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New purchases! A couple of 1st century Sestertii - what's not to love about these big chunky coins??


CPK

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Yes, I like my denarii. And as I've posted before, I enjoy collecting interesting as reverse types. But there's something special about a sestertius. Hefting that big chunk of bronze in the hand gives a real sense of tangible wealth - it must have been a favorite of the ancient Romans. Common sums were counted in sesterces. The sestertius out-lasted the denarius as a common circulation coin.

Sestertii of the first century AD especially are awe-inspiring: nearly a full ounce of rich, golden orichalcum bronze, with exquisitely fine portrait artistry, and often featuring fascinating reverse designs. The finest engravers, it seems, were put to sestertii production. The quality of output was extraordinary; one almost never sees a 1st century sestertius weakly struck, off center, or struck from worn dies.

It's not too often I can afford to splurge on these coins, but recently I was able to acquire these two. The first is this fine specimen featuring Titus as Caesar under his father Vespasian:

TitussestertiusPax.jpg.0e72cc9db560dff7d176e0a567697a2e.jpg

 

Really any early empire sestertius is special, but I've always wanted one of Titus. Numismatic portrait artistry under the Flavians reached a very high level of quality, and Titus is of course a very famous figure in ancient history, known for his role in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, and for his short reign during which Mt. Vesuvius erupted. His coins are typically the scarcest of all the Flavians, and consequently the most expensive.

This coin is far from perfect, but I was able to find what I believe is a double-die match on acsearch.info, and so while there may be some smoothing, I don't think there's been any tooling going on. The portrait is good and the reverse is even better. The yellowish orichalcum shows a little through the green patina. Thanks to @David Atherton for allowing me to quote from his collection description.

 

The second sestertius is an earlier one, struck under Claudius in the year 42:

Claudiussestertiuswreath.jpg.459d393f4b2fbd9530e9ba426c452ec5.jpg

 

Sestertii of Claudius are some of the earliest sestertii, at least of the type with which we are most familiar (featuring the imperial portrait.) This coin was struck within a year of Caligula's assassination, at the beginning of his uncle Claudius' reign. The reverse type is interesting because it proclaims Claudius as PATER PATRIAE "Father of the Nation," - OB CIVES SERVATOS - "for saving the citizens". These titles were awarded to Augustus by a grateful (or perhaps cowed) Senate decades earlier, and while an argument could be made for Augustus it's hard to see how Claudius merited such honors given his previous lack of involvement in politics, and the fact that he was less than a year into his reign! Of course, Caligula had coopted the same honorifics, and maybe the Senate was just happy for the respite.

Two things make this particular sestertius special - first, it's not a product of the Rome mint. Under both Claudius and Nero a branch mint operated, probably somewhere in the Balkans, striking Imperial coinage. The little indentation in the center of both obverse and reverse is the giveaway - this was a part of flan production not employed in Rome. It's less common than the Rome mint variety, though it is not really rare.

The other special thing about this coin is that it comes from the @curtislclay collection. Curtis Clay is certainly one of the top authorities in ancient numismatics today, and I'm very grateful for the couple times he's helped me out on this forum. Being able to own a coin from his collection is pretty cool IMO and helped tip my decision in favor to purchase.

Since photos can't do full justice to these huge coins, here are a couple of videos of the coins in hand:

 

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I think they're great - congratulations! I'm particularly fascinated by the (presumable) lathing dimple on the flan of the Balkan sestertius. They're very common on bronze coins of the third century CE in Moesia and Thracia, etc., but I had no idea that they were used there as early as Claudius and Nero.

Edited by DonnaML
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The first sestertius in my collection is also a Titus. I still wonder why did the auction house think it's a good idea to let it in a group lot. With a total price being abnormally low in the end. 

image.png.c25470a50dc2cc81baa9512c6ed64de0.png

33 mm, 24 g.
Titus 79-81 AD. Ӕ sestertius. Rome. 80-81.
IMP T CAES VESP AVG P M TR P P P COS VIII, head of Titus, laureate, right / FELICIT PVBLIC S C, Felicitas standing left, holding sceptre and cornucopiae.
RIC II, Part 1 (second edition) Titus 143; Old RIC II Titus 89.

