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A weird TACITUS: opinion needed

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(Posted on a French forum by my friend Alberto)

This very rare aureus of TACITUS in in the Hermitage Museum St- Petersbourg.(6.56g)

What’s peculiar with it is the fact that the dated reverse die has been used by Aurelianus in 274. The dot under the reverse bust is the Tripoli mintmark.


                           The Aurelianus aureus with the reverse die-match


Another TACITUS with the same obverse die as that of the Hermitage specimen has been sold by NGC many years ago (6.58g): (notice the Tripoli dot)


But many modern fakes have circulated over the years (from the same dies) and they have been studied by S.Estiot. They didn’t have the dot on the reverse, and also the legend reads TR P instead of TB P.IMG_4200.jpeg.3ebc146e0cb798a6fe225966ff4ab5a5.jpeg

A few days ago this coin was sold on ebay: (19mm  6.28g):




Double die-matching with the CNG coin, with the dot and the TB P legend. So what is it ? A modern fake ? or maybe an Abschlag of the aureus ?
I’d like to have your opinion on this one !


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And what about the CNG coin ? Here is the description from the auction house:

TACITUS. 275-276 AD. AV Heavy Aureus (6.56 gm). Tripolis mint. IMP C M CL TACITVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / P M TB P VI COS II P P, Mars walking right, holding spear and trophy; pellet in exergue. Cf. Estiot, "Aurélian et Tacite: Monnaies d'or et faux modernes," BSFN 9 (1990), fig. 4 (same obverse die). Good VF, gilt and ex jewelry. ($3000)
Estiot asserts that this remarkable coin is based one of the final issues of Aurelian at Tripolis that contained this exact reverse legend and type (cf. MIR 47, 384d and pl. 143). The sole known authenic Tacitus specimen, in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg (Estiot, fig. 4), is reverse-die linked to this issue of Aurelian. While there are a number of forgeries of this type, Estiot identified features of the false reverse dies which make their identification possible: the TB P is reverted to TR P and there is no pellet on the reverse. The present coin, however, still retains the TB P and pellet, thus it is the second known authentic specimen. Interestingly, along with our specimen, all of the coins, authenic and false, published by Estiot share the same obverse die. The reverse die of the false coins, though, are not copies of the Hermitage coin, but do match that of our coin, though they have the "incorrect" TR P and no pellet. Thus, it must be that these forgeries are copies of our coin or another, unpublished, struck from the same dies. Truely, a remarkable coin!

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The recent EBay "silver" (billon?) coin seems too high grade silver and too thick to be an antoninianus. If you look at the details of Tacitus' beaded necklace and the pellets on the top of his right shoulder, the EBay coin is clearly not an obverse die match to the aureus examples, although the style is very similar. The way the hair is executed is also slightly different. I would agree that the surfaces on the EBay coin also look pressed rather than struck. I would pass on this one.

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