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Faustina Friday – Die-Linkage between the CERES and the DIANA LVCIFERA Issues of Faustina the Younger

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Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! I hope you have a great weekend ahead. Last month I had the opportunity to acquire this sestertius of Faustina the Younger with a stephaned bust type that is unlisted in the major references. Having previously researched this bust type, I recognized this coin as of special interest.

Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 23.09 g, 32.1 mm, 6 h.
Rome, 170-171 CE.
FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust, right, wearing stephane (Beckmann Type 10 hairstyle).
CERES S C, Ceres seated left on cista, holding corn-ears in right hand and long, vertical torch in left hand.
Refs: Unlisted; cf. RIC 1621; cf. BMC 894; cf. Cohen 36.

The coin is an obverse die-match to this sestertius of the DIANA LVCIFERA type.

Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 23.09 g, 32.1 mm, 6 h.
Rome, 170-171 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust, right, wearing stephane (Beckmann Type 10 hairstyle).
Rev: DIANA LVCIFERA S C, Diana standing right, holding lighted torch in both hands.
Refs: RIC 1631; BMCRE 901; Cohen 91; RCV –; MIR 8-6/10c diad.

Although the stephane is commonly encountered on early coins of the empress with the Type 1 hairstyle and again on middle-period coins of the empress wearing the Type 7 hairstyle, it is extremely rare on late-period coins wearing the Type 10 hairstyle. A comprehensive review of the numismatic literature and internet databases reveals only nine specimens featuring the type 10 hairstyle and a stephane. The stephane appears to be a feature used on only two dies.

CERES Reverse

My specimen (illustrated above), CNG E-Auction 551, lot 487, 29 November 2023.


Bibliothèque nationale de France (not illustrated) = Cohen 91 = RIC 1631.
British Museum = BMCRE
901 = MIR 8-6/10c diad.
My specimen (illustrated above), Harlan J. Berk, cc30766.
iNumis Mail Bid Sale 6, lot 224, 7 November 2008 = CGB 386264.
Artemide eLive Auction 16, lot 388, 23 January 2021.
CNG e-Auction 289, lot 32, 24 October 2012.
V Auctions 297, lot 96, 28 February 2013= V Auctions 282, lot 196
, 31 May 2012.
Pegasi e-Auction 137, lot 344 (not illustrated).

All of the coins for which we have illustrations appear to have been struck with either of only two obverse dies.

Die A is characterized by the presence of a notch in the chignon of the hair and a curved nose on the portrait. The letter N in FAVSTINA is broad and wider at its top than at its bottom. The final A in AVGVSTA is near the empress’s drapery.

My CERES specimen:



British Museum DIANA LVCIFERA specimen:

iNumis/CGB DIANA LVCIFERA specimen:


V Auctions DIANA LVCIFERA specimen:

Die B lasks the notch in the chignon of the hair. The nose is straight and pointy on the portrait. The letter N in FAVSTINA is narrow. The final A in AVGVSTA is placed further away from the empress’s drapery.

Artemide DIANA LVCIFERA specimen:



OK, so you found a rare flyspeck variety? So what?

The Beckmann Type 10 hairstyle came into use sometime after the death of Lucius Verus in January 169 and was used on her coins until after her death in November 175. Few aureus types appear with the type 10 hairstyle and they do not form a clear die-linkage chain. Neither the later CERES nor the DIANA LVCIFERA reverse types appear in gold and fall therefore outside the purview of Beckmann's die-linkage study of the aurei. Few of Faustina's late issues can be narrowed down further than 170-175 CE. The important thing about finding a die-linkage between the later CERES issue and the DIANA LVCIFERA issue is that it allows the later CERES issue to be dated to 170-171 CE.

Diana Lucifera is an avatar of Diana associated with childbirth and the DIANA LVCIFERA issue likely commemorates the birth of Faustina's youngest child, a daughter Vibia Aurelia Sabina, in 170 or 171. Therefore, the later CERES type almost certainly dates to 170 or 171 CE as well, since a sestertius of the type shares an obverse die with the DIANA LVCIFERA type.

Are you aware of any other specimens with this bust variety? If so, I'd love to see them!!

As always, post comments, coins, or anything you feel is relevant!

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