Edited by ambr0zie
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Nice coins above.

My sestertius is from mid 3rd century

Gaius Vibius Trebonianus Gallus. AE Sestertius, Rome, AD 251-252

IMP CAES C VIBIVS TREBONIANVS GALLVS AVG, laureate, draped bust right / PIETAS AVGG, S-C, Pietas standing facing before lit altar, raising both hands.
RIC 117a; Cohen 86; Sear 9676.
23.15g. 28x31mm

ij7LG9opaN2m3wbDH63znCA4Jt5e8Q.jpg.ee949192252c6e4114cd15997003615a.jpg

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9 hours ago, CPK said:

and post your own favorite sestertii!

I share the opinion that this denomination is very attractive. I tend to like very small coins or very large coins. The main point of attraction is that, having large flans, the engravers had more freedom to display their artistry. Unfortunately I do not have a breath taking example of very detailed reverses (mostly found in 1st and 2nd century) but I think my favorite examples are from Pius and Diva Faustina. 

image.png.d5adc9b4f29a43246c87f54735363ad6.png

33 mm, 25,93 g.
Antoninus Pius with Marcus Aurelius as Caesar 138-161. Æ sestertius. Rome. Circa 141-143.
ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P COS III, laureate head of Antoninus Pius right / AVRELIVS CAESAR AVG PII F COS / S C, bare head of Marcus Aurelius right.
RIC III 1211; BMC 1208; C 28.

I chased the denarius types with this design for a long time but I was unsuccessful. The examples I saw in the auctions I was in were either too expensive or not attractive enough. Acquiring this was very good news. 

----

image.png.9aa6ea3c1cd7dbde5ab663fab7aeb7df.png

32,15 mm, 26,39 g.
Diva Faustina I. Died 140-141. Ӕ sestertius. Rome. 155-161.
DIVA FAVSTINA, bust of Faustina I, draped, right, hair elaborately waved and coiled in bands across head and drawn up at back and piled in a round coil on top / AETERNITAS SC, Aeternitas standing left, holding phoenix on globe and lifting fold of skirt.
RIC III Antoninus Pius 1105a; BMC 1490; RCV 4607; Cohen 12.

Portrait, patina, interesting enough reverse. Nothing to complain about this. 

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9 hours ago, CPK said:

Yes, I like my denarii. And as I've posted before, I enjoy collecting interesting as reverse types. But there's something special about a sestertius. Hefting that big chunk of bronze in the hand gives a real sense of tangible wealth - it must have been a favorite of the ancient Romans. Common sums were counted in sesterces. The sestertius out-lasted the denarius as a common circulation coin.

Sestertii of the first century AD especially are awe-inspiring: nearly a full ounce of rich, golden orichalcum bronze, with exquisitely fine portrait artistry, and often featuring fascinating reverse designs. The finest engravers, it seems, were put to sestertii production. The quality of output was extraordinary; one almost never sees a 1st century sestertius weakly struck, off center, or struck from worn dies.

It's not too often I can afford to splurge on these coins, but recently I was able to acquire these two. The first is this fine specimen featuring Titus as Caesar under his father Vespasian:

TitussestertiusPax.jpg.0e72cc9db560dff7d176e0a567697a2e.jpg

 

Really any early empire sestertius is special, but I've always wanted one of Titus. Numismatic portrait artistry under the Flavians reached a very high level of quality, and Titus is of course a very famous figure in ancient history, known for his role in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, and for his short reign during which Mt. Vesuvius erupted. His coins are typically the scarcest of all the Flavians, and consequently the most expensive.

This coin is far from perfect, but I was able to find what I believe is a double-die match on acsearch.info, and so while there may be some smoothing, I don't think there's been any tooling going on. The portrait is good and the reverse is even better. The yellowish orichalcum shows a little through the green patina. Thanks to @David Atherton for allowing me to quote from his collection description.

