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Rare Is Not Always Pretty!


David Atherton

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Admittedly, this is not a beautiful coin. But what it lacks in aesthetic appeal it makes up for in rarity. In nearly two decades of searching I have not seen another example in trade, so I could not pass it up!

 

 

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Vespasian
AR Denarius, 3.20g
Antioch mint, 70 AD
Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: AVG in oak wreath
RIC 1541 (R2). BMC 497. BNC 326. RPC 1915 (3 spec.). RSC 36a.
Ex Harlan J Berk, MBS 224, lot 133. Ex Curtis Clay Collection. Ex Rauch, E15, 16-18 June 2014, lot 161.

An exceedingly rare first issue Antiochene denarius. The AVG in wreath reverse was fleetingly struck in 70 alongside the equally rare Pax and Virtus denarius types. It copies a similar design contemporaneously issued from Ephesus. My example shares an obverse die with the Oxford specimen and a seated Pax type from the same issue. Three other specimens of the type are known, all of which are in major collections - mine is the only one I am aware of in private hands.

It certainly came with enough tags!

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In hand.

 

Do you have a rarity that won't win any beauty contests? Please share it.

As always, thanks for looking!

Edited by David Atherton
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Cool rarity! Congrats!

22 minutes ago, David Atherton said:

Do you have a rarity that won't win any beauty contests? Please share it.

Well, since you asked...😉 This is not quite my rarest coin, but it's very close. It's also a great example of the wide range in pricing you can see for the same type depending on grade, etc.: from 26 EUR (this coin) to $10,000. (example on ACSearch)

Considering the price, this one isn't really that bad. The portrait is fairly clear and instantly recognizable as Severus; you can even see a bit of the drapery on his left shoulder, and at least half of the legend is also clearly discernible. The reverse is worse but even there you can clearly see the outline of the bridge, a bit of the figures on the bridge, the boat underneath, and part of the exergual legend "COS II..."

The rarity, interesting reverse type, and cheap acquisition price combine to make this one of my favorites, even if it is a bit of an ugly duckling!

SeptimiusSeverusAsbridge.jpg.76d959d9355c630ea5e7b55c53a6548b.jpg

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1 hour ago, CPK said:

Cool rarity! Congrats!

Well, since you asked...😉 This is not quite my rarest coin, but it's very close. It's also a great example of the wide range in pricing you can see for the same type depending on grade, etc.: from 26 EUR (this coin) to $10,000. (example on ACSearch)

Considering the price, this one isn't really that bad. The portrait is fairly clear and instantly recognizable as Severus; you can even see a bit of the drapery on his left shoulder, and at least half of the legend is also clearly discernible. The reverse is worse but even there you can clearly see the outline of the bridge, a bit of the figures on the bridge, the boat underneath, and part of the exergual legend "COS II..."

The rarity, interesting reverse type, and cheap acquisition price combine to make this one of my favorites, even if it is a bit of an ugly duckling!

SeptimiusSeverusAsbridge.jpg.76d959d9355c630ea5e7b55c53a6548b.jpg

I think you made out very well with that one. Enough detail remains to make out the major devices ... and you didn't have to break the bank to obtain it! What a great coin.

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As a specialized collector, if you want to add a complete collection of a ruler, this is a close to impossible task. Adding a major rarity is a great result and this is a step towards a complete collection- if the coin is attributable, this is nothing else than a GOOD JOB. 

I do not have coins of that calibre in my ancient coins collection. I am a generalist. My coins are not rare - if I want to add a new ruler, I usually add common coins. And even if probably I should buy coins in good condition, I often buy coins that are appealing for me. Sometimes I simply like the portrait, the reverse, the shape, even the wear pattern. 

I only had 1 Volusian sestertius and since Volusian is not a rare ruler I had in mind to buy an antoninianus. I saw this coin in an auction and even if the condition is not something to brag about (however I have nothing against it)

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Although I like dynamic/unique reveses, I liked this coin because of the oblong flan, that is also large. 

The surprise was when I attributed the coin. 

Volusian AD 251-253. Antioch
Antoninianus AR
22 mm, 2,97 g
IMP CV AF GAL VEND VOLVSIANO AVG Bust radiate, draped, cuirassed r., Rv. ROMAE AETERNAE AVG, Roma seated left with Victory and spear, shield at side. In exergue, 3 pellets
Cf RIC 234a (R)

The reverse exergue has 3 pellets - and I think the normal 234a, which is already a rare coin, doesn't have recorded specimens with 3 pellets, indicating an unrecorded officina. 

Edited by ambr0zie
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I sold the coin pictured below at a Heritage auction 5 years ago for $51.00 including the buyers premium. It's a plate coin from Richard McAlee's book, Coins of Roman Antioch, & listed as Rare. The coin can certainly be classified as "ugly" because of the porosity & smoothing, but for $51.00 someone made a nice buy ☺️. Today the slab alone would cost more than $51.00 😏. NGC4098442-004ExAWKCollection.jpg.a5cafdc61a70689a6556450b73bfa64e.jpg

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Congratulations on your denarius, @David Atherton!

The great thing about ancient coins is that they don’t have to be perfect to be awesome. Here’s a favorite of mine from an historical perspective and although not exceedingly rare — coins with recognizable eagle images are not easy to find.

