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Titus/Domitian Caesar Mule


David Atherton

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Judging by some of my recent posts, one can be forgiven in believing that the Rome mint during the reigns of Vespasian and Titus was an accident prone, slipshod organisation full of mules and mistakes. But that is simply not the case! Error coins during this time period are actually quite rare, which underscores why my latest addition is quite extraordinary.

 

 

TmulewithD.jpg.59f97da1764d06778d4ebe90520cd37f.jpg

Titus Mule
AR Denarius, 2.87g
Rome mint, 80 AD
Obv: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG PM; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: PRINCEPS IVVENTVTIS; Goat standing l., in laurel-wreath.
Cf. RIC 100-132/267 (for obv./rev.).
Ex Harlan J Berk, MBS 224, lot 95. Ex Curtis Clay Collection, acquired from Lanz, eBay, 7 December 2019.

An unpublished mule featuring a Titus obverse paired with a reverse intended for Domitian Caesar. The type of a goat within laurel wreath was exclusively struck for Domitian Caesar under Titus and may represent Amalthea, the Cretan goat, which nursed the infant Jupiter. It copies a reverse type originally coined during the Roman Republic.

The Paris collection possesses a fourrée of this mule (BNC 115), however, it is in poor style. I leave open the possibility my piece could be an ancient forgery as well.

 

In hand.

 

 

And here is the correct Domitian Caesar variety.

 

T267sm.jpg.dac2c8e07c69dfb95ec1f8db4eafa6c5.jpg

Domitian as Caesar [Titus]
AR Denarius, 3.09g
Rome Mint, 80 AD
Obv: CAESAR DIVI F DOMITIANVS COS VII; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: PRINCEPS IVVENTVTIS; Goat standing l., in laurel-wreath.
RIC 267(C). BMC 88. RSC 390. BNC 73.
Acquired from Aegean Numismatics, August 2007.

 

As always, thank you for looking!

Edited by David Atherton
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3 hours ago, Roman Collector said:

Test the specific gravity of that thing. I think it's fouree.

Yes, I thought the same thing! But the specific gravity test shows it likely to be mostly silver. Plus, the style is correct for the issue, down to the pellet ending the obverse legend, and the low weight can be explained by the porous surfaces.

Curtis Clay formerly owned the piece, if it was plated he would've known.

 

Edited by David Atherton
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3 hours ago, David Atherton said:

Yes, I thought the same thing! But the specific gravity test shows it likely to be mostly silver. Plus, the style is correct for the issue, down to the pellet ending the obverse legend, and the low weight can be explained by the porous surfaces.

Curtis Clay formerly owned the piece, if it was plated he would've known.

 

But with all that being said, since there is a degree of uncertainty I think it best to catalogue the piece as such:

 

20230729_091313.jpg.313d9abf30ad80ebd33056030e689d53.jpg

Edited by David Atherton
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The specific gravity is within the normal range how you write. I can't see any signs of plating on the photos either.

I don't see why it shouldn't be a hybrid (mule) from the official roman mint. What else should it be, congratulations. 🙂

Edited by friedberg
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After some consideration, despite the expert opinion of Curtis Clay and our fellow member @friedberg, I've come to the conclusion that the piece is an unofficial hybrid fourrée. There is clear evidence of plating at high magnification and the specific gravity tests are not conclusive enough to rule out a copper core. I very much wanted this to be an unpublished official mule, but I call them as I see them. Hopefully Curtis can weigh in why he originally believed it to be official. Good style perhaps? Did it start flaking post acquisition?

At any rate, here is the updated envelope.

 

20230730_110334.jpg.50f579219d756feee2d3cd578e124efc.jpg

 

Edited by David Atherton
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1 hour ago, David Atherton said:

After some consideration, despite the expert opinion of Curtis Clay and our fellow member @friedberg, I've come to the conclusion that the piece is an unofficial hybrid fourrée. There is clear evidence of plating at high magnification and the specific gravity tests are not conclusive enough to rule out a copper core. I very much wanted this to be an unpublished official mule, but I call them as I see them. Hopefully Curtis can weigh in why he originally believed it to be official. Good style perhaps? Did it start flaking post acquisition?

At any rate here is the updated envelope.

20230730_080945.jpg.a0c44b3184db1f9e83211deb1e030936.jpg

 

 

That flaking on the obverse at 4:00 was what made me suspicious. I also think that mules from the actual mint are quite rare but mules created by ancient forgers are more common. A lot of the mules listed in RIC are ancient forgeries or imitative issues when the specimens cited are examined. Mattingly and Sydenham cited a lot of them uncritically from Cohen. I think most ancient forgers were pretty familiar with numismatics and they muled the coins on purpose so they could recognize their handiwork if they received one back in the course of everyday commerce. Here are a couple of ancient forgeries created by muling.

Obverse of Faustina II with reverse of Antoninus Pius:

FaustinaJrPAXAVGimitationdenarius.jpg.08209877254323be23714c41ffe180df.jpg

Obverse of Orbiana with reverse of Julia Mamaea:

OrbianaFourree.jpg.28501e3c7efeda23032c0d057e2ea664.jpg

It's a really interesting coin, @David Atherton, for this reason alone.

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