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An unassuming rarity of Claudius II


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Encountering a depiction of Pax seated left, holding a sceptre and a branch, is quite a common occurrence in Roman Imperial coinage, so one would probably be justified in assuming that such a mundane reverse would be common for any emperor that issued it, but that isn't always the case, as with this coin that I was recently able to add to my collection:


Roman Empire, Claudius II (268-270), Antoninianus, Siscia mint, 4th emission, 3rd officina.

Obverse: IMP CLAVDIVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front;

Reverse: PAX AET, Pax seated left, holding olive branch in right hand and long transverse sceptre in left hand, T in exergue;

RIC V - (c.f. RIC V 185 - unlisted officina mark); RIC V Online 790;


I somehow managed to win this coin at auction for its very affordable starting price: I'm assuming this was mostly due to the fact that the reverse doesn't stand out at all, unless one already knew why it was special - the odd flan probably did the rest (it's worth mentioning that it's also incredibly underweight, at 1.77 grams; I'm not sure how this flan was made so poorly, even by the standards of the time). Anyway, as I mentioned before, this coin is surprisingly rare: RIC V Online lists six examples across three different types, and they are all in museums; I also know of another one in a private collection, which makes mine the eigth known and the only one to have ever been auctioned, as far as I'm aware. The scarceness of this type seems very odd, considering that it doesn't appear to have been issued to commemorate anything special and that it was struck by both the first and the third officina.

Four of the examples (belonging to RIC V Online 768 and 790) are marked with letters in the exergue, while those belonging to 763 lack an officina mark, at least officially: I'm saying this because to me it seems that the example of this variety from the London museum is a reverse die match to mine, and I think the Vienna one might be a reverse die match to an example from the first officina as well, though it's too poorly preserved to tell.


(Image courtesy of RIC V Online)


If I am right, does this mean that the letter was added sometime after production of the coins had already started? Or was it present from the very start, but it was later damaged or obstructed? This makes me wonder whether the coins of this type without an officina mark should be considered as a valid separate variant.

Finally, I also wanted to bring up how all the known examples feature a B1 bust: on my coin it's impossible to tell due to the damaged obverse, but I'm assuming this to be the case due to the fact that the alternative, the D1 bust, is incredibly rare for this officina in this issue. However, the only way to know for sure would be to find an obverse die match, so I'd appreciate it if someone ever managed to find one.

Depictions of Pax seated on antoniniani

As I mentioned before, while this variant of Pax is common on denarii, it is surprisingly scarce on antoniniani, and as far as I know, its first appearance is only in Gallienus' sole reign, where it is employed both at Rome and at Siscia; at the former mint, it is paired with the legend PAX PVBLICA and this is probably the easiest way for a collector to obtain an antoninianus with this reverse type:


(Image courtesy of CNG)

At the latter mint, on the other hand, it was paired with the legend PAX AVG on significantly scarcer antoniniani and extremely rare quinarii:


(Image courtesy of CNG)


(Image courtesy of CNG)

While Rome would never reuse this reverse, Siscia would employ it again under Gallienus' successor, in whose coinage it is known for a unique aureus with the legend PAX PVBLICA as well as these rare antoniniani with the legend PAX AET, which, as far as I know, is its only appearance in the entire Roman Imperial coinage, besides an antoninianus of Carausius with Pax standing, for which I was unable to find any image.


(Image courtesy of RIC V Online)

Finally, this reverse type's history comes to an end a few years later, with a very rare Aurelian unlisted in RIC which features the reverse legend PAX AVGVSTI:


(Image courtesy of RIC V Online)

Unfortunately, it is hard to draw a pattern from these examples, and several questions remain: did this reverse type carry any special implication? Why was its legend apparently interchangeable between PAX AVG[VSTI], PAX PVBLICA AND PAX AET[ERNA]? Why did Gallienus choose to bring it back after a long hiatus? Why did the Siscia mint strike it in several different occasions but in very limited quantities?

Anyway, that's all for now - post your coins with a Pax seated left, or anything else you feel like might be relevant!

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Great write up and thank you for introducing me to an awesome coin. I would never assume a pax reverse would be rare! Personally I love the odd flan I always make a point to be coins with weird flans if they are affordable. 

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