Jump to content

The FELICITAS AVG Issue of Julia Mamaea

Recommended Posts

In ancient Rome, Felicitas was the personification of happiness, good luck, and prosperity. There are subtle differences in the words for "happiness" in Latin: Felicitas connotes contentment, whereas hilaritas connotes rejoicing, and laetitia connotes delight and gladness. Felicitas is depicted as a Roman matron, dressed in a stola and palla, either standing or seated, holding a caduceus and cornucopiæ or scepter. Sometimes she leans on a column.

There were several reverse types issued for Julia Mamaea that depict Felicitas. I am only going to discuss one of them, the FELICITAS AVG type depicting Felicitas standing facing, head left, holding a long caduceus and cornucopiæ. This type was only issued in the bronze denominations and was thus limited in scope. Nonetheless, the type includes a few varieties of interest for the specialist collector. Carson assigns the type to Severus Alexander’s 9th emission, 228 CE.[1]


The dies used in the production of the sestertius of the type were rather uniform, and no varieties of the coin are noted in RIC, BMCRE, Cohen, or Sear. Here is the specimen in my collection.


Julia Mamaea, 222-235 CE.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 26.95 g, 31.5 mm, 12 h.
Rome, issue 9, 228 CE.
Obv: IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust, right.
Rev: FELICITAS AVG S C, Felicitas standing left, holding long vertical caduceus and cornucopiæ.
Refs: RIC 670; BMCRE 527-30; Cohen 10; RCV 8227; Banti 4.

Medium Bronze Varieties


Cohen notes two bust varieties on the medium bronze of this issue featuring a right-facing bust and the obverse legend IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA: a typical diademed and draped bust (Cohen 11), and a type featuring the portrait sitting on a crescent (Cohen 12),[2] analogous to the FELICITAS PVBLICA and FELICITAS TEMP dupondii issued from 228-230 CE.[3] I have discussed those types previously
elsewhere. Mattingly and Sydenham, citing Cohen uncritically, similarly list varieties without (RIC 671) and with a crescent (RIC 673). However, the type probably does not exist with an obverse portrait depicting the empress resting on a crescent. RIC simply cited Cohen, and Cohen cites no authority or museum collection. The British Museum does not own a specimen and no examples are to be found at the usual online databases, such as acsearchinfo, ORCE, Wildwinds, The Coin Project, and Coryssa. While RIC identifies them as dupondii, this is asserted without explanation. I believe the specimen in my collection (below) to be a dupondius. However, I think it is fallacious to insist that other specimens of the type cannot be asses. Moreover, Carson implies the existence of asses of the type.[5]


Julia Mamaea, 222-235 CE.
Roman orichalcum dupondius, 14.65 g, 27.8 mm, 7 h.
Rome, issue 9, 228 CE.
Obv: IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust, right.
Rev: FELICITAS AVG S C, Felicitas standing left, holding long vertical caduceus and cornucopiæ.
Refs: RIC 671; BMCRE 531n.; Cohen 11; RCV –.

Cohen also notes a medium bronze of the type featuring a left-facing bust (Cohen 13), citing the collection of M. Elberling. Mattingly and Sydenham (RIC 672) cite Cohen, and tentatively identify the specimen as an as.[6] BMCRE similarly cites Cohen, also noting the Elberling collection.[7] No examples are to be found at acsearchinfo, ORCE, Wildwinds, The Coin Project, and Coryssa, and I was skeptical of the coin's existence. After further searching, however, I was pleasantly surprised to confirm the type in a post from 2011 at laMoneta.it.[8]


Dupondius(?), 7.2 g, 24 mm. Left-facing portrait of Julia Mamaea and a depiction of Felicitas on reverse. Illegible legends, but entirely consistent with RIC 672/Cohen 13. Collection of rick2, laMoneta.it.


Cohen lists a medium bronze of the type with a right-facing, diademed bust and an abbreviated obverse legend, IVLIA MAMAEA AVG (Cohen 14). Mattingly and Sydenham (RIC 674) cite Cohen and identify the coin as an as. Carson identifies the specimen in the British Museum collection as an as. It is illustrated below.


Copper as, 11.46 g, with a diademed bust of Julia Mamaea and the shorter obverse inscription, IVLIA MAMAEA AVG (RIC 674, Cohen 14). British Museum collection (BMCRE 531).

Cohen does not list a variety of the coin with a bare-headed bust, and consequently, RIC does not give the bare-headed bust variety a separate listing. RIC does, however, note the existence of a bare-headed bust type, citing A.S.F.N., 1886, p. 160.[9] Carson reports a specimen in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow with a bare-headed bust type (GLAHM:29328) in a footnote to BMCRE 531.[10] Here is the specimen in my collection.


Julia Mamaea, 222-235 CE.
Roman Æ as, 11.29 g, 23.6 mm, 12 h.
Rome, issue 9, 228 CE.
Obv: IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: FELICITAS AVG S C, Felicitas standing left, holding long vertical caduceus and cornucopiæ.
Refs: RIC 674n.; BMCRE 531n.; Cohen –; RCV –.

Do you have any coins of this issue? Let’s see your coins of Felicitas, Julia Mamaea, or anything you feel is relevant!!



1. Carson, Robert A. G. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum. Vol. VI: Severus Alexander to Balbinus and Pupienus, British Museum, 1962, p 164.

2. Cohen, Henry. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Tome IV: de Septime Sévère à Maxime (193 à 238 après J.-C.). Paris, 1880, p. 491.

3. Carson, op. cit., pp. 66-67, 73, 161, 164, 179.

4. Mattingly, Harold and Sydenham, Edward A. The Roman imperial coinage, vol. 4, Part 1: Pertinax to Geta. London, Spink, 1936, pp. 124-125.

5. See description of BMCRE 531 and associated footnote, Carson, op. cit., p. 164.

6. Mattingly and Sydenham write "As(?)", op. cit., p. 124.

7. BMCRE 531n., Carson, op. cit., p. 164.

8. Post by rick2. "Il Rottame Della Settimana , Asse DA 50 Pence." Lamoneta.It - Numismatica, Monete, Collezionismo, 26 Feb. 2011,

9. Mattingly and Sydenham, op. cit., s.v. 674n., p. 124.

10. Carson, op. cit., p. 164.

Edited by Roman Collector
New photo
  • Like 13
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor

Great post, @Roman Collector!

I’ve always liked the symbolism of the cornucopia and having Felicitas looking out for you would be a highly enviable place to be for most Romans 🏛️🍀💰😇.

My Mamaea lacks Felicitas but my Probus features her (looking the other way).




  • Like 11
  • Clap 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very informative post, @Roman Collector - please keep up the good work with these Julia Mamae issues.  

I have but one poor specimen from the OP:


Julia Mamaea        Æ Sestertius (228 A.D.) Rome Mint (9th Emission) [I]VLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA diademed bust right / [FELIC]ITAS AVG, S-C, Felicitas standing left, holding long caduceus and cornucopiae. RIC IV Severus Alexander 670; BMCRE 529-30 (Alexander). (21.82 grams / 29 x 28 mm) eBay May 2018  

  • Like 7
  • Clap 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...