 

The second sestertius is an earlier one, struck under Claudius in the year 42:

Claudiussestertiuswreath.jpg.459d393f4b2fbd9530e9ba426c452ec5.jpg

 

Sestertii of Claudius are some of the earliest sestertii, at least of the type with which we are most familiar (featuring the imperial portrait.) This coin was struck within a year of Caligula's assassination, at the beginning of his uncle Claudius' reign. The reverse type is interesting because it proclaims Claudius as PATER PATRIAE "Father of the Nation," - OB CIVES SERVATOS - "for saving the citizens". These titles were awarded to Augustus by a grateful (or perhaps cowed) Senate decades earlier, and while an argument could be made for Augustus it's hard to see how Claudius merited such honors given his previous lack of involvement in politics, and the fact that he was less than a year into his reign! Of course, Caligula had coopted the same honorifics, and maybe the Senate was just happy for the respite.

Two things make this particular sestertius special - first, it's not a product of the Rome mint. Under both Claudius and Nero a branch mint operated, probably somewhere in the Balkans, striking Imperial coinage. The little indentation in the center of both obverse and reverse is the giveaway - this was a part of flan production not employed in Rome. It's less common than the Rome mint variety, though it is not really rare.

The other special thing about this coin is that it comes from the @curtislclay collection. Curtis Clay is certainly one of the top authorities in ancient numismatics today, and I'm very grateful for the couple times he's helped me out on this forum. Being able to own a coin from his collection is pretty cool IMO and helped tip my decision in favor to purchase.

Since photos can't do full justice to these huge coins, here are a couple of videos of the coins in hand:

 

 

CPK, Two excellent additions, the Vespasian bronze is especially attractive 😍.

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4 hours ago, lordmarcovan said:

@CPK, your photo templates are really quite handsome.  Reminds me of the posters @LONGINUS creates.

And I agree that the heft of a chunky sestertius is always appealing.

I presently have three.

 

F66FBF05-C00B-498F-8ED5-F4A62A4A46E0.jpeg

56A6C584-475F-4118-9554-5FBFC6B728AD.jpeg

01505ABB-E929-413D-9DB9-73B12CE955B1.jpeg

Thanks! I like playing around with different presentations. I don't have @LONGINUS's skill but I've gained a lot of inspiration from him and others here!

I love the portrait on that Claudius sestertius! Plus it's got some really attractive bronze toning. The others are great, too. 👍

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Fantastic additions. I really like that portrait of Titus. First century big bronzes are really big and round. Enough space for the designs and lettering. One of our members who is no longer with us, had a special interest in the lettering. I really enjoyed his posts. 

Anyway, here are a few of mine. I would like to add a Titus sestertius one day.But the wishlist is big, very big, and the bronzes are expensive...! 

6.3.png.a233afec78857a769649451b74dccab3.png

Same as yours: 

7.6.png.dbbf026b17a354e56f80704fa89d0f03.png

8.3.png.52648cb4750f6e59ac2fe8c29efeb505.png

My only Flavian: 

14.4.png.2b1ee3771229efdbc86e75676309df50.png

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13 hours ago, CPK said:

Yes, I like my denarii. And as I've posted before, I enjoy collecting interesting as reverse types. But there's something special about a sestertius. Hefting that big chunk of bronze in the hand gives a real sense of tangible wealth - it must have been a favorite of the ancient Romans. Common sums were counted in sesterces. The sestertius out-lasted the denarius as a common circulation coin.

Sestertii of the first century AD especially are awe-inspiring: nearly a full ounce of rich, golden orichalcum bronze, with exquisitely fine portrait artistry, and often featuring fascinating reverse designs. The finest engravers, it seems, were put to sestertii production. The quality of output was extraordinary; one almost never sees a 1st century sestertius weakly struck, off center, or struck from worn dies.

It's not too often I can afford to splurge on these coins, but recently I was able to acquire these two. The first is this fine specimen featuring Titus as Caesar under his father Vespasian:

TitussestertiusPax.jpg.0e72cc9db560dff7d176e0a567697a2e.jpg

 

Really any early empire sestertius is special, but I've always wanted one of Titus. Numismatic portrait artistry under the Flavians reached a very high level of quality, and Titus is of course a very famous figure in ancient history, known for his role in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, and for his short reign during which Mt. Vesuvius erupted. His coins are typically the scarcest of all the Flavians, and consequently the most expensive.

