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Faustina Friday – The Juno Seated Medium Bronze Issues for Faustina the Younger


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Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! I hope you have a wonderful day. Today we're going to do some fly-specking. In this installment, we examine a scarce series that was issued only in the medium bronze denomination, the Juno seated left reverse type. This type was issued by Antoninus Pius for his daughter, Faustina the Younger, on coins bearing two different obverse inscriptions: FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL and FAVSTINA AVGVSTA AVG PII F. The empress may be depicted right- or left-facing. On the reverse, Juno may be depicted holding either a patera or statuette of the Three Graces in her right hand and a scepter in her left. A peacock is usually depicted at her feet, but one reverse die lacks the peacock. The S C on the reverse may appear in the exergue or in the fields.

JunoandtheThreeGracesArthurBowenDavies.JPG.849f205fc4757681b81713fbe4b67080.JPG

Arthur Bowen Davies (1862-1928), Juno and the Three Graces, 1902. Oil on canvas, 16 x 20-1/8 in. Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee.


I suspect that this, despite all of these rather minor variations, represented a single issue, which began at the tail end of the year 155 CE, when the FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL obverse legend was still in use, and continued shortly after the adoption of the FAVSTINA AVGVSTA AVG PII F legend in January 156.[1] I thus date these coins to late 155 - early 156 CE. The coins are so scarce that they may have been produced over a period of only days from late December to early January. This, in conjunction with its appearance only in the medium bronze denomination, raises the question of whether this reverse type might have been issued for New Year's Day, for New Year's asses were sometimes struck with their own reverse types, not shared with other denominations.[2]

All of these medium bronzes are scarce. I have only two examples from the series and must illustrate the other varieties with museum specimens and auction catalogs. These are cited in the legends under the photos when applicable.

The FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL Obverse Inscription

There are several varieties with this earlier inscription. Faustina may be right- or left-facing on the obverse. On the reverse, Juno holds either a patera or a small statuette of The Three Graces. These reverse variations are given separate listings by Cohen, RIC, and Strack. The left-facing bust type is listed only in BMCRE, but Mattingly there incorrectly describes the reverse on the specimen in the collection. There are three varieties with this obverse inscription, of which I only have one in my collection.

I am able to illustrate only a single specimen of RIC 1399 (citing Cohen 125), with Juno holding a patera instead of a statuette of the Three Graces, this example
in the collection of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), cited by Cohen.


FaustinaJrIVNOSCseatedMB(Pius)rightfacingbustpateraonlyBnF.JPG.96f328bffee17f732b52796bf1f52e92.JPG

Empress facing right. Juno, seated left, holding a patera and scepter; at feet, peacock (RIC 1399). Specimen in the BnF, Paris (Cohen 125). Photo in Gauthier-Dussart, Roxane, et al. "Entre Rome et Alexandrie: Le Monnayage d'antonin Le Pieux (138-161), Idéologie Du Règne et Adaptations Locales." l'Université de Montréal, 2017, Plate 111, no. 1867.

This variety is cited by Strack not only from the Paris specimen, above, but also from the museum collections in Munich and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. So, I do believe the coin probably exists as a separate variety, likely as the product of a single reverse die. But it's also possible that all three museum specimens cited by Strack are simply very worn and the Three Graces statuette simply resembles a plain patera. I am not at all convinced that the BnF specimen illustrated above doesn't have a statuette of the three graces on a cylindrical base resembling a patera, as on the specimen of RIC 1400, below. I have been unable to locate a photograph of any other specimens of this variety online, however, after an exhaustive internet search. Of note, the specimen shown as RIC 1399 at OCRE is a specimen of RIC 1400 that has been misattributed.


FaustinaJrIVNOSCseatedMB(Pius)rightfacingbustCNGshortinscr.jpg.c678753295e1ed4ffd196dba244d0ce3.jpg

Empress facing right. Juno, seated left, holding the Three Graces and scepter; at feet, peacock (RIC 1400). CNG E-Auction 230, lot 331, 24 March, 2010.


