppose these Antioch issues are in fact the earliest for Hadrian as Augustus?

Edited by Severus Alexander
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On 5/6/2023 at 3:08 PM, Severus Alexander said:

I thought this coin was a first issue, but perhaps not?  Obverse legend "IMP CAES TRAIAN HADRIANO AVG DIVI TRA", reverse "PARTH F DIVI NER NEP P M TRP COS". I like how the reverse legend refers to Nerva as Hadrian's 'grandfather':

image.jpeg.993b288f908b9eac257674bee43ef5a2.jpeg

 

Here's a first issue Antioch (or Tyre? I think it's Antioch) "Adoptio":

image.jpeg.781b42e1586b855b026887368fb721d3.jpeg

Nearly the same obverse legend as your Rome denarius: "IMP CAES TRAIAN HADRIANO OPT AVG GER DAC".  Since the transfer of power took place in the east, I suppose these Antioch issues are in fact the earliest for Hadrian as Augustus?

Shortly after the first issue as Augustus in Rome, the titulature changed to:

Obv: IMP CAES TRAIAN HADRIANO AVG DIVI TRA
Rev: PARTH F DIVI NER NEP P M TR P COS

The titles of honor OPT, GER, DAC, PARTH, and PP are omitted, likely by Hadrian's own wish. The title PARTH is restored to its proper owner, Trajan, and the relationship of Hadrian (as you note) is carried back to Nerva. (BMCRE p. cxiv).

That Antioch denarius is cool! It indeed bears Hadrian's first inscription as Augustus. Yours is an obverse die match to BMCRE 1021, which the British Museum attributes to "Antioch (Probably)."

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@Roman Collector, here's my Hadrian "Adoptio" denarius, minted in Antioch between Aug. and Dec. AD 117. It has different legends from the "Adoptio" denarius from Antioch posted by @Severus Alexander in this thread. His, I believe, is RIC II.3 2959; mine is RIC II.3 2960. See p. 278 of the new edition published in 2019. The two types comprise the entirety of "Antioch group 1: Hadrian, denarii with COS I." 

Hadrian, AR Denarius, AD 117 (Aug-Dec), Antioch Mint. Obv. Laureate and cuirassed bust right with exposed upper part of breastplate visible with balteus strap, IMP CAE DI TRA PAR F DI NER NEP TRA HADRIANO AVG / Rev. Trajan standing right, clasping hands with Hadrian standing left, Trajan holds scroll in upraised left hand, [TRIBVNIC][off flan] POTESTAS; in exergue, ADOPTIO. RIC II.3 2960 at p. 278 (Antioch group 1) (ill. Pl. 49) (frequency “R2”) (2019 ed.); old RIC II 22C (1926 ed.) (leg. corr.); RSC II Hadrian 7a (Antioch); Strack *4 corr. [citing example in Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum (No. 8668); see RIC II.3 2960 at p. 278 n. 1442, correcting Strack’s erroneous rendition of legend]; BMCRE III Hadrian, p. 243 No. 3 [citing example in Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum (No. 8668)]. 17x18 mm., 2.64 g. Purchased at St. James’s Auctions, Auction 65, 21 Sep 2022, Lot 1039.*

 

image.jpeg.0ef227d0c9848c86c2b3a44c643cdcd1.jpeg

*This unusual “Eastern” Imperial denarius was issued along with RIC II.3 2959 at the beginning of Hadrian’s reign, when he was the governor of Syria, headquartered in Antioch. See McAlee p. 216 [Richard McAlee, The Coins of Roman Antioch (2007)]: 

“When Hadrian succeeded Trajan as emperor in August 117 he was the governor of Syria, so that province and its capital, Antioch, were at the center of the political events at the beginning of Hadrian’s reign. [Discussion of Hadrian’s early Syrian tetradrachms, including the transfer of the provincial mint from Tyre to Antioch before the end of the year 117, omitted.] . . . . Hadrian also struck denarii in Syria, and was the first emperor to do so since Vespasian [who was himself the first emperor to strike Roman imperial aurei and denarii in Syria; see id. p. 152]. (Not coincidentally, Vespasian also came to power while he was a Roman governor in the east.) The earliest type – presumably struck in 117 – has a legend with the honorific titles adopted from Trajan and a reverse showing Trajan and Hadrian standing together and clasping hands, with ADOPTIO in the exergue. The legend and portrait style are similar to those seen on the first issue of tetradrachms with eagle on club ([McAlee] no. 529), attributed here to Tyre.”  See this example of the obverse portrait on McAlee 529 (taken from specimen # 14 at RPC III Online 3684):

 image.jpeg.afcd07f424730bf5c608b1c265b443af.jpeg

 There is certainly some similarity in style to the portrait of Hadrian on the obverse of my denarius (RIC II. 3 2960).

 In terms of rarity, RIC II.3 classifies this type as “R2” (“very rare”), by contrast to RIC II. 3 2959, which is classified as only “R” (rare). (Note that unlike the old RIC, the frequency analysis is based not only on museum collections, but on the frequency of specimens sold on the market.) The only museum specimen listed either in RIC II.3 or in OCRE (and cited in Strack) is this example at the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum (No. 8668):

 image.jpeg.af017ed970818f3543fdb3153d65ce31.jpeg

The British Museum does not appear to have an example of this type; instead, as noted above, it cites the Vienna specimen. (See BMCRE III Hadrian, p. 243 No. 3 & fn.) 