This coin is far from perfect, but I was able to find what I believe is a double-die match on acsearch.info, and so while there may be some smoothing, I don't think there's been any tooling going on. The portrait is good and the reverse is even better. The yellowish orichalcum shows a little through the green patina. Thanks to @David Atherton for allowing me to quote from his collection description.

 

The second sestertius is an earlier one, struck under Claudius in the year 42:

Claudiussestertiuswreath.jpg.459d393f4b2fbd9530e9ba426c452ec5.jpg

 

Sestertii of Claudius are some of the earliest sestertii, at least of the type with which we are most familiar (featuring the imperial portrait.) This coin was struck within a year of Caligula's assassination, at the beginning of his uncle Claudius' reign. The reverse type is interesting because it proclaims Claudius as PATER PATRIAE "Father of the Nation," - OB CIVES SERVATOS - "for saving the citizens". These titles were awarded to Augustus by a grateful (or perhaps cowed) Senate decades earlier, and while an argument could be made for Augustus it's hard to see how Claudius merited such honors given his previous lack of involvement in politics, and the fact that he was less than a year into his reign! Of course, Caligula had coopted the same honorifics, and maybe the Senate was just happy for the respite.

Two things make this particular sestertius special - first, it's not a product of the Rome mint. Under both Claudius and Nero a branch mint operated, probably somewhere in the Balkans, striking Imperial coinage. The little indentation in the center of both obverse and reverse is the giveaway - this was a part of flan production not employed in Rome. It's less common than the Rome mint variety, though it is not really rare.

The other special thing about this coin is that it comes from the @curtislclay collection. Curtis Clay is certainly one of the top authorities in ancient numismatics today, and I'm very grateful for the couple times he's helped me out on this forum. Being able to own a coin from his collection is pretty cool IMO and helped tip my decision in favor to purchase.

Since photos can't do full justice to these huge coins, here are a couple of videos of the coins in hand:

 

 

You can't beat these large 1st century bronzes! Congrats again on your new purchases.

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This is one of my favourite sestertii:

Nerva 96-98

IMP NERVA CAES AVG P M TR P COS II P P
laur. hd. r.

CONGIAR P R / S C
Nerva seated on platform, in front of him, attendant seated right, making distribution to citizen, standing left, foot on steps up to platform, holding out hand; in background, center, Minerva standing left, holding owl(?) and spear, on right, Liberalitas standing left, holding abacus.

RIC 56, BMCRE 87

22.88 g, 33 mm, 6º
ex CNG 126/300 and CNG 103/157

The reverse is not that well preserved, but I like the portrait and the overall appeal - and it is untouched.

180.jpg

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3 hours ago, Limes said:

Fantastic additions. I really like that portrait of Titus. First century big bronzes are really big and round. Enough space for the designs and lettering. One of our members who is no longer with us, had a special interest in the lettering. I really enjoyed his posts. 

Anyway, here are a few of mine. I would like to add a Titus sestertius one day.But the wishlist is big, very big, and the bronzes are expensive...! 

6.3.png.a233afec78857a769649451b74dccab3.png

Same as yours: 

7.6.png.dbbf026b17a354e56f80704fa89d0f03.png

8.3.png.52648cb4750f6e59ac2fe8c29efeb505.png

My only Flavian: 

14.4.png.2b1ee3771229efdbc86e75676309df50.png

Lovely collection, all around! 

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At the moment this one:

Pupienus, A.D. 238

AE Sestertius 28mm 19 gm

Obv: draped and cuirassed bust of Pupienus right

Rev: VICTORIA AVGG, Victory holding wreath and palm

Important in that it celebrated the victory over Maximinus at Aquileia. However, the senatorial emperors

did not last long, - 3 months.

pupienus1.jpg.03b901a1f950ba0b1034c22cc44996ef.jpg

pupienus2.jpg.18e90cff0c7bd2000f1ea069e8b83285.jpg

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Some lovely examples here! I'm much too nervous to buy Sestertii for the reasons already touched on in this thread such as price, smoothing and tooling.

However I've been in mind for some time to buy an inexpensive obviously untooled and unsmoothed budget example for the tacticle experience of moving the large chunk of metal between my hands and fingers!