 

image.jpeg.89f74a7e52cf8f62e29cbfdcf5867053.jpeg

Edited by LONGINUS
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I am collecting provincials, so most of my coins are rather ugly and relatively scarce, especially compared to imperial issues. Here is one of my recent acquisitions. Caesarea Paneas, Julia Soaemias. Meshorer 55, Sofaer 40. Just one example of this type was known, now in museum. This one is second.

PXL_20230810_042507558.jpg.efbb5284c132325ac7bc811870528c97.jpg

PXL_20230810_042520768.jpg.b387de8b1f0e2460d2de12eb416dd9ab.jpg

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Bn9fm6H8Do5spmN3CM4iQ7trkp2KZ6.jpg.a6d1f9dbc3d7fab0845d0ff748ff1728.jpg

Attribution: Sear Byzantine 323 Ravenna mint
Date: Dated Year 34 - AD 560/1
Obverse: Helmeted and cuirassed bust facing, holding globus cruciger, cross to right
Reverse: Large M, A/N/N/O to left, cross above, X / XX / IIII (date) in left field, RAVEN / NA below
Size: 34.13mm
Weight: 8.81 grams

Here's a good example.  Justinian I 40 nummi are rarely seen, and it's even rarer that they come nice.  The Sear plate coin was also pretty ugly.

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Hi David, your coin is indeed very rare. I have seen just two out of a database of over 12,000 coins of Vespasian.

My name is Rasiel and my area of study is Roman Imperial and Byzantine. I am unable to create an account but would like to participate from time to time so will try posting as a guest.

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Fabulous find once again !

Rarity here at home is often linked to my specialized field, as is yours @David Atherton, hence another coin from the Dombes series. Neither the coin, nor the Grande Mademoiselle would have won a beauty contest I guess 😄 

This is the second known specimen of a demi ecu, the other in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF)

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France, Dombes - 1665 - Anne Marie Louise d'Orleans (1650-1693), Demi ecu
Atelier de Trevoux
AN . M . LVD . PRINC . SVPRE . DOMBA, Buste drapé de 3/4 a droite
(rose) DNS (trefle) ADIVTOR (rose) A (rose) ET . RED . MEVS . 1665 Ecu d'Orleans couronné
13.44 gr
Ref : Divo Dombes # 221 (le deuxième exemplaire connu), PA # 5219v,

Ex collection Christian Charlet

Q

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This coin certainly isn't pretty,  not quite sure if the engraver disliked Macrinus or Athena or both.

You have Mr Potato head on the Obverse &  Kevin wearing Athenas helmet/Aegis Breastplate on the Reverse.

 

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Seleucis ad Pieria  -  Gabala

Macrinus - 27mm - 14.83g  -  BMC Galatia - p246.18    Rare   ( nothing more common than a rare provincial )

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On 8/15/2023 at 10:47 PM, David Atherton said:

Do you have a rarity that won't win any beauty contests? Please share it.

My coin most rare is still the Alexandria mint Septimius Severus with the common at 'Emesa' type INVICTO IMP.  It could be worse since there is a trace of the final MP showing it did not read TROPAEA (also unknown at Alexandria).  It is the only known specimen which Roger Bickford Smith published in his paper shortly before his death.  I considered giving it to him which would have been a mistake because he would have left it to the British Museum. 

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This Alexandria legionary has the far less common reverse ending in AVG rather than AVI.  As these things go, the coin is high grade unless you mind the large pit in the neck.  

rf4400bb1797.jpg.4070ce11aa64f32579a57276c349483b.jpg

 

Hardly rare in this game, my Septimius and Clodius Albinus facing coin of Pautalia is one of two known to me and is the plate coin in Varbanov (4866).  The other one was sold by Lanz 121,451 in 2004.  https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=197347  It has less wear but mine is prettier.  

https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=197347pi0370rp1471.jpg.1d5e8348302fe8f85e1b3b834470970e.jpg

 

The question:  How many coins can there be and still be termed 'rare' ?  The answer is there must be fewer than there are people who want them.  My examples would need to find the right person to be sold at any price while there are a hundred EID MAR denarii and a thousand people who crave the type.  Which is rare?  Who cares about rare coins in this day or arguing about stars on MS 5/5 5/5 slabs? 

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49 minutes ago, dougsmit said:

The question:  How many coins can there be and still be termed 'rare' ?  The answer is there must be fewer than there are people who want them.  My examples would need to find the right person to be sold at any price while there are a hundred EID MAR denarii and a thousand people who crave the type.  Which is rare?  Who cares about rare coins in this day or arguing about stars on MS 5/5 5/5 slabs? 

Rarity is hard to define in an absolute sense, but it doesn't have anything to do with market demand. An extremely rare provincial type (like yours) known from only 2 or 3 specimens might not get much market attention, but it's certainly more rare than the classic owl which sells for ten times the price. Rarity is about the number of specimens known to exist: a number which, though not absolute, generally can be known with a fair degree of accuracy.

The EID MAR denarius isn't common but it's not rare either IMO. My impression is that a rare coin is one that has maybe 20 or fewer examples known in the various collections, internet archives, etc. Very rare might be a dozen or so. Fewer than that would be extremely rare. These are not hard and fast definitions but I think they give a general idea.

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