In addition to my example, I have found only four other specimens listed on ACSearch:

 image.jpeg.b0247c4486e89383df51255bc0678029.jpeg

Given the rarity of this type, I believe that I was lucky to be able to obtain my example at what I consider a reasonable price. I am rather surprised that it did not get more attention given its scarcity and historical significance. One possible explanation is that the only reference cited by St. James’s Auctions in its lot description was the old RIC II 22C from the 1926 edition of RIC II, rather than the new and much more detailed RIC II.3 2960 from the 2019 edition.  Perhaps the consignor would have been better off auctioning his or her coin through a house better known for ancient coins. 

 

 

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18 hours ago, DonnaML said:

There is certainly some similarity in style to the portrait of Hadrian on the obverse of my denarius (RIC II. 3 2960).

I agree. I think there's even more similarity between the tet and my denarius (middle), to the extent that I think we're almost certainly looking at products of the same engraver.  The denarius on the right used to belong to McAlee himself, and again, the style is so close I think it's the same engraver's work. What do you think? Face shape, head shape, nose, eye, beard style, curls above the forehead, cuirass, curls at the back of the head, laurel wreath & ties etc... the correspondences are very strong indeed:

image.jpeg.9298847819caa4834ba6b10dde9c7f4c.jpeg

So, for me, it's clear these coins come from the same engraver, so the question is whether McAlee is right to attribute them to Tyre, or whether they're from Antioch.  (Or conceivably both: the engraver would probably have moved along with the mint!)  CNG and RPC give the tet to Antioch despite McAlee's arguments for the mint starting in Tyre and moving to Antioch.  I remember not being convinced by him, but now I forget the details!

(Tagging @maridvnvme who may be interested in this issue, given his post a while ago on these denarii.)

18 hours ago, DonnaML said:

[Discussion of Hadrians early Syrian tetradrachms, including the transfer of the provincial mint from Tyre to Antioch before the end of the year 117, omitted.]

I'd love to see the details here, if you still have access to them, Donna, and it's not too much trouble.  (If the elided passage is too long maybe a photo of the page would work?)

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15 minutes ago, Severus Alexander said:

I agree. I think there's even more similarity between the tet and my denarius (middle), to the extent that I think we're almost certainly looking at products of the same engraver.  The denarius on the right used to belong to McAlee himself, and again, the style is so close I think it's the same engraver's work. What do you think? Face shape, head shape, nose, eye, beard style, curls above the forehead, cuirass, curls at the back of the head, laurel wreath & ties etc... the correspondences are very strong indeed:

image.jpeg.9298847819caa4834ba6b10dde9c7f4c.jpeg

So, for me, it's clear these coins come from the same engraver, so the question is whether McAlee is right to attribute them to Tyre, or whether they're from Antioch.  (Or conceivably both: the engraver would probably have moved along with the mint!)  CNG and RPC give the tet to Antioch despite McAlee's arguments for the mint starting in Tyre and moving to Antioch.  I remember not being convinced by him, but now I forget the details!

(Tagging @maridvnvme who may be interested in this issue, given his post a while ago on these denarii.)

I'd love to see the details here, if you still have access to them, Donna, and it's not too much trouble.  (If the elided passage is too long maybe a photo of the page would work?)

I don't remember  how much I left out, but will take a look later or tomorrow.  And I agree re same engraver for all three.

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23 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

I'd love to see the details here, if you still have access to them, Donna, and it's not too much trouble.  (If the elided passage is too long maybe a photo of the page would work?)

@Severus Alexander, here are McAlee pp. 216-217. My quotation was from p. 216, and the portion I omitted from it was the second paragraph on that page.

image.jpeg.4dfbac63ebd178bf1018c61e8537fa37.jpeg

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7 hours ago, DonnaML said:

@Severus Alexander, here are McAlee pp. 216-217. My quotation was from p. 216, and the portion I omitted from it was the second paragraph on that page.image.jpeg.4dfbac63ebd178bf1018c61e8537fa37.jpeg

Thanks so much for posing this, Donna!  It looks like the question moves to why McAlee attributes the eagle w/ club tetradrachms to Tyre... again, sources seem to differ on this point.  I guess I should just get the book!

(The "animal leg & thigh" mint mark is sure bizarre!)

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On 5/6/2023 at 8:11 AM, Roman Collector said:

apparently struck before the news of Trajan's death in Cilicia on 8 (or 9) August 117 CE reached Rome.[

..i wanted to say something about this the other day....now i have to because i just heard it from another source...isn't there a question as to Trajan picking Hadrian on his death bed....like he didn't have a replacement picked at that time and his wife with some others  chose the next emperor??..:D....( i thought i was wrong but i was mistaken :P)

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2 hours ago, ominus1 said:

..i wanted to say something about this the other day....now i have to because i just heard it from another source...isn't there a question as to Trajan picking Hadrian on his death bed....like he didn't have a replacement picked at that time and his wife with some others  chose the next emperor??..:D....( i thought i was wrong but i was mistaken :P)

Yep, that is the rumour!

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