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Faustina Friday – Roman Collector’s Top 10 of 2023

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It's that time of year again, where many of us share our most beloved acquisitions. I bought a lot of coins this year and narrowing the list down to ten was not easy. As was the case last year, I devoted myself almost exclusively to expanding my specialty collections of the two Faustinae and every coin on here depicts Faustina the Elder or her daughter. Accordingly, I've made this an installment of Faustina Friday. So, you are about to enter the Faustina Zone!

In a few cases, I’ve been able to complete sets with the acquisition of obscure varieties. In this case, I consider these sets to be favorites, and they are not given their own spot on the favorite list but considered as a whole. A lot of these coins are eyesores. But I don’t acquire coins because they are pretty. Except for the elephant cart sestertius, all these coins are favorites because they are so rare as to be irreplaceable.

I’m not going to take a poll as to which ones you like best. You might think they are all the same, like the plot of a hundred Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. Unless you are a fellow Faustina fanatic like @Marsyas Mike or @shanxi, you probably don't have a favorite. But let's get on with it; let the countdown begin!

10. A couple of rare varieties of Faustina Junior's IVNONI REGINAE reverse type

This was a massive issue and it's a fun set to collect because there are so many bust varieties. For the most part, they are common and easily acquired. But these two varieties are quite rare, and I was happy to acquire one with Faustina's Type 8 hairstyle and another with an all-round legend


9. An early sestertius of Faustina the Younger with Pudicitia standing

This reverse type is not uncommon in the medium bronze denomination, but the sestertii of this type are rare. I recently edited an
installment I wrote last year about this reverse type to include this new acquisition.


8. A sestertius of the second issue to feature Faustina the Elder's currus elephantorum

This sestertius depicting Faustina's
currus elephantorum is not rare, but it is scarce. It was issued in and after 150 CE to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the empress's death. It's a reverse type that is in high demand and high-grade specimens typically bring four figures at auction. Since I'm not Jeff Bezos, I acquired one in a lower but pleasing state of preservation.


7. A medium bronze of Faustina the Younger featuring Juno seated, holding a statuette of the Three Graces

Juno seated issue may have been produced over a period of only days from late December 155 to early January 156. This, in conjunction with its appearance only in the medium bronze denomination, raises the question of whether this reverse type might have been issued for New Year's Day, for New Year's asses were sometimes struck with their own reverse types, not shared with other denominations.


6. Two medium bronzes to complete the collection of anepigraphic Diana standing varieties

Over the course of a couple of decades, I had been acquiring all the varieties of the longstanding Diana standing reverse type. As of October of last year, when I wrote an installment of Faustina Friday about them, my collection lacked only two rare medium bronzes. But specimens came up for auction in February and March and I completed the mini-set. They each feature the FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL obverse inscription but are of two different bust types.


5. Late bronzes of Faustina the Elder with early obverse legends

In the late 150s, the mint in Rome experimented with the obverse legends on a few issues, with some in the dative case and
others with an early inscription, used on Faustina's coinage from 140-144. These two bronzes, a medium bronze and a sestertius, are some of these late bronze issues with the early inscription. The middle bronze type is a coin of British association and is unlisted in the standard references. The sestertius is admittedly no beauty, but when it comes to rarities, you take what you can get.


4. A denarius inaccurately described by Cohen as having a veiled bust and which had been thought not to exist

This coin is listed in Cohen, RIC and RSC but
in error. Cohen described the coin in the French national collection as having a veiled bust, but the specimen he cited has a bare-headed bust. This was long thought to be in error, with the existence of a veiled bust variety in question, but it turns out that @Barzus and I each have a veiled bust type in our collections!


3. A denarius of Faustina the Elder's second lifetime issue

This one is not exactly FDC, but it appears to be the third known example and I take what I can get. The coin was struck after Antoninus Pius had assumed the title of Pater Patriae in early 139 CE but before the joint-consulship of Antoninus and Aurelius Caesar in 140. As such, it reads FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG P P. It features Vesta seated left on its reverse.