FaustinaJrIVNOSCseatedMB(Pius)leftfacingbust.jpg.815b61dee17480fa77bbc505cfc7ed19.jpg

Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman Æ as or dupondius, 10.80 gm; 25.3 mm, 5 h.
Rome, late 155 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL, bare-headed and draped bust, left.
Rev: IVNO SC, Juno seated left, holding small statuary group of the three graces and scepter; at feet, peacock.
Refs: RIC —; BMCRE 2188A corr.; Cohen —; Strack—; RCV —.
Note: British Museum (
1937,1006.23) = BMCRE 2188A shows Juno holding the three Graces, not a patera, contra the description in BMCRE. Other known examples: CNG Mail Bid Sale 57, lot 1292, 4 April, 2001 = CNG E-Auction 54, lot 145, 12 April 2002; Agora Sale 23, lot 95, 23 December 2014. All four known examples have been struck from the same obverse die.


The FAVSTINA AVGVSTA AVG PII F Obverse Inscription

The type with this obverse legend is unlisted in RIC or Cohen, but Strack cites an example in Bologna. Half a dozen specimens of this coin exist, and I have one in my collection. How many varieties there are depends on whether you’re a lumper or a splitter. Two reverse dies have S C in the exergue;[3] another two dies have S C in the reverse field. One single specimen lacks the peacock at the empress’s feet.


FaustinaJrIVNOSCseatedMB(Pius)rightfacingbust.jpg.7aaa7ea77321e9ba136c9a6ee988f80d.jpg

Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman Æ as or dupondius, 11.76 gm; 25.1 mm, 12 h.
Rome, early 156 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA AVG PII F, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: IVNO SC, Juno seated left, holding small statuary group of the three graces and scepter; at feet, peacock.
Refs: RIC –; BMC p. 382 n.; Cohen –; Strack 1327 (Bol); RCV –.
Note: Same obv. die as CNG E-Auction 197,
lot 144, 15 October 2008 and to Heidrun Höhn e-Live Auction 5, lot 347, 12 January 2016. Double die match to CNG E-Auction 225, lot 360, 13 January 2010. Different die pair from Rauch, Summer Auction 2009, lot 890, 17 September 2009.


FaustinaJrIVNOSCseatedMB(Pius)rightfacingbustnopeacockCNG.jpg.3ae327af6e0327e39c122221e7493f4a.jpg

This specimen without a peacock at the goddess’s feet appears to be unique. CNG E-Auction 197, lot 144.


FaustinaJrIVNOSCseatedMB(Pius)rightfacingbustRauch.jpg.e78841e60101d384c25de75f96688620.jpg

I consider this specimen with S C in the fields to be an engraver’s variety and by no means a separate issue. Rauch, Summer Auction 2009, lot 890, 17 September 2009.


I hope you enjoyed this bit of flyspecking. Do you have any of these scarce coins? Please feel free to leave comments or post anything you feel is relevant!

~~~

Notes


1. I have previously discussed the dating of all of Faustina's inscriptions under Antoninus Pius elsewhere. "Faustina Friday – Dating the Empress's Obverse Titulature Using a Limited Reverse Type." Coin Talk,
https://www.cointalk.com/threads/faustina-friday-%E2%80%93-dating-the-empresss-obverse-titulature-using-a-limited-reverse-type.395705/.

2. Curtis Clay (
@curtislclay), post #5 in "Faustina Friday -- a Pondersome Dupondius." Coin Talk, https://www.cointalk.com/threads/faustina-friday-a-pondersome-dupondius.372253/#post-5311634.

3. The Heidrun Höhn specimen is poorly preserved and die-matching is difficult. Nonetheless, its reverse die appears to differ from my specimen in the placement of the scepter and goddess's drapery relative to the throne on the reverse.

Edited by Roman Collector
Updating to include photo of specimen in the BnF, Paris
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