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ambr0zie's Top 10 Roman Imperial coins in 2023


Please choose your favorites  

25 members have voted

  1. 1. Please choose your favorites

    • 1. Diva Faustina I sestertius/Aeternitas with Phoenix
    • 2. Pius/Marcius sestertius
    • 3. Trajan/Dacian soldier denarius
    • 4. Trajan/Danube denarius
    • 5. Faustina II/Fecunditas denarius
    • 6. Domna/Venus denarius
    • 7. Caracalla/Serapis antoninianus
    • 8. Trajan/Pater Trajan denarius
    • 9. Augustus/Capricorn denarius
    • 10. Geta/Spes denarius

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It appears it is my turn now to show what I consider my best 10 Roman Imperial coins in this year. 

2023 was very good from a numismatic point of view (from other points of view - not so much or not at all). I adjusted my collecting strategy (slightly) - less impulse purchases, less snacks. This meant more budget for important targets. 

Last year I created 3 topics in the yearly top, one for Imperial, one for Republican and one for Provincial+Greek coins. I could do the same this year (without adding dull coins, at least not for my tastes) but I prefer creating just two - one for Imperial coins and one for others (there will be Greek, Provincial, Republican and probably even a 17th century coin) . And another spoiler, the "other" thread will contain 10 coins + a few contenders as I can't pick just 10 no matter how many coins failed this final exam. 

Getting back to Imperials, these are my favorites for 2023. I chose coins where I liked the designs, the portraits, the symbolistic, coins from important rulers (according to my criteria). They are arranged chronologically - but the chronology is how they arrived in my collection. 


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.

This coin got my attention as soon as I saw it, while browsing an auction from a house I never heard  of before. I had no idea what could be the hammer, in the end it was a good price. We all know that more often than not, sestertii can bring unaffordable prices if they are in good condition, with a pleasant patina - and I think this coin checks many boxes. I like Faustina's portrait and the particularity of the reverse die - Phoenix is touching the letter R. I do not hunt this kind of obscure features, but it was a plus. 

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.

Another Antonine dynasty sestertius - a numismatic period I like and tried to develop in, without becoming a specialist. I like this coin type with Pius and young Marcus Aurelius but all  my attempts to get a denarius subtype failed. Same classic story - if I liked the coin, it was too expensive, if it was within my reach, I didn't like it. Adding a sestertius was a perfect alternative. The coin has its flaws (but this never bothered me, generally speaking), but it is exactly what I wanted for this type.



17,3 mm, 3,2 g.
Trajan 98-117. AR Denarius. Rome. 103-111.
IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P, bust of Trajan, laureate, slight drapery on left shoulder / COS V P P SPQR OPTIMO PRINC, DAC CAP, mourning Dacian seated left on pile of arms.
RIC II 98; BMCRE 390; Woytek 283b; RSC 120.

Trajan coins are the closest thing to a specialty for me, without really being one. I tried to acquire as many coins as possible, especially the ones related to the Dacian wars. I liked the bold portrait on this one and the reverse - I think this one was from a talented engraver. 


19,7 mm, 3,16 g.
Trajan 98-117. AR denarius. Rome. 103-111.
IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P, laureate bust right, drapery on far shoulder / COS V P P SPQR OPTIMO PRINC, river god Danube reclining left on rocks, head right, holding prow and resting elbow upon overturned urn from which liquid flows; billowing cloak above, DANVVIVS in exergue.
RIC 100; BMCRE 395; RSC 136; Woytek 277b.

I consider this coin in the same category as the previous one. A Trajan denarius with a specific and interesting reverse - this coin shows the Danube River - this was crossed by Trajan's army when they conquered Dacia. 


17,7 mm, 3,6 g.
Faustina II. Augusta 147-175. AR denarius. Rome. 161-176.
FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right, hair waved with two braided bands / FECVNDITAS, Fecunditas standing right, holding scepter and nude male child.
BMC 91; C. 99; RIC 677; RSC 99.

This is probably the most common type of Faustina II denarii, but  also one of the coins with portraits that  I definitely like. Again - good engraver, attention to details (even the slightly hooked nose is intentional I think). Also I think the reverse is interesting. 

20,2 mm, 2,9 g.
Julia Domna. Augusta 193-211. AR denarius. Rome. 193-196. IVLIA DOMNA AVG, bust of Julia Domna, hair waved and coiled at back, draped, right / VENERI VICTR, Venus, with drapery falling below hips, standing with back turned, head right, holding apple in extended right hand and palm sloped to the left in left hand, resting left elbow on column.
RIC IV Septimius Severus 536 (denarius); RSC 194.

