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Faustina Friday – Bizarre AEQVITAS AVG Denarius of Faustina the Elder

Roman Collector

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Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics. I hope you have a relaxing, coin-filled weekend ahead. Today I'm going to talk about a coin that raises more questions than it answers. Is it a hybrid made by the Rome mint? Is it an ancient forgery intended to deceive? Is it a contemporary copy that was issued of necessity and served as currency in an area remote from the Rome mint? Here's how I came to know of the type.

Last month, @Barzus thought I'd be interested in a coin at the upcoming Olympus Numismatic auction and sent me a "Have you seen this?" message. He sent me the link to the auction and mentioned he had similar example struck with the same reverse die but with a different obverse die.


Underweight (2.17g) hybrid denarius combining an obverse of Diva Faustina the Elder in use from 145 CE – 161 CE (DIVA FAVSTINA) and a reverse of Antoninus Pius (RIC 61) dating to late autumn 140 – December 144 CE. Olympus Numismatic, Auction 6, lot 509, 25 August 2023.

By the time I was able to read Barzus's message, the auction had closed and I was unable to purchase it. I have no idea who bought it. But Barzus was kind enough to sell me his example of the coin, which I received in the mail late last week. On examination in-hand, it appears to have been struck and of good silver.


Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Imitation of Roman denarius, 2.61 g, 18.1 mm, 6 h.
Unknown origin, after 145 CE.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: AEQVITAS AVG, Aequitas standing facing, head left; holding scales and scepter.
Refs: Paris 5430; Gauthier-Dussart 1757.
Note: Reverse of Antoninus Pius, RIC 61.

The coins use the reverse type of a denarius of Antoninus Pius from his COS III period, late autumn 140 – December 144 CE. Here is the specimen in my collection.


Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161.
Roman AR denarius, 3.24 g, 17.4 mm, 6 h.
Rome, late autumn AD 140 - December AD 144.
Obv: ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P COS III, Laureate head of Antoninus Pius, right.
Rev: AEQVITAS AVG, Aequitas standing left, holding scales in right hand and vertical rod in left hand.
Refs: RIC 61, BMCRE 173-177; RSC 14; Strack 82; RCV 4049; Hill UCR 331.
Notes: Sear dates the coin to AD 141 specifically.

While waiting for the coin to cross the Atlantic, I researched these two coins. It is unlisted in RIC, BMCRE, Cohen, Strack, and Sear. A search at acsearchinfo for "Faustina AEQVITAS" yielded only the Olympus Numismatic specimen, above, and there was nothing at OCRE when I used the same search terms. But there was an example at Wildwinds, second from the top here, and listed in the database as "Paris 5430." The coin listed is in the collection of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). The photo of the coin at Wildwinds is small and I was unable to find the coin with a search at the BnF website.



Hybrid denarius in the collection of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), Paris 5430; Gauthier-Dussart 1757, as illustrated at Wildwinds. The accompanying text does not provide information about weight or diameter, though Gauthier-Dussart notes a weight of 3.31g and diameter of 20 mm.

The "Gauthier-Dussart" reference is the doctoral dissertation of this scholar. She lists the coin as an émission irrégulière on page 510 and illustrates the BnF specimen in plate 104 of her dissertation, available here. She also notes a second example, with unclear inscriptions, as no. 1758, and illustrates it in plate 104. It is apparently also in the BnF.


Hybrid denarius, Gauthier-Dussart 1758, 2.85g, 19mm, BnF collection(?)

Gauthier-Dussart 1757 appears to be struck, of good silver, of proper weight, and is of fine, official Rome mint style. It was created with a different die-pair from the Olympus coin and my ex-Barzus coin. Gauthier-Dussart 1758, on the other hand, is in a poor state of preservation and appears to be made of patinated base metal and created from a different pair of dies from the others.

In the interim, another example of the coin surfaced, this time at NBS Auctions, which closed on 17 September.


Underweight (2 g) but holed hybrid denarius created from the same die-pair as my specimen. NBS Auctions, Promo Auction 1, lot 791, 17 September 2023.

As of today, here is the inventory of known specimens:

  • Gauthier-Dussart 1757 (BnF; Paris 5430; Wildwinds).
  • Gauthiet-Dussart 1758 (Bnf?).
  • Olympus Numismatics specimen.
  • My specimen (ex-Barzus).
  • NBS specimen.

Here are the salient features of each specimen:

  • My specimen, the Olympus specimen and the NBS specimen were created with the same reverse die and probably by the same person. They are all underweight but all are worn to some degree and seem to have circulated without concern for being counterfeit.
  • The Olympus specimen was created with an obverse die reading DIVA FAVSTINA, which was in use later than the DIVA AVG FAVSTINA legend used on the other specimens. This indicates these issues must date to 145 CE or later.
  • Gauthier-Dussart 1757 was created with a unique pair of dies, is of official Rome mint style, is of proper weight, and is worn from circulation as well. Of all specimens, this has the greatest claim to being a hybrid created at the Rome mint from official dies.
  • Gaustier-Dussart 1758, though in a poor state of preservation, appears also to have been created with a unique pair of dies. It is of base metal and underweight.

What are we to make of these? With the possible exception of Gauthier-Dussart 1757 (Paris 5430), which may be an error coin created at the Rome mint, I think these coins were imitative issues that served a need for coins in the area where they were produced. Apart from Gauthiet-Dussart 1758, which is of base metal, they seem to be of good silver. Their state of wear indicates that they were accepted by the populace as legal tender. Unfortunately, we have no provenance information about any of the coins and it's unknown where they were produced. Perhaps additional examples will be uncovered and the purpose of these coins may become more clear in time.

Do you have any thoughts on the matter? Do you have similar coins to share? Please post comments, coins, or anything you feel is relevant!

Edited by Roman Collector
I have OCD and a stray comma bothers me.
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Very interesting, RC.  And a fine addition to your Faustina collection.  

Here is the Antoninus Pius Aequitas reverse type.  It is one of my favorite portraits o AP - the wide, upward-looking eye resembles is DIVO PIO posthumous portraits more than his lifetime look:  


Antoninus Pius  Denarius (c. 140-143 A.D.) Rome Mint ANTONINVS AVG PIVS PP TR P COS III, laureate head right / AEQVITAS AVG, Aequitas standing left, holding scales and sceptre. RIC 61a; Sear 4049; RSC 14. (3.02 grams / 16 x 18 mm) eBay Dec. 2018 

It has a squashed rim - not sure what happened - a test cut gone wrong?  It is very, very thin on the squashed edge: 



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I have only 2 Aequitas coins - a Trajan denarius and a Vespasian as, so irrelevant for this thread. 

Just my 2 cents - this is a great gesture from @Barzus - I am sure he was not bothered with the coin in his collection, but knowing it is probably more important to you, he decided to sell it. Great gesture between collectors. 

The coins are not the same type (DIVA vs DIVA AVG) but I think I trust the coin you received more. I can't explain and I am possibly wrong, but something seems off with it. It seems a low quality silver - at least from photos - and this isn't characteristic for that period (I think you can confirm/infirm). So this makes me think this is either a) unofficial or b) official but "struck in the weekend" as an extra task for personal purposes ... or c) the worst scenario - modern fake. These are my thoughts about the Olympus coin. 

Again, I might be wrong. 

My personal opinion - your coin is an official issue, but most likely there were some mix ups and they paired wrong dies. This is not very plausible though because there are a few dies for each side. 

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