2. A sestertius of Faustina the Younger's SALVTI AVGVSTAE reverse type with a left-facing bust

Left-facing busts on coins of Faustina the Younger are known on a handful of different reverse types, and they are considerably less common than their right-facing counterparts. Therefore, I always snatch them up no matter their grade. So, while the condition-crank would say no to
this one, I took the opportunity to acquire it for my collection. With only three other specimens known, I knew I'd never have another chance.


And now …

Drumroll GIF - Sing Sing Universal Drum Roll GIFs

1. The three coins of Faustina the Elder with a dative obverse inscription

In the late 150s, the mint in Rome experimented with the obverse legends on a few issues, using the dative case on three issues: DIVAE FAVSTINAE. Each is known from only a handful of specimens and it's astonishing that I was able to acquire all three of them during a single year, thanks to the help of @Ryro and @Barzus. The sestertius came on the market last month and I recently edited an
installment I wrote earlier this year about coins bearing the DIVAE FAVSTINAE inscription to include this new acquisition.


That's all, folks! This past year – like 2022 – was hard on all of us in many ways, from COVID to the heart attack I experienced in October. I am grateful to all my friends here for providing fellowship and a place of refuge to de-stress from the year's events. I want to thank you all. I hope you have a wonderful 2024, filled with amazing acquisitions and, above all, good health.

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Your Faustina Fridays always impress (or should I say, Empress 😏? Of course I shouldn't. Awful pun. I'm sorry. Just so sorry). And your top ten this year is an incredible embarrassment of rare riches. Your devotion to researching and understanding is just inspiring. I could listen to you talk Faustinas all day. Can't wait for you to compile it all in a book I can buy. 

As for my Faustina collection this year it got a great boost and caboost 😉

RC was kind enough to gift my with this THICK lady:20230901_100407.jpg.45633899ed4dfd5f78652e47016913ca.jpg.462687f8c6d770f381a12dd18ddde639.jpg20230825_124344.jpg.b9e7d7be3edf5f0f18522069726df8fe.jpg.76b6c52d5b9c15a48bf00b61b836875f.jpgFaustinaJrAVGVSTIPIIFILSCVenusVictrixsestertius2.jpg.9001d1205c5e7e0c9c33d297d03060af(1).jpg.522d952ab6b7b88bb6747a2fa85f90c8(1).jpg.baa9abde5a7053e3b9e4f8a71bea7c07.jpg

And then I gifted myself this thicc lady:


Great year RC! I'm so glad that you are on the mend. Here's to many more to tens as wondrous as this!

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Great list of coins featuring the Faustinae (is the plural form correct?). By the way, I've always been curious about your choice to specialise in the coinage of these two empresses. Is there a story you'd like to share about why they specifically captured your interest?

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That's a nice top ten. These are all coins where you need to take a closer look and for which you need a deeper knowledge. Perfect.


My favorites are No. 10 ( I was lucky enough to get the die match from the last Leu auction, you pointed out to me), and No.  2  (a nice smooth sestertius and a rarity)



Edited by shanxi
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Thanks for sharing your top 10, RC. My favorites are your #1, 2 and 3. Very interesting coins with DIVAE inscriptions. I guess details makes the whole difference in the coin story. I am on a lookout for a left-facing bust of Faustina Junior coin to pair up with my Faustina Senior, so it is great to see an extremely rare example (your #2). Your rare #3 Faustina Senior lifetime denarius is also wonderful.  🙂

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A wonderful group for 2022! 

It is truly amazing to see the hairstyle variations, as well as other varieties for Faustina I and II.  I learn a lot reading your threads.

I really like the portrait on #9, very well executed and reminiscent of my lesser quality, corroded young Faustina II sestertius:



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You had a great year, @Roman Collector! Thanks for all the fridy write ups, I dont reply often, because I only have one coin of Faustina the elder, but I enjoy reading it. 

I think my favorite is your no. 8. Fantastic reverse, and generally those draw my attention so to say. 

I got this coin this year. I must admit, not because it's a Faustina, but because of the temple on the reverse. 😥


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