My internal rules state that a yearly Top 10 needs to contain a coin with Venus showing the rear parts. Mandatory rule. I have a few examples, all already shown, but the aspect that made me buy this coin was the severe double strike. We can see this especially on the obverse, where there are 2 doted borders, Domna's portrait with nose and mouth doubled and some letters. The error is visible on the reverse too. I am not sure if this coin should have passed the quality control and I am pretty sure that the mint worker did  not receive a bonus. I really wanted this coin and it was a very pleasant surprise that the price was pretty low. 

22,9 mm, 4,7 g.
Caracalla AD 198-217. AR antoninianus. Rome. 217.
ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM, bust of Caracalla, radiate, draped, right / P M TR P XX COS IIII P P, Serapis, wearing polos on head, standing left, holding corn-ears in wreath (?) in right hand and sceptre in left hand
RIC IV Caracalla 289d; RSC 383b.

The Antoninianus was a denomination that appeared in Caracalla's reign, in 215. It was a financial trick - it had (presumably) the value of 2 denarii but the silver content of 1.5 denarii. This caused inflation, hoarding of denarii  so economically speaking it was not the best idea. As we all know, decade after decade the silver purity decreased and  after the half of the century the silver content was negligible for  this denomination...
I wanted this coin because it's a Caracalla antoninianus - not the most common emperor for this denomination AND the first; also I find it interesting that it's from the year of his assassination. Plus the reverse is interesting from a historical point of view as Serapis was rarely chosen as a reverse theme, but Caracalla had a special cult for this deity and issued many coins with Serapis reverses. Even the knife he murdered Geta with was dedicated to Serapis. 

For some reason the auction house attributed this coin as a denarius (and screwed the reverse description also). I have nothing against that. 


19 mm, 3,44 g.
Trajan 98-117 AD. AR denarius. Rome. 112-114.
IMP TRAIANVS AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS VI P P, laureate bust right, with drapery on far shoulder / DIVVS PATER TRAIAN, Trajan’s father bare-headed and togate, seated left on curule chair with feet on stool, holding patera and scepter.
RIC 252; RSC 140; St. 212; Woytek 406b; BMC 500.

A Trajan coin with a "non standard" design, but not related to Trajan's conquests. In this coin, Trajan honors his natural father, also named Marcus Ulpius Traianus, who was also a diplomat - proconsul of Asia in 79-80. 


17,4 mm, 3,38 g. Augustus 27 BC–14 AD. AR denarius. Lugdunum. 12 BC. AVGVSTVS DIVI F, bare head right / IMP XI, capricorn right, with globus between hooves. RIC I (second edition) Augustus 174; RSC 147; BMC 465.

Augustus, the founder of the Empire, the man who changed the course of history in his very long career. One of my major goals was an Augustus denarius, an earlier type if possible. My type has a deep banker's mark on the jawline (and a smaler one on the neck) and was also harshly cleaned, especially the reverse, but I still consider it an excellent addition. Good portrait, important reverse (a key symbol for Augustus). 

19 mm, 3,28 g.
Geta as Caesar 198-209 AD. AR denarius. Laodicea ad Mare. 198-200 AD.
L SEPTIMIVS GETA CAES, bare-headed, draped and cuirassed bust right / SPEI PERPETVAE, Spes advancing left, holding flower and raising hem of skirt.
RIC IV 96; BMC 688; RSC 192a.

Geta's destiny was cruel. Septimius Severus would have loved his two sons to rule together in harmony but their relationship was tense (to put it mildly) and Geta got murdered by his brother, their mother being a witness. Was Geta the good brother and Caracalla the evil one? Perhaps Geta was meant to be a normal, popular leader but nobody can tell, as history has its mysteries. Especially alternate history. 

I was able to obtain, in the past, a Geta as Augustus denarius (a coin I like very much) and one as Caesar, showing him as a teenager. I also have a few nice Provincials, but what was missing is a portrait with Geta as a child. I like this coin, I find the Eastern mint a plus and I think the toning is interesting.

That would be my 2023 Imperial selection. Tomorrow I will probably post my non-Imperial coins. 

I would appreciate votes, opinions, criticism, some presents, bribe, whatever you feel appropriate. 

Edited by ambr0zie
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Nice group of Roman Imperials! Seems like you had your reasons for acquiring each one which were fun to read about. I voted for the Caracalla. Not because I care for the design (or the man) so much, but the fact that this was the first of the antoninianus denomination seems numismatically important.

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