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1 hour ago, Steppenfool said:

Some lovely examples here! I'm much too nervous to buy Sestertii for the reasons already touched on in this thread such as price, smoothing and tooling.

However I've been in mind for some time to buy an inexpensive obviously untooled and unsmoothed budget example for the tacticle experience of moving the large chunk of metal between my hands and fingers!

I think your best shot is a sestertius from one of the adoptive emperors, like Trajan, Antoninus Pius, or Marcus Aurelius. Plenty in trade, and generally more worn examples are available with lower prices and no tooling. Be ware of smoothing, which tends to be a more common practice, if that's not what you want either. 

Edit: be sure to check out retail too. Quite a few in stock, and not more expensive per se in comparison to ones offered at auction. Especially considering the buyers fees and, sometimes, idiotic shipping fees that some auctioneers seem to maintain to add some pecunia to their own wallet. That does stink! 

Edited by Limes
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I have no first-century sestertii, much as I'd like to own one. The better examples are quite expensive, and it seems to me that there's a very good chance that all or most of them have been smoothed at least, with many of them tooled as well. 

My earliest sestertii are all from the second century. Without write-ups, but with diameters and weights for comparison purposes: 

Hadrian (31 mm., 23.55 g.):

image.jpeg.5c4216bab6af8cc4cafa6d7731f0ebe2.jpeg

Marcus Aurelius (30mm, 25.8 g.)

image.png.9be1cb2e5dd30aaa2d78e1537c6d27c9.png

Faustina II (31 mm., 24 g.)

image.png.67ea058c080463515584962d7efa6085.png

Commodus (29 mm., 20.19 g.)

image.png.89c3fa8014dd2e2c63db44dd68926944.png

Crispina (30 mm., 22.23 g.)*

image.png.1711b670b80470e1a0ba4aad96d83d3a.png

*A more realistic color:

image.png.770fb4b7a449b9f6d4ba16965b7fabd3.png

Notice the continuing decline in weight for my three third-century sestertii:

Maximinus I Thrax (31 mm., 17.58 g.)

image.png.30b04acc78bff25d3b9d3a156ffb032a.png

Gordian III (30 mm., 18.37 g.)

image.jpeg.f31b485d49aca37ae83c3e6f28a9523a.jpeg

Philip I (27x29 mm., 16 g.)

image.jpeg.f8b40c9136be87b07b9b7e92b3aaa290.jpeg

 

 

 

Edited by DonnaML
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1 hour ago, DonnaML said:

I have no first-century sestertii, much as I'd like to own one. The better examples are quite expensive, and it seems to me that there's a very good chance that all or most of them have been smoothed at least, with many of them tooled as well. 

My earliest sestertii are all from the second century. Without write-ups, but with diameters and weights for comparison purposes: 

Hadrian (31 mm., 23.55 g.):

image.jpeg.5c4216bab6af8cc4cafa6d7731f0ebe2.jpeg

Marcus Aurelius (30mm, 25.8 g.)

image.png.9be1cb2e5dd30aaa2d78e1537c6d27c9.png

Faustina II (31 mm., 24 g.)

image.png.67ea058c080463515584962d7efa6085.png

Commodus (29 mm., 20.19 g.)

image.png.89c3fa8014dd2e2c63db44dd68926944.png

Crispina (30 mm., 22.23 g.)*

image.png.1711b670b80470e1a0ba4aad96d83d3a.png

*A more realistic color:

image.png.770fb4b7a449b9f6d4ba16965b7fabd3.png

Notice the continuing decline in weight for my three third-century sestertii:

Maximinus I Thrax (31 mm., 17.58 g.)

image.png.30b04acc78bff25d3b9d3a156ffb032a.png

Gordian III (30 mm., 18.37 g.)

image.jpeg.f31b485d49aca37ae83c3e6f28a9523a.jpeg

Philip I (27x29 mm., 16 g.)

image.jpeg.f8b40c9136be87b07b9b7e92b3aaa290.jpeg

 

 

 

Very nice selection! I love the patina on that Hadrian, and the Faustina with all the little children is a charming type which I'd love to